The dispatcher at the moving company (we’ve used this company twice before) recommended I grab either of the parking spots that bookend the hydrant across the street from our apartment. The tone of her voice made me sentimental for rotary phones.
The truck will fit if you can hold one of those spots. Watch your street. When a spot opens up, move your car there. It will be much easier for you.
Each of the past five days I would check a few times a day. Parting the antique shutters. They click and chatter when I open and close them. Then, the day before moving day the spot opens up. I’m outside, packing my car for the first trip to our new house. The buds drop from the tulip trees, light green snow. They get stuck in your hair. I run across the street and stand in the vacancy. Buds escape my feet.
What to do now? My car is packed, the roof rack is packed, ready for a trip. I can’t park it. I look around for trash cans. I ask my neighbor whose daughter is our main babysitter, she’s sitting on her steps, sunning herself while gazing deeply at her computer.
What do you think? I ask.
I’m not sure, she replies, shielding the sun from her face with her left hand.
I notice one of the old school locals, Eli, is painting the stoop steps a few doors down. He’s on his knees, halfway up the steps, running a paint roller from side to side.
Hey, can I ask you something? I ask in a respectful tone.
Eli has been quietly witnessing the situation and has already figured out the answer. Barely meeting my gaze he extends his arm. In his hand is a key ring with a million keys. One small copper key protrudes from his pinched thumb and pinkey.
Here’s my keys to my gate. Go get the cones. Nobody will move the cones.
Thanks man. I say. Trying to keep my cool.
Don’t mention it, he says.
I look up and across the street and more of our neighbors are outside. Each surmising what to do.
Eli’s letting me use his cones. I express to the small set of watchers, trying to mute my glee. Everyone nods.
Eli, how will I find you later? I ask.
What for? He asks, startled, not wanting any part of any part of anything he’s not part of.
To give you back the cones. I reply.
Nah. Just throw them over the gate. He chuckles, letting me know I’m the rookie, I’m not from here as much as he is from here. He’s right. I’m from here, but I brought the rents up. Making the rents go up is the new Brooklyn. Making a Brooklyn for everyone is the old Brooklyn.
I put the cones in place. My neighbors nod in acceptance and I drive the first batch of my stuff to New Jersey. Everyone waves.
I return to Brooklyn later that night with an empty car ready for a second load. I drive up to the hydrant, expecting to see the cones, and there’s a black Volvo there. Parked with it’s back wheel on the curb. Dents all over. Dirty.
I pull up in front. Exit my vehicle and review the black automobile. From across the street a neighbor recounts my experience loud enough for me to hear.
You get Eli’s cones. You place them to hold the space. When you’re out, someone moves them and takes the spot. You come back, no place to park. No place for the truck. Must be a jerk.
I raise my arms up. Yup, I say. I stare at the car. I find the cones wedged near the curb.
Did he leave a number on his car? My neighbor is now standing beside me, shaking his head. Can you tell whose it is?
I’m going to post this to the block list serve, he says. Let’s see if anyone knows whose car this is. He reads aloud as he types, one black Volvo, license plate…parked in front of…please move…ok, posted.
Thanks. I say. I’m going to go back to packing.
You’re welcome, he says, we’re sad to see you go.
The next morning. Which is today, the day I am writing this, the movers arrive early. They call my cell phone. I think it’s my alarm. I click it off. They call again. I click it off. They call again. I answer.
Jason, this is your driver. We’re here.
They double park the truck. This causes some caustic jeers from passing cars and delivery trucks. Slowly nearly all cars blocked in between the truck and the sidewalk depart. All except one.
If this dude moves this one car our lives become a whole lot easier, the moving team lead says. I nod in agreement.
Just then, across the street, Eli appears, looking at the black Volvo. He shakes his head. Then shrugs.
I run over and ask, do you know whose car this is?
Sure, says Eli.
It’s J, lives around the corner. Must have gotten home late. You know J, he’s got his hair to his shoulders?
J? Yes I know J. J is the guy who is always saying hi to Sheila. Smiling from across the street. Crossing the street to talk to her. When I encounter him on the sidewalk I swear he crosses the street, turns the corner, goes a different direction. We call him Iggy Pop as his face somewhat resembles his face. I can kinda see it.
Eli turns to look up the block, he raises his chin, squints. Gazing across his terrain.
Yup. He says. That’s J’s car.
He shrugs again and heads back down the block.
It takes all four movers to lift and carry our piano down the stoop. They struggle and bend and crouch and pull. It’s wrapped and strapped and contains a billion or more combinations of sounds, songs and soul.
We’re not piano movers one says out loud.
You are now, says another.