THE BLOODS

Simpson approached a group of men wearing red and said, "Hello, gentlemen, do you have the time?"

The men ignored Simpson and continued talking about more important things.

"Beautiful weather we're having, eh?" Simpson said. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the sun was in full view — in that ineffable position where everything loses its shadow. It was beautiful, Simpson thought. It was like a commercial. True as it was, the men turned their backs to him.

"Well now wait a minute," he said. "Wait just one minute. What's the big idea? I'm trying to talk. I'm trying to make an effort in my community, to get to know you fellas, entrench myself in the rhythms of daily life here, but I'm getting zip."

Simpson tried another angle. "I'm new in town, I just moved in last week, but I've seen you boys in red guard this corner day and night, and I wanted to say thank you. I admire your discipline and wanted to inquire further about your neighborhood watch program, but now you're starting to upset me. You're offending me."

One man pulled out a phone from his underwear and began speaking into it mysteriously. In fact, it was as if he was secretly mounting a case against Simpson to a superior officer — a face behind some shadowy curtain, no doubt — disclosing motives yet to surface.

"Hey, who are you talking to?" Simpson said. "Are you mounting a case against my character?" He began pacing up and down the sidewalk like a madman. He was losing his grip, but stopped and approached the Bloods once more. "I think we got off on the wrong foot. I never introduced myself, which was rude. My name's Simpson, and as I said I'm new in town, but a committed neighbor nonetheless. I live just over there, on Putnam Avenue. There, on the top floor of that adorable brownstone. 666 Putnam Avenue. Go on, write it down, see if I care. But know that I have a very involved landlord, as well as ADT Security. I live alone, I have no surviving family, and I keep a locked valise of doubloons and a diary of smut underneath my bed. There, I've bared my soul to you. We've broken the ice."