Heaven & Hell ©1995 Jerry Kott

Heaven & Hell ©1995 Jerry Kott

Sunday, November 28, 2010

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.




Zinnias and Butterfly
Years ago, I had dinner with a female friend—Robin Flores. She came to our
home, and we went to town in our car.  She was amazed by how many people waved to me as we passed. It was summer, people were out. She had been under the
impression that everyone hated us. I never said they did. I am a
friendly person, always have been, and wave to people. Maybe they may
hate me but they have never made any overt expressions of it. There was
a group of retired men who hung out down the road. I always waved to
them and they would wave back. On occasion, as I would pass, Lenny was
there with them. You could sense that he was poisoning any positive
opinion they had of me. However, I believe they knew what a trouble maker he was
and they seemed to wave a tad more vigorously when he was there with
them. Sort of a passive aggressive way of putting him down. You could
sense by their body language, that he was forcing himself on them. Anna
lived alone on Alpine Drive. She was a widow. Her husband died
shortly after we bought our home. He had a massive heart attack in his
sleep. Her home was one of the first prefabs. Somewhere between a
Mobile home and a Dream home.  I had introduced myself to Anna, would
wave as I passed, shoveled her snow in the winter, get her mail on occasion. She was reluctant to be more cordial because I believe she knew that associating with us was playing with fire. I remember asking her if she ever saw our neighbor rooting in our mailbox and she responded, "I don't want to get involved".

Years had passed, nothing changed in our association. Then she had
contacted me by phone. She needed some help. She had fallen and hurt
her back and asked me to collect her mail when I picked up ours. I
would bring it to the house and sit and chat. She gave me neighborhood
history. When we first bought our home there was a beautiful ancient
log home at the beginning of our drive on Lenny's land. She and her
husband and his mother and her girls had lived there before their new modern home was purchased.  She told me how she lost her eye and explained her glass
eye. She informed me as to who lived where and how long. She would
talk about the day her husband died.  She would talk about Frank, her
husband, being an angry drunk. She would reminisce about her daughter
who had passed away. She didn't have very much but she
seem sort of content and lucid. She read often. Some books she had read
many times, over and over, just because she could not afford new ones. We
would smoke a cigarette together.  I told her we were Gay and she said
she knew. Lenny had told her the first month after we bought the
property years ago...takes one to know one. At some point, I contacted
the Northampton County Agency for Aging on her behalf to see if there
were any programs that she could benefit from. I really don't know what
their assessment was of her and her situation. I got in touch with them
as a form of  self protection, Robin concurred. I didn't have an agenda but wanted
documentation to reinforce my situation. I didn't want to assume any
responsibilities because she did have family who lived outside the
region who could be suspicious of my friendliness. However, I was
surprised by the supportive tone of the call processor at the Agency.
He was amazed that I had made the effort on her behalf because that was
not the norm. I was miffed by the reluctance of other immediate
neighbors who seem disinterested. She did have a God Child, Vilma, who would stop by and lend a hand.

While I would visit, Lenny would often go back and forth on his riding
mower in front of her house. His property was across the street. As he
passed he would make his menacing stares toward her home. She knew he
was not stable. She was friendly with his wife Mary; she confided in
her . She knew how unstable he was, so did I. He was watching me all
the time. I suspect he felt threatened by Anna and my association,
remember, no one is supposed to like us. I visited her for months.
Then  Anna called on a Sunday morning to inform me that her friend Ceil received a
phone call. The caller told Ceil that "Anna is a Gay Lover and that
she should stop associating with them if she knew what was good for
her". Lenny had Ceil's number in case of emergencies, she said. My
first instinct was, (and hers also) that Lenny was
behind it or did it. Why they called her friend and not her directly was a strategy that wasn't easy to figure, maybe just to broaden his net. He was the only
person who knew I visited her on a regular basis. You could sense his
desperation rising over the previous months. He was getting frustrated.
We had kept records of his activities. In the previous month on Mother's
Day, he had discharged his guns and pointed a loaded gun at us down the drive, had
made verbal threats, played chicken with his car. You could sense all the tension
building prior to the phone threat directed towards Anna.

This was upsetting. I felt terrible that she got caught in the cross
fire of our neighbors mission to create chaos. She reported the
incident to the police, she was scared, I was too. I felt terrible.
During my visits, I mentioned earlier, Anna would play this table top
electric organ for me. She had received it as a gift. She would play
Christian hymns and sing. It was like being in a John Water's movie. I
politely sat and listened. After the phone threat she was visibly uneasy about
me coming to her home, I understood. She was getting hostile towards
me as a passive aggressive way of creating distance. Her mobility had
improved and I guess she didn't need my help anymore—the price was too
high. Then her table top organ wasn't working. It got totally bizarre.
She accused me of stealing the MUSIC from her electric organ. The organ had the
option of being battery operated or plug in. She would point to the
empty battery compartment and say "see, it is empty". She said that I
could have come into her house when she was shopping and stolen it. She
ignored my telling her that that is where the batteries go. She then
said that she didn't want me stopping by anymore. This is why I was
glad I had contacted the Northampton Agency for the Aging months ago as
a way of covering my ass just in case this sort of thing happened. It
was just too weird. I then contacted the case worker and told them what
happened and that I was bowing out of the situation.

any comments or opinions?

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