I once lived next door to a duplex. A lot of people came and went and I can’t remember if any of them were kind or considerate people. I just remember a ton of assholes. One day I was lucky enough to get two assholes moving into the duplex. On one side, a redneck turd with two small boys he liked to duct tape to the wall. He also liked to start bonfires in the backyard and throw beer bottles at raccoons. The other neighbor, JD, was an African American man. I’m just describing him because he said nigger a lot and I didn’t want you thinking there was some redneck living next to me saying nigger a lot although why it’s better coming from an African American I don’t know. It made a lot more sense in my head. Because he used the word A LOT. He would have parties with the music so loud, the bass ripping right through my walls and making my pictures rattle around. And I lived in a separate house. To have the music so loud I could feel it vibrating through my stomach….well, I became familiar with a particular rage that comes with sleeplessness.
JD had a son name Dorian except I kept calling him Damian because it fit. JD would stand outside drinking with three or four friends and I’d heard him yell at Damian “Little nigger! Little nigger! Get your motherfucking nigger ass back here!” And then as if he was the proudest papa ever he’d turn to his friends and say “Little motherfucking nigger can run!”
There was a very young girl living with JD, not jailbait young but dumb and naïve young. And mean. She’d stand outside smoking a cigarette two feet away from the kid and talking into her cellphone. I heard her say once “I don’t fucking care. He ain’t my kid.” I think they thought they had something to prove, her and JD. I was out pulling weeds one morning and they were having sex with the window open. It sounded like the ear pulling, back scratches kind of sex. I wasn’t disgusted. Sex can be a beautiful thing. With the windows closed and the lights off.
JD rarely paid his rent on time. The owner of the duplex was friends with my mom and would give her all the gossip which was funny because he was a man in his 50s. Men love to gossip. Don’t let them tell you any different. JD had his license taken away from him. One day, the cops were called because we had crazy ass neighbors down the street. Remember the Tom Hanks movie The ‘Burbs, the one with those terrifying neighbors who were cannibals and possibly incestuous rapists? These neighbors were just like that. They were always calling the police. For some reason Duct Tape Dad had gotten into it with them and the cops were called. In rolls JD in his shitty car with the $1200 rims. He slowly gets out of his car with a giant beer can nestled between his knees and his music so loud the concrete of the street was weeping. How did I know all of this? Because I was like Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched. I wasn’t the neighborhood narc. But I did like to stand at my window and see the fucked up stuff my neighbors got up to. Gave me a lot to write about. Here’s this dude, no license, no job, living off of his girlfriend, calling his kid Little Motherfucking Nigger, watching the police as he gets out of his car and drains his beer. What a winner.
One night, one of the last I would see of any of the duplex neighbors, I was up late watching a movie. I could hear crying and then I saw red flashing lights. I cracked my window a little. I heard the girlfriend sobbing hysterically. JD was being arrested and all she could yell was “But he’s my boyfriend! But I love him!” Seems like his warrants caught up with him, especially after he beat the shit out of his brother a few hours previously.
Did I get off on their misery? Yeah sure. They were entertaining. Had they been hard working people who were struggling to get by I would have respected them or given them a shy smile at the mailbox. But the girlfriend was the only one who had a job, the dad on the other side of the duplex was a violent drunk and one of his kids was in the backyard swinging a dead squirrel by its tail so I stayed the hell away from them. Except for peeking out the window to see what stupid shit they pulled next.
Now I live in a new house and nobody does anything interesting. But at least I can sometimes fall asleep without having to hear “That little motherfucking nigger must be part Kenyan! Look how fast that little motherfucker can run!”