Sunday, December 23, 2007

That Thing That Happened

Yeah, okay, so I'm back from talking with the police now. The end of the story is that nothing actually illegal happened so no charges to press or anything like that.

The beginning of the story is that I was wrapping up my nightly Snowball run in Guild Wars, definitely starting to feel the diminishing results as sleep beckoned, putting down some thoughts, preparing to fire off a blog entry or two and call it a night. Half-awake, in other words, and just waiting until my latest winning streak came to a close before I logged off and got ready for bed. Everyone else in the house was already asleep except for my brother, the other one, who was out and about.

Then, I heard this loud pounding that I, at first, dismissed as a figment of my imagination. An auditory hallucination caused by too much speed metal blaring through my headphones and listening to the game's sound effects too closely for too long. But it continued long enough to get my attention. Once I realized I should do something about it, I figured it was my brother. That he'd forgotten his key and how we can get into the house when that happens. So I wasn't in any big rush as I made sure I had pants and a shirt on (This is a very important thing to do before opening the door as I've learned the hard way.) and sleepily clomped down the stairs to fumble with the door. But when I opened it, I found not my younger brother but a strange car idling at the bottom of the driveway.

I paused, in the door, in my pajamas, expecting that it was some friend of my brother's that I didn't recognize and he was going to hop out, abashed at forgetting his key, now that he'd stomped back to the car after waiting for so long. And I could get in some big brotherly needling before getting back to my run.

But, no, it wasn't my brother or anyone he knew because, by that point, someone I didn't recognize had stepped out of the car and was, well, bellowing is the only word I think apt. Not quite shouting, not quite yelling, but not exactly talking in a normal tone of voice either. Nearly screaming at me, in the dead of the night, in the middle of my mother's quiet, peaceful neighborhood, demanding that I step outside.

Which, right, I don't know about you but when a random stranger pounds on my door in the middle of the night and begins yelling at me to step out of the door my first impulse is not "Okay, this sounds perfectly reasonable." But is more along the lines of "Oh shit, who the fuck did I piss off now and why do they want to beat the shit out of me this time?" And, so, forget about the fact that I had no shoes on and it was minus something or other beyond the door, there was absolutely no way I was setting one foot outside.

It went on like that for sometime. "Get the fuck out here!" "No." "Come out on the fucking porch!" "What do you want?" "For you to step outside!" "No." And so on until I finally realized I was talking to the son of my mother's next door neighbors. He's about my age or a year or two older and, well, I hadn't seen him let along spoken with him for years. Even though our families have been living side by side for over twenty at this point.

And, well, I'll be honest here, our family and his have never gotten along. Not to the point of angrily threatening each other in the middle of the night or anything but the sort of quiet tension between neighbors who just plain don't like each other which occasionaly boils over into the odd bush trimmed that shouldn't have been or that fence a foot past where it should be and the tense words that follow when you unexpectedly bump into each other at church, at the store. Wouldn't call it a feed but let's just say my mother thinks they've been planning on moving away ever since the wife died and she's not exactly going to feel sorry to see them go. Myself, I don't know, but, then, I don't live there and I don't have to think about it most of the time.

Anyhow, in my defense I'm awful with remembering faces and not only was I tired it was dark out but about the time I was recognizing who I was talking to the realization was dawning that he was incredibly drunk. Or high. Eyes definitely a little red and hazy and he wasn't exactly making coherent sense. If I wasn't stepping outside before, I certainly wasn't going to do it then because not only was he being threatening he was inebriated and there was no telling what he was going to do. At this point I was pretty much just shouting back at him since he'd been steadily and profanely insulting me the whole time. And, in retrospect, I probably could have handled it better up to and including just shutting the door and walking away. At the time, though, the adrenaline was pumping and the stupid macho juice was flowing, it was fight or flight time, and I wanted to win.

Not by getting into a fist fight or anything but, I think, by then I was just hoping to goad him into something illegal so I could get his stupid ass arrested. Sadly, pissing me off isn't illegal. Yet. But I definitely wanted him to pay for disturbing me. Eventually, what I got out of him was that he'd found some dog shit on his porch and had, apparently, decided that was the last straw. That's, at least, what he was yelling at me about beside my being fat, retarded, and unwilling to step outside and "handle things like men" (Seriously, I wish I'd been calm enough to remember exactly what he said because some of his "insults" were classics. Nothing like a drunkard's logic, after all. I mean, it's funny now but I was pretty shaken up at the time.).

Now, again, to be perfectly honest it's entirely possible that he found some canine droppings on his porch. His family has this ultra-annoying, huge German Shepard things that barks and growl every time it's outside (Which is, where my mother lives, technically illegal. Not that we've ever complained. Now, our dog, who like most would bark on occasion, they managed to call the cops on more than once. It's been that kind of petty crap for years with these people, basically.) especially if you happen to be outside at the same time. They let it run around, unleashed on the front lawn (Again, technically illegal) and it has the nasty habit of crapping all over the place. Including on our lawn - as I tend to find out when I've mown the lawn - and, from talking to the folks down the block, on theirs as well. Personally, I don't give a shit, for lack of a better term but it annoys my mother and, if she finds it on our property and she's in the right mood she'll get a shovel or something and flip it onto theirs. And sometimes it's landed on their porch, sure. But, for one, she hasn't done that it months, according to her (As you can well imagine, we've done some talking about this by now.). And, for another, there's about a foot of snow on the ground and I'm not sure you could find a lump of dog shit in there even if you wanted to.

In short, I think he got rip-roaring drunk and the dark memory of finding the same disgusting lumps of shit his dog leaves all over our yard on his front porch flashed through his mind and he decided to make a big deal out of it. And that meant pounding on our door around midnight and whatever he was planning to do if anyone bothered to come outside to play.

Finally, he'd had enough and stomped off into his car with his friend and sped off into the night. But not before he'd managed to tear half the Christmas lights off our bushes. I mean, it's not exactly the most extravagant display ever but I'd put some time and care into putting them up and it's the kind of dick move that really typifies what sort of person I was dealing with, I think. "Oh noes, I can't trick this person into stepping outside, well, screw it I'm just going to smash something now." Again, if it wasn't for the fact that this was the middle of the night and he was completely out of his fucking mind and, therefore, scarily threatening, it would be hilarious.

By this time, the rest of the household had woken up. Except my mother who managed somehow to sleep through it. Anyhow, we managed to wake her up shouting amongst ourselves about what to do. Personally, I just wanted to forget it and move on with my life although I was definitely feeling my heart pound in my chest a bit. I mean, sorry if this makes me less of a man or something but that's as close as I've come to a fistfight in a while. And, having been in some real serious scrapes in the past and been incredibly lucky to have, well, survived them, I was feeling pretty scared. And I think everyone else realized that even as I was trying to affect my typical cool, calm detachment. My brother, the one I picked up at the airport, wanted to march over and have some words of our own. My sister wanted to sue them about one of the many things we've argued about over the years. But my mother was adamant and insisted we call the police. And before we could stop her she was on the phone with 911 - this is, I think, the sort of case where you just want to call up their front desk or whatever instead of tying up emergency resources.

Anyhow, to recap, again, nothing much happened. It gets marked down somewhere as "neighborly tension" or something. Some report that they'll drag out the next time this happens or if this gets worse. A record that things aren't so cordial between us so that no one can be surprised when it comes down to the Hattfield and McCoys thing. But as threatening and nasty as the guy was he didn't do anything illegal. All he did was pull the lights off the trees and, since they didn't even break, it's not even like he destroyed our property or anything. He didn't even really threaten me. Never said anything like, "Come outside so I can beat your ass." Whatever menace I felt was implied, certainly, but largely in my own head. Can't even get him on a potential DUI since his friend was driving and I couldn't see if he was as shitfaced as our neighbor before they drove off. The officers took down our information and made a few notes about the whole thing (Brief ones, I saw the notepad as he was writing. Not that I blame him or anything since this is all probably nothing but, you know, no one likes to be dismissed.)

As you can probably tell, I'm still a bit shaken up by it. Mostly, trying to understand what happened. To go over the events and get my story straight in case some detective decides to follow-up as the officers feebly pledged might happen. Just amped up by the surge of uncertainty. The rush of emotions about what did and might happen. Which sucks since I'm still bone tired and more than ready to go to bed. But my mind's racing and I just know I'm not going to be able to sleep until I get this straight, if only in my own mind. Because, although I think I could have handled things better - mostly by just walking away - I think I did about as well as I could. I didn't escalate things, didn't step outside, didn't try to function on his base level, and, instead, tried to keep calm and rational and did the right thing by reporting a potential problem to the authorities. I mean, it's probably nothing but if he's going to make a habit of pounding on my mother's door in the middle of the night and making veiled threats then you can be damn sure I'm going to get the police, the courts, and everyone else I can on his sad, sorry ass. Because what scares me isn't what happened but what could have. What if this guy had a gun? Or if he'd snapped on another night when it was just my mother home, alone? What if I had actually met his demands and stepped outside? The possibilities of what could have happened are going to haunt me. And there are so many because whatever he was on, it meant that he was capable of pretty much anything.

No comments: