Wednesday, October 2, 2013

the scary series: Morris neighbors.

You guys, it’s October: my favorite month. I love it because of the crisp fall weather, the lovely autumn colors, the crunchy leaves, and – most importantly – Halloween. I’ve written all about how much I love Halloween, so you probably don’t need to hear all that again. This year, I’d like to do something a little different: I’m going to dedicate my October blog stories to scary things. But not scary things like vampires and monsters: scary things as in real life scary things. And I’m going to kick of my scary month with a story about my neighbors in Morris.

To may have heard me talk about my college living situation from time to time, but please allow me to refresh your memory. During my junior and senior years, I lived in a junky house on East Third. It was pea green and had a basement full of mold: your typical college house.

There were seven bedrooms in this teeny house: three upstairs, three in the basement, and one on the main floor. There were five of us who lived there from fall 2007 to spring 2008, and six again in fall 2008 (one replaced a graduating senior, and one filled an empty basement room). In spring 2009, our number had dwindled to three, but friends: that was the best semester EVER. (More on that another day.)

The majority of my scary neighbor stories take place from fall 2007 to fall 2008. Now, upon moving into this house, we all knew enough not to expect a palace. This house was no palace (to put it kindly). I mentioned the moldy basement (my parents feared for my health and bought me an air purifier), and the bathrooms were a horror story – there were three of them, one of which had a toilet that refused to come clean. Just refused. So while our house was kind of a dump, all the rest of our neighborhood wasn’t that great either, so you didn’t notice how dumpy our house was… at least from the outside.
This is the only picture I could find of our house, and even
it black and white, you can totally tell it's a college house.
Turns out that with a junky house sometimes come junky neighbors. Most of the houses nearby were college houses, but we certainly didn’t live in a bad part of town. I’m sure Morris had a bad part, but I couldn’t for the life of you tell you where it is. We only knew of the east side (where we lived and where the college was), downtown, and the mysterious west side (where there wasn’t much besides houses, so we rarely ventured there).

Our immediate neighbors were Violet on the left and the libertarians on the right. Next to the libertarians lived the Cracks, and they were the scariest of all.

Violet was about three years old, and she lived next door with (presumably) her sister, mother, and father (who may or may not be named Jesse). Violet’s family hated our guts simply because we were college students and we were next door. We were relatively pleasant neighbors – we didn’t go over with pie or anything, but we kept our yard mowed and our party noise to a reasonable level. But Jesse and whatever-her-name-was would scowl at us whenever we met on the sidewalk.

Violet was a strange little girl with a lazy eye and a penchant for shrieking. This is the only reason we knew her name was Violet – she would scream, and her parents would shout “VIOLET! SHUT UP!” Violet’s screeching woke us up nearly every morning, which is not the best start to the day.

We adopted a black lab named Buddy during spring 2009, and we had him on a lead on the backyard from time to time. 
Buddy, like all dogs, would occasionally bark at squirrels and other things that you might see in a backyard. One day, we came home to find a passive-aggressive note stuck to our front door: our dog was barking, and could we please shut him up as it was interfering with nap time. We considered sending them a note of our own: we’ll keep our dog quiet if you do the same for your daughter – she interfered with OUR naptime, too.

The libertarians were a trio who lived in a dilapidated house right next to ours. There were four of them, and two of them were brothers. Now, I don’t have a problem with libertarians as a whole, but these guys were crazy. One of them had a nose ring that made him looked like a bull, and he always wore t-shirts informing us that he had guns and he wasn’t afraid to use them on whoever made him unhappy. The other non-brother was a shady looking guy who was about 5’4” and always slouched. I never heard him say a word, but he always had a creepy grin on his face.

The libertarian brothers were something else. They came from a family of approximately one zillion children (their family was super religious and – surprise – didn’t believe in birth control). Their father was a pastor, and one of the brothers was planning on following in his footsteps. That particular brother – we'll call him Jerkface McGee – was the WORST. The other brother just followed him around like a puppy.

The libertarians more or less kept to themselves… except for the time they infiltrated our house party. It was at the beginning of the 2008 – 2009 school year, and we were throwing a school year kick-off party. The libertarians snaked through the door, and Jerkface McGee immediately started causing trouble. He stood in our kitchen and started talking loudly about how a woman’s place is in the kitchen and how, in his church, women aren’t allowed to speak. I know very well that there are churches like this, but their members usually don’t end up at house parties in a liberal arts college town. His goal was to get us riled up – and he did – but I’m almost positive that he totally believed what he was saying. Jerkface McGee was outnumbered by angry women at that party, and after they were done thoroughly berating him, they herded him out the door. As we were a harmony-loving group, the libertarians were subsequently banned from our other house parties.

Finally, we arrive at the Cracks. We never learned their names, so they were always the Cracks. They lived in a ramshackle house next to the libertarians, and if their house wasn’t a meth house, then I don’t know what is. The windows were boarded up, and those that weren’t had broken glass. The door was halfway off its hinges, and the lawn was scraggly and unkempt.

Speaking of scraggly and unkempt, we come to the Cracks themselves. There were anywhere from two to five of them around at any given time, and they were all nearly identical: long, bedraggled hair, scrawny frames, grey complexions, and fewer teeth than they had fingers. They looked just like the “after” photos on those anti-meth ads.

The Cracks liked to sit on the stoop and smoke cigarettes – but only at night. Nighttime was prime Crack time: that’s when their house would emit a strange red glow, and they’d either sit on the stoop or sit in their dirty living room and leave the front door open. Either way, we could always hear their hoarse cackling.

Being studious young undergrads, we would sometimes come home quite late. Biking was usually our method of transportation, as it was fast and you didn’t have to pay for a parking pass like you would with your car. When I first started biking home at night, I made the rookie mistake of riding right past the Cracks – I didn’t see them sitting there in the dark, so I about had a heart attack when they started shouting at me to come inside their house. Breathlessly, I burst into our house and told my roommates what happened… and as it turns out, the same thing had happened to the rest of them! Be it walking or biking, the Cracks would shout at whoever passed by their house – but only at night.  

Like the libertarians, the Cracks took upon themselves to sneak into one of our house parties. It was a particularly large party – my guess is that it was for Jazz Fest in spring 2008 – and it was reaching the early hours of the morning. The house was jam-packed, but when we started to look around, we noticed a pack of dirty looking skinny guys skulking by the door. “Are those… THE CRACKS?!!” Yes. Yes, they were. We weren’t sure how to get rid of the Cracks, so one of our roommates just announced that the party was over. The Cracks slunk out, never to darken our doorway again.

Fast forward five years. James and I are now homeowners, and we have a whole new set of neighbors. Unlike my Morris years, our Luverne neighbors are perfectly normal people. Man, did we luck out!

Scary neighbors are just the tip of the scary month iceberg. Come back next week for part II of my scary month! Happy October!

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