This morning, as many have keenly observed, is hot. The oppressive humidity and beating sun have urged the thermometer up to 80 degrees even here in the mountains, and all before 9 a.m. It was about this time, or shortly after, that a white, shiny car pulled into my driveway.
I was immediately on alert. There are no white, shiny cars where I live in the country. Nor do I know anyone who drives a white, shiny car. Shirtless and unshowered, I walked outside with an unlit cigarette wagging between my lips.
A well-built man with a noticeable dent in his forehead got out wearing a pressed, white shirt and tie. “Good morning,” he said, “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness.” He looked Samoan to me.
“Good morning,” I said, “I’m a shirtless man in the country squalor.”
We laughed. He asked, “You’ve spoken with Jehovah Witnesses before?”
“Yes,” I said, though I honestly couldn’t remember the last time. Mostly you see them approach and close the curtains and say shhhhh to your kids and crouch low.
“Then I’ll just give you these. It’s understanding the Bible; it’s a closer look.” And he handed me the requisite pamphlets. He had a Cape Cod accent. He beamed into me with his eyes, and then looked around, this stocky, well-dressed man from Plymouth, or thereabouts, smelling of Drakar Noir or maybe Fahrenheit. “This is a nice place,” he said, “how much does property like this go for?”
We talked land prices and a buyer’s market for a moment or two, and my heat-augmented, morning B.O. must’ve started wafting up because he took a step back. I smiled, and lit my cigarette. “You have a good day,” he said.
“You too,” I said. “I wouldn’t go to the neighbor’s house. He might shoot you on sight.” Which is true. Wild Bill, who lives next door, has been known to rack his shotgun for less.
The well-dressed, dent-headed man got into the white, shiny car and I saw the woman, presumably his wife – those J.W.s can have those, right? – and she looked a little alarmed. I waved my hands in dismissal and smiled around my smoking butt. “I’m just kidding,” I said, and they pulled away.