Being a (crime) boss with my neighborly advice

GodfatherMi abuelita used to have a saying that “The monkey knows what tree to climb,”. It refers to bullies who always seem to pick on the easiest target.

Joyce is a dear old soul who likes to make merry, especially around the holidays. She also happens to be just the kind of tree certain people like to climb. She’s a retired nurse who finds comfort in wine, her cats and cable TV.  I don’t remember ever seeing a man- or a woman- around in the ten years I’ve known Joyce, who has to be approaching seventy at this point. Maybe she just stopped trying or maybe she just digs her own company. Or maybe it’s the wine that matters most to her at this point in the game.

Anyways, Joyce’s preferred method is box wine. Probably because the shit’s inexpensive, it keeps on keeping on and it doesn’t clink when you drop it in your recycle container. Joyce keeps her container on the porch, so the facility of such a thing no doubt appeals to her, seeing as how she is all about appearances. Box wine makes perfect sense for someone who doesn’t want to alert the neighbors with booze bells at the conclusion of business. I mean, fuck if I care who knows about my good time get down, but to each his/her own.

So it was that Joyce waved me over to her porch a couple weeks ago. She was sporting fluffy slippers, a Godawful Christmas sweater and a wine box slur that let me know she was dealing it up in wholesale quantities. She rambled on about her next door neighbors, who apparently are giving her a hard time about the outdoor cats she feeds.

I had to do the necessary vetting before wading into the waters of this intramural skirmish. I know Joyce well enough to decipher her drunk-speak. Being a former nurse, she’s very thorough with her information even when she’s under the influence. She ain’t one for embellishments or lies. Wine simply makes her weepy and depressed. I can relate.

“Hey, tell them to knock on my door if they have a problem with your cats.”

It was very Michael Corleone sounding, but there was no implied threat. It was more of a fuck you to a couple assholes who apparently get off on climbing her tree because they know they’re gonna get away with it. Welp, I’m a cactus- prickly and not amenable to someone climbing all over my shit. That’s why I know that nothing is going to come of it, because most people are not into confrontations. Even in my peaceful easy mellow cheesy stage of living, I still have the Bronx in my bones. I told her to keep up her great good work with the outdoor cats and that I had her back if it came to that.


I was finishing up a beverage of choice the other day when I found Joyce outside feeding the cats. I walked over and stood with her, waiting to see if those asshole neighbors would make the scene. Thing is, the company I was keeping changed my frame of mind right quick. Sam is a black cat who will never be tamed. He’s got Springsteen in his razor sharp claws and he’s cool as shit badness. There’s a grayish female cat Joyce never named, to whom I immediately dubbed Sansa- seeing as how she looks like a royal whose road went hard and who came out stronger on the other side of it. There’s a calico cat named Barnaby. He’s got a couple street fight tats pocking his lithe frame. His placid blue eyes do not match the life he’s living, but he gives you everything when he flashes you a look and it’s fucking amazing.

I kept a respectful distance so the cats could adapt to my presence without a hassle. Me and Joyce talked about the humane league and Christmas in retail and everything but the drama that had brought me there. Once the cats had finished up and split the scene, me and Joyce parted ways. I moved to my porch and finished the Boston Lager I had been enjoying and then I performed a Kevin Durant layup into my recycle bin that produced a clink which echoed into the parking lot. Because I ain’t much for perceptions. I figure that unless you’re paying my bills, I don’t need to be playing by your rules. It’s a way to live and I’m sticking to it. After all, the world is full of asshole neighbors and I don’t have nine lives worth of diplomacy to give.

If I gotta be a tree, Imma make them an offer they can’t refuse.