Up until last year, my nearest neighbor lived a half-mile down the road. But things changed a few months ago when some big contractor bought up all the land on my road and began putting up new houses so fast, I suspected helicopters were dropping them ready-built onto the lots.
Just the other day, I saw two men with measuring equipment sectioning off the land directly facing my house, which means another house probably is going to pop up there overnight in the near future.
I’m not certain yet how I feel about the prospect of finally having a close neighbor after living here for nine years without any.
I’m thinking I should be happy because at least now, if I fall in my driveway during a blizzard, someone actually might see me lying there and help me get up before I end up buried underneath three feet of snow and am not discovered until the spring thaw. But on the other hand, having a close neighbor also will mean I no longer will be able to run out to my mailbox while I’m still wearing my pajamas and hair curlers. I’ll actually have to get dressed, comb my hair, and maybe even slap on a bit of makeup so I won’t irreversibly traumatize anyone.
The reason why my husband (rest his soul) and I moved out here to the middle of the woods in the first place was because at the time, we were living in a mobile-home park, where every move we made was watched. The minute we stepped outside, we could see the neighbors’ slats on their window blinds open wider so they could get a better look at us. Whenever I tried to do something out in the yard, such as paint the steps, within only a few minutes, people would pop up seemingly out of thin air to “advise” me how to do it. If I cleaned out the storage shed, everyone in a two-block radius would come over, stick their heads inside and ask me what I was doing. Then they would point to something like a rake or snow shovel and say, “If you’re going to toss that out, I’ll take it.”
So moving out to the boonies was a complete change. I mean, suddenly, if I wanted to, I could go outside and run naked through the lawn sprinkler and the only living things that would see me were of the four-legged (or more) variety.
I hate to admit it, but I think we moved out of the mobile-home park just in time. That's because while we were living there, my husband and I realized we actually were slowly becoming just like all of those snoopy neighbors who drove us crazy.
I still remember the time when two women, one of whom had just divorced her husband, moved into the mobile home next to ours. One Labor Day weekend, there was no sign of the women all weekend, even though their cars were parked in the driveway and their kitchen window was open. My husband was convinced they had met with foul play.
“It’s the ex-husband,” he said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “I’ll bet he was upset about the divorce and came back for revenge!”
Whenever my husband talked like that, I usually just rolled my eyes and allowed him to spout his Sherlock Holmes theories. But when two more days passed with still no sign of the two women next door, I began to wonder if he might be onto something.
Around dusk that night, my husband was peeking out the window (yet again) when he suddenly called out to me in a hushed, frantic voice, “Someone is breaking into the place next door! And he’s using pliers!”
By the time I ran to the nearest window to take a look, the man was entering the neighbors' front door.
“He’s probably the one who killed them,” my husband said. “And now he’s going back in there to rob the place! You watch, in a few minutes, he’ll be coming out carrying a bag full of stuff!”
I cast him a “yeah, sure” look, but still, I stood there and watched for a few minutes. Just as I was about to leave the window, I was shocked to see the guy come out onto the steps and set down a green trash bag, then dart back inside.
“I’ll bet that bag is full of jewelry, silverware and laptops,” my husband said, opening the blinds so he could get a better look.
“Don’t do that!” I snapped. “If he knows you’re watching him, he might come over here to silence us!”
My husband considered my words for a moment, then said, “Well I’m going to let Shadow out, then! She’ll make him think twice about coming over here!”
Our poor old rottweiler took a few steps outside, stretched out on the grass and took a nap. The crook could have stolen a sofa and she wouldn’t have noticed.
Within a few minutes, the thief brought out another trash bag. This one was white and smaller.
“I’ve seen enough,” my husband said. “I think we’d better call the police before he ransacks the entire house.”
For a moment, I seriously considered dialing 911. “Are you SURE he used pliers to get into the house?” I asked.
“Pretty sure,” he said. “I’m not wearing my glasses.”
Without his glasses, my husband couldn’t tell the difference between a crowbar and a plastic ruler. “I don’t think I’ll call the police quite yet,” I said.
“Then maybe you should go outside and get our newspaper out of the box,” he said. “While you’re out there, discreetly look at the license-plate number on the guy’s van and memorize it! I’d do it, but I have a crummy memory.”
I couldn’t argue with that. So like a fool, I went outside. There I was, reaching into our newspaper box while craning my neck sideways to look at the van’s license-plate number, which wasn’t easy to see at dusk. When I came back into the house, I immediately wrote down the number.
“What was the make and model of the van?” my husband asked me. “I can’t really tell from here.”
“How should I know? I was too busy trying to ‘discreetly’ look at the license plate!”
“But the plates could be stolen and belong to another vehicle,” he said. “So the make and model are VERY important!”
Before I could open my mouth to inform him I couldn’t tell the difference between a Rolls Royce and a Toyota anyway, my husband had his nose in the blinds again. “Look!” he whispered. “He’s coming back out!”
I peered out just in time to see the suspected crook/murderer/serial killer emptying something into the green trash bag he’d previously set down. It was a big tray of kitty litter.
I burst out laughing. “He’s taking care of their housecats! You nearly had me call the cops because of some dirty kitty litter? What kind of crime would that be? Grand-theft poop?”
For some reason, my husband (a.k.a. Sherlock) failed to share my amusement.
Sure enough, the two women, carrying suitcases, returned the next afternoon, safe and sound.
So the more I think about it, the more I think that maybe the fact I’m finally about to get some neighbors around here might be a good thing after all, especially if they’re rowdy.
That way, I can save money on my electric bill by shutting off the TV and just watching them whenever I need some entertainment.
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