Fighting Roommates and Wayward Dogs

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.

 

 

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A Professor’s Dream

Last night I dreamt that I was teaching math to a college class.  The lesson involved finding a way to analyze cargo manifests to determine how a shipment had been packed.  I didn’t fully understand the formula myself until I went through it with them for a third time and was pleased when the light fully dawned on me.  And suddenly I realized that this was my last class with them and began to give a closing speech.  I told them that I was really pleased by all the hard work they had put into learning the course material and that I had enjoyed our interactions, but half way through the speech they grew restless and began to talk among themselves.  I raised my voice to regain their attention, but was interrupted by a young man who started to complain loud and long about the treatment he received when he bought, say, shaving cream at a local drug store.  He grew increasingly vehement and wouldn’t let me finish the class.  I yelled at him, told him to shut up, but he kept going.  I walked toward him and explained that I had nothing to do with the drug store and his purchase of shaving cream, but he refused to stop.  I snapped my fingers and turned him into an apple pie.

The apple pie began to rant about shaving cream, however, so I put it on a picnic table outside.  The students were still friendly when I returned to class saying that Brian, the ranter, had been acting like an ass.  Snacks had appeared during my absence, and everyone helped themselves to a treat.  One woman said, “I’d sure like to have some of that pie.”

I realized that I hadn’t turned Brian into an apple pie, but had merely entrapped him inside a pie someone brought for our celebration.  I decided to retrieve it and release Brian, but they were no longer directly outside the classroom.  It turned out that I had placed the pie in a location far away.  I hopped into my car and drove down a highway.  I spied a pie sitting on a table at a roadside park on the opposite side of the road.  I turned my car around but didn’t drive all the way back to the park.  I got out and began to run.  I took off my shirt (it was hot) and noticed that my chest and belly had become chiseled and that I had the endurance of a twenty-year-old man.  I sped up as I saw Brian (freed from his crusty prison) near the pie.  I feared that he would eat it.

When I arrived, I saw that all that was left was a bit of crust and a smear of filling.  I carried the dish up a hill to return to class, and students milled about on either side.  Buildings sprang up around me, and I took for granted that I had instantaneously returned to campus.  I plotted ways to flunk Brian or give him a much lower grade, but realized that he had hurt himself by eating his way out of the pie from the inside.  He had consumed most of his body and spirit and greatly diminished himself.  There was no need to punish him further.

I woke up with an ache in my lower back.  I had fallen asleep fully clothed with the lights on, and the alarm clock read 5:30.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep and blearily stumbled off to the bathroom to take my morning piss.  I sat on the toilet, thought about the dream and realized that “Brian” looked a lot like Brian Ferguson,  a guy who attended Fairmont East high school with me forty some years ago.  High school Brian had never treated me badly.  His appearance as a rotten student in a teaching dream must have been the odd byproduct of reading Facebook posts about our recent fortieth class reunion.

Women Jumping Out of Cars

Last week I waited to make a left turn into my neighborhood and saw a woman jump out of the shot gun seat of a car idling at a red light.  She looked as if someone had goosed her.  The driver made no effort to call her back though she stood on a nearby curb and stared intently at him.  She bounced on her toes as if waiting for him to make a move.  She began to walk away after a minute passed, and then he finally turned the car in her direction.  Negotiations had begun.

I saw a more vivid version of this story a few years earlier.  I heard yelling inside a car beside me on Semoran Boulevard.  We were stopped at a red light.  The front passenger door flew open.  A twenty year old woman slammed it shut and stomped away.  She veered behind the car, stepped onto the median and quickly put distance between her and the car’s driver.  He leaned out the window and called, “Hey, baby!  Come back!”  She ignored him and kept going.  Then he began to cuss her out in Spanish, shook his fist at her, and hit the horn once.  She kept going.  When the light turned green he made a u-turn and slowly headed in her direction.  He looked grim as if he expected no success in retrieving her.

Twenty years ago I heard yelling up the street from my house.  It was 1 a.m., so I peeked out my front door and saw a woman staggering across a lawn at the neighbor’s across the street.  Two or three men were inside a car idling at the curb, and one ordered the woman to get back in the car.  She screamed at him.  Her speech slurred, but I believe she told him to go to hell.  She knocked on my neighbor’s door–no one answered.  The man in the car yelled again, this time with greater violence.  I stepped outside and headed toward the woman.  When the men saw me they realized that a witness had arrived, and they sped away.

The woman spotted me and staggered to where I stood at the bottom of my driveway.  She asked if she could use my phone.  I let her inside and pointed to our land line.  I asked her if she wanted some coffee to help her sober up.  She glared and said, “I’m not drunk!  My boyfriend hit me!”

I retreated to the kitchen to get her some ice, and while I was gone my wife woke up.  Judy came out to the living room half awake.  She found a strange woman with crazy hair talking on our phone.  The lady’s outfit, cut offs and a sweaty tube top, gave her a street look.  I took Judy aside before she could make unfortunate assumptions and explained the situation.  The woman put a hand over the mouth piece and asked, “Where am I?”  I told her, and then she gave instructions to the person on the line:  “Pick me up at the 7/11 at Forsyth and Aloma.”

She hung up, and I offered her a ride to the convenience store.  She refused and headed out the door.  I followed after her and watched her walk up Bougainvillea Dr.  I worried that her tormentors might return.  A police car turned the corner and stopped next to her.  She waved her arms, shook her head and refused to get in the cruiser.  They let her go shortly after, and she strode away with firm, determined steps.  She turned the corner and disappeared, and the cops drove on.

Fifty years ago my mother stepped out of a car after an argument with my father.  We were stopped at a light about three miles from home.  We three kids huddled together in the back seat and wished that the nightmare would end soon.  My father drove off, and Mom’s figure grew smaller and smaller in the rear window.  I felt an odd sensation that I was the one left behind.  Two hours later Mom opened the front door to our house, came inside, and hung up her coat in the hall closet.  We all pretended that nothing had happened.