What do you know? I'm back! It's only been five years. I remembered another reason why I stopped writing this story before, though--the nightmares returned. I think it will probably happen again but maybe if I just spit the story out and get it over with--because I do like the idea of having the whole story told--it will not be too bad. Plus, there are lessons to be learned and if somebody comes along and reads this and can learn the easy way, by reading, more power to them. Much recommended over actually living through something like this. I try to keep the telling a little light, but the truth is that it was at times incredibly traumatic and we suffered from the aftereffects for years. If you happen upon this because you are living a bad neighbor situation yourself--I feel for you. Unless, of course, you are the crappy neighbor doing all the instigating and then of course, you can go straight to Hell. Does anybody who is objectively the crappy neighbor ever realize they are? I couldn't say. Because we were not the crappy neighbors, man! No but really. We weren't.
In case you are new to the saga, here are the first six parts:
Here is where I left off in Part VI:
Well, by the time we did that and came back out, Wanda had figured out that we were back. I remember she was in her back yard, perched up on their lookout and then practically straddling the top of the fence, cordless phone in hand and screaming at me. She let me know that she had already called the police, for which I thanked her, and then as we got ready to leave again, I remember she screamed out, “Get back here, you RED-HEADED BITCH!!!!” That’s always made me sort of chuckle. Whoa. Call me anything but not RED-HEADED. That’s just too low.
Off we went, and the details are little fuzzy now, but Shannon and I went to get my husband at school. I had to go into our class, call him out, and then he had to excuse himself and leave. For some reason, we ended up driving back by the house.
This time, Darryl was there. And this time instead of me promising bad scenarios to Wanda, it was Scotty who was pushed too far, and he went after Darryl…
So, there we were, approaching our house. It was me, Scotty, and Shannon, the babysitter. We were in our white Pontiac TranSport minivan. I know for sure we weren't planning to stay long, because we just pulled up alongside our driveway. Ultimately, we ended up staying just a very short time because Darryl decided to make an appearance. He strode out of his house and approached my fabulous husband, who was in the driver's seat. He asked if we were staying and we said no, but we would be back. "Good, the law's already been here twice." Well, I'm all for that; the situation is obviously rapidly deteriorating. There was a sort of escalating exchange, and I can truly say that my fabulous husband was trying his best not to contribute to the escalation. Until. Until Darryl said something rather inflammatory that ended with the word "boy." Oh yes. Yes, he did. The situation went from simmering to nuclear in a split second. I very clearly remember the word "boy," realizing "oh crap, it is ON," and sure enough, my husband opened the door and jumped out. I am sure Shannon remembers us both screaming "No! NO! Don't touch him, NOOOOOO, you'll kill him. NO!" But by the time my husband even had his door open, Darryl had beaten a retreat to the back of the minivan, and he was getting ready to bolt. This was an excellent idea, because my husband easily had 6 inches and 100 pounds on Darryl, which was also the reason for our screams for him to stop.
Fortunately, he did stop. Whether it was because of all the shrieking or because he still had enough control to realize somebody could really get hurt, he stopped. He got back in the TranSport, and we headed back to Shannon's house to pick up the children. By this time it was dark and definitely past their bedtime. We managed to get them settled down despite all the excitement of the cat in their bathroom and the multiple relocations throughout the evening, and no doubt despite whatever weird vibes we had to be giving out.
By the time they got to sleep, it was close to 10:00 p.m. My fabulous husband and I sat and discussed the insanity that had just happened. Within about 30 minutes, we realized that we had to call the police. My husband worked the night shift, and I was not at all confident that Wanda and Darryl would be able to control themselves overnight, as amped up as they were. So we called 911. Surprising no one, the dispatcher knew exactly who we were and what was going on and said she would dispatch someone right away. About 10 minutes later, we heard a knock and opened the door to two gentlemen. One was a plainclothes police officer and the other was a uniformed policeman. We invited them in, and the plainclothes police officer introduced himself by saying, and I quote:
"I'm the cat liaison."
If I live to be 100, I will never forget that moment. Never. He stepped up over the threshold, and we told him our story. Apparently the police had been called multiple times that night and it was growing pretty old, although obviously this was the first time we had called, busy as we were getting the cat cared for and making sure the children were out of the strike zone. When I got to the point where I said that we paid $78.40 to the vet to help the kitty, he held up his hand and said "Hold on. I think you just bought yourself a cat. Do you have the receipt?" I said that I did and went and got it for him. As I handed it over, he said "I will be right back." He and the officer were gone about 10 minutes, and then he returned without the officer and said, "They don't want to pay for the cat's vet bill, even though they are claiming it's their cat. I have to tell you that the minute this cat goes outside, they have said they are going to take it." I told the Cat Liaison that we had no intention of keeping the cat and did not even want it, that it also was not the neighbors' cat, but that we would find it a home out of the neighborhood once it was well enough, assuming it survived the night. He then told us the bad news. "Darryl has requested that he be allowed to come over and see the cat." "Sure, no problem," said my fabulous husband.
"God, no," I screamed. Silently. Then I gritted my teeth, smiled and nodded. "OK, I'll be right back." Two minutes later, in comes Darryl. Darryl with the Cat Liaison and the uniformed officer. All of us in my entry way to witness the most awesome redneck soliloquy of all time. Of all time until he topped it with another in a judge's chamber several years later, but that is definitely getting ahead of the story. As closely as I remember it, and I'll bet I'm not the only one who remembers it (come on--you know the Cat Liaison still tells this story on a semi-regular basis. You KNOW he does), it went as follows:
"You know, we have known each other for a long time. Long time. And I've done a lot for you..."
...interruption from my fabulous husband "I know, Boss Man. I hear ya, Boss Man."
"...but you done me wrong. You done me wrong. Stay off my property."
..."You got it, Boss Man," from my husband. I believe I said something along the lines of "Please do us the same courtesy and stay off ours," and off he went to the girls' bathroom down the hall, along with the uniformed officer. The Cat Liaison stayed back with us and his face said it all. He obviously couldn't say much, but there was eye rolling and raised eyebrows and definitely a smirk.
Then he came out of the bathroom, after surveying the damage wrought by his wife, and was escorted out of the house by the officer. The Cat Liaison told us that he felt that would be the end of it and that he did not get the sense Darryl posed a threat that night. He wished us luck and stepped back over the threshold and sadly, out of our lives forever. He is just a part of a story, and we are just a part of one of his stories. I cannot imagine that he ever had anything like that happen before or since.
At least, I hope not.
And I think that is where I'll leave it for now. This event was one of the more pivotal things that happened in the neighbor wars, but it was by no means the end. What it did was mark the demarcation point between "we will try to get along because they are right next door" and "the veneer has completely dissolved, and there is no going back. There is no faking it. Definite point of no return." Boy did that turn out to be true.