Jun 13, 2014


Lester opened the door holding a shotgun underneath his arm. He saw that Charles and Steve were staring at him from the other side.  They were on a mission, especially Steve, the teenager.  The boy was mad and wanted to kill Lester.  “Steve wants to shoot you,” Charles said in a low voice as he stroked the handle of the gun he was holding.  “Yes, I do!” Steve shouted.  Lester just stood there, dumbfounded or maybe he was drunk.  They looked like two gunslingers at the O.K Corral with Billy the Kidd shouting from the sidelines. The two men stood in their place scrutinizing each other to see who was going to make the first move.

Steve lived with his mother in the apartment above Lester and his family.  Charles, my father, lived a block away on the same street.  Lester loved to tease people, especially his only daughter.  Often he would play tricks on her just to hear her scream and run for the comfort of her mother’s arms. Since Steve was nearly the same age as Lester’s daughter, he, too, received some of the same kind of teasing and lived within a few feet of Lester, which made it convenient for Lester when he was in one of those moods.

Steve frequently came down to our house to visit with my father, Charles; Steve, especially, wanted to see me, but if I wasn’t around he was content to chat with my parents. Over time he grew to love my parents and often confided in them.  My father spray painted cars on the side to make extra money.  Steve and my father worked out a deal to where Steve would work off his debt in exchange for a new paint job on his car.  Steve was always at our house for some reason or another.

Lester and my father were raised in the South. They spoke the same language and the two men understood each another.  Steve was a Yankee and a bit of a hyper one too. Lester and Steve had been arguing for several days.  I never knew what the argument was about but it must have been over something that Lester found to be entertaining. Steve was at the end of his rope.   

Steve and Lester had been arguing that morning. In heated anger, Steve marched to the corner looking for my father.  He found Charles in the garage.  “Can I borrow your gun?” Steve nearly shouted. “What for?” Charles asked.  “I want to shoot Lester,” he said speaking in a high pitched voice.  “So, can I borrow it?” He anxiously wanted to settle this feud with his neighbor and shooting him would be the only solution he could come up with in his young mind. It was all my father could do to keep from laughing at the boy. “I’ll walk down there with you and we’ll get this straightened out,” Charles said. “Just let me get my gun.”

Together they marched to Lester’s place. Bravely, my father walked down the street with his pistol at his side. It was a funny sight because Charles weighed 140 pounds wet and Steve was just as small. They looked like two Chihuahua’s barking at a German shepherd.  Neither of them was big enough to do much harm to anyone much less Lester. However, Steve was excited at the thought that he was going to finally get his justice.  They walked upon the porch and headed straight for the door.  Steve banged on the entry with all his might.  Slowly, Lester opened the door.  He stood there big and tall with a shotgun underneath his arm waiting for a response from his two visitors.

“Steve came down to the house and told me that he wants to shoot you,” Charles said to Lester. “He asked to borrow my gun.” Steve was anxious to get his hands on the pistol that Charles was holding.  Lester’s eyes went back and forth between their faces.  He had been drinking and had begun to feel the effects of it. After staring at them for what seemed like an eternity, Lester said, “I’m tired...I’m going to bed.” Then he turned around and closed the door behind him.  Bewildered, Charles and Steve looked at each other. Then they walked back down the street.  No one got killed that day, at least, not on Elm Street.