Sunday, September 09, 2007

And What About Saleem?


Rumors circled around the block the day Saleem was arrested. Some mechanics said he got out on $40,000. The papers said bail had been set for $200,000. But no matter what the fee, all bet he was out.

But the next day, Saleem was still in jail. Friday passed, and his shop bustled with activity. All day long Lincoln Towncars pulled in and out. His shop was a model of busyness. His wife even stopped by, no one knows why. She left their two children at home. In Blissville, everyone was kind to her, respectful of her plight.

Saturday passed much the same. The shop closed at its usual hour, ten or so at night. And the next day, Sunday when no shop opens, it opened again. And still Saleem hasn't returned.

No one seems to talk about him, except for me. By my count he's been in prison four days now. I can't imagine what that must be like for him. I didn't know him well, except that he seemed a dour man, suspicious of my camera, protective of his shop.

One mechanic told me that everyone in Blissville's garages knew about Saleem's trade in stolen parts. He added that this was not the first time Saleem has been in trouble. He scraped with the law a year ago, and before that, six years ago, when he had another shop well beyond Blissville's borders, across the tracks on Northern Boulevard.

While Saleem was over there, we in Blissville were having our own scandal. I remember that day because when I woke, police cars were parked up and down the block. And we in Blissville almost never see police. I joined my neighbors and watched as the police pulled car after car from the narrow, one-story cement building just two doors down the block from where I lived.

The investigating lieutenant made her rounds. When she came to me, I could only tell her that I'd seen it open on from time to time, between two and five in the morning. She asked me if I'd known that the people running it were trading in stolen cars. I shook my head. I'd had no idea.

For I had thought them a good neighbor, quiet and clean.

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