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A week ago I was leaving my apartment about 5:45pm, just as it was starting to get dark. I walked out the door, and saw two cops hunkered down in my neighbor’s driveway. One was Hispanic, and the other White, both were unexpected by me. The Hispanic one waved gleefully as I stopped short and stared gape-mouthed, wondering if I was in some kind of trouble. The White cop just looked stern.

“Is there something wrong?” I asked, glancing around for an obvious pimp or knife-wielding maniac.

“Thehs been some drug activity in the naybahhood.” White cop told me. “Weah just keeping an eye on things. Do you mind if we stay heah for a couple a owaz?”

I just shrugged, “It’s not my house.”

And I thought that would be the end of it.

Monday nights I have class in downtown Providence that goes from 6:30-9:15pm. It’s only about a mile and a half, and there’s no parking downtown, so I walk. It’s a nice little walk, but it’s solidly dark when I come home, though the streets are well-lit. My neighborhood is low-income (and apparently has a drug problem), but everyone I encounter just ignores me, and I’m not going to assume the worst, or at least I wasn’t going to.

I had brunch with a friend and a friend of that friend and that friend’s friend, Donna. Donna is from Georgia and is apparently convinced that Providence is on par with Detroit or DC in terms of dangerous cities. “I was walking the dog the other day, and this car full of Mexicans stopped and were whistling at me. That’s what they do, you know, they stop you when you’re walking and kidnap you.” She also wanted the friend of a friend to pull up the reported police activity by neighborhood so she could study it, and maybe, I’m assuming, come up with excuses never to leave the house.

So I had stupid Donna’s voice in my head as I made my trek home in the dark. It was as uneventful as ever, actually more so, because the rather shady bar that I walk by wasn’t doing as much business as usual. I passed three teenagers, who ignored me, and no one else. Finally I got to my driveway, got my keys out, and saw a man approach me from our own yard inside our fence. I jumped, and got my hand on my pepper spray as he stepped into the light.

“I’m sorry to scayuh you, my name’s Dan.”

Dan is the stern White cop from the other day, and is once again hiding out in my backyard.

“I wanted ta introduce myself, we’ve been keepin an eye in the house down the street, and the way Providence is laid out, yeh always in someone’s backyaad.”

So Dan proceeded to tell me all about this house that is selling tons of drugs, and how they just can’t catch them, “they keep swallowin it, it’s a tough nut to crack.” I think Dan may have been a little bored because he told me way more information than I think he should have, “theyah usin that payphone over theah… we’ll probably just hafta tackle a guy.”

So I called my landlady, and told her that if she sees someone skulking around the backyard, it’s most likely Officer Dan. I guess it’s good that the only person to bother me when I’m out walking after dark is a police officer, I just wish he wasn’t hiding in my backyard.