Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Psycho Next Door

It's past 11 in the morning and I still don't have my morning newspaper. This is after three calls to customer service. I like to read my paper while I eat breakfast, but when I didn't have a paper when I got up and they said they'd get me one within an hour, I thought I'd read it with my mid-morning cup of tea. There was still no paper. And then I didn't have one in the hour they told me they'd get it to me then. Now I'm hoping I get one in time for lunch. I would suspect that my psycho neighbors stole it, but I seriously doubt they were up early enough to snag it before I got to it, and I also seriously doubt they'd bother with a newspaper for anything other than to line the cat box.

I got to learn all about these particular people in a particularly juicy over-the-back-fence (well, my front porch) gossip session with another neighbor in the middle of the night last night. It turns out I've been in the middle of a crazy soap opera and had no idea.

I already knew I kind of hated these people when they very quickly racked up three strikes against them. The guy was out with one of their dogs and when the dog ran at me, barking and snarling, instead of saying "no!" or "stay!" or in any way making any move to restrain the dog, he just said, "He doesn't bite." Based on some rather painful personal experience, I'm not inclined to trust that because it seems like dogs the owners let run amok with no restraint or discipline are probably more likely to bite. So whenever a dog runs barking and snarling at me and the owner just casually says, "Don't worry, he won't bite," I anticipate that very soon the dog's teeth will be sunk into my leg. So that's strike one. Then soon after these people moved in, dog waste started appearing on my front lawn. There are common areas that are okay for dogs to be walked on, with front lawns off-limits, and even then you're supposed to clean up after them, so that's doubly bad. Strike two. And then it turned out they had two dogs, and they bark constantly when the people aren't home, day in and day out, all night and day. Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap. It's so loud I can hear it in my office, upstairs and at the back of my house, as far as I can go from these people's house. Meanwhile, their house faces my bedroom, so it's really loud in there. Not only is it incredibly annoying, but I worry about the dogs because a dog that barks constantly like that is not a happy dog. It's either lonely, bored, scared or uncomfortable. Strike three. That's not even getting into the trail of cigarette butts these people leave down the sidewalk and in the lawn, or the fact that they tend to sit out on their patio to smoke and talk loudly (again, facing my bedroom window) in the middle of the night. The smell of their smoke is so strong that if I have my office window open (again, in the back of the house and facing away from them), I'll end up checking around my house to make sure nothing's on fire.

So, last night, the barking was even worse, and had gone on for hours. It was getting close to 11 at night, and I knew I wouldn't be getting any sleep. In frustration, I stepped outside to bellow "shut up!" just as another neighbor was coming out to bang on their door, so we ended up chatting. It turns out that the current occupant is the daughter of the woman who lived there before. That woman had been trying to sell the house, but then her daughter got kicked out of college for smoking pot, so she just moved in there with her weird loser boyfriend. I'd thought that the woman who lived there before seemed nice, in my few interactions with her, but I didn't know the whole story. Apparently, the daughter is bi-polar and doesn't take her medication (with the interaction I've had with her, I'm not sure if she's truly got a mental illness or is just a brat and the mother was making excuses. According to this other neighbor, the story about what was wrong with the daughter tended to change. There were times she supposedly had a brain tumor, too, and refused to take her medication for that. Um, huh?). At one point, she and her boyfriend attacked and beat up the mother, and there was a restraining order to keep the daughter and boyfriend away from the mother's house, and she told this other neighbor to call the police if she saw the daughter (I am SO glad I didn't know about this at the time). The woman was also something of a crazy cat lady, one of those hoarders. I knew she had a number of cats (including the one who inspired Loony in my books) because I was always seeing different ones in the window, and innocent, dumb me, I thought maybe she was fostering them for a shelter, or something like that. No, she just collected cats and had nine of them at the time she moved out -- and when she moved out, she asked this other neighbor to take them to the Humane Society for her. So basically, she just kept a lot of cats and then was willing to dump them all when she moved. No wonder "Loony" kept ending up on my porch. She was probably asking for help (and if I'd known what was going on, I'd have been tempted to keep her, in spite of my allergies, because I liked that cat).

So, basically, I have a drug-using, psycho bitch of a neighbor who doesn't know how to care for animals. Fortunately, this is a condo community with a management company and a homeowners' association, and in a neighborhood with its own homeowners' association, so we have a little more leverage than if we were just dealing with a regular house. Still, about all the homeowners' association can do is come down on the owner, which is the mother, who let the kid run wild in the first place, to the point she beat her up, so I'm not sure how much good that will do. My other neighbor and I are already plotting ways we might be able to get the legal system or animal control involved (these are cute dogs that would make great pets with some training, so I suspect they'd be better off in a shelter where they might get adopted into a good home than they are with these people). I'm sure there's fodder for a book in here somewhere, and the other neighbor has already asked to be written in as the one who kills the crazy bitch.

Now I think I'll see if I have a newspaper. I may break out in a cold sweat without my daily dose of crossword puzzles.

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