Thursday, January 26, 2006


In Which We Come to the Poop on the Stoop...

Day 7

All has been quiet in your fair community (which we should give a name, so let's just call it the city of Monopolis). You remind yourself that when you write this part, you'll let readers know that, no, they didn't miss a post. It was just that Days 5 and 6 were largely uneventful. The highlights can be dispatched thus:

--On Day 5, your friend at the paper supplied you with a small file of background info on the Belfrys, which was largely useless and served--surprisingly--to make you feel as though you had perhaps gone a tad too far and were invading their privacy. But then that nanosecond passed and you were your usual obsessed self again. The two most interesting things revealed by the file are:

1. The fact that some years back, Mrs. Belfry was arrested on a reckless driving charge and compelled to appear in court. The charge was reduced but she still had to pay a chunky fine.

2. Paperwork on a complaint filed against the Belfrys. It's a poor photocopy and hard to read, but you can see the words "littering" and "criminal trespass," which you decide is code for "dropping a bag of dog shit on someone's porch." The complainant is listed as "Monopolis NW Committee." You realize this must be the complaint filed by the late Jack Reed, who used to head your local neighborhood watch (NW) group.

--On Day 6, nothing much happened, except that you remembered this job thingy that you do to keep the lights on and the kids' tummies from rumbling, so you focused on that for a bit. You did have two evening conversations with neighbors in your relentless effort to gather more details about the Belfrys.

One neighbor, who has no pets or children, has also had no problems with the Belfrys. Then he dooms the entire block by uttering the words, "They've always seemed kind of quiet, kept to themselves." Which as everyone knows is what at least one neighbor says on the TV news, after the shooting spree has ended.

The other neighbors are the newlyweds, Snooky and Num-num, whose property abuts the high-fenced compound that is the Belfry's back yard.

"Hey, MM!" cries Snooky, grasping your hand and inviting you in. He calls into the depths of the house. "Hey Num-num! Guess who's here!" Num-num squeals when she sees you and actually hugs you although you have met her all of twice (this being the second meeting). But you don't mind because Num-num is quite the yum-yum. Both are in their early to mid-20s, but their overall enthusiasm and demeanor give you the impression that they are like nothing so much as a pair of over-stimulated 6-year-olds playing house.

Snooky asks if you want a drink--Beer? Wine? Coke?--as he pulls you into the family room. Num-num proudly waves her arms around, showing you the furniture suite her daddy bought them as a wedding present (he bought the house for them as a wedding present, come to that). On the coffee table, she picks up a familiar magazine and waggles it at you: "Look what I'm subscribing to!" she squeals. It's your competitor, not the magazine you work for, but you thank her anyway for continuing to help you pay the bills at your own somewhat less tastefully appointed domicile.

Snooky really really wants you to have a drink, so you ask for a Coke. While he goes to get it, you hear scuttling from the basement steps and here comes Wiggly and Piggly, their terrier-like dogs. They race to you in an orgy of friendly dog enthusiasm. The operative term, naturally, is orgy. Wiggly jumps onto your left leg and begins humping it like a prisoner on a conjugal visit while Piggly conducts a very serious nasal interview with your crotch. Num-num gasps in shock and shoos the dogs away (though in so doing, she smacks Piggly at an inopportune moment, causing his hard, bony head to make scrotal impact. It hurts, baby.)

A second later, your jacket is off you and you're seated in an overstuffed chair, a tall glass of fizzing Coca-Cola in one hand. Snooky and Num-num grasp each other and sit as one on the loveseat across from you. They begin nattering on about your wife and kids, wondering how everyone is, telling you how much they loved the cookies the kids baked (to welcome them to the neighborhood, although this was now some months ago).

When they stop to draw a breath, you mention that you came by to talk about their experience with the Belfrys and their Leave-it-to-Beaver-by-way-of-Gen-X jocularity vanishes in an instant.

"Oh, that BITCH!" snarls Num-num. "I HATE her!"

"You hear about the fence?" Snooky asks.

"You mean they said you had to put one up?" you reply.

"Well, they strongly suggested it. Said if they caught either dog out, they'd catch 'em and turn them over to the police," Snooky says.

"It was money well spent just to build that fence so we wouldn't have to see that BITCH!" snarls Num-num. "I HATE her."

"Did they tell you they were with the police or anything?"

Snooky thinks a moment. "You know, seems like they implied they had friends in the police or were involved in some way. Anyway, we were going to put a fence in, so it was no big deal."

"That BITCH!" snarls Num-num. "I HATE her."

"Why?" you finally ask.

"She pitches her own dog's poop over the fence into our yard. I've seen her do it. She's crazy. And her husband--" and here she made a noise like air escaping a tire "--I don't know if he even talks. He's like her zombie servant. Just stands there and looks at you."

Snooky is back to his enthusiastic self. "What's up? Are you going to do something about it? When I moved in, the head of the neighborhood watch committee wanted me to restart the neighborhood watch in this neighborhood. I said no way. So seriously, what are you going to do?"

Once more you share your story. "I'm just trying to get some information to get a sense of what to expect. If it's was a one-time deal, I'm willing to leave it alone."

So much for Days 5 and 6.

Those words you uttered to Snooky now echo in your ears as you listen to your angry wife, buzzing on the phone to you on Day 7. While walking the dog, Mrs. Belfry has driven her car into the driveway--and slightly up on the grass and sidewalk--in order to block your wife and daughter and dog from walking. The front tires of the vehicle stop less than a foot from them. Your dog turns into the wild cop, the one they can't control, and he launches himself at the car, barking and snarling and generally intimidating Mrs. Belfry to stay in her car. She and your wife have a slightly muffled shouting match because Belfry won't roll down her window.

"I'm turning you in!" Belfry screams.

"We're not even walking by your house anymore! Just leave us alone!" Her Lovely Self retorts. The Brownie hides behind her and the dog, who is so upset he has actual foam coming out of his mouth. Come to think of it, so does Her Lovely Self.

Just then, Dana Doohickey bursts out the front door--it is her driveway into which Belfry has careened. She is a large and fearsome young woman and she joins the screaming match. She has also brought her mobile phone with her. Her Lovely Self thinks she is calling 911 with it, but in fact it is a camera-phone and she is using it to take pictures of Belfry's car up on her driveway (and partially on her lawn). Outnumbered, Belfry backs away, yelling incoherently. As she roars off, it takes both Dana and Her Lovely Self to keep Blaze from charging after her car.

When you learn of this second encounter, you resolve to make a complaint to the police and start getting this thing on the record. After posting a letter you have no intention of sending, you call up the office for your homeowner's association. You could file a complaint yourself, but the head of the neighborhood watch committee is supposed to be notified, since that person is the official liaison with the beat officer for your community. The receptionist gives you the number for the committee head, but you get a machine when you call and are forced to leave a message.

When you get home that night, you are torn about what to do. You want to go over and pound on the Belfrys' door and make caveman noises. You want to write them a terse and carefully worded note, formally and officially asking them to leave you alone. In the end, you call them on their unlisted number (obtained by your newspaper pal when he gave you the dossier on them). You get an answering machine. You say: "This is the Magazine Man calling for Mrs. Belfry. Please stop bothering my wife. If you have concerns about my dog, please speak to me about it." You give your home and work numbers, then add, "There's no need for neighbors to behave this way. We don't want any trouble. Please call me back so we can resolve this a reasonable way. Thank you."

Their response comes in the middle of the night.


Mr. Belfry, I presume?

Camera #3--the broken camcorder with the working Nightvision function--proves its worth from its perch facing the driveway.


Taken at 3-second intervals. I messed with the plate, but trust me, it's legible in the real version.

Which brings us full circle now.

Day 8

A day of dastardly discoveries and determined deliberations.

It's time to bring in the police. You already have Belfry on reckless driving (Dana Doohickey has told you she will be happy to be a witness, should the police require it). Now, wonder of wonders, your cobbled-together surveillance system has caught them in the act. But of what? Criminal trespass? Littering? Assault with a deadly turd? The police will have to decide.

Your brother will call you and rib you about your boy detective days. He will begin referring to this incident as "The Case of the Poop on the Stoop."

You will only refer to it as "the War"...

AAAHHHHH!!! I can't WAIT to hear what happens!! The suspense is KILLING me!!!! I love the Num-Num neighbor...'That Bitch, I HATE HER!'. Sounded so funny!!! Hurry up and write the next installment, can I get an advanced release to my email???
This all just really blows my mind-Those folks deserve to be tarred, feathered and ran out on the Magazine Man Rail-
Okay, see, you are addicting! I have 1/2 an hour to take a shower, get dressed, and get the daughter dressed. What am I doing? Checking for updates here. And yet I still leave wondering and waiting...
I am totally going to be late for work today! I'm so glad you caught them! Evil people. Can't wait to read more.
It is at this point I am actually wishing that this were a fictional tale, because as is the case with most fictional stories, the bad guy always gets it in the end.
Hwever, as this is non-fictional narrative, I have no such guarantee, and it is making me feel a bit I've got...

Shall I?

I shall.


The entire tale is just hilarious. It just slays me that Mr. Belfry is wearing gloves. (Yes, I know you live where it's cold, as do I, and that it was probably just the temperature that prompted them; however, the entire subterfuge of it all just cracks me up!)

I think this should all be made into a documentary short that premieres at Sundance next year -- you'd have a MONSTER fan base, and some excellent word of mouth.
Oh, this is so much more exciting than anything Encyclopedia Brown ever did!

Way to go MM.
that is CRAZY! I can't believe you actually caught her in the act! OMG, I can't wait to see the sputtering and denial that this will cause.
Oh.. it is so ON now!!! I'm on pins and needles... :-D
Did Num-Num agree to testify to the Belfry's poop dumping in their yard?

You've gathered quite enough proof of the Belfry's terrorizing the entire neighborhood. Perhaps this time they will get more than a slap on the wrist - especially with the impersonating a Police Officer bit.

I hope they get nailed to the wall. They've certainly gotten away with bad behavior for too long.

Now, how much would you charge for your detective services?...I've been having a small problem with my neighbors for about 11 years now....
I can't believe you actually caught her? in the act. Is that a woman?? It kinda looks like the Unabomber. I am very curious to know what their supposed connection to the police is.
I heart Blaze...I wonder what would have happened had he been allowed to chase her car.
Man, as I've said many times before, you are one great writer! However, part of your success lies in the fact that you have such a wealth of truly bizarre tales to tell. Great stuff, and I am waiting with bated breath for the finale.
hmm. num-num doesn't sound altogether sane either, to flip so quickly from june cleaver to fanged, hissing serpent. eek.

too bad you can't access a call-log - maybe they leave gifts for everyone that calls them.

it sounds like mrs. belfry is escalating, AND focused on hls. the pictures are cool, and will undoubtedly help but you need to escalate this to the police. now - before that wacko further endangers hls or the brownie.

has thomas seen either of the belfrey's yet? if not, borrow dana's pictures of the missus in her batmobile so he knows to stay far, far away should she try to approach.

and if all else fails, you could dig a tiger trap (complete with sharp, pointy sticks at the bottom) in front of your porch and then call and leave 'em another message. >:-)
Okay, I've gotta know... your wife was upset about breaking out the surveillance gear, but how does she feel now that you've gotten solid proof of their antics by using it?
Jeeezus, what a nutjob! This makes for exceptional storytelling, but lousy living conditions. May I introduce Mrs. Belfry to my mother's old neighbor, the freak who put out huge bowls of food in the bushes adjoining our yard, theoretically to feed raccoons, but attracted RATS instead? And, when the rats invaded our yard and another neighbor started shooting them, nutjob neighbor went berserk, wailing and trying to throw herself in front of our resident Big Game Hunters, claiming that rats were wonderful, lovely friends!

Sometimes, you can understand the peeps who choose to live in cabins in Montana, far away from anyone else. They must have all had a Nutjob Neighbor at some point.

Good luck.
Hey MM, just ask yourself, "What would Tony Soprano do?" OK, maybe don't ask yourself that. Looking forward to finding out what happens next...
Wonderful! Sweet Sweet justice! I just can't imagine how pleased you must have been to have planned and been prepared. It's vindication for all those times we (collectively) think of really good retorts 5 minutes after a confrontation. This is brilliant!!! I love it- can't wait!!
It's good we don't know where you live, as we'd all end up in jail for inciting a riot. Damn, Man, I feel for you. Even if this turns out well, it must be hell to have to deal with it.

I am a bit astonished that the Belfry's toss poo onto Num-Num's property like that. I first thought that Mrs. Belfry was just super-crazy about people letting their dogs crap on their lawn. However, hearing that they toss their own dog's poo onto another yard, well, that is pretty wild. At this news I had a thought. Mrs. Belfry was a baby, many years ago. One day, maybe, she discovered her own poo and decided, as any normal child would, to play with it. Baby Belfry's parent(s) freaked out, and Baby Belfry grew up to be a woman with a scatological disfunction. I'm not a strict Freudian, but I do believe that the Anal stage exists and that it needs to be welcomed gently. Poor Mrs. Belfry.
MM, you totally caught he Unapooper flinging a bag of crap at your door. Love the network of cameras.

WAR, what is it good for? Absolutely good reading.
So, this actually happened a week ago. Which means more has happened since then. Granted, I wouldn't want to just *know* what happened, I really want to read what you write about it. But this bloggus interruptus thing is killing me. I go from laughing out loud, to growling, to pouting because I have to wait longer. You're totally just doing this for free to get us hooked, aren't you? Well, as much as I would like to resist making another comment with a sexual connotation, I'm not going to. Please, don't stop.

In the shot on the far right, where he's extending the bag o' poop, methinks he looks like The Grim Reaper. Careful...
Well, at the very beginning of the saga I advised "letting go." Right. I must clearly now retract that ill-advised, well, advice.

That surveillance system rocks.

I can't come up with any other words for what is coming next...
I cn't belive you didnt call those dogs Humpty and Dumpty.
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