I was sad to read that Rubin Carter died. I used to live two houses down from him. He liked to garden and wore a wide-brimmed, brown hat while he planted impatiens around a big old tree in the center of his front yard. Sometimes he’d smoke a cigar and looked at his garden. He listened to Dido while he washed his car by hand. I don’t remember the car’s make, but it was black and always shone. No smudges at all. I walked past him while he was standing in his yard talking on his phone one time and as I passed he said, “Password? Freedom.” There was such emphasis on “freedom.”
And once, I walked past his house and there was a burned leather easy chair in the front yard and a charred hole in his roof. A day or two later, there was a dumpster in his yard, filled with detritus and crushing the impatiens. I was worried he’d died in the fire, but saw him standing in his yard talking on his phone a few days later. He was okay, but the house needed a lot of repair and he stayed elsewhere for a while. I moved not long afterwards, but, when I walked through the neighborhood I’d stop to look at his flowers.