Our house is an old Victorian that was built in 1884, and has bay windows, a large porch, three fire places, two stair cases, and stained glass windows. We love our house and consider it to be a member of the family. When I got divorced, it was the only thing I really fought for and I ended up paying Ken a shit ton of money for the privilege of keeping it. Before the ink was even dry on the new mortgage, I painted her pink, knowing that no man would ever want to live here again unless he truly loved me.
The only reason I can afford such a house on my salary is because the neighborhood isn't the greatest. Don't get me wrong, we chose this neighborhood because of its ethnic, economic, and social diversity. House's range anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000 dollars, mine being somewhere in the middle.
Unfortunately, it's not the kind of neighborhood where you would ever leave your door unlocked or windows open at night. So, there I am, a single mother with two young children living in a pink house two blocks down from crack alley. I may as well hang a neon sign on the porch that says "rob me". So I need me some junk yard dogs.
The junkyard dogs are a black lab named Samson, who is the size of a farm animal, and a beagle named Gracie, who will bark at just about anything including the wind. We affectionately refer to Gracie as "that damn Kentucky beagle" because she comes from a long line of Kentucky hunting dogs.
Anywoofwoof, the ruckus they create is part of the deterrent. We want the errant crack head walking by to know they'll get eaten, which they hate because it's such a buzz kill, and crack heads hate a buzz kill.
There is some collateral damage though, such as this guy that lives about five houses down from me. Since I don't know his name, I always refer to him as "that asshole down the street". Man, this guy hates our guts, and we've learned to hate him back.
One day, I'm looking out the window to see what Samson is barking at and there's the asshole from down the street throwing rocks at him. I go out on the porch, followed by my 11 year old son, and I say to this dude "Hey, don't throw rocks at my dog, he's just doing his job, he barks for a living. How would you feel if someone threw rocks at you while you were doing your job?" and he screams back "Fuck off bitch". I had no idea he could be so witty. After yelling "Fuck off bitch" a second time, he informs me that he should call the police on me because of my dogs. Right about now, you're probably wondering if I called the police, and, no, I didn't. I should have, wish I had, but at the time calling the police on my neighbor just didn't seem, well, neighborly.
Flash forward a couple of weeks. It's Friday night and me and the aforementioned 11 year old are watching Ghost Whisperer (we love dead people and overlook bad acting in order to see them). Samson starts barking, just going nuts, so I ask the 11 year old to see what in the hell fire he's barking at. He asks if he can wait till the next commercial, which is something I totally get because Ghost Whisperer has a cliff hanger before every commercial, so I stupidly say OK.
All of three minutes later, he goes to look out the window at Samson, and says "Um, mom, the police are here." Well, that can't be good. I go downstairs, out onto the porch, and there's two police cruisers. Two cruisers for a dog barking? What the fuck? In our neighborhood you're lucky to get even one cruiser for a triple homicide.
As I step out on the porch, one of the officers, a woman, with her hand on her gun, starts yelling "MOVE AWAY FROM THE HOUSE!! MOVE AWAY FROM THE HOUSE!!", and believe me, I moved away from the house. This was a bummer for me, because I had come out of the house barefoot and there was four inches of snow on the ground. As always, the 11 year old is right behind me, with the 13 year old right behind him.
Besides the lady officer, who was about to shoot me, there was a second officer. He was like twelve years old and his hat was too big and practically rested on his nose. He did not utter a single word the entire half hour they were there. He didn't have to, because Officer Polly Po-Po was doing all the talking.
First she told me they had been out there for 5 minutes trying to get us to come out of the house. Then she told me that a neighbor had called about my dog barking, and that the dog had been barking non stop. What she failed to notice was the asshole from down the street standing by my yard taunting the dog which is what he was barking at. She said "Mame, I'm trying to talk to you" in that condescending you're hysterical and I have to arrest you cop voice that always annoys me when I tried to explain this to her. Once she started talking to me that way, I saw this was only going to go somewhere bad, and boy did it ever.
Meanwhile, the asshole from down the street is standing by the cruiser with a smug look on his face because he thinks he finally got me. In my best mediator voice, I tell Polly Po-Po that I need to be able to communicate with her and tell her my side of the story. I explain "look, I'm a single mother with two young children living in a pink house two blocks away from crack alley. I have to have these dogs or I wouldn't be able to sleep at night".
She replies that she doesn't want to hear it because she knows the police have been to my house before.
What the fuck?
I tell her the police have never been to my house. She says I'm lying because she knows for a fact that they were just there last week because I was "having a domestic dispute with my boyfriend and there was a gun involved" and that's why they called for back up because for all they knew I was laying dead in the house.
WHAT THE FUCK?
Didn't I just explain to her why I needed the junkyard dogs? Remember, single girl, living alone with two young children? In a pink house?
This was so disturbing, I couldn't let it go. I demanded to know where she had heard that because it never happened. Meanwhile, my other neighbors, who love me and I love them, are out on their porches. When one started to come over, the asshole from down the street tells her not to come over because "it's a domestic dispute".
Turns out, she got her information from the asshole down the street and never bothered to question it.
Finally, after standing barefoot in the snow for 30 minutes (did I mention that I had broken both my feet a few months before and had just gotten the casts off?), the police started to see the light. I'll never forget my kids walking with their arms around me back to the house, as I just cried and cried. It makes me sad because I know they feel responsible and protective of me, but they're so young that I don't want to burden them with such grown up emotions.
Now, the whole neighborhood is watching that asshole down the street. He's moved on to harassing the dogs up the street as well, which gives me a sense of morbid comfort because it's not just me anymore. He needs a burning bag of dog shit left on his porch. Not that I would ever do that.
If there were a man living here with us, I know that asshole down the street wouldn't treat us the way he does. In my world, there is no less a man than the one that takes advantage of those he sees as vulnerable. Damn, I feel sorry for his wife. So there you have it.