Exile in Atlanta Archive: September 2001
Tuesday, September 25, 2001
Well the last few days in the neighborhood have been quite an experience. It seems that I have a neighbor who is a little less stable and socialized than I would like. He's been living next door for about four months now and during that time we've never spoken more than a few words, odd for a neighborhood where I know most of my neighbors (at least the ones who aren't transient students) by name. I've always had kind of a bad vibe from him, but I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt until now. After today, I'll be giving him a restraining order instead.
Lou came home late afternoon on Saturday because she had to stay in Columbus to do a health fair for her clinical. We went to see a great movie when she got home, Ghost World, and overall had a relaxing evening together after yet another five days apart. On Sunday morning, she went out to garden in the front yard, but came back in after only a short while. I didn't think much about it at the time but later she told me the reason, which played directly into our drama with the neighbor.
Later in the day, Lou went outside to wash our dog Jack. I was sitting inside watching football with a small part of my attention while the rest of my attention was directed to working. Suddenly I heard a dog growl and another dog yelp and run away. Now Jack can be a little ill-tempered with regard to certain dogs, but to get in an actual fight while he's on leash (and he's almost always on leash in public now) is very unusual. I rush outside and discover my 6'2" shirtless next-door neighbor screaming and cursing at Lou about how viscious Jack is (he's not) and how we can't control our dog and he should be allowed outside. Lou, meanwhile is trying to put Jack into a down to discipliine him, but this neighbor's rant is making things a littl difficult because it's really agitating Jack even more.
While this guy is screaming at Lou--and now me--I ask Lou what happened. Turns out that the neighbor had his dog off-leash running around the street. The dog was way up the street when Lou went outside and came charging at Jack from out of nowhere, ran into Jack and was in turn snapped at and scared so much that he ran away yelping. Now I don't want to make it seem like this guy's dog was nasty or anything, it wasn't. In fact it's a very nice young German pointer, a personality that isn't the result of the way the neighbor treats it since it's chained up in his backyard 90% of the time. But it clearly isn't a well-socialized dog or it wouldn't charge strange dogs.
While Lou and I are talking this guy continues to scream at us and then his wife/girlfriend sticks her head out of the house and screams at us that we've got a dog that's trained to attack (Jack isn't) and that shouldn't be outside without a leash (Jack was on leash). Then the neighbor starts yelling at me, telling me not to smile (I wasn't, unless squinting in sunlight is considered smiling where he's from), and saying things like--and I quote--"How would you like it if I did to you what you're dog did to mine?" I said that I wouldn't like that at all. He also screamed at us never to walk our dog in front of his house again. Not wanting to just knuckle under to this jerk, Lou and I take this abuse for a little while longer and then return to the house. All the while this guy is still screaming at us. When we get inside, Lou tells me that she had stopped gardening because this guy and his wife/girlfriend were having a huge fight in their house, screaming and cursing each other and it was so disturbing that she couldn't listen to it any more.
I figured, maybe hoped is a better word, that he was just projecting his anger from the earlier argument onto us and that the incident would be over and done with. Today I found out I was wrong.
I left the house at 8:30am to take Jack on a morning walk before I left for work. I turned left on the sidewalk as I always do and started walking past my unpleasant neighbor's house. Just as I got about half-way, I saw him driving down the street in his green Range Rover and wondered if there was going to be a problem. I didn't have long to wonder. As I came towards the end of his house, he drove up on the sidewalk and forced me back and off the sidewalk (I had to back quickly and duck around a car parked on the street in front of his house). I crossed the street, thinking only of getting away from this lunatic. He jumped out of his car and came towards me, screaming obscenities and then yelling about how he already told me twice that I couldn't walk in front of his house and if he had to tell me a third time he'd hurt me.
Then he really got unpleasant. He stuck his hand out toward my face like he was going to grab my glasses off my face. I leaned back and he kicked Jack--hard. Jack yelped and moved behind me. I told him to stay away from me. He walked back towards his truck and I left. I didn't head back to the house because I didn't want him to think he could intimidate me into hiding in the house. Jack wasn't really injured and was eager to get away from this animal. Truth be told, I was too. We walked around the block (well actually out and back since sixteenth street is now completely closed off by the Atlantic Station construction). When I came back, the jerk was still outside his house, like he was waiting there for us. This time I chose to walk on the other side of the street. As I came up my walk toward the door, this crazy man starts yelling at me again. He yells something to the effect of "If you're dog crosses that bush [meaning the bush on the corner of his property near the sidewalk], I'll kill him and take the leash and wrap it around your neck." I didn't even acknowledge him this time, just walked inside.
Later, I called the police and made a report. The officer who showed up was very professional and quite sympathetic. I think it was the whole kicking Jack thing, that's just so low. Anyway, I'm going to try and get a restraining order to keep him away from me, Lou and Jack. I hope it works. I only wish that there had been a witness to this morning's incident. I would definitely have filed charges. I just hate having to worry about my safety in my own neighborhood.