kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 point and laugh)
[personal profile] kaigou
Alright, headcold proceeds apace, other things generally suck, I think we're getting rained out over here, but it's 1am and I'm awake and I figure might as well launch into the story, because some things simply cannot wait. So, get comfortable, pull up your popcorn and/or your socks, have a seat, this won't take too long.

Two weeks ago, I had reason (don't ask) to go knocking door-to-door among my neighbors (no, not selling anything!). We've lived here for, oh, four years now, I suppose, and I'd never really met much beyond the neighbors just on our tiny cul-de-sac. But now I was meeting people who live a block or two away, and some of them I got talking with. And we kept talking, and eventually my informant neighbor let me in on the story of U-Haul Guy, Sweet Momma, and the Iranian Rug Dealer.

The story was prompted by my questions about two houses on a street about two blocks from me. The street sits above a ravine, with the ravine side only half-built: four lots of just woods, then four houses in a row. The first house has bars on what are probably its bedroom windows, almost no landscaping, and I've never once seen a truck or car in the driveway, plus the garage-outside light is on twenty-four seven. After that are two perfectly respectable little ranch homes with cars that come and go, look lived in, and are generally well-kept... and at the end of the street is another barred-window house.

Except this one also has an eight-foot chain link fence with a sign that says something like "absolutely no trespassing, violators will be prosecuted under state law section whatever-whatever". This is not your local hardware store's "no trespassing" sign; this is the kind of sign you see on used-car lots and junkyards. Thing is, the house itself is pretty much a junkyard. Well, not the front yard, which remains reasonably landscaped and gorgeous despite being rather tiny (and mostly rock, since it's tight terraces down to the house's front door). But the house itself... well, now.

You know how in movies it's always the one old Victorian house with all its rotting flaking gingerbread that seems designed from the start to be an extra in a haunted-house movie? Or the old brownstone Victorian with its brooding windows and complex rooflines? I'd never seen a freaking ranch home with the right atmosphere to qualify, but then, that was before I'd gotten a good look at this house. It's just downright creepy.

Of course, the elaborate fake-spanish grillwork on the bars -- on all windows, not just ravine-side -- don't help. Or the way you can tell things are rotting, like the roof's overhanging eaves and the wood around the windows. But what really does it is what you see when you walk up to the front door. The front windows are blocked. Not by curtains. The sidelights to the front door are blocked as well. Not by curtains.

It's all trash.

Like, stacks and stacks of newspapers and magazines. And a shoe. And a jacket, and what looks like some old plastic cups, and more magazines, and a box, some papers, a sweater... it's all junk. Piled all the way up, so high it blocks the windows completely. It's freaking creepy. It's sad, and it's creepy, and between that and the bars on the windows and the chain-link fence that goes right across the driveway and the junk and old car (flat tires and all) that you can see down the driveway, and the more junk blocking the garage doors that you can just barely see if you just happen to be on the driveway at the right angle to see a bit of the garage doors. Eh, let's just say I when I knocked on the door I wasn't just freaked out, I was also fully expecting to have the wits scared out of me by some crazy woman escapee from Jane Eyre's attic launching herself at a window until the bars rattled. I mean, that's the kind of freaky: like the bars aren't there to keep others out so much as to keep something in the house in, if you get my meaning.

So I mention this in passing to my informant newly-met neighbor, who's one of the original property owners. She moved here forty years ago, and plans on leaving feet-first, as another neighbor puts it. Just to warm you up before the story of U-Haul Guy et al, Ms. C. told me that when the neighborhood was first built, it was almost entirely IBM employees -- well, not counting the drug dealers.

Me: O.O drug dealers? here? *looks at oddly deceptive placid suburban street*

The first house on that ravine street, the one with the light on all the time, was one such hot-spot. Its original owners were two of the biggest dealers in the area (this would've been around 1970, so I'm guessing we're not talking meth, here). Big enough that the feds were called in, and Ms. C.'s back-fence neighbor (whose house faces the Lights On House) used to complain that her petunias were getting crushed "because the Feds were hiding in her bushes doing their stake-out".

Immediately I think (and sadly, I doubt I will ever have chance personally to use the phrase, but I'm saving it up nonetheless): "Holy mackerel, we've got Feds infesting the front bushes again!" This brings entirely new meaning to the expression, "Quick, honey, get the Raid!"

Regardless, eventually those dealers moved along, and new owners purchased the house. A young family consisting of husband, wife, and two young girls. Ms. C., my delightful informant, has a husband who bestows nicknames on more colorful personalities (I'm sure I have one by now, myself), and his bestowed moniker for the wife of this family is, if you've not already guessed, Sweet Momma.

Now, Sweet Momma, despite being the mother of two young girls, apparently dressed with a sense of fashion that wasn't quite this little neighborhood, even if it was maybe mid-70s by this point. Short-shorts, aka Hot Pants, big hair, big cheap-metal hoop earrings, "teeny little tube tops" and enough makeup to make Tammy Faye Bakker proud. Or, as I said to Ms. C., "basically looking like she should've been walking some other street in town?" (To which Ms. C. cackled merrily for several minutes.)

So here we have Sweet Momma, and down on the other end of the street (a few houses beyond the Jane-Eyre attic-woman house) sits a house that's been a tenancy almost since it was built. One tenant in that house worked for U-Haul, thus the rather painfully obvious nickname of U-Haul Guy.

Well, Sweet Momma at some point while walking *cough* or doing whatever Sweet Mommas do, happened to meet U-Haul Guy. Eventually she was spending an awful lot of time at U-Haul Guy's house, and was frequently seen taking the block-long walk up to his place and then coming back, though no specific word on exactly how long this took. As in, "seen walking south at dinnertime, and walking north at breakfast time" -- though my informant did say, in a rather dryly amused tone, "she was out long enough that everyone knew she wasn't just borrowing a cup of sugar."

After a few months of this, it seems U-Haul Guy's sugar was just too good to have to travel even a block for it... so he packs up his stuff, moves out of his house -- and moves in with Sweet Momma. And the kids. And the husband (who, sadly, gets no nickname, being mostly a faceless bystander in all this).

But, after "awhile" (me: awhile? Ms. C.: oh, maybe a year? me: O.O) Husband finally gets fed up with all this (another neighbor to whom I naturally had to repeat this story: a year? it took him a YEAR?) and moves out, leaving Sweet Momma with U-Haul Guy and the two daughters.

Things quiet down for a bit, until the two daughters hit puberty -- and, to no one's great surprise, they turn out even more wild than Sweet Momma. Or, as Ms. C. put it, "You've heard of the ___ kids? They're boy scouts compared to those girls." (Me: O.O -- because I live next door to the ___ kids and they're about as close to boy scouts as totalitarianism is to "great way to spend the weekend".) But the upshot is that eventually Sweet Momma and U-Haul Guy decide to take the girls out of the neighborhood, and they pack up and move.

Neighborhood, of course, breathes slight sigh of relief. (Incidentally, the bars on the windows? Those were the girls' bedrooms, and Ms. C. and I shared a knowing nod that the bars were to keep the girls in but just as much to keep boys out.)

Fast-forward a year or so. The house on the corner -- crazy-attic house, we'll call it -- gets sold. The perfectly charming and respectable couple moves on, and a new couple moves in. Judging from Ms. C.'s husbands' description, and the tax records' report of the man's French surname, I'm guessing he's either Moroccan or Lebanese, but either way, his title became Iranian Rug Dealer.

Not long after Iranian Rug Dealer and his wife move in, though, he throws his wife out -- and when I say "not long" I mean like "three weeks". There seems to be some dispute on this, however, with not all observing parties entirely certain that was Iranian Rug Dealer's wife, only that she looked to be of the same ethnicity, and she was there when moving in and introducing herself, and then... she was not there.

And in her place was Sweet Momma.

That's right! Sans U-Haul Guy and sans Wild-Ass Daughters, Sweet Momma was now living with the Iranian Rug Dealer in this big house that sits high on the ravine with one of the largest and most secluded lots in the neighborhood. Sweet Momma was back!

This is where we meet Sweet Momma's rat, err, "one of them small dogs that can't walk on its own, but has to be carried everywhere". It seems the Iranian Rug Dealer's neighbors to his south were a newlywed couple (of which the husband-half was a doctor) who had a german shepherd. Somehow -- details are fuzzy -- the german shepherd and the rat, err, stupid-little-bow-wearing-dog got into an altercation. Words were exchanged, teeth were shown, and, uhm, somehow the rat ended up dead. (I should note that Ms. C., despite having three dogs and clearly being an animal lover, showed absolutely not a teaspoon of remorse upon delivering this bit of news. Snerk.)

So while the young wife is desperately trying to patch up things with her new neighbors about Ratgate, err, the dog fiasco, Sweet Momma and Iranian Rug Dealer decide to take matters into their own hands. They get in the car and they drive downtown, to their neighbor's medical practice. They walk in the building, they walk up to the receptionist's desk, and they dump the dead dog on the counter.

(As other-neighbor observed, "well, that's a neighborhood feud you don't usually see the likes of.")

Eventually, Sweet Momma -- feeling mighty unwelcome in the neighborhood -- packed her bags and moved out. Iranian Rug Dealer went to live with her... but to the neighborhood's bewilderment (and likely disappointment), he didn't actually move. He just locked up his house and went to live with Sweet Momma. That's the theory, at least, seeing how Sweet Momma's departure was less-than-discreet, and Iranian Rug Dealer stopped coming home after work at that point, though his car would be seen every few days, picking up his mail. Yep, you read that right: he's owned the house for over ten years now, and he just comes by every few days, picks up his mail, and drives off.

The fence got added a few years after, because it's law that if you have a pool (and Iranian Rug Dealer, like many houses around here, does), you must have a fence. Small children lived in several of the houses around the crazy-attic house, but it wasn't until a loose dog got into Iranian Rug Dealer's backyard, somehow ended up in the pool, and drowned, that the neighbors pushed the city to force Iranian Rug Dealer to do something.

Why? Because no one knew where the dog was. For about two months. Until around July. When the stink of rot got so bad the neighbors called the police to come investigate.

Yeah.

So Iranian Rug Dealer, after a crapload of hemming and hawing and arguing with the city, finally put up a fence -- which took the company hired to do it about a year and a half to complete. (I'm not kidding. What did he do, tell them they only needed to do a single 16' section per month? Although suddenly it makes the plumbing company we've dealt with look like Speedy Gonzalez.) Then Iranian Rug Dealer slaps the no-trespassing sign on there, goes away, and only reappears every few days to pick up his mail.

Incidentally, that very first house along the streets, the lights-always-on house? Still owned by Husband.

(what is it with these people who can afford to have an empty house just sitting there, empty?)

Date: 15 Jan 2010 09:26 am (UTC)
kathmandu: Photo of markers that write glittery ink in rainbow colors. (Glitter pens)
From: [personal profile] kathmandu
My goodness. And here I was expecting a story about your family.

Sweet Momma must've really been something.

Date: 15 Jan 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
morkeleb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] morkeleb
... pfhahahaha. Oh wow.

Date: 15 Jan 2010 11:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] l-clausewitz.livejournal.com
What a...um...colorful neighborhood.

Date: 15 Jan 2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
ext_141054: (Default)
From: [identity profile] christeos-pir.livejournal.com
"So Iranian Rug Dealer, after a crapload of hemming and hawing and arguing with the city, finally put up a fence -- which took the company hired to do it about a year and a half to complete."

Maybe he hired S&D Plumbing to do the job.

Date: 15 Jan 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rurounitriv.livejournal.com
...oooookay then. That was definitely living up to the title - and I expected something wild just from that title.

Date: 15 Jan 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
starscream: ([Bleach] Ishida; Quiet)
From: [personal profile] starscream
O-Oh wow.

( You need to do storytime more often, dear )

Date: 15 Jan 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
leorising: (ichc  rilla lulz)
From: [personal profile] leorising
Agreed. Were we in a bar, kaigou, I would happily pay for your next round. :D

Date: 15 Jan 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] roseya19
Oh... wow! Talk about truth being stranger than fiction. I don't think you could SELL this as fiction if you tried. It's too bizarre!

Date: 15 Jan 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
hokuton_punch: Screenshot of a young light-haired girl looking through a partially open door, captioned "don't look." (comedy girl look)
From: [personal profile] hokuton_punch
That is one hell of a story. o.o

(WHY WOULD YOU JUST KEEP AN EMPTY HOUSE? This makes the least sense of ANYTHING to me.)

Date: 15 Jan 2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
kathmandu: Close-up of pussywillow catkins. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kathmandu
Not just empty! Full up with trash! (If I've followed the story correctly.) Which would mean it'll be all stinky and in bad condition at such time as he ever tries to sell.

Date: 15 Jan 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
sharibet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sharibet
Bwhahaha! That made for a wonderful diversion whilst eating lunch at my desk. Isn't it a bit disconcerting to realize that you may be the most "normal" person in your neighborhood?

But that story? Calls for inclusion in a novel, somehow, some way...

Date: 15 Jan 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
okaasan59: (Default)
From: [personal profile] okaasan59
You need to go out and talk with your neighbors some more so you can come back here and dish the gossip up for us!

This is even more interesting than the history of my house:
-Built in 1977 by a young couple who divorced before the house was finished. Thus the house ended up with the bottom of the pile, already going out of style avocado kitchen and gold/orange flowered wallpaper. Which was still up when we bought the house in 1987.
-Next owner's wife slept with the guy who installed culverts in order to get the work done for free. I am indebted to her for getting those so we don't have a huge ditch in the front yard like some of the neighbors.
-Following owner was a good old boy who knew more about flowers than women. His wife was an ex-prostitute who collected antiques and put iron bars on all the windows and doors because "she was worried about her antiques." Yeah. She later skipped town because she and another gal were wanted for rolling a john but not before tying him up and stuffing paper towels in his mouth which suffocated him. We bought the house from the good old boy but it was a hassle because he couldn't/didn't want to find his ex to get her to sign papers giving him clear title.

So...we must look pretty tame to the neighbors, despite the Harleys.

Date: 16 Jan 2010 12:00 am (UTC)
ivoryandhorn: An ornate wrought iron gate silhouetted against a cloudy sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivoryandhorn
Proof that life will always be stranger than fiction!

I mean, I was kind of expecting a torrid love affair, but not like that.

Date: 16 Jan 2010 06:11 am (UTC)
windsorblue: (chief - sniffing glue)
From: [personal profile] windsorblue
It's always the quiet neighborhoods.

moffit

Date: 23 Jan 2010 06:55 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Why did I ever, ever stop reading my flist. I was cracking up so much reading this.

Date: 7 Feb 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kraehe.livejournal.com
This American Life had a show on yesterday about a house, abandoned complete with contents: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=199

whois

kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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