Two kids on Litchfield Avenue kick a soccer ball over the hedge into the Paterson yard. "Hey mister can we have our ball back?" Bob Paterson works for UPS and hurt his back making deliveries. He's been home on disability for months and gotten even crankier than he used to be. There's a nasty mutt that circles the yard angrily, leashed to a rusty post in the middle of the dirt lawn. Lidless garbage cans loaded with empty beer bottles, cigarette butts overflowing a pail filled with black water, a cracked concrete stoop. Nobody goes into that yard without an invitation, but nobody ever gets an invitation from Bob. He doesn't give a shite what other people think.
The boys are uncertain what to do. The ball sailed over the hedge even though they didn't mean to kick it in that direction, of course. "It just went there, ma," they would protest later on. They see Bob staring out the window in his tee shirt, smoking. He breaks into an evil smile. No way is he going to come out and give them their ball which is plainly visible, lying there within snapping range of the mutt. They shout one more time. "Hey Mister. We're sorry. Can you get the ball?"
They hear music coming from inside Bob's house. It's Charlie Rich singing, Lord I feel like goin home. I tried to see it through. But it was too much for me. Now I’m comin home to you. Bob just stands there at the living room window smoking and smiling. The song doesn't mean anything to the kids. They realize they're not getting their ball back. What can you do? Some people are mean.
They leave and go to Dan's house. Dan's mom tells the boys that they should feel sorry for Mr. Paterson because his meanness will ultimately destroy him. He's a very unhappy person. "But he's keeping our ball. He's a creep." She consoles them with cookies and candy, but it doesn't bring the ball back. "It isn't fair!" Life isn't fair. Dan's mom says that's why there are so many lawyers in this country. Because people are mean. If people were nicer to each other we wouldn't need all them lawyers.