My neighbor from the rental on our east side is walking up and down the street yelling, “PACO! PACO!” His pit bull, the one who never gives a warning bark and moves in a blur once a target has been sighted, has escaped again. Paco made his move tonight around 8:30. Breaks for freedom usually occur around three in the morning when Joe, his owner, is drunk and lowers his guard. One can tell how drunk Joe is by the slurring of his “Paco”s as he wanders up and down the road calling for his missing doggy.
I used to worry about Joe and his haphazard lifestyle. He lives at loose ends and tends to run through roommates at six month intervals. They usually leave following late night shouting matches. The language gets loud, abusive and threatening, and I sometimes wonder whether I’ll wake one morning to discover police cars and yellow tape next door.
The latest blow out happened a few weeks ago, and it began when I heard scuffling sounds followed by Joe saying, “Now where do you think you’re going?” I assumed he was wrangling his dog inside his gate to his back yard, but instead it was his roommate attempting to run from Joe at five in the morning. I couldn’t make out what they were arguing about, but the fella shouted, “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you!” Joe mocked, “Oh sure, you’re gonna kill me. Yeah, why don’t you try it?” Roommate sputtered in fury and slushed, “I’m gonna slit your throat!” Joe mocked him again and said, “You owe me $150, bitch,” and, “This is my house.” I heard more scuffling sounds, and a woman stepped out onto the carport and yelled in a high pitched whine, “Stop it you guys!” Roommate must have broken away–I heard his work truck door squeak open and the motor grind. Joe attempted to stop him, but the man drove off.
He returned an hour later, and Joe and he sat outside and made their apologies. Peace at 6 a.m. Yeah.
Some might wonder why I didn’t call the cops. It’s a matter of growing indifference. I did call 9 months ago when Joe and another roommate, Ray, got into a loud argument on their front lawn. Joe came home at 3 a.m. and started to pound on doors and windows. He had forgotten to take his keys when he went out on a drinking spree. Ray didn’t answer right away, and Joe pounded so hard on Ray’s bedroom window that he shattered the glass. I decided at first to ignore the commotion when Ray burst outside and started to curse Joe. I thought, “If they want to get into a fistfight, let them.” But the argument escalated until Ray said, “Oh, you’re the big man with a gun. Why don’t you shoot me? I don’t give a damn. Shoot me!” I called 911.
The cops arrived a few minutes later, and by then the argument had calmed down. I saw Ray and Joe go in for a man hug just before a squad car pulled up. No gun in sight. An officer talked to them and offered to take Joe to a hospital as his hand was bleeding from a glass cut. Joe declined. Finally the cop said, “Is everything warm and fuzzy between you two?” Joe and Ray muttered something, the cops left, and the two men went inside.
I gave Joe a ride to a gas station a few months ago when he needed fuel for his generator. Hurricane Irma had toppled a tree onto his house that stripped his power line away. He told me that he had rented next door for seven years. I said, “Wow! That long?! We’ve been here since ’92, and we’ve seen a lot of folks come and go. We called the lady just before you, ‘The Screamer’. She was always yelling at her kids at the top of her lungs. We could hear her inside her house with our windows closed.”
Joe smirked and said, “Well, I bet you’ve heard a lot of screaming from me too.”
“I didn’t mean that,” I said.
We rode on in silence for a minute or so, and then he said, “It’s these roommates. I can’t get them to pay rent. This latest guy is two weeks late.”
“That sucks. And your power’s been out for aweek,” I commiserated.
Joe laughed and said, “Well I just keep rolling. Whatever comes my way, I just keep rolling. What else can I do?”
Paco remains at large, and I hear Joe shouting far down the road. I wonder how many times he will wake me up tonight, but don’t doubt that this could go on for a long time.