Given recurring skepticism as to the veracity of my stories, I thought I’d accompany this one with an action photo:
The pile of wood on this trailer was twice as tall when it arrived at the house across the street one Thursday morning last fall. The Very Nice Owners don’t live there yet — bought the property years ago as a place for their children to live during college, with plans to move in themselves when they finally retire. So most of the time it’s wonderfully empty and quiet.
It’s better maintained than my own house — the Very Nice Owners visit on weekends and work tirelessly to improve it, while my husband and I — beaten, tired and disheartened — watch our own slowly disintegrate.
When I saw the truck pull up and fill half the street with its load, I figured Owner’s Woodsman Son was checking on the place for his father. Owner’s Woodsman Son’s girlfriend was also flitting about — most of us can remember what a special thing access to total privacy was, back in the day. It never occurred to me that several cords of raw lumber were being delivered by Owner’s Woodsman Son, who was poised to process it immediately in the his urban driveway.
The house across the street was not empty and quiet that weekend. Woodsman Son spent three droning days running a chain saw. When he tired of that, he’d fire up his generator and operate the log splitter. When he tired of that, he and the girlfriend would disappear inside for awhile and shut the blinds. Then, the whole cycle would begin again.
I ran away from home for most of Saturday to escape the noise. My husband was twitching with tension when I got back late in the day, but the neighborhood was finally peaceful. It stayed that way until 12:10 AM, when the generator roared to life again. My room faces the street — that motor was all but in bed with me. I lay there for eleven minutes while my husband snored on. I know it was exactly eleven minutes, since I watched them roll slowly by on the clock. I couldn’t quite believe that anyone would run a generator in the middle of the night on a quiet residential city street for even one minute, much less eleven.
Calling the police seemed much too slow. I wrapped up in my ratty old red bathrobe and marched out there, barefoot, disheveled, and raging as only a middle-aged woman deprived of sleep can rage. Mind you, had this been the place next door we called the Drug House last year, I would not have done so — but I figured any guns Woodsman Son owned were legal and actually for use in the woods. He seemed puzzled when I flagged him down, curious as to what this moonlit midnight harpy could possibly want.
“THIS IS NOT OK!” I said, in big capital letters. I may have stomped my foot (not too hard, since it was bare and there were wood chips everywhere).
“Oh . . . um, sorry,” said he, powering down the generator. He skulked off inside to seek comfort and solace from his girlfriend.
They were back at it at dawn Sunday morning — there was half the load of lumber left to go.