I noticed it first—because we locked our doors at night.

We never did that before.

But everything changed.

I guess I saw it happen all around me

                                       in the papers

                                       on the news

I knew it was them.

A couple of kids threw eggs at a house

     broke into a garage

                                 three houses

I know the ones you mean.

From over there?

When did they move in?

                                                I don’t know.

                                                But after they came,

                                                It all started going to hell

It used to be that only the paranoids,

            Who watched television shows like

                        America’s Deadliest Next Door Neighbors

                        (And the Families They Destroyed)

            who locked their doors.  Not us.

My best friend lost his key once.

At school.  He was in fourth grade.

It had a baseball key chain in white and red enamel.

His mom had the house rekeyed.

He was grounded for a week

                                        Three weeks

Keeping him inside

                                 Made it safer

—after all,

                  in a town of friends and neighbors,

                  you never know who might pick up

                  that key

                  and use it to steal

                                            your babies.

I guess, she probably noticed before I did.

The difference—them—that came into town.

They moved in, and everything got that much worse.

I read about it in the papers.

© Tofer Carlson 2011