where the doorknob should have been.
Everything was keyed from inside,
including the metal grates
across the basement windows.
They propped up a mannequin
on their leather couch
before they left the house –
a dummy in a black wig and kimono,
the National Enquirer folded on its lap.
The neighborhood voyeur
might have been roused
had he peeked through the glass.
The night burglar might have thought
the occupants were kinky, or just lunatics
with a shotgun’s trigger wired to spring
from a moving hinge.
The German Shepherd growled from a cage
at every least sound.
She could grind bones down with animal ease.
Legs would have been no contest for her,
just pretzel sticks in a salivating vice grip,
if she could have escaped her paddock.
There was nothing worth stealing:
the living room sparkled silver on gold
like a 60s’ Slingerland drum set:
a medley of Montgomery Ward’s furnishings –
plastic-coated couch and chairs,
marble table, hurricane lamps, Moses
and the 10 commandments…
A five-foot statuette of Rebecca at the Well
stood at the front entrance.
The door was propped by a wooden cane
that buttressed the door handle,
just beneath the two deadbolts
and sliding chain lock.
The dining room reflected textured wall-paper
and brown wainscot in the smoked mirrors.
Nevertheless, the house was dark,
an invitation for a random thief from the street
to test its labyrinth of alarms,
its ambush of latches constructed from fears
triggered by the Great Depression,
the Great War, and the nightly news –
a million hands warming over garbage cans,
hungry eyes in ski masks.
“Suburban Lockup” was originally published by Lake Shore Publishing.