"Why the fuck are you making so much noise?"
It was about 9 AM as I answered the door to hear my neighbor bluntly ask me this very question.
It was about 15 years ago and I just moved to a duplex. A new job took me to a far away place, one I was unfamiliar with and my wife and I knew very little about the area or the people. We met our neighbor before, briefly, and simply exchanged "hellos" and some small talk. He was an older guy, mid to late 40s. Short but broad shoulders and quite built for his age. Without knowing him hardly at all, we didn't necessarily know what to expect but since be we all engaged in a short introduction he didn't seem unfriendly. Nor did he initially raise any red flags...until now.
I stood there at the door, perplexed.
None of us were being particularly loud. The TV was quiet, no music was on, other than occasional walking throughout the living room there was virtually no noise. I wasn't entirely sure if he was mistaken but I figured I'd just try and brush it off and maybe he was having a bad day and this would be an isolated instance.
The neighbor continued standing there in my doorway, waiting for my response. His eyes were fixated on me. A genuinely crazy stare. His left eye angrily squinted, while the right eye conversely was wide open. I finally mouthed a quick apology and told him we didn't realize we were being loud in anyway. He simply walked off, without saying a word.
Unfortunately for us, we quickly learned every day for him was a bad day and this was not an isolated event. In fact, many more occurred. It ranged from more of these seemingly insane complaints that our quiet adjoining apartment was making too much noise, to all sorts of petty nonsense - The trash can shouldn't be there. Don't park your car there. Your grill is too close to the house.
It was official, we just moved next to our first certifiably batshit crazy neighbor from hell.
We immediately knew this wasn't going to work as a living arrangement. The guy was nuts, an asshole, confrontational, petty and short fused. Though he was older, he was remarkably built and in good shape for his age. I figured it would eventually get physical and that could potentially be a problem for me - I'm a small guy. We weighed our options and figured we'd be able to afford to move in 4 months, plus our lease was up then as well. This wasn't ideal but there wasn't much we could do.
In the meantime, I went and bought my first gun, a Glock 19. My wife and I immediately took a shooting class and began to frequent the shooting range. It's been awhile since I fired a handgun, but for my wife she was brand new to shooting. Luckily she picked it up quickly after our class and began punching close holes in her paper targets. Nice tight groupings. I was impressed. We didn't necessarily feel like we would need to use it but considering the ordeals we've had with our neighbor over the past year, we felt we needed one in the house.
As we reached the final 2 weeks left in our lease, we found a new place to live and began packing to begin the moving process. We were ready to leave this behind and start fresh again. Things have been quiet lately, our neighbor has been spending less time at home so we haven't seen him much lately and our problems with him have been less frequent.
But that was all about to change.
I remember it as clearly now as when it happened. I was driving home from work around 7 pm one night. All of a sudden my cell phone starts vibrating furiously on my front seat, illuminating the interior the front of my car. I had it turned off during work, but on this particular phone vibrate was comparable to a small scale earthquake. I pick up the phone, noticing it was my wife, and then answered the call. On the other end of the line, I hear the indecipherable screaming of two females.
On that night my wife had one of her work friends over at the house. So I knew why I heard two women yelling and screaming, but clearly the important thing here was why were they screaming. My stomach tightened, it was hard to swallow. That brief moment lasted an eternity. The feeling of knowing someone was in trouble but not being there to help. I immediately tried to find out what was going on. Repeatedly I asked what was going on. Finally the yelling ceased and I was able to make my wife asking me "Where is the fucking gun?!".
My heart sank as I realized I had our only firearm in the car with me. I had gone to the shooting range last night and left it locked in the car with me. Shit. Again I ask "What is going on?", yelling this time. Between my wife's friend yelling anxiously, and my wife talking a mile a minute, I was able to get an idea of what was going on. Quite honestly, it scared the shit out of me.
That night, my wife's friend came over, for the first time to our house, I might add. We lived in a small duplex, with and even smaller area to park in. Our neighbor, who claimed the parking spot closest to his side was not home. Unknown to the friend, she parks in his spot, next to our car. There's 4 spots in the lot, the neighbor gets two and we get two. We have two cars, he has one. Seems easy to keep track of it, but often his guests and our guests will mix up spots and one of our cars will inevitably end up on his side, next to his car, until we move it again. Unfortunately, our guest wasn't aware of this and she just happened to park there.
Our asshole neighbor just happened to come home at that time, saw a car in his space and fucking lost his mind.
My wife continues to explain to me, still on the phone, that he walks over and proceeds to bang on our window, then our door, demanding the car is moved. He's screaming, cursing, yelling things like "I know your in there. Open the fucking door and move your car. Don't make me break this damn door down." He continued to pound on the door. The two of them obviously became scared, fearing he would in fact kick the door down. They yelled at him to leave or they would call the police. Then everything became quiet.
I continued to listen to my wife as I switched her to speaker and put my phone on the passenger seat. At this point I was about 5 minutes away from my house. But what my wife said to me next still gives me the chills even to this day.
"Oh my God, he's got a baseball bat..." she said, proceeding to explain he is smacking it against the asphalt outside, yelling again, louder this time.
"You need to call the police NOW" I said.
"Sara left her phone in her car", my wife begins, "I'll have to hang up if I do that."
I think about it briefly, my mind was racing, I had no idea what to tell her. I was minutes away. The cops need to do something about this guy, though. Unsure of if I was making the right choice, I blurted out to call the police. I was two minutes away at this point and my main objective was quite simply to get there as fast as I could. I hang the phone up and pull the Glock out of my console. As I round the corner, speeding into our parking I see the situation right in front of me exactly as my wife described it - our neighbor standing at the bottom of our front stairs, 5 feet away from our front door. In his right hand he was clenching an aluminum baseball bat. He took a step up to the next stair, getting even closer.
What happens next, for me was more or less a blur. I quickly pull my car in behind our parking spots, crooked and basically blocking our drive way. Like in the movies, it was almost felt like it was in slow motion. I fling my door open with my left hand, my right grasping the Glock 19. Our neighbor, now at the middle of the stairs, turns around.
I stood behind him, maybe 10 feet away. The gun was raised at him. The bat still remains in his grip. What I said next, I honestly have no idea. Something to the effect of drop the bat and don't move. Later my wife told me she remembered word for word I said "Drop the fucking bat or I will blow your brains out, asshole." Sounds about right. Our neighbor said something, but that was something neither of us could recall. I think it was something about the car in his spot. I don't know. I do know he didn't drop the bat, so I stepped closer, giving him a better look at the barrel of the gun pointing directly at him. Again, I repeated the same general message. Just louder and angrier this time. The bat began to lower.
And then I hear the sirens.
A lone police officer arrives, immediately moves in with his gun drawn and first orders the neighbor to drop the aluminum baseball bat. He does. It makes a distinct metallic "clank" as it hits the cement stairs and rolls down to a stop. Next he orders me to put the gun down. I swiftly lay it down and put my hands up as the officers begins to question us.
In the end, the neighbor is taken away in handcuffs. I give a statement both to the officer and later at the station. I asked them if I would be in trouble for this. The officer looks at me and said no and explains why in two parts. First, we established the situation to them with my wife's 911 call. Second, there was reasonable belief of harm by him coming to the front door with a bat. The officer I gave my statement to was blunt and straight to the point. After he explains I wouldn't be facing any charges, he continues by saying "Off the record, had you shot this guy I doubt you'd be facing any charges either." He goes to recommend moving to avoid future issues with the neighbor. Luckily that was already part of the game plan. We moved 3 days later.
Even though this was many years ago, I still think about it a lot. I still think about that feeling I got as my wife fearfully explained the situation to me over the phone. I think about seeing him with the bat. I sometimes wonder how things would have went if I had to shoot him. Even though there was no loss of life, the effect was still profound. But afterwards several things became clear to me. The world is a crazy place and we must be prepared for that. In fact there's a lot of things we need to be prepared for. We continued shooting frequently, added a few more guns to the collection, took some karate based self defense classes and generally became more aware of our personal safety.
Stay safe and be prepared!