One of the big complaints about small towns is, “I don’t like people being all up in my business. Nobody needs to know where I am or who I’m with.” Yeah, I get that. You don’t want your neighbors knowing you eat vanilla ice cream in your underwear.
Your secrets will remain hidden if you live in the big city. Let’s face it—neighbors there aren’t very, well, neighborly. People rush around, consumed by their own lives. Big cities celebrate a neighbor who’s quiet and keeps to himself.
“Oh yes, I have the best neighbor! I don’t even know his name, that’s how perfect he is. Not a peep out of him—I wish all my neighbors could be more like him.” What do they tell the police after SWAT arrives, guns blazing, to arrest their neighbor for a triple homicide? They repeat their good neighbor story, but amend it. “Well, except for the murders. But other than that, the perfect neighbor.” But what if the poor neighbor’s innocent? That’s where small town nosiness comes in handy.
Sometimes we need people to know what we’re doing and when we’re doing it. I’m not saying you’re on the verge of a crime spree. But we’ve all watched a crime show or two. What trips up the criminal time after time, putting them in jail faster than a hot knife through butter? When they don’t have an alibi.
Let’s just say you’re home by yourself. The police knock on your door, asking questions about someone who’s turned up dead. Who can vouch for you? If you live in the big city, you’re just out of luck. In fact, you probably should have played the stereo just a little louder, or bought that annoying dog, so the neighbors noticed you.
But if you live in a small town, you’re in luck. We don’t live our lives in private, thank goodness! Even if you’re sitting at home don’t worry. The neighbors can tell the police exactly when your car left the garage and when it returned. They can probably vouch for where you’ve been.
“Oh yeah, Officer, I know where Merle was last Wednesday around 5:15 p.m. Ya’ see, I was home taking care of my granddaughter after school. I do that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while her mama’s working at that fancy ladies’ store downtown. Yes sir, I promised Ella Mae, that’s my granddaughter, some hard candies if she finished her homework. She’s real smart in history, but she struggles with math, so I gotta give her a little bribe to finish up her homework. Anyway, Ella Mae and me, we hopped in my Chevy. That’s it out there, in the driveway. When we drove past the gas station…which gas station? You ain’t from around here, are ya’, Officer? It’s the only gas station in town.”
“Yes sir, when we drove past the station on our way to the Dollar General, I saw Merle’s truck parked in front of the number two pump. I waved at ol’ Merle, and he waved at me. What time was that? Well, Officer, we left the house after Judge Judy, and after I helped Ella Mae get on her shoes. I’d guess about 4:45 p.m. or so. We passed ol’ Merle about three minutes after that. Then we went inside the Dollar General, got Ella Mae’s hard candies and a Coke for me, said how ya do to Missy working the register. Then we headed back towards home.”
“Now when I saw ol’ Merle at the pump, before we got to the Dollar General, it reminded me I couldn’t come to dominos the next day. Yeah, I had a doctor’s appointment in the city, so I had to miss the game. Well, sir, I turned my truck toward Merle’s house, so I could stop by and let him know. But then I saw his car at the post office. Well, sir, I just pulled into the parking lot, right beside ol’ Merle’s Honda, and waited for him. When he came out we talked for a good ten minutes, until Ella Mae finished her candies and asked if we could go home. I told Merle I wouldn’t be at dominos the next day and headed to the house.”
“What was that, Officer? What time did I chat it up with Merle at the post office? Now let me think. Wheel of Fortune had just started when I got home, so it had to be 5:30. Merle and I talked a good bit, probably twenty minutes—that’s about how long it takes Ella Mae to eat a bag of those hard candies.”
“You say the guy went missing around 5:15? No sir, it couldn’t have been Merle. He’s as honest as the day is long, and he was talking to me. Not to mention, if he’d killed somebody, he’d ask to borrow my backhoe. You know, to bury the body. You’re welcome, Officer, anytime.”
Hopefully, the officer taking the statement brings plenty of paper. But really, that’s not your problem. Your alibi is solid.
Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1985 and lives in Grand Cane, Louisiana. She also writes books, which are for sale at www.jannfranklin.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org