Friday, May 9, 2014
Neighbor From Hell Chronicles
Occasionally I have mention the neighbor from hell who lives across the street from me and how he keeps a very close and uncomfortable watch on me specifically and my family in general. The main way I know this involves how whenever I go into my backyard almost invariably the blinds of his second floor window, which has a clear and unobstructed view of my property, open with him looking down at me. Paranoia you say? Well let me give you a brief idea of how this all started, our unfortunate run-ins, and the occurrence that happened just this last Monday which even freaked out my doubtful wife.
From the moment my family and I moved into our current house back in the summer of 2000 the neighbor from hell, to be called the “Squire” from now on, never was very welcoming. Now his wife, who later survived a messy divorce with this asshole, at the time was open and welcomed us to the area but the Squire always hung back with this stern disapproving look. As the months passed and my wife and his casually chatted whenever we saw each other outside I frankly received a couple of tsunamis worth of bad vibes from the guy. I won't say he and I never spoke during those encounters but I honestly don't remember any verbal exchanges.
The first bad incident with the Squire came during that same summer though. I was mowing my lawn and trying to cut up several long sprouts growing up from the exposed roots of the crape myrtles trees that line my backyard fence. For whatever reason the lawnmower blade never chewed them up thoroughly forcing me to run over them several times. As I was about to give up and move on to cut the rest of the lawn I felt this strong and forceful tap on my shoulder. I jumped, and turned to see the Squire holding a pair of limb cutters and grinning like some he had accomplished some neat trick.
Instead of approaching me from the front and getting my attention that way, I had a strong impression that he purposely came at me from the back and enjoyed that his tap on my shoulder clearly surprised me. As he handed me the limb cutters he said something about it looked like I needed these. Maybe I shouldn't have been put off by his seemingly friendly gesture but as I have already wrote, he seemed to enjoy my discomfort at being surprised. Truthfully at the risk of already going over the edge of irrational conclusions the encounter was damn creepy.
I quickly clipped the unwanted growths and handed him back his cutters and briefly thanked him. For a second he hesitated, as if he wanted something more, and then left my yard as I finished mowing the lawn. At that time I didn't dwell on the event, I had an inclination that he was a jerk but in the greater scheme of things we're all that way from time to time.
Just to be thorough on the slightly bizarre incidents I also have to mention the time my family and I were returning from our first Disney cruise. The Squire and his soon to be ex-wife were once again in their yard and saw us pull into the driveway.
“Hey you guys!” The Squire's wife said coming to the edge of her yard. “Word around the neighborhood is that you all went on a Disney cruise, how was it?”
That was the cue for my wife to recount our adventures. All the while the Squire stood several feet off next his car with what was at best an indifferent expression on his face saying nothing. Since the conversation was between the ladies I'm sure I waved at the Squire to acknowledge his presence. What I got in return was him gesturing towards a portion of my side yard, which faces the street, where a huge chunk of cement was resting. “I didn't put that there,” he said, “ I don't know who did.”
It was an out and out odd statement since while I, of course, didn't want random chunks of cement left in my yard at that time I had no reason to believe he would ever do such a thing. Again I didn't dwell on the subject and, given my procrastinating nature, a couple of weeks later I eventually got around to removing it. This is where I begin with the meat of this drawn out story.
It was during what had to have been the hottest day in the summer of 2002 that my wife scheduled one of her yard sales. It was insane with cars and people constantly going. Both my wife and her mother, who came to “help out”, were wheeling and dealing. The result was me running around with my head chopped off proving the point that too many chiefs and not enough Indians is a messed up situation. Sometime during the chaos my wife told me to pull my car out and park it along an already crowded curb so we had the room for a guy to back his truck up to the garage and load up the old couch he had just bought. Unfortunately for me the one empty space was directly in front of the Squire's driveway. Yes, I screwed up, but I was running around in a daze and had every intention of moving the vehicle after the couch buying guy drove away. However, I got sidetracked and never got around to moving the car back in the driveway.
Somewhere around one o'clock in the afternoon the crowd suddenly disappeared, or in my opinion wised up to the fact it was just damn hot and humid to go around looking to buy other peoples unwanted crap. When I finally went over to my car to move it back in the driveway I found a note obviously from the Squire. It read: Don't ever block my driveway again.
This was where I first got pissed. Instead of just doing the proper neighborly thing and walking over to say I was blocking his driveway and that I needed to move my car he pulls some passive-aggressive shit leaving a note that oozed half-assed intimidation. Hell, I fully understood his point of view and the inconvenience I caused him. At the first house my wife and I lived there was a jerk who made a habit out of parking on the curb directly across from my driveway. Had the the Squire just walked over and stated his case I would have apologized profusely as I rushed over to move my vehicle. Of course, my wife being the wiser of our little team told me to leave it alone.
Now somewhere along the way the Squire and his wife had a parting of the ways. All I will say on that matter is that the neighborhood grapevine suggested their relationship was seriously dysfunctional with the spouse cutting her losses and leaving him with everything. Her departure I believe allowed the event that has shaped my distaste, bordering on outright loathing, of this area and all the people like him I have met here.
Strangely enough the incident that almost caused a violent encounter between the Squire and myself is centered around his habit of secretly coming into my yard and cutting limbs from a tree situated close to the street. At the time I was working day shift where I would occasionally come home to find a pile of limbs sitting in my yard. This anonymous and unwanted gardener remained a mystery until my wife and son returned home early after a doctor's appointment.
The way my wife related the discovery once the Squire saw her and my son drive up he packed up his equipment and without saying a word walked back over to his house and went inside. The only thing greater than the surreal nature of the event was how angry I became. This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me, I had enough of his bizarre behavior and was determined to confront the bastard. Had he walked up to my wife and gave some explanation of his actions like the limbs were blocking a stop sign I would have blown it off.
Let's just say when I finally caught him outside things went rapidly downhill. A detailed account would be both impractical for its length and far too bias on my part to have any meaning. Neighborhood scuttlebutt suggested that the Squire had some sort of friendly influence with the local town and county officials and during our exchanges he did play “I'm going to get you fired and then sue the pants of you” card.
I'm not actually sure how long the event lasted but we did come within seconds of coming to blows several times and it was only my wife coming outside that prevented it from happening. The one thing I can reliably report is that at some point the Squire said to my wife, “Your husband better watch his attitude, it could get him hurt.”
I replied with an uncustomary clever response. “That maybe, but it won't be from the likes of you.” From the sudden surprised look on his face I knew I had scored a point on that one. What my wife was able to gleam from this asshole was that our tree was blocking the stop sign--no it wasn't--and he as some self appointed neighborhood authority was cutting our limbs as some sort of civic duty.
The final result was a Cold War with several smaller encounters that only exacerbated the situation. While I never directly tried to start anything I can honestly write the Squire has taunted me several times whenever he had some friends around and I was alone. Despite widespread opinion and some actual evidence to the fact, I am not stupid and never took his bait because if one thing was certain I am sure the bastard reported me to his lawyer and had cooked some plan to get me in serious trouble. For a couple of years after that the Squire and I settled into a rather comfortable and quiet hatred and just glared at each other while wishing very hard the other would catch a painful and terminal form of cancer.
This was also about the time that I noticed the Squire began keeping watch from his second story window just about every time I went into the backyard. This was easy for him since he largely works out of his house, and I am very serious, rarely leave it for more than a day. The one exception was a period of time one year when I guess he went on an actual vacation. I am not proud of the fact that, after noticing his absence, I found myself hoping that he had died of a heart attack while alone. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that he was still alive, but at least things went quiet for an extended period of time.
The proverbial applecart was upset when I learned--a year after it happened--that the Squire had called the deputy sheriff on us because he thought there was an abandoned car in our yard. Long story short, my wife, in her infinite wisdom, decided to use a car purchasing service instead of doing the wheeling and dealing ourselves allowing the dealership to take the old car off our hands as part of the trade-in. This resulted in us having an extra car that I decided to donate to charity.
Of course, the charity couldn't just drive right over with a wrecker. They gave us a time frame of three to four days before they could take possession and that we had to leave the vehicle out in an easily assessable place so it could be loaded on a wrecker. So the old car was parked in the driveway with the license tag already transferred to the new Toyota Corolla my wife had picked out.
Having the old, tag-less car on the driveway freaked the Squire out resulting in him badgering the sheriff department to the point they sent a deputy to our front door to check out the situation. My wife, luckily, was the person the deputy talked with and in an effort to prevent me from exploding again didn't say a word about this at all to me. When I did learn about the sheriff being called my wife made me promise not to do anything about or confront the Squire. As I wrote, there maybe an opinion by others that I lack a certain level of intelligence but I know what a losing situation looks like and another confrontation with him was certainly one. Since then things have been uneventful, at least until this last Monday which curiously enough has proven all my assumptions about the Squire.
My wife stayed home from work because of allergies allowing me to close the door to the bedroom and get an uncustomary level of prolonged sleep. Sometime early in the afternoon the Squire comes walking over to my house, knocks on the door, and after my wife answers gives some half-assed story about how he accidentally left his iPad on the roof of his car as he drove off. He continued to explain to my wife that he had “pinged” its location and, from her report, showed her a cell phone screen with a green dot indicating its location inside our house.
I do remember her coming into the bedroom that day looking for something but in all honesty it's a common occurrence when she stays home so I went back to sleep after she walked back out. Just so I can conclude this overly long chronicle I'll cut to the chase. After my wife looked through several rooms searching for the Squire's iPad which she could not find despite the little green dot on dickhead's cell phone screen which said it was located in our house.
Now here is the punchline, at some point a few hours later the Squire went to his mailbox after the postal dude drove by and found that someone had already found his missing iPad tablet and placed it inside. My wife said all through this the Squire was on his best behavior. He was polite and courteous but she had long since come to terms with his previous rude conduct and developed a friendly neighbor relationship with the guy. I'll admit, this irritated the living shit out of me but my wife is an adult and I can't tell her who to associate with, even though I did remind her many times about how the Squire acted towards me. To be blunt, she had long since dismissed my opinion of the guy saying, “well you're just being paranoid.”
However, once the Squire found his iPad instead of manning up and coming back over to say he had found it the shit CALLED MY SON AT HIS JOB! For those not keeping score or relegating me to just extreme exaggeration this guy could not find the gumption to at least make a phone call to my wife. I just can't shake the conclusion the Squire figured I might answer the phone forcing him to talk with me. This did also force my wife to concede that the guy is several french fries short of a complete Happy Meal, especially after my son returned home from work saying the unexpected and highly unusual phone call creeped him out.
This circumstance did bother my attorney wife enough to walk over to the Squire's house, and in tactful diplomatic terms, tell him never to pull such a stunt like that again. How does this relate to my initial statement that the Squire has a habit of watching me when I'm in my backyard? I happened to ask my son that night how many times does the dickhead, our common term for the guy, come to the little restaurant he works at during the day. My son responded that he had never seen the guy there. So good folks, who I am sure are far more rational, how and why does the Squire know where my son works?