I know I shouldn't complain: I've got a reasonably priced place with gorgeous hardwood floors, a fireplace, and a nice big backyard. It's just, there are some things about the neighborhood that I can't get used to. I wish we weren't so close to the airport, I wish we were near a supermarket, and I really wish the sniper in front of the house would go away.

I'll grant you, the break on the mortgage was nice. The broker was very understanding when we told him we wanted a few points shaved off our rate because of the bad plumbing, the shoddy garage roof, and all those shot-out windows that needed replacing.

And it's not just the money—our neighbors are great, too. The Culpin kid came over the day we moved in to ask if he could cut our grass with his old push-about Lawn Boy. I felt so bad for his parents after the incident. But what can you do? At least they still have the twins.

The shops might be out of walking range, but there's a good bookstore just a hop, a skip, and a desperate sprint from our back porch. My wife said we should contact the authorities, but I'm the new guy in the neighborhood. I don't want to get tagged as the guy who calls the cops every time there's a sniper training his gun on the crosswalk between the front door and the SUV.

Still, though... No matter how soothing the crickets are at night, I never forget that the sniper is out there. It's like having a popcorn hull between your teeth: You can't stop thinking about it until it's gone. We can't open the curtains during the day, we can't turn the lights on at night, and we certainly can't have pets. I mean, the mortgage allows pets. But the sniper doesn't.

And just try getting something to eat around here! Once the delivery guys figure out that our sniper will plug them the second they start up our walk, they stop delivering to us! When we try to order, they all ask, "406 Roberts? Is that the place with the sniper out front?" Sometimes, when a new restaurant opens up, we can get them to come over once or twice, but after the first few delivery guys are assassinated, the restaurant gets scared off and it's microwave burritos for us.

You know what else? I really wish that sniper would allow someone from Taco Town to retrieve Renaldo's bullet-riddled corpse out from under the sycamore.

On the upside, I guess the sniper keeps the kids home at night. They're at that age where they prefer tear-assing around town to spending time at home. Judy's 15, and that means all she thinks about is boys. Too bad for her none of her knights in shining armor have been willing to risk a .270 Winchester softnose between the eyes. I just tell her there'll be plenty of time for boys after the sniper's gone.

I'm getting a little fed up, though; I won't lie to you. The gutters are filling up with leaves, and I've gotta get them cleaned out before it snows. Man, when winter sets in, all the bulky clothes and ice are gonna make evasive maneuvering difficult. Well, at least we won't be saddled with hosting Christmas this year. Which reminds me, I can't imagine what we'll do for Halloween. Every time I try to turn on the walkway light, the sniper shoots it out. Should we even bother giving out candy this year? I just don't know.