Sunday, January 29, 2006


In Which Some Desires Cannot Be Ignored...

Desire is one of the great driving forces in the human race. Like fire, it can be used for beneficial purposes or, when left to run amuck, it can be a frightful force of destruction.

My life, perhaps like yours, has been the puppet of many desires. For love. For money. For a byline. For this woman. For that woman. For this woman AND that woman. For a moment to gather myself. For just one more. For...

Anyway. Desire. Driving force. Life. Think you're with me on this.

I suspect you're also down with me on the idea that desire comes in many flavors, some of which are not so good for you. I'm a full-grown man and more or less capable of figuring out which desires are good for me and which are not. I'm also capable of choosing to fulfill that desire, whether it's good for me or not. In fact, I sometimes choose fulfillment fully knowing it's bad for me. Still, the choice is mine.

Except in one particular case.

The desire for closure.

For good or for ill, rain or shine, elevator or stairs, if I have a shot at achieving closure, the desire to do it comes over me like a...thing that comes over you. There is no resisting it. I have to have it. Have to.

This has led me to do many ill-conceived things in my life, things that were not at all good for me or those around me. For example, after a good romance that ended badly, that utterly broke my heart, I had the chance to go out with this girl one more time for one more night, at a formal dance. I was already in college and--if you must know--already in the bed of another woman who was much better for me. I should have moved on. I thought I had moved on. But she had called. She had invited me. She had broken it off but now she was reaching out one last time. It was my last chance for closure with her. I took it.

And oh, my! it was an awful night, filled with awkward pauses and us stepping on one another's sentences and realizing fairly early on that we had outgrown one another. But that wasn't the worst part. In fact, that part was the closure.

No, the worst part was that, to get there, to get that closure, I was forced to rent a white tuxedo. With a pink bow tie and cummerbund. And by pink I mean shocking horrid little-girl-in-flouncy-dress pink. I told myself at the time that it was worth it for the closure, to finally put paid to this relationship, to be able to once and for all close that door in my heart and move on with my life.

And though the rational part of me knows I'm wrong--no force on earth should compel a heterosexual man with a light complexion and red hair to wear a white tuxedo with pink tie and cummerbund, EVER--the part of me that is the puppet to this desire still thinks it was worth it.

So perhaps you can understand how it is that I suddenly found myself going from a leisurely walk to a dead-flat-out-gasping-Godzilla-is-on-my-ass run back from my meeting with the formidably wattlesome Mrs. Bundt and the unremarkable Officer Peltz all the way around the lake, back into my modest little neighborhood, where it so happened I was in the end stage (I hoped) of a war between myself and the Crazy Neighbors.

After meeting with Peltz, see, he had indicated that he might drop by the home of the Belfrys to deliver what I can only imagine would be a stern warning about yelling at other men's wives and depositing bags of dogshit on their doorstep in the middle of the night and all the other thing that have been recounted here and here and, oh, here.

I say "can only imagine" because I was not going to be present for the meeting.

But as I was walking back, I remembered two things:

1.The backyard of some new neighbors of ours--the young couple I have designated Snooky and Num-num--abuts the backyard of the Belfrys.

2. For my son's birthday, my brother sent one of those handheld listening devices for kids. You know the kind I mean? With the radar style dish and the trigger and the headphones and when you pull the trigger everything around you sounds really loud and amplified and pretty soon you get tired of it and put it in your closet? That's the one.

Although my brother, who tends to spoil my kids, seemed to have sent a nicer variety of the device--all rubber-gripped handles and sensitivity controls and instructions assuring you that you "can hear the delicate sounds of wildlife or eavesdrop on private conversations at a distance of up to 300 feet." (I tell you, whoever wrote the instructions was a regular two-gun Sam, and I applauded his or her candor.)

Indoors, of course, Thomas and I had discovered it to be completely useless, except to amplify local noises. But outside...

Outside, without nearby sounds such as a whiny sister or a panting dog, outside in the quiet, if we pointed the listener across the back yard, between the houses, and into the next neighborhood, we could clearly hear two men talking by the mailbox. We also discovered that picture windows do not baffle sound but in fact amplify it. In short, if we pointed the listener at the back bay window of our nearest neighbor, we could hear--with only some distortion--the TV show they were watching and even snippets of conversation from the next room.

And virtually all the houses in our cookie-cutter development had picture windows.

So I raced back to the house. Peltz said he might stop by the Belfry house around supper to deliver whatever his version of a stern warning was. A thorough guy might call some of the other neighbors (whose names I had provided) and check my story. On the other hand, he did have my video evidence, showing their car pulling up to my house--lights off--in the middle of the night, and someone getting out of that car to lob a bag of dogshit on my stoop. And anyway, Peltz didn't strike me as a thorough guy, but as a guy who wanted to get an unpleasant task out of the way as soon as possible. If he was already in the area, it would be easy enough for him to swing by a local restaurant, grab a bite to eat, then swing back and have a chat with the Belfrys.

(Or maybe he was better at his job than I gave him credit for. By whatever name they use--beat cop, Police Area Representative--most police made it their business to know their territory. They know the empty lots where folks might be tempted to toss trash (or park a car and get it on); they know the kids who were troublemakers or on their way to growing up to be ones; and they know the eccentrics--the harmless old man with just a couple marbles left who tended to wander and the slightly nutty contentious dingbats too. Peltz never once questioned me about what I might have done to perturb the Belfrys, never even wondered aloud what their side of the story might have been, if I had in fact ever let my dog crap on their lawn. There was only one official police call on the record--back when my neighborhood had had a crime watch and the head of it had finally lodged a formal complaint. It never occurred to me to ask Peltz how many "unofficial" warnings he'd had to give the Belfrys over the years, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized this had to be a task he'd done before.)

In any event, I wanted to be back at my house in plenty of time to find the handheld listening device, get it put back together (Thomas had taken it apart and stored it in its box somewhere in his rat's nest of a room) and get where I needed to be. Assuming they'd let me.

I got home a bit after 4 and, after catching several lungfuls of air and pressing on my side in a futile attempt to exorcise the Mother of all Stitches, I grabbed the phone and dialed my neighbors. Num-num answered on the second ring.

"I know this is gonna sound a little crazy, but..." and I asked her if she and Snooky would mind if I set up in their back yard with my son's spy eavesdropper thingy and tried to listen in on the stern warning when Peltz came by to visit the Belfrys.

Num-num squealed with delight. "Oh, this is like a spy movie! This will be great! Snooky will be so sorry he's gonna miss it. Oh my God, I HAVE to call and tell him. Maybe he can get off work early. Maybe--"

"So," I interrupted, "that's a yes?"

"Oh yes yes yes!" Num-num gushed. "When are you coming?"

I hadn't thought about that. It was getting chilly now that the sun was going down and I didn't want to hunker in their backyard all night.

"Well, maybe you could do me a favor. You can see their house from your living room, right? Can you keep an eye out and call me if you see a police car pull up?" I asked.

"Oh sure." Snooky and Num-num's house was at something of an angle on the lot, so she had a good view of Park Place--which was the most direct route to the main boulevard outside our development, and therefore Peltz's most likely approach. But Num-num informed me that she could also see between the houses and had a bit of a view of Boardwalk and would watch that gap intently, in case Peltz came that way.

"I'll call you the moment I see something," Num-num said. I gave her my phone number and we rang off.

Her Lovely Self and Thomas and the Brownie would have been full of questions about my phone call and my mad dash up and downstairs, looking for batteries and listening devices. But luckily for me, they were off at the local skating rink for a massive birthday party and wouldn't be back til 7. I could pursue my desire for closure without hindrance.

When he first got it out of the box, it took Thomas about 40 seconds to assemble the listener and begin attempting to eavesdrop on our mailman down the street. It took me almost 20 minutes just to fit the dish thing back on the trigger thing and then find a 9-volt battery that still had a charge. Finally, I found one, unscrewed the battery compartment on the trigger thing, found a perfectly good battery already inside, closed everything back up, found the headsets (this was a deluxe version with double jacks so two people could listen to wildlife or private conversations at the same time), put them by the door, got on my coat and shoes.

And waited.

It was 5:30.

I left my post by the door and found some leftovers in the kitchen. Wolfed them down.

It was 5:39.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but I have a big problem waiting. And I was going to have an even bigger one if Peltz decided to deliver his warning tomorrow or Sunday, or at any time that suited his convenience.

To settle myself down, I did a bit of channel-surfing. Nothing good was on.

Suddenly I had to go to the bathroom. It being a cordless phone, I naturally brought it in with me. If I had left it in some distant corner of the house whilst I relieved myself, no doubt my neighbor would have called. But I didn't. So she didn't. The minutes ticked by in a drip-drip-drip Chinese water torture of agony. I waited for what seemed liked years for my neighbor to call. But you, lucky reader, need only flick your eye to the next paragraph.

At 7:15 the phone rang. "He's here! He's here! He just pulled around the corner! Get over here!" Num-num said breathlessly. I hung up on her and dashed for the listening device. As I bolted out the front door with it, here came Her Lovely Self, with two screaming kids, full of cake, hooting and screaming in the back. She looked at me quizzically, but in nearly 12 years of marriage, Her Lovely Self has learned that I have a Look or two of my own, and I was wearing one of the them now, the No-Time-To-Talk-Off-To-Do-Something-You-Wouldn't-Approve-Of Look and I dashed across the street, down the block, and into the dark.

Num-num was waiting for me at her front door.

"He just pulled up," she hissed, clasping my arm and yanking me through the house to the back. Through the picture windows of her living room we could see the picture windows of the Belfrys' living room. Num-num opened her back door, there was mad scuffling and instantly I found myself wearing Wiggly and Piggly, the two terrier-like dogs who also lived Snooky and Num-num. Suddenly the room was aflail with me holding wires and earphones and listening thingies up out of the way of scrabbling paws as both dogs simultaneously attempted to climb my legs while humping them at the same time. It was as though I was in some dream where I was a cowboy spy and my chaps had turned into curly-haired bucking dogs. Num-num was already out the door and into her back yard and so of no help to me. I had no choice. I lowered the earphones to the dogs' heads, clicked on the listening the device and pointed it at the earphones.

The feedback was so loud it hurt even my ears. The dogs were off me as though telekinetically pushed from my body. They scurried across the room, eying me warily as though I had just done something offensive to them (more offensive then humping their legs, one assumes).

In one bound I was out the back door and onto the porch. Num-num was on her way back to get me. "Come on come on come on!" she said. I knew she was an enthusiastic young woman--the kind who hugs you on first meeting, who always waves cheerfully and shouts your name across a field or a supermarket. But even I expected to have to convince her to let me use her backyard to spy on the Crazy Neighbors.

"You sure you don't mind doing this?" I whispered as we edge to the back fence.

"No," she said. "I can't wait to hear what happens. Oh, that BITCH," she said under her breath. "I HATE her."

A second later, I remembered why Num-num hates her, because as we neared the back fence, I stepped in something that was neither dirt nor grass. "Watch out for the poo!" Num-num said, a moment too late. "It's everywhere."

The back fence here was wooden, about four feet high. I could easily see over it. Alas, the Belfrys had built a five-foot high fence--the tallest our development will allow. Num-num was just a little too short to get a good look over. At an inch under six feet, I still had a good enough view. But there wasn't much to see. A darkened back yard. A light on in what was probably the kitchen, and a darkened picture window that was almost certainly their living room.

Next to the house, on the Park Place side of the corner, I could see Peltz's car.
It was empty.

"He was sitting in it for a while, talking on a radio and looking at something. He got out just before I opened the door for you," said Num-num. She was clutching my arm. And trembling.

"You better go put a coat on," I said. "It's cold."

"Okay," she agreed. "I have to tinkle anyway." She scurried off.

I peered back over the fence. Carefully, I balanced the listening gun on the fence--aimed at the lighted window--and put one set of the earphones to my head. I ducked my head down below the fence. Anyone looking out the back window would see probably nothing (the dish was transparent) or at worst take it for a weird little satellite dish, maybe. I pulled the trigger. For a second I heard the sting of feedback, then nothing but outdoor sounds--cars in the distance, the ticking of a car engine (Peltz's?). There were indistinct shuffling noises. I let go of the trigger and moved the dish, this time pointing it at the darkened picture windows. Now I could hear something. It was very faint, like a distant radio signal. Two voices, maybe three, One was high and unmistakable.

"...always...bother me!...done ANYTHING! It's them! They pester and pester..."

There was some indistinct murmuring and then I heard, very clearly.

"...they ALL do it! Then they COVER IT UP! This is PRIVATE PROPERTY!! You should be arresting THEM!!"

Just then, there was a tug at my sleeve. Num-num was back, wrapped in one of Snooky's coats. I handed her the extra earphones and she put them on in time to hear some of the really loud hysterical yelling.

I peeked over the fence. There seemed to be a light on in the living room now; the picture window was dimly lit. I could see figures moving. Then I heard a voice I hadn't heard before. A deep, pleasant voice, actually.

" know it's not her fault. And I should..." here's there a drop-out because of a lot of background noise. "...we're talking to her doctor about it."

"IT'S NOBODY'S BUSINESS!" I heard her shriek.

"It is when folks complain...last time I can come to warn...They were ready to time...won't be a warning," said Peltz.

I heard snickering. I looked down and Num-num was crouched by the fence, smiling. Before, I likened her and her husband Snooky to a couple of over-enthused kids playing house. Now she reminded me of a little kid listening to someone else getting a scolding. And my desire for closure was turning into something else.

Suddenly we heard a noise and I jumped. Officer Peltz was on his way back to his car. He stopped, looked around the neighborhood--for a brief second it seemed that he was looking right at me. Then he got in his car and started it up. Immediately a roaring noise filled my head and Num-num actually cried out--I still had the amplifier trigger pressed. I let up on it and dropped down next to her as we listened to the police car roll away.

"Well, he did it," I said, more or less satisfied. I wished Mrs. Belfry had been more abject when he showed up, but I had been right: it wasn't the first time he'd been by to speak to them.

As I was thinking about this, Num-num grabbed the listening gun from me and held it up to the fence. "Listen!" she hissed.

Actually, I had been thinking it had been enough, but wherever she was pointing the amplifier, it was getting good reception, because now we could hear the deep, pleasant voice again. Mr. Belfry.

"...why did you throw them out?"

"I TOLD you and TOLD you!" she shrieked, her voice sounding slightly distorted. "They make me feel SICK! And they don't help! They make me shake and cry and it makes it WORSE!" and as she said this she started to cry herself.

I heard footsteps, some shuffling noises.

"What are you DOING!" she sobbed.

I felt unease growing in me, like a wave of nausea, coming from the pit of my stomach. I took the headphones off and tried to grab the listener from Num-num. I'd had enough closure.

Num-num jerked away from me, her face alight with an almost animal glee. Whatever desire had her in its clutches now, it wasn't the desire for closure.

"He's calling someone," she said, moving the listening gun a bit. She frowned. "I can't--" Then her eyes lit up again. "It's the pharmacy. He's asking--she's crying now--" She shook her head as if to clear the sobs. I almost feel like crying myself.

Num-num's face went blank and then she looked at me. "What's Depa-Coke?"

Now I was just mad. At who I'm not sure. Me, I guess. I grabbed the eavesdropper roughly from her and unplugged her earphone as I did. "Enough! It's enough," I said. In the dark, we both lost our balance and tumbled onto each other.

And into the dog poop that Mrs. Belfry had been flinging into Snooky and Num-num's back yard.

"Eww!" cried Num-num, loud enough to be heard even up to my house. Thinking this would be a wonderful time for other neighbors to look out their windows--or better yet, for Snooky to come home--I jumped up and made a dash for her back door, wrapping the various cords around the listening gun as I did.

Inside, Num-num headed straight for the kitchen where she wet some paper towels and tried to wipe telltale smudges of brown off the sleeves of her husband's jacket. I have no doubt I had dog crap all over me too. But suddenly, I felt like I deserved it.

Num-num was still smiling, the excited little kid. "So what do you think it is? Depa-Coke? Like some kind of cocaine? Oh, that BITCH. I HATE her. I knew she was like a cokehead or--"

"Depakote," I said.

"What?" she asked.

"He was probably getting a refill for Depakote."

"What is it?" she asked.

"It's for a lot of things. But it mostly used for people who suffer from bipolar disorder." My face was burning with shame as I said it. It was so easy to joke about having crazy neighbors, pass their odd behavior off as eccentricity, get mad at them even. But now, I was out of anger. I was out of out the righteous desire for revenge. I didn't feel so clever for setting up my security cameras (and obviously it had not been Mr. Belfry who'd made the poop drop after all). I felt like an intruder. I felt like an insensitive prick.

I tried to explain to Num-num what little I know (which is not much at all) about bipolar disorders, about behavioral changes during mood swings. I had once worked with someone who was bipolar. I remembered her talking about her manic phases. But mostly I remembered her talking about her father, who had psychotic mania, and who thought his family--and his neighbors--were out to get him).

This news just seemed to make Num-num happier than ever. "So she really IS crazy?" she cried. "Wait til I tell Snooky!"

Suddenly, I wanted to smack this girl (for girl she now seemed to me), tell her to grow up, at least grow a little sensitivity. Instead, I just thanked her for letting me use her back yard and stalked to the door, no doubt leaving her wondering why I was going in such a huff.

In this overlong drama I've told, it was Her Lovely Self who had the most to be upset about, twice accosted as she was. And yet when I told her what I had found out that night, her reaction was nearly identical to mine. "Oh my God, that poor woman. No wonder. You think she went off her meds, right? Oh my God, that explains so much." She was quiet for a while. Then she said, "What do we do now?"

Which is an excellent question, and perhaps one you yourself were asking.

For my part, I can tell you this: I haven't seen hide nor hair of Mrs. Belfry since that Friday night. I suspect she's not driving any more right now. I hope she's seen her doctor and tried to adjust her medication.

I say "I hope" because even as I can muster sympathy for her, there is a part of my heart that remains hardened against her, a part that remains vigilant, wary. A part that has dealt with people who have illnesses that slip out of their control, and has seen the consequences of those illnesses visited on others. That part of me won't let her bother my family again, or put them in harm's way, as I feel she came very close to doing in her last encounter with Her Lovely Self and the Brownie.

But tonight, when I walk Blaze along our new path, when I stand on the hill and pick out the lights of my warm house, when I think of my wife and children sleeping safely and soundly inside, I won't be filled with sympathy or vigilance.

Once again, I'll be filled with desire.

Not the desire for closure--that's been satisfied for now. No, I'll be feeling desire on behalf of another man, a man who must spend every day hoping that his wife will feel all right, who must leave the house every day hoping this will be a day where nothing bad happens, a man whose greatest desire must be for the simplest of things, things I don't desire overmuch because I have them in such abundance: Peace of home. Peace of mind. For himself. For the woman he loves.

And, one hopes, for the people in the place where he lives.

The war is over. I wish him well.

And yes, her too.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

I did not expect this sort of ending to your story at all, wow. Mental illness is rough on everyone. Num's a child.

It's good you got your closure.
I'm glad you're seeing this from all angles. Sympathy is great, but be wary for your family.
Oh my. I wasn't expecting this ending either, but in hindsight it makes perfect sense. So you got closure, but it sounds like you also got compassion, and in the kind of world we live in, compassion is a rare gift indeed. I can only imagine the cycle of shame Mrs. Belfry lives in, taking drugs that make her sick and then hearing about what she has done after going off of them. Man. Poor woman. Poor Mr. Belfry. Poor num-num for not getting it. Poor whole neighborhood. Thanks for the story and the lesson. Tough pill to swallow, but a good one.
I'm sure 99% of humanity has at one time or another wished to be a fly on the wall. You're the only one I've ever known who's followed through!

Great story MM.
My God, you are just a fantastic writer, man. Thanks for taking the time to give your stories to the internet, reading your blog is the highpoint of my morning.
You're such a good man MM.
My oldest son took Depakote (and a variety of other drugs) for many years. You should not feel bad about how this turned out. This woman was still responsible for her actions just as my son is responsible when he makes bad choices.
Oh you took me down with you! So caught up in the desire for vengence and reciprocity I forgot Mrs B was human.....oh man you got me.
It's always refreshing to know that the thing we ignore so well - our conscience - can come back and slap us with reality when we forget everything but ourselves. I was caught up with you, and just as ashamed when the reality set back in. While what she did was wrong, I feel for both Mrs. AND Mr. Belfry. I hope she finds a balance in her medication that will leave both her AND her neighbors happy. Great story, as usual, and well told!
Twisty turn of events and emotions. I empathize with your thoughts about Mr. Belfry and his desire for peace within his life, his home and his love. I am the child of a bipolar parent. Mrs. Belfry is the only person who can change her behavior, and hopefully it's with the help of a doctor and needed meds.
Being the sort of person you are (as I've gathered from my readings)you may not agree, but I feel there are precious few who would tell this story to its conclusion, without gussying up or editing the ending to make themselves appear more of a hero. Damned good job. That took guts to write up as you did.
wow. just wow.

i'm right there with you on the closure thing, and much as i might look back on my vindictive thoughts with shame, i'd rather know than not.

sometimes the fates find interesting ways to kick you in the teeth and remind you of just how lucky you are, don't they?

empathy is increasingly rare these days. it becomes you, and its lack makes me pity num-num as much as i feel for the belfry's.
Hey, boy detective, here's a question for you: Where is she getting all this dog poop? Crazy lady (btw, that appellation seems wrong now, since it's true) doesn't have a dog of her own, right? So is someone leaving dog poop on her yard on purpose? If so, that person is exacerbating the situation, and acting illegally.

Find out who's tripping her trigger that way, and you might solve this case after all.
I understand Mrs. belfry because I live with bipolar as well.
Bipolar is a very serious disease. it has a frightenly high fatality rate and it's it's public face does not engender compassion.

There are many forms of bipolar. The classic is the really depressed alternating with party girl
hypo/mania. There is cycling between depressed and even more depressed. And the most dangerous is the kind I have. hypo/mania looks like depression but if you treat it with antidepressants, it pushes you into full-blown suicidal mania.

at the end of the day, is important to know that if someone is in pain from the medication, they should talk to their doctor about changing it. if the doctor won't change it, change your doctor.

depending on whose numbers you use, suicide risk is between 10 and 20% for bipolar patients. suicide is a seductive voice for us. The comforting blackness of not hurting anymore blanks out all thoughts of how they will hurt family members or reduces their pain to "they'll get over it, I'm not that important"

and for the caregiver, bipolar is exhausting and they frequently don't have anybody else to turn to.

so I suspect mr B is the one who needs your help and may be able to accept your help. help him build margin in his life and he will be able to help his wife.

btw, Depakote is a rather old school bipolar drug and has lots of side effects which leaves me to suspect that she is not seeing a good psychopharmacologist but is instead working with a general practitioner in an HMO.
One of my friends who is a home health care nurse told take your mind for granted, but there's SO much that can go wrong with it. I hope Mr. and Mrs. B. are able to manage her condition and she gets some peace of mind. That will be good for them and for your whole neighborhood.
My goodness. I second, third and forth others who have said that this is not how I expected this story to end. But I agree that it has ended how it seems it should.

However, I am glad that you know the whole story now because now you can better protect your family. That's really your number one job.

Perhaps it is time for you and Mr. B to meet and maybe you can help him. I feel most sorry for him. Surprisingly, I have no sympathy for Mrs. B. even though I guess I should. Just because she does have a medical problem, doesn't make it ok to threaten the Brownie and HLS.

I am proud of you MM.
This made me cry. Sometimes we all need a reminder of how lucky we are.

I feel for Mr. and Mrs. B, and I hope they can get her medication sorted out properly.
I know that I didn't want this story to end and certainly this is not the ending I was hoping for. I was hoping for happy.

Maybe some good will come out of this. You know what you need to protect your family from and hopefully Mrs Belfry can get some real help.
I can't believe it never occurred to me that she might really be mentally ill. As others have noted, she's still responsible for her actions. However, impulse control and judgement can both be severely limited by different disorders. And sadly, mental health is not treated the same by insurance carriers, etc. Support mental health parity. Here's a link to some information. Sorry if I seem like I'm preaching; this one hits close to home.
amazingly written-- so poignant. you never know what is really going on in some people's lives..
Holy shit, MM. Between this post and the one you linked to about your I don't know what to say except that you are a man of character.

I don't have a higher compliment to give out than that. That's as high as she gets.
If there is still a dog leaving fecal matter on their lawn it would do the entire neighbourhood to make sure it stops. There's no need to antagonize a frail person.

It's good if she has stopped driving. Verbal assults are alot less dangerous than Vehicular. So sad.

There was a lady in our community(pop 500 +/-) that had mental health issues. She trapped children on her roof and a few other noteworthy stunts but eventually burned her own house down and had to leave the area.

She is fortunate to have a man that hasn't given up.
I have to admit, I'm not all that surprised. Her extreme behavior threw up a lot of flags. She managed to hide that behavior from her husband though, didn't she? In essence, it's only because of your actions that her husband was made aware, and hopefully now she'll get her meds adjusted or changed to something that works.

I hope you would do the same if it ever happened again. Mrs. Belfry needs to be held responsible for her actions and behavior when she goes off her medication, doing otherwise only enables her & prevents her from getting the help she needs.
Holy crap! Don't ya hate it when you are on a great boy detective adventure and the road you follow leads into the deep dark shadows....
Regardless, you are a powerful storyteller!
You are a Good Egg. This just proves it (once again) for me.

It seems to me that Officer Peltz also knows well that discretion is the better part of valor; the restraint he employed during the meeting with you and the fearsome Mrs. Bundt is quite admirable. Many others might have been tempted to tell tales about other encounters with Mrs. Belfry; feeling the need to perhaps impress those present with stories of her previous "escapades". And yet, he did not. By protecting her dignity, unremarkable as he may be, he also proved himself as a man of worth.

Continue your watch against the dangers of the world. Your family is indeed too precious to do otherwise. But now, we will all watch with a bit more compassion, and a bit more understanding.

Thank you again.
Yeah, I got to thinking myself today about how Officer Peltz is a good guy. I thought back to how reluctant he was to file charges in a completely different light. It makes a lot more sense now.

Everyone who's mentioned people putting dog doo in the B family's yard, in this post Num-num said that Mrs. B was tossing her own dog's poo into Num-num's yard. Of course, one must consider the ("That bitch! I hate her!") source...
Actually--and I'm appalled I forgot to include this--they do have a dog. Or at least they used to. In the summers, Blaze would head for their fence and have snapping contests through this little hole with some other set of snapping teeth.

World's quietest dog. Never barked. Could hear it sniffing and panting.

It occurs to me now that through the fall and up to the day I altered my walking route, Blaze stopped his regular lunge for the hole in the fence and the quiet snapping contest. Jesus, I wonder if the dog died or something.

Full marks to Heather for catching that (you girl detective, you!), although I wish I had delved into it more. There was a vein of irony I failed to tap. Then again, if I'd mentioned the dog, it would have made the posts even longer.

Not unlike this reply...
Longer is better, though, right?

MM- what a good heart you have. We all get caught up in your stories, and then, just as suddenly, we are changed by your perspective on things. I know it's been said hundred times, but I'll say it again. What a brilliant writer you are. What an ability you have to make us all think, and be better people for it...
Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, as they say.

I'm cynical, but it seems to me that there are more people like Num-Num in the world than otherwise.

When Flip was a younger thing we did a family outing to the zoo in Phoenix for her birthday. The Boy, at that age, was just as unaware of danger as he is today along with being impulsive and disobedient. Too big for a stroller (and WAY too big to carry) our options were a) to stay home or b) to put a restraint on The Boy.

So for several years, until he learned how to stay close and come back when called or stop when he was told, The Boy wore a very large dog collar around his waist that was clipped to a nice stout lead that stayed on mom or dad's wrist at all times when out and about. It was not uncommon for us to get odd and sometimes hostile looks from strangers while we were out as a family. The worst experience, though, was on this particular birthday outing with Flip and three of her friends.

While walking past the big cats, Flip and I overheard two well-upholstered grandmotherly types (and when I say that, I mean fat old broads) commenting loudly about the "kid on the leash." No big deal. Heard it before.

Then one of them said "Woof! Woof! Woof!" and they both laughed. Uproariously so.

I still don't know how TJ could've missed it—probably a good thing, with her temper. I always regret not going back and saying something to the fat old broads and I envy you, MM, for your ability in confrontations. The worst part of the experience was when Flip asked me why those women were saying mean things about her brother and I didn't know what to say.

It shows character when a man knows he's done wrong and is angry with himself for it. When he shares that mistake so other people can take something away from it, that takes guts. Not a lot of people have that anymore.

Thanks MM.
its really the simple things in life that makes it beautiful. Things we have at hand but never trully appreciated.

Thank you for reminding me.
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