So, it all started about a month ago.
The house to our left has been vacant for a while, but it was bought by a real estate company and they've been trying to flip it. Unsuccessfully I might add--because our entire neighborhood has let our yards die in the drought, and our block looks like the last stop of the zombie apocalypse--which might explain the other thing that happened.
See, on our other side, a lovely, ailing elderly woman has lived for the past forty years. She finally passed away over the summer…
And that was the problem.
Apparently, her children didn't know what to do with the house. It sat, vacant, and obviously vacant, for nearly two months.
And one night, about two weeks ago, somebody drove by and dumped a bunch of mattresses on the front yard. That's it-- bare, ugly mattresses, no blankets, no nothing--and a chest of drawers with all the actual drawers taken out.
I sat, wondering if I should call someone to clear that shit out, and two nights later, we heard people move in.
Now, remember, I work extremely odd hours--so when I say "Night" I mean twelve-thirty a.m. And there were kids running in and out, small ones, and adults, swearing loudly-- as in, "Get the fuck out of my way you little fuckin' shit!" kind of swearing, not just as they were moving in, but during all hours of the day after that.
There didn't seem to be any "moving"-- as in furniture, etc--but there DID seem to be a lot going into the garage from a beat up brown sedan without a back window.
And swearing at the kids.
And people at odd hours.
And the back house window-- the one that looks into our bedroom--has been tinted blood red.
And then, one of the men whom I've seen repeatedly, a skinny gangster with pale pale skin, black hair, a black mustache and zero body fat, took great care in locking a black bicycle to a post on the front porch.
The garage is obviously up and running-- and this guy seems to stay here--so why the black bike?
And why the people, different people, mind you, going into the house at all hours when the bike is out front? And why do they all gather to one place to smoke-- outside the house?
And I swear, two nights ago, I heard the sound of violent vomiting out front, and a fire truck pulled up-- no siren--and stayed there for quite a while.
Their garbage has a lot of large plastic containers in it, and a lot of old chemical containers.
And I keep waiting for a smell--a definitive smell of any sort--but all I'm getting is itchy eyes and the entire family is suffering what feels to be an allergy attack. Is it?
God, I hope so. I really really hope so.
But the fact is, suddenly our kind of tetchy neighborhood is looking downright scummy, and no amount of internet surfing can bring me any comfort. And what seemed to be a doable situation-- i.e., swimming along in an upside down loan because it kept a roof over our heads-- is suddenly a terrifying situation.
The house next door has turned into an episode of COPS, or Miami Vice, or the six-o'clock news and we are left floundering for ways to protect our family. Do we gather our shit and get the hell out, defaulting on our loan and trashing our credit and any plans we had to send our younger two kids to college with any security at all?
Do we hang in here, hope it's allergies, and seriously pray the house next door doesn't explode while we're all sleeping in our beds?
Do we put a time limit on it? Say, if these guys don't show signs of getting the hell out in a month, then we try to get out before the meth poisoning is too bad?
I mean, I'm a writer. I have a writer's imagination. I could be wrong, right? I was walking the dogs yesterday morning, and the morning's group of smokers was hanging out in the corner of the driveway--a woman, a man, and a little girl. The little girl had her backpack, and was smiling at the dogs, and when she and her mother both said, "Aw, cute dog!" I smiled back and waved and kept walking. Why would somebody bring a kid to a meth buy, right?
But it was 9:30, and she was plenty old enough to be in school, and she wasn't.
And I'm worried. I mean, with any luck, I'll wake up tomorrow and these people will have moved, or I'll figure out that they're just moving in and I didn't see it, and what sounds to be a blender in the garage doesn't have anything to do with meth manufacture in spite of what the websites say.
But what about without luck?
Because the alternatives are terrifying, and remember? I'm a writer--I can imagine a lot of bad shit.
But someone on FB had a suggestion-- they suggested this be used in a book.
Just remember-- when this situation pops up in a book of mine? This is one situation you know I've been researching--mostly because I'm looking for a way out.