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The Good Neighbor

You know about the other neighbor–Jerry Garcia, I refer to him mockingly. But I haven’t written about the neighbor on the other side.

It’s just past sunset and cooling down in Palo Alto. The patio is quiet and dark; I can just make out the bright green coleus and the white roses, but the darker plants have receded into the night. Talk radio mutters softly as a backdrop while I pick away at revising an essay, gently unraveling rows of stitches and then weaving the cloth together again.

Somewhere in the back of my consciousness I hear a jazz saxaphone start its scales–not loud, but memory-soft. Up it climbs, very delicately, a cat picking its way across a fence. Then the sound descends in a rush, like a leap to the ground.

I turn off the radio and keep revising. The sax begins gently riffing against the twilight, sometimes in languid sound circles, sometimes in urgent but muted cries. In counterpoint I hear the clicking of my keyboard and the susurration of wheels on asphalt on the road outside our house.

It is all too beautiful; I have to surrender. I close my file and sit in the well of light in my office, hearing the good neighbor welcome the night.

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