… continued from The Neighborhood Fort.
So, the Homeowners Association warned me to steer clear of the house with the man who made crop circles in his driveway. But, there was no way I was going to stop walking my dog, Max, around the neighborhood, and it was difficult to avoid that area. Besides, my Australian Shepherd needed exercise, not to mention, so did I.
As Max and I passed the crop-circle house from the other side of the street, the junk pieces were still laid out in the driveway and hanging from trees. In addition, I saw two small forts built in the front yard. They appeared to be broken up planks and worn out plywood leaning against each other like a house of cards. There was no sign of the vagabond who built them, but a different man stood on the sidewalk staring at me from across the way. He wore an Indiana Jones hat, shorts and socks with sandals. I walked a little farther down, away from him, before crossing the street, but he approached me anyway. I brushed my fingers along the pepper spray attached to my belt, making sure it was easily accessible. When he reached me face to face, he asked where I lived.
The mind races for answers when there is a crazy vagabond you’ve been told to stay away from, even though he wasn’t the same guy. So, I said the smartest thing I could come up with, “Umm …”
He must’ve realized I was uncomfortable. “I mean, do you live in Princeton Place somewhere?”
Since there were thousands of houses in our subdivision, I figured it would be okay to answer, “Yes.”
“Well, could you please call our Homeowner’s Association and complain about this guy who lives next door to me. Have you seen what he’s done to the house and the yard? We need as many neighbors calling to complain as possible.”
Just when I realized this poor man had the misfortune of living next to the crop circles, he began to cry. His eyes watered and voice shook. “You have no idea what my wife and I have been through. He vandalized our car. He knocked down the six-foot wood fence on our side in the back yard and threatened my wife. He starts fires back there. I’ve called the police three times and the fire department twice. I don’t know what else to do.”
The man needed an outlet, and I was it. My heart hurt for him. It was scary enough living around the corner, let alone right next door.
It was then I learned how the crop-circle man landed in that spot. He was not some random homeless guy who found an empty house. He had lived there with his grown son who rented the place. They hadn’t kept up with paying rent and were told to leave. The son and his wife left, but crop-circle man obviously stayed. The landlord (owner) lapsed on payments and the mortgage company took the house. The HOA was working with authorities to get the old guy removed, but apparently there were a lot of legal hoops to jump through.
No one knew why the man had such erratic behavior. Who could help but wonder if one day he might become more violent.
A week later, I saw a sheriff’s car in front of the crop-circle house. I worried about the poor man next door and hoped they were okay.
A few more days went by, when I bumped into socks-with-sandals man again. He said the sheriff’s car was there to permanently remove the deranged man from that home.
As I type this, the crop-circle house is empty.
I thought the house right next door to me was also empty. I soon found out, a mysterious resident was living there …