Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Redneck Has Landed

Or Telephone Hell, Part One

There once was a beautiful princess. Isn’t there always. She was very beautiful, but not terribly happy. Her evil step-mom kept her locked away in a tall tower and only let her out to scrub the kitchen floors and milk the pigs, never bothering to tell her that all the pigs were male. The evil step-mom also piped nonstop Barry Manilow music into her tower which drove her completely insane. Then one day her fairy godmother appeared, natch, and granted her one wish.

“I want a Flamesaw © ® ™!” the slavering mad but still very beautiful princess wailed. And so, viola! The girl got her wish and went on a less than random killing spree, violently murdering everyone in the castle, including the fairy godmother and herself. But she was smart, and took herself out last by leaping from her bedroom window and landing on an errant pig.

This, however, is not her story. I just needed to limber my fingers after such a long, unplanned writing hiatus. Booble harbung smite hickle blarg henpiddle swaberpoo okay now I’m ready.

A couple of weeks ago my compartment building got a new upstairs resident. He squealed in driving a rust colored late seventies station wagon with no hubcaps and loaded with junk, most of which looked like foam rubber pool toys. He took a week unloading the stuff – for awhile I just assumed it had taken root in the wagon – but eventually settled in. I frequently heard noise sounding like a stump grinder attached to a vacuum hose emanate from his apartment, but it wasn’t too loud so I had no complaints. I did have a pervasive sense of foreboding, fearing that our paths would soon cross.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. I like my privacy, so when I had to move the time before last I chose a small house in the countryside thinking I would generally be left to my own devices. That was before I learned the rule of neighboring – the fewer people you have around you, the more they want to involve themselves in your business. A picture of my previous dwelling is below.

So I moved to the country and, of course, found myself besieged by people who wanted me to join their church and maintain my lawn to their exacting standards, standards which required using nail clippers to manicure the grass and a lifestyle in which the appearance of your yard is your primary reason for existence. After dispatching the very insistent religionists, I settled into a life which involved a lot of driving, sometimes up to five hours a day, traveling to work then college and back home again. This did not sit well with my neighbors.

I found that I couldn’t be outside for more than five minutes without encountering the neighborhood watch, by which I mean an elderly lady who drove her Grand Marquis up and down the gravel drive, pausing to chat with anyone who made the mistake of eye contact and politely hinting that their lawn maintenance could be better. Her tactic with me was to ask if I needed any help. Eventually I discovered how to deal with her. I accepted her offer of help, telling her just to jump in whenever and wherever she wanted, and thank you so much for your concern. We never spoke again.

Captain Nekkid was not brushed aside so easily. I called him that because he and his wife were a pair of exhibitionists, he much more so than she. He liked to work in his yard and garden constantly wearing nothing more than a pair of flip-flops and a sparkly purple thong. He didn’t have the type of body necessary to pull it off. Fifty-ish with a pot belly and bronze skin from so much exposure, he had an odd shaped head – flat in the back – with a shock of stiff black hair sporting a white patch that made him look like he had mange. He lived by the neighborly creed that what was mine was his, and what was his was also his. When he disapproved of the foliage on my trees and shrubs lining our property boundary, he decided they were his and surreptitiously trimmed back the sides facing his yard. He then decided that the clippings belonged to me and deposited them on my yard. Fortunately he was obsessed with the appearance of his yard, so I learned that if I just left the trimmings in place he would eventually dispose of them. I spoke with him once when one of my trees in the back yard fell on his fence. He decided that his fence was my problem, forcing me to fix it since I was the one who had a dog I didn’t want roaming the neighborhood (he had no such compunctions about his Chows). I got a really creepy vibe from him, especially his eyes. They had an intensity I didn’t like in a nearly-naked lawn psychopath living next door to me. I’m glad to report I wasn’t the only one. Everybody else who talked to him seemed determined not to make it a habit, from the guys who fixed the fence to a friend of mine who sawed and carted away the remains of the woody corpse.

Anyway, it was a relief to leave Captain Nekkid behind. I moved into the suburbs in a nice apartment, surrounded by a bunch of polite people who couldn’t care less about me and my life’s story, thank the zombie jesus. The floor plan of my current place is below.

All went well until my peace was shattered (or at least dented) last Sunday by a ring of my doorbell. Pizza delivery guys and invited guests aside, I’ve received less than ten visitors at my door in the year that I’ve lived here, usually a kid selling candy or a team of adults selling their religion. This time it was the encroaching redneck who announced himself as my new upstairs neighbor as soon as my shadow fell across the peephole. It occurred to me that the people surrounding me weren’t really my neighbors as I didn’t know who they were and didn’t receive any casseroles upon my arrival, but I opened the door and welcomed him in anyway. He asked to use the phone.

Side note – I really loathe telephones. Part of that is due to my job, which largely involves manning a customer service help desk. I got roped into that with the promise that I would be mostly doing programming and database management, work for which I am trained and find appealing, and would only man the phones when my real work was slow and the others were being overwhelmed. Instead I found myself as the lead contact for one of our accounts, attempting to slip in a little IT work in between calls. Anyway…

He informed me that his cell phone service had been rudely terminated after he failed to pay his bill. “You know how it is,” he said. Actually, I don’t. I tend to pay my bills. I’ve found companies are more amenable to providing services when you give them money. I kept that to myself and showed him the phone.

He made his call while I politely withdrew to another room. I caught a snatch of his conversation, something about procuring some strong bags for the person on the other end. I hoped he wasn’t using my phone to make a dope deal. When he finished, I reemerged to escort him from my apartment, hoping our business was at an end.

He noticed I had a computer (a really kick-ass machine I’ve named SupermooY2k+5). “You got a computer,” he observed. “I got one of them. Are you a writer?” Ordinarily I’d happily confess to being a writer, but I wasn’t feeling well and have had bad experiences in my previous dealings with local writers, so I told him no and opened the door for him. He took the time to inform me that he is a writer, working for the county but doing freelance work on the side. We parted on amiable terms after he insisted on telling me his name and getting mine, and then he left. I decided to take a mid-afternoon nap.

My rest was broken by the hated ringing of the phone. Normally I let the answering machine (with its mechanical greeting) pick up, but I answered this one in a haze. Some guy with a country accent demanded to know who I was.

“I’m the guy you called,” I said, my standard response to that question. He proceeded to tell me that he *69’d me and wanted to know why I had called. I ensured him that I hadn’t, said “Yes” when he asked if this was a residential number, and only remembered my redneck neighbor after I finally got him off the line and hung up. As I tried to return to nappy-land, I thought I probably hadn’t seen the last of my unwanted pal. I was right. I hate it when that happens.

More will be revealed.


Weary Hag said...

Glad to see you have fresh eye candy here. I have a neighbor story that might rock your socks right off, but it reads like a book chapter and there's no way to leave out crucial details with the same result, sooo it won't be posted anytime soon unless I want to lose about 80% of my six faithful readers. It reads like a book chapter because it IS one of my book chapters. It's yours for the asking if you're interested.
Meanwhile, can't wait to see read more on the redneck building-mate.

Sask 1 said...

Sounds like we'll be hearing a lot about your new neighbour on here.shame you didn't have any pics of capt Nekkid that would of been something to see.