The sheriff department's officer was standing on my doorstep, still trembling with excitement. The red and blue lights from the patrol car flashed over his face, which was incredulous at the site of the person who opened the door at three in the morning - me, a middle-aged, gray-haired man in Nick & Nora PJs with horsies on them.
"We had to take your friend to jail because he was banging on someone's door with a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a full-handled axe in the other," he said.
He was trying hard not to let the trace of a smile materialize over his proud face. In this neighborhood, nothing interesting ever happens, so flatfoots in patrol units aren't likely to become gun-pulling guardians of sleeping innocents.
"I almost shot him!," he said with a kind of glee not totally appropriate for such an admission.
The "friend" in question was a member of a visiting traveling band. He'd gotten drunk while messing around with some of the big boy tools in my garage and wandered out into unwitting suburbia. He's a sweet kid who'd never hurt anyone, but, in the dark of night he probably looked like any other crazed axe murderer. The cops found out he was just a goof later when they had to repeatedly ask him to stop breakdancing in the drunk tank.
And so it's gone around this house for three or four years now. We've opened our home up to kids in traveling bands, offering them a good square and a place to catch some shuteye as they tread across the country trying to make their musical dreams come true.
My own kids are in a band. Three or four bands, actually. Journalistically, it would be bad form to tell you who they are. What's important to know is they are active, touring musicians who spend many days a year in different cities. They've met a lot of people and surfed a lot of couches.
As good citizens of the do-it-yourself music community, my wife and I have always felt it's important to reciprocate every nice gesture the kids have received. I'm happy to report, they have received many.
At least, that's how this started, with us trying to satisfy the karma police. Little did we know that it would involve the actual police on occasion.
One Sunday morning, the familiar, heavy-handed knock of law enforcement came on the front door.
"Are you expecting company?" the officer asked, investigating a bad case of bedhead and guessing I probably was not.
I told him we were waiting on some kids from Arizona, who were supposed to arrive hours earlier.
"Well, I found them," the officer said, barely hiding his disgust. "They're sleeping in a van in front of someone's house down the street. They scared your neighbors, so they called us."
Again, all very innocent. The band had arrived in the early, early morning. Like considerate guests, they figured their hosts were asleep, so they chose to nap in their van until daylight and a more appropriate time to announce their arrival. Sadly, they'd jotted down the address incorrectly, causing the confusion.
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