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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Neighbor Hoods (Think Globally/Act Locally)

“Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.” Bertrand Russell

As many Americans, I pride myself on being a good neighbor. I live on a nice street in a nice house in a nice place. What can I say, it’s nice. I even get along with some of my other neighbors; we like to keep things around the ‘hood' very livable. You might say we have mutual interests.

There was this fellow down the street, Moe, who’d become a bit of a problem. We’d always had a tentative relation; he wasn’t really like the rest of us, at least the guys I got along with in our local neighborhood watch coalition: Nick, Allen, Tom and Oscar. We call it NATO as a kind of in-joke. I didn’t say it was funny. Most jokes really aren’t when you think about it. Suppose that’s why we don’t think about it. Easier just to chuckle.

Moe was doing pretty good for himself: he had a young wife, a bunch of kids, great house, new cars and even a boat. Gotta tell you, none of us in NATO had a boat and we live on the good section of the street, not on the other side of the tracks like Moe. We had developed our suspicions as to how Moe had come about his good fortune which were bolstered by his association with a guy named Boris, who none of us really liked and who had been an antagonist of mine for some time.

Allen told me that his kid had heard one of Moe’s kids talk about conditions in Moe’s house. I was appalled. Sounded to me like he was a strict disciplinarian, perhaps even beating the children, as well as restricting their internet access, which is tantamount to a first amendment violation these days. Don’t get me wrong, I feel discipline is vital and that we suffer the lack of it, but as concerned citizens, we can’t allow people with authority the right to abuse that authority by abusing others who can’t defend themselves.

And we had this on good authority. Allen’s kid, I think his name is Billy, heard it direct from one of Moe’s kids. Said it looked like he had been beat up. Or had a black eye or something. So even though we were friendly with Moe when we’d see each other at market or whatever, we had begun feeling he was not merely an annoyance but indeed a threat to the harmony of the neighborhood. There way down the street, across the tracks.

So Moe, in all his wisdom, started his own neighborhood watch without consulting us or getting our approval. Not that he needed it, really, but it would seem that in the interest of good neighbor relations he would want to make nice with us, especially in light of our concerns about his parenting, and stuff. Coupled with his improved relations with Boris, things were getting tense around the neighborhood.

Then Billy, or Bobby – one of Allen’s kids – tells Allen, or Cindy – Allen’s wife – that he heard that one of Moe’s kids was in the hospital; that it looked like Moe had beaten him up pretty badly. It seemed that all hell was breaking loose in Moe’s house and something needed to be done. So we, NATO, drove over there and parked across the street. We had several beers and stood out in front of his house talking shit about him.

After about an hour he came out and asked us what the problem was. We told him. He responded that we didn’t know what we were talking about and asked us to drink elsewhere. Allen told him it was a free country and we could drink anywhere we wanted. As his neighbor didn’t feel like chasing us off (cowering inside his house), we had decided we would drink there. Moe told us to fuck off.

So I punched him. This surprised all of us as I’m disinclined to punch anyone, but Moe had pushed me to the limit. I drew a line in the sand. In the gutter across the street from Moe’s house, there across the tracks, about five or six miles from my house.

Shocked, Moe considered his options with the five of us standing there and went back inside. So we started throwing rocks at his house. Busted out the windows on his cars, smashed his mailbox, shattered his hummingbird feeder and threw bricks through the front windows. His kids were crying inside, he was probably beating them, wife screaming. God knows what he was doing to her.

So what does the asshole do? Moe, I’m talking about that asshole. He releases his dog, a corgi or something and it runs out barking at us, like to bite us. So Tom pulls out his shotgun from the trunk and blasts that yapping little bastard right there on the porch. I was with him all the way; if that dog had left the porch, ran across the lawn and the sidewalk, leapt the curb and crossed the street, it could have bitten one of us.

Moe went nuts. All his kids were screaming; the beatings were more than we could bear out there in the street; his wife was hysterical, wailing and babbling; we couldn’t understand a word any of them said. It was intolerable. The crazy bastard came at us with a weapon, not sure exactly what it was because he was still in the house, but once we had established he was coming to attack us, we knew what we had to do.

We opened fire. We all had our guns out by now knowing that defending ourselves from the crazed dog would only escalate to violence. Moe’s movements in his house left us no option. We shot the house for a couple of hours: my trigger finger was numb; Tom’s shoulder was so sore he ended up getting a massage afterward. We went through about 1000 rounds before we ran out of ammo. The smoke-filled air reeked of cordite and we could hear the weeping of joy from the other houses, the full knowledge that another tyrant had met his grisly end comforting them there in their homes.

We were pleased that of five children, his wife and mother, we were able to protect two of the kids and his wife may even walk again – if their insurance covers it. Because of our time and expense (bullets ain’t cheap), we felt obliged to take a few things by way of compensation. It seemed fair in light of the circumstances.

In retrospect, it seems kinda odd that no one stepped up to intervene: no one even complained. Guess they were all happy it wasn’t their family we were protecting. Which is great, until NATO decides to go water skiing in your neighborhood. Then, well…

© 2011 simmbiosis 10/25/11