I accidentally started waving to the mannequin. Or mannequins really, but only one ever seemed to wave back. The mannequin would be important to the story, but I didn't know that as I waved.
The mannequin belonged to my new neighbor, Linda, but she would not be important to the story. Except that she had a gun. I never saw it, but she once told our other neighbor, Mitch, that she had one. She told him about the gun after his dog somehow got free and ran into her house. She said she would shoot his dog the next time it came into her house. I believed her, and Mitch did too. She was the type of person who would have a gun and shoot a dog. She liked cats.
I was living next to Linda with my husband and two young sons. I was not the type of person who would have a gun. I did have a dog, though, so I had a six-inch cement barrier poured along the fence that separated Linda's yard from mine, to make sure my dog never got out. The last thing I needed was a dead dog.
Linda actually owned three mannequins. I didn't realize there were so many until I found myself on her porch one early summer afternoon, surrounded by them. They were fully dressed, all in winter coats despite the weather, seemingly having a tea party. Two were seated together with porcelain teacups, empty, in front of them. The other one was upright, supported by a solid metal stand connected at her torso. She was holding up one hand, seemingly in friendly greeting to passers-by. The three mannequins appeared to be having a conversation. I decided to steal the standing one, the one to whom I had waved.
I stole the mannequin for my friend Deana.
Since I waved to the mannequin and confided that small embarrassment to her, Deana and I joked about stealing it. We would have to get drunk first (of course), and then we would take her. It became a well-worn subject of conversation over the next several years, yet there was never a clear understanding of our intentions with respect to the mannequin once we had her. But on the morning of the day the "For Sale" sign was placed in Deana's yard, the plan for the mannequin suddenly crystallized, at least for me. I would steal the mannequin and place her next to the "For Sale" sign in Deana's yard. I would use the mannequin to showcase the home, just like the models on The Price is Right.
I knew she would move anyway, but by stealing the mannequin for her, I hoped Deana would understand, in a way she otherwise might not, how much she meant to me and how much I wanted her to stay.
Of course, I should have probably considered the potentially deterrent effect of a mannequin, dressed in full winter garb on a warm summer afternoon, on a...