Mr. Smith and his family shared a property line with the Whites; though “share” with its hippy-dippy overtones is probably not the right word.  The two families warred constantly.

telescopeI don’t know if it had anything to do with the war or not, but I have to mention that Mr. Smith’s house was oddly situated on his lot.  His putative front door pointed directly out onto the White’s property; mere feet separated his front door from their property.  To get to the front door, you had to walk along the side of the front to get to the front door. I never saw anybody use that front door.  People came in from the street; that’s where the driveway was.  It terminated in the back of the house.  So you’d park the car in the drive way and enter through the back door which was the de facto, if not de jure, front door of the house.

But as I said the families warred.  The Whites did not like the animals that Mr. Smith kept out back, and they didn’t like it either that his backward was a mess, with pieces of cars and old tires sticking out of the weeds. They especially did not like the geese.  Mr. Smith’s old dog died and instead of replacing it with another dog, he bought three geese that he had heard made good watch animals.  These suckers were big and if you came onto the driveway they would come at you making violent geese noises and snaking their ugly pea brained heads at you.  One guy drove his car onto the drive way, Mr. Smith said, and before he could do anything the geese had pecked paint right off the car.

 Mr. Smith claimed the Whites threw their garbage onto his property and that their son Richie that everybody beat up except me was using his telescope to look through the windows of his house.  And what do you know but somebody started leaving obscene letters addressed to his daughter under their putative front door.  These pretty graphically described what the author of the letters wanted to do with Mr. Smith’s daughter sexually.

 So Mr. Smith stood watch one night and caught Richie sticking a letter under the door.  He had been apparently using his telescope in inappropriate ways and had over stimulated himself or something.  Richie was under 18 so he didn’t go to jail or anything; instead he had to go to counseling so that he could learn the error of his ways.

Mr. Peace—whose son Richie had stuck in his one testicle with a pencil–worked as a volunteer policeman on the weekend, doing crowd control and stuff like that.  He caught wind of the Richie affair and through police contacts got hold of the actual file on Richie.  He had heard that Richie was applying to a military academy; so he wrote a letter to all of the military academies and attached portions of Richie’s file.  Mr. Peace said he considered it his patriotic duty to make sure perverts like Richie did not serve in our military.

 Richie did not attend any of the military academes; whether Mr. Peace’s letters had anything to do with that nobody will ever know.

Home Sweet Asylum

Much is written these days about the breakup of the family, all the divorces and alternative family styles.  But I must say, from my very limited experience, that the old way was not all that hot. I would be out of an evening for a stroll up and down the street enjoying a postprandial puff, and I’d look into the windows of the houses as I passed and observe the dim light of the TV flickering in the living room, and think that each one of those places was a god damn insane asylum.  What’s hamthat song, “No one knows what goes on behind closed doors?”  Well, thank god for that.

 For example, while Mr. Hunter had a sunny chain jerking story telling side, he was, according to Mrs. Hunter, a fucking bear to live with.  He had rages and sometimes would pick her up by the shoulders and bang her against the wall.  This was no small thing because Mrs. Hunter was six foot two and thick boned.  Also, poor Mrs. Hunter had not only the big baby to attend to but four little Hunters all with orange red hair, red freckled faces, and big bones.  She said that she would put a ham down in the middle of the table and when dinner was done the whole damn ham would be gone except for the bone.

Mr. Hunter was your nuclear family type and for a long time resisted Mrs. Hunter going to work it being a man’s duty to bring home the bacon or, in their case, the entire ham. But the more you fed the kids the bigger they got and the more they needed to keep growing and it sure did look like every one of them, even the girls, was going to top out well over six feet.  So Mrs. Hunter, who had a nursing degree, finally had to go to work  at a nearby hospital.

Eventually, she made more money that Mr. Hunter because, while he wouldn’t have put it that way, he was pretty much a glorified animal janitor.  He told a story and made it sort of funny by saying the gorilla compound had been made for gorillas and not people because the only way into the place was up from the bottom through a trap door and every time he opened it to go into the compound he had no idea what manner of gorilla piss and shit was going to come pouring down on him.  If you think about it for a minute, a job that involves getting covered in gorilla shit and piss cannot pay much.

So to preserve his manhood Mr. Hunter insisted Mrs. Hunter sign over her pay check to him.  And when they went to get groceries together, as they always did ever Saturday morning, he would be the one to pull a wad of bills out and pay the cashier.  At one point Mrs. Hunter went to a counselor to try to save their marriage, and I was happy to hear that but not so happy when she told me she was going to a Christian Counselor and what they did was sit on bean bags and pray together for God’s guidance.