“Haven’t you called the police yet?” Michael called back, sounding only mildly exasperated.
Miss Manners did not even pause for breath before she turned the verbal tirade on me, calling me an orangutan who had improper relations with its mother– I like to color my hair with five-dollar red dye once a month, so I do look a little like an orangutan. She also kept referring to me by a certain word with a silent w at the beginning. She likes to accuse women in this neighborhood of being prostitutes, and now it was my turn. It’s amusing, in retrospect, to think that anyone could suspect the near-recluse who never has any visitors to her icon-strewn house of being a lady of the town, but that’s how Miss Manners’s mind works.
I went back inside to look for the Tracphone. I wanted to take photos of her trespassing on our property and gesturing aggressively before calling 911, but the phone was buried under the day’s mail and I couldn’t find it.
Next thing I knew, I saw the police cars. The neighbor with the privacy fence had called them. Miss Manners’s adult son had physically restrained her and dragged her bodily into her own house at this point, but she was out front talking to the police in a trice.
“I just wanna tell you what that… that man is doing to his family,” she told the officer, in a guttural tone.
I hope I never meet Satan, the Accuser, the one who was a liar from the beginning. If I ever do, I have a feeling he will look and act exactly like that woman. He’ll probably claim he’s from Chicago, as well.
I didn’t stay by the door to hear what Miss Manners accused us of. I suppose she told the officer that Michael was my pimp. Rose and I scrambled around picking up toys and straightening up, in case the officer came in to bust me for my life of dissolution, but he didn’t. He just went back and took a statement from Michael, who was still trying to finish the lawn.
Michael came in a bit later, and explained what had started the quarrel: apparently some of the grass clippings from the weed eater had blown into Miss Manners’s yard.
I’m relating all of this in the most humorous tone I can muster– and it was darkly comedic in its way. But, truth be told, I’m relating it as a joke to cover up the fact that I’m terrified. Rose can’t play on her skateboard and I’m afraid to check the mail or open the windows. Our neighbor always acts like this, to everyone around her. Nobody is safe. Draconian initiatives to ban rentals for neighborhood “safety” are being encouraged here in LaBelle, but they’ll be about as useful as the pre-emptive imprisonment in Through The Looking-Glass, because Miss Manners is a homeowner. Michael and I are renters. Good luck explaining to the comfortably well-off that the very poorest are not the problem with the neighborhood.
Michael ended his post last week by saying “There’s probably a moral or two somewhere in this, but I have to admit I’ve got no idea what they are.” That’s about where I am right now. I’m famous for saying “everything is grace,” but I’m having trouble seeing grace just now. I know it’s here, I just can’t find it, any more than I could find my phone in time to call 911. I trust the Lord to know where it is.
Do keep us in your prayers, if you would be so kind.
(image via Pixabay)