My parents have these neighbors who they have to call the village on once a year to get them to clean up their yard because they throw their trash out the windows. Giant rats run from their mess. The paper boy flees complaining about the smell. I remember having to go home, and change my pants one day when I was in first grade because I sat on their couch, and it was covered in dog puke that they had long left there. And, they named their dog nigger. They’d call out to it. I don’t know how they made themselves feel above anyone, but somehow they did.
My parents planet giant arborvitaes between the two houses to act as a protective wall. They block the view, and act as the last line of defense to keep out soda bottles, and trash that the wind blows down the hill from the neighbors yard into my parents yard. One year my father left out a pie tin full of antifreeze to poison the deer that were eating these trees. A meter reader from the electric company was making his routine rounds to check the equipment, and reported this dish he saw to the state. I was at home when the officer showed up. I knew nothing about it, and my father had taken away the evidence, so I directed the officer towards the neighbor’s house thinking he just had the wrong address. He took one look on the other side of the hedge row, and never came back.
The father of the family living next door considered himself a handyman although that is like Manson calling himself a statesman. At least once a year my parents would be enlisted to watch his children while he went to the hospital because he had cut off a finger off with a power saw. He’d come over holding the finger to ask. He put an extra room on the house that fell down ever year. The roof leaked. He built his children a tree house with legs of different lengths, so not all of them touched the ground. He tried to put up a pre-made shed, and couldn’t follow the instructions. With the pieces in the wrong place it was the shape of a rhombus instead of the square it was pre-built to obtain. His son wanted a basketball hoop, so he cut the bottom off a five gallon plastic pail, and nailed it to the front of the house. When his son shot his first basket he found out the ball didn’t fit through the bottom of the pail because it was graduated. One time he asked to borrow a chainsaw. I told him I better have a look as my father doesn’t lend out tools. When I went over there where two circular saws stuck on opposite sides of the tree he was trying to cut down.
He worked at an appliance store. He took one of the stores neon signs home, and nailed it to the back off his house as a permanent ever glowing light source. The pack rat that he was, he’d bring home the empty boxes from the store, and throw them in the basement. One day the house caught fire because he grabbed the boxes from the alley, and one had a discarded still lit cigarette but in it.
My sister recalls going into the neighbor’s parents bedroom once to make a phone call when she was a child, and cell phones had yet to be invented. She had lost her keys, and needed to call our mother. She sat on the bed, and a large black fist popped out from between the frame, and the mattress. One time the neighbor’s daughter brought out her mother’s giant underwear. Not panties; underwear. There where shit, and blood stains in them. At the time we where too young to know why there where blood stains in them. We spent all afternoon, but none of us could figure out the answer to why there was blood present.
Today I created artwork.