I’m a young/old woman who lives quietly. No parties. No loud music. No gentleman callers. No fighting. No drug deals (that’s a few doors down). But my neighbors call the cops on me all the time.
Yes, I do have a big dog. Yes, he barks. He’s not one of those all-the-time barkers, but yes, if a possum is hanging out in the back yard at 3:00 AM, he does kick up a quite a fuss. I, it seems, don’t wake up. He’s my dog, I’m used to it. Sorry you’re such a scaredy-cat insomniac.
But what about the time he went so crazy that I did wake up, and started chasing him around the house trying to get hold of him? I had no idea what time it was. I wasn’t exactly looking at the clock. It wouldn’t have done any good without my glasses, anyway. The doorbell rang. I’m all “What the f**k?”
Yes, at that hour and in those circumstances, I did use that word. I also use it when I’m cleaning the refrigerator and can’t get the shelves back in.
So I’m trying to grab Mishka so he won’t launch out the door, which I open with one arm while the other one is wrapped around Mishka’s neck as he thrashes around in hopes of licking the man at the door to death. I see a short, chubby cop. I did not say “What the f**k?” to him. He said, “Your neighbors are very concerned about you, because your dog is barking so loudly. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I have no idea why he’s going so berserk.”
The cop said, “We’re conducting a police action in your front yard.” He had the grace to look sheepish, but the town sent me a citation anyway.
Then there was the afternoon I was working in the front yard. A youngish man, Pacific Islander by the look of him, stopped and said, “Hello, Mama. Anything I can do for you?” I said, “As a matter of fact, yes. Can you trim my apple tree?” He said, “Yes, Mama.” He then indicated, mostly with his arms, that he had to go away, to get jinzhah from friend. I said, “To get equipment? “Yes, Mama! I come back. My friends come soon.”
Allrighty then. Seemed a nice enough fella.
So a little while later, two bigger, younger, stronger-looking Islanders come over—they were actually Samoans—and say they’ll hang out and wait for their guy to come back. They give me a card for their landscaping business, and are perfectly polite. I get a nice vibe from them.
They sat down on the curb, took out their smart phones, and started texting and smoking. I finished weeding for the day (you never really finish weeding), and went back inside.
About fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rang. This time there were two of them: a nice lady cop and a nice gentleman cop. I got the Mishka by the collar, opened the door, and the somewhat red-faced lady cop said, “One of your neighbors was concerned that there were strangers hanging out in your yard.” I said, “Yes, they’re going to trim my apple tree.” The nice gentleman cop said, “Yes, one of them gave me this card,” and handed it to me. “That’s the one,” I said.
They left quietly.
I went up to the Islanders and said, “Oh no! There are Brown People in Nancy’s yard! Call the cops!” They grinned. They started looking for things they could help me with, like digging stuff up and carrying stones. They called me Mama. How sweet. I made them biscuits.
So now we come to the story where my mutilated body was lying dead on the floor of my house while it was being ransacked. That was Mishka’s view, in any case. I was obviously home, because my car was in the driveway.
I was obviously not home. A friend had taken me out. When she dropped me back home at about 11:30, two of my neighbors were out in front of my house talking to a cop, who had the lights going on his roof rack. The taller neighbor said, “Where have you been? We were so worried about you that we broke into your house.” I said, “Look at me, I’m all dressed up.”
“Oh. You went out.”
“Yes, that’s a thing that can happen sometimes. I suppose the next time I go out I have to tell you in advance.
“Yes, you do.”
The shorter neighbor said, “I hope you’re not mad that we broke into your house.”
The cop said, “We actually had a call from another neighbor. Apparently your dog has been barking for two hours. Take him with you next time.”
“It wasn’t my car. He sheds.”
The cop looked a little quizzical at that. I didn’t bother to explain. I got a second citation.
This week, the cops came to my door around 1:00 AM. Two of them again. They looked very concerned, as if they might need backup to restrain my violent self. While I’m hugging the leaping and lunging Mishka around his neck, they said, “Your neighbor called us because she thought you were in trouble.”
“No, I’m fine. I’ve just been trying to get my cat to come in.”
“Are you all right?” They still looked very concerned, and now a bit baffled.
“I’m fine, I just want my cat to come in.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
They asked if I was okay a couple more times. They didn’t seem convinced. I stayed firm, and at last they left.
Now I know what happened. Phoebe tends to stay out late in the summer, and I refuse to go to bed until she’s in because there are a lot of coyotes around. I try calling her every hour or so. Finally, I go out in the front yard and hang out for a while, because that usually gets her attention.
So my neighbor, the insomniac, hears me calling and peeks out. I’m pruning the Japanese maple at midnight in a long white nightgown, and calling piteously, “Phoeeeeeee-beeee” every few minutes. This goes on for half an hour. Then I start lurching up and down the street—lurching because I pulled a hamstring a month ago and I’m still limping—turning around this way and that and calling miserably. “That one,” I imagine her saying, “has finally gone around the bend. She’s drunk, too.” She probably asked the dispatcher to send an ambulance, or at least a strait jacket.
A week or so later, I was talking to one of the ladies who broke into my house the night I lay dying. She had called the cops to check out suspicious activity at the local drug house (she keeps an eye on it when she goes out to smoke). “One of the cops asked if I knew the lady in that house,” she said, jutting her chin toward my place. “They asked if you were okay, because they’d had an odd report about you.” She laughed. “I told them you were fine. You call your cat at night—she mimicked my two-note call—and sometimes she takes a while to come in, is all. Anyway, it seems the caller told them there was a white ghost lady wandering around the street singing.”
I’ll bet that was the best item in the police blotter that week.