Langley Heights has been my home since I could remember. Only leaving to go to college and start my career. Once my folks retired and moved to Baltimore, I decided to come back to the place where I grew up.
There was always a peaceful feeling that would come over me growing up, as I would sit on my steps looking down the slopes of grass out front. Stairs leading to the winding paths from the sidewalk were the way to get to the doors. Huge evergreen trees and an array of flowers, wild and planted, speckled the whole block.
The neighbors were so friendly. There were so many children to play with and all the adults were nice for the most part. There were a few grouches and loners, but not many. It was a cool place to grow up and better than any neighborhood my friends from school lived in.
This was the perfect place for me to be, especially since my writing career was doing so well. I would be able to write in peace and harmony. Or so I thought.
While I was off getting higher learning and going into the workforce, Langley Heights changed. Not so much in landscape but in the folks who dwelled here.
On my visits home my parents would tell me how the place was slowly changing for the worst. I couldn’t see it though. Every time I visited, while there may or may not have been a new neighbor, the people still were pretty nice. Each time I would sit out front things just seemed so perfect, like I had always remembered.
After being back here for a couple months and really getting to know some of the people on my block, my idea of peacefulness evaporated.
One of the first “new neighbors” that I met was Garrett, the ex con turned mechanic. A smooth talking, ladies man was the best way to describe G. He knew just what to say and how to say it, but he wasn’t very truthful about most things.
G lived with his uncle seven doors down from me. We met a few months before I moved back to Langley Heights. So when the moving truck hit the block, he was one of the first people to come help. Two other people who came to aide my move in were cousins of G, who just happened to live directly across the street from him.
Darrell and Dominick were two brothers who lived together with Dominick’s girlfriend Melanie. Darrell was the ‘hood fella’ who swears he knows everything and is the toughest thing around. Dom, on the other hand, was more reserved and laid back. He had his hands full with his crazy girlfriend. Melanie was a case that would take way too long to describe. All I can say is certified nutjob.
A few days after my move in, I met Sharif, who lived around the bend. This baby faced fitness trainer was good friends with Dom. Unlike G, Sharif was a self-proclaimed lady’s man, but the only action he got was from young girls from the gym.
In that same week I met Lacey. She didn’t know the other guys but she was happy to talk to me. Most of the females on our block were older. I was the only one close to her age. Lacey, or as I called her – J.V., lived two doors down and was the ultimate tomboy. Played all kinds of sports, hence the nickname, and had a femininity that confused most men.
The only veteran on the block was Brandon. Brandon, who was now going by the nickname Shine because of his bald head, was a few years older than I. I’d known him since I was 8. He was a retired hustler, knowledgeable in some things and juvenile in others.
Lastly was the groundskeeper, Desmond or Des for short. Des is the “ole head” of Langley Heights, always giving advice, whether it’s wanted or not. While he may be in charge of keeping the block looking beautiful, his “Fuck you, pay me” mentality leaves a lot to be desired.
All these folks would become good friends as well as my biggest adversaries in the time to come.