Have you ever heard the advice “don’t get friendly with your neighbors?”
Mom and I learned this the hard way. Living in the projects, our home was a duplex, and the area we were in had four sets of duplexes set-up in little in a [ _ ] shape.
Our duplex neighbor was a lady with two children. She was very standoffish at first. When she started to finally interact with us, we tried to be very friendly neighbors. She played childish teenager games with me, such as combining our names to see how many babies we were going to have and other likewise silly games. She laughed and joked with my mom and her best friend. Everything seemed happy and “neighborly.”
After a couple of weeks, we saw that there was a man there all of the time too. We learned that this man was her “common law” husband. They did not get married, because she still wanted to be eligible to live in these homes for free, collect food stamps, and welfare. He had a very good job, but they wanted to play the system.
After they had lived there for a little while, and I suppose had gotten comfortable with their neighbors, we started to hear screaming coming from their house one night.
We thought someone was hurt, so we rushed over and began banging on the door and yelling is everything was okay…things got quiet, then she finally came to the door after our nonstop knocking. Her eye was black, her kids were crying…we had been here before. My mother started yelling “hey, is he hitting you?” He came to the door and told us to mind our own business, and as we stood there outraged and full of sympathy for her…she started telling us to go home and leave them alone. We were completely shocked!
Here we came over trying to help her and she started defending him.
…this is when things started to get ugly…
They both started being very ugly to us, I suppose they did not like us knowing their secret. Even the kids started being rude and making nasty comments when we saw them outside- everything turned on a dime!
I walked to school every morning, and this man started to follow me in his truck when I left for school. He would creep along beside me, learing at me in an attempt to intimidate me. I was a 14-year-old girl!
The tension continued to build…
This is an on-going story of my life and some of the childhood traumas and adversities that I faced. If you would like to start at the beginning of my tale, please read four-year-old-and-mother-survives-bludgeoning-by-river-rock/, or go to the Childhood Traumas category and start at the bottom.
One day when I was not at home to keep the peace, and mom and her friend T was having quite a bit to drink (as usual), things escalated.
After some heated arguments with the neighbors, T pulled out my mother’s gun and started shooting it into the air. The cops were called. These neighbors told the police that my mom and her friend were shooting at their kids!!!
My mom and T were hauled off to jail, drunk, kicking and screaming. My mom was beaten with the Billy club by the cop for resisting. She was pushed down and held against the floor, while the door was closed on her long hair to keep her in place.
I wasn’t home because I had walked out into town where most of my friends hung out at a local gas station/convenience store. I boy I was talking to saw me there and took me home.
When I walked in the house it had been ransacked, couch cushions were everywhere, my mother’s purse was dumped out all over the table I was dumbfounded! Then there was a knock on my door, one of my other neighbors (the local drug dealer) came rushing over to tell me what happened. My friend drove me to the police station.
When I asked for my mother, the detective came out and said “we are going to need that gun.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about and told him so, and he said that they had found my note that I had the knife and gun.
I was perplexed for a moment, and then realized that I had left a note saying that, but it was not what he thought…
My mother had this large knife that pulled out (sort of like a switch blade) and the case was made to look like a gun. I always took this with me when I walked across town at night. When I had left that night, I had left my mom a note that I went to the Spur and that I took the knife/gun with me.
When the detectives couldn’t find the gun, they assumed that I was hiding it. Me and my friend explained to the detective what I had meant. He probably didn’t believe me and wouldn’t let me see my mom. My friend took me to the payphone (we did not have a house phone). I called everyone that I could think of, and no one had bail money.
I went back home because I didn’t know what else to do.
My mom returned the next morning. The witnesses told the police that my mom wasn’t the one shooting the gun. And even though the police ransacked the house and didn’t find the gun, I had went straight to mom’s hiding place and pulled it out (I didn’t tell the police that part though).
In the end, we were evicted! Evicted from the projects- can it get much worse???
Yes, yes it can…
Please read the next phase of my story at http://www.gabigrace.net/the-good-and-bad-of-being-neighborly-finale/.