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   h o w    t o    b e    a    p r i v a t e    e y e

--- H A L V A R D   J O H N S O N

Eat two pork sandwiches, a side order
of Brunswick stew, and a cup of gritty black coffee
at Foster's Barbecue Hut. Order another cup of coffee to go.
Take up your stake-out position in the rear lot
of Cooksie's Texaco station looking out over an unmowed
meadow toward a one-story frame house.
Make your coffee last until sunset, letting the last
few drops go down like chilled linseed oil.
Watch as someone drives up and parks parallel to the house
under the cork elms drooping over the front porch, pausing
in the light of the porch light to look up and down the street before
knocking, looking right up at Cooksie's for a second.
When the big man doesn't see you, let your breath out in a nervous burst.
Get out of your car and scamper down the incline behind the service
station into the meadow beside the house. Creep around to the back,
climb to a rickety screened porch, ease your way through the unlatched
door. Step up onto an old railway bench to see what you can see.

7. Count yourself lucky that the same loud rock music that prevents you from getting any kind of good recording muffles the telltale bumps and creakings of your maneuvers on the bench. 8. Take a couple photographs and step down from the bench, knocking loose as you do a slat from the back of the bench, which falls clattering into an empty metal basin underneath it. 9. Hop through the door and down the dilapidated rear steps, moon rolling out from behind a cloud to spotlight your getaway. Avoid revealing the location of your car by heading for a drainage ditch instead of Cooksie's. 10. Crouching low in the grass, watch the two men come out onto the porch, down the exterior steps, and into the dewy September meadow. Hear the smaller one shout, "Leave us alone. Leave us alone!"

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