Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Strange Encounter

Tonight while I was feeding the horses, I noticed two little boys hiding behind the fence at the back of our property.  I wondered if they were waiting for me to leave, so that they could sneak down into my back yard.  I was going to go back in the house and watch them from the window, but then I heard gunshots and saw that they each had a pellet or bee-bee gun.  They looked like they were shooting through the fence at my horses.

I climbed the cliff to get to them, and they seemed oblivious of my presence.  As I got closer, I saw that they were shooting into my neighbor's property at birds in the trees.  A flock of doves scattered and I said, "Hi.  I need to talk to you guys."

Even though my blood was boiling, I felt the outcome would be better if I kept my cool.  My husband had chewed out these same boys once for throwing and rolling rocks down the cliff into our backyard, and they just came right back outside to do it again a few minutes later.

I said, "I want to make sure that you are not shooting in the direction of my horses."

Their eyes widened and they shook their heads.  I was pretty sure they were shooting at my horses, but their guns just didn't have a long enough range to hit them.  Then I said, "And you know it is illegal to shoot wildlife like birds and bunnies, right?"

They kept quiet.  I said, "You didn't know that, did you?"

They shook their heads.  I said, "You need a hunting license..." but before I could finish, one boy said, "I do have a hunting license."

I said, "But hunting licenses do not apply to private property."  I pointed out the property marker with the pink surveyor's flag and said, "If you shoot in this direction, you are shooting onto my property, and if your shoot in that direction, you are shooting onto my neighbor's property.  Both my neighbors and I love animals, and we don't want to see them killed for fun."

The boys were polite and seemed to understand, so I started to walk away, but turned to ask what their names were, thinking I'd be able to get their attention better in the future if I know their names.  One boy volunteered his name but the other looked at me with anger in his eyes and wouldn't speak.  Right then their grandfather called out, "Is there a problem?"

So, I hiked all the way up and introduced myself to him, extending my hand for a shake.  He asked where I lived, and I showed him.  I explained that I was just making sure that the boys weren't shooting in the direction of my horses.  The grandfather said, "Oh no, they would never do that."

I added in, "And I don't want them to be shooting the wildlife, like the birds and bunnies."

He said, "No, they would never do that."

I was about to inform him that I just saw them shooting at birds, and last Thanksgiving I saw them walking through my backyard carrying dead rabbits by the ears, but he cut me off and started rambling on about all the guns he owns and that if anyone wrongs him, he will shoot them dead, and he won't get the police involved, nor will the person need an ambulance.  He suggested that he would dispose of the body himself.

He then proudly mentioned that he was shot twice while shooting robbers who broke into his house.  He told me a story about a man who broke into a house a few doors down from mine a couple of years ago.  The homeowner shot him and he ran to the next house behind it and broke in there.  That homeowner also shot him, so he ran to the house behind that one and broke in.  The third homeowner shot him three times and he finally went down.  I was shocked to hear that, because I lived here a couple of years ago and heard nothing about it.  I'm guessing the guy was on one of those super drugs that makes people feel invincible.

Anyway, I had brought up the topic of the guy who has been burglarizing, dumping on, and vandalizing my neighbor's place, because I was hoping this man would keep an eye out for him and call the police if he saw anything suspicious.  I was shocked by his response.  He said, "I know who did it.  He's been stealing from and vandalizing everyone's properties around here, but he's never bothered me, so I leave him alone.  I confronted him once and told him I'd kill him if he ever tried anything at my place, and he's left me alone."

I must have been standing there with my mouth agape, because I couldn't believe this man was so selfish as to not even care that crimes are being committed against his neighbors.  Also, he was doing all this talking about killing people right in front of these two impressionable little boys.

Now that I know just how many neighbor's have been victims of this one criminal, I realized that when people stop and watch me in my backyard, they are probably just looking out for me, making sure I'm not a prowler or a horse thief.

In fact, the man said that he has called the police a couple of times recently because weird stuff had been going on "out there".  I said, "Where?  In the desert?"  He said, "In your neighborhood.  I keep seeing someone sneaking around with a flashlight."

I said, "That's me!  I have to come out at night to let my horses out of their stalls after they are done eating."

He said, "No, but I've seen someone shining a flashlight up and down the street and out in the desert."

I said, "That was me too.  Someone has been partying out in front of my house and leaving beer bottles and syringes behind.  I kept going out there at night when I'd see strange cars or hear voices, because I wanted to catch them."

He said, "Well, you don't want to mess with people who use syringes.  It's best to call the police."

I didn't bother to explain that I was just trying to verify that someone was actually out there doing something illegal before calling the police.  I wasn't planning on confronting them myself.  I thought it was funny that he called the police on me when I was trying to avoid bothering the police by making sure there was actually a problem before calling them myself.  I'm sure that by the time the police got here, I had turned off all the lights and buttoned up the house.

I remember at my old place I walked out in the dark in a teddy to check on a sick horse, and I ended up making a few trips between house and barn.  On one of these trips, a cop drove up the street and shined his spotlight on me.  I always wondered if he happened to be patrolling the neighborhood or if my new neighbors called because they heard someone outside and for whatever reason never considered that it would be their neighbor checking on her horses.

Anyway, I thought it was humorous that the man wouldn't call the police on a known criminal who keeps victimizing his neighbors, but he'd call the police on me for protecting the neighborhood.  He doesn't seem to have his priorities straight.

He did mention that he thinks he owns a portion of my property, but he was talking so fast that I couldn't get a word in edgewise to correct him.  Then it got dark and I told him I had to get back home before I stepped on a snake.  He kept talking, and he brought up how angry he was that our neighbors and I closed off what he called a road between our houses.  I didn't have time to explain to him why we did that, so I told him we can talk about it another time.  Despite it being clear to me that this man is bat shit crazy, and possibly dangerous, I do want to keep things civil between us.

He mentioned that there was only one neighbor he hated, and she was a horse trainer.  The reason why he hated her was because she wouldn't let anyone come near her property when she was working with her horses.  I realized that he probably felt the same way toward me, so it's important that I show him that I've got good reasons for behaving the way I do.

I tried climbing back down the cliff a third time, and he stopped me to talk about the time my husband yelled at his grand kids.  I told him it was because they were throwing rocks into our back yard and they nearly hit him.  He ignored that and focused on how my husband approached them.  I could see that this guy was not going to let anyone convince him that his grand kids were anything other than little angels, so I cut him off and walked away saying, "Nice to meet you.  We'll talk again some other time."

Oh yeah, and while this man was talking to me, we could hear gunshots in the desert in front of my house.  He was griping about that, saying that it is illegal to shoot a gun within a quarter mile of a structure, and one of the windows of his house has a bullet hole in it.  In the meantime, his grand kids were wandering around shooting their guns while people were out and about.  I wondered if his own grand kids put that hole in his window, but I didn't dare suggest it.

He also complained about a neighbor who has been shooting coyotes.  The man shot his dog because it got too close to his ducks.  He told the neighbor, "Next time you shoot my dog, you'd better kill it, because I'm not paying another $1,600 vet bill."

What do you say to something like that?  Especially after he just went on a jag claiming that he loves and respects all animals?  Here's an idea...  keep your dog contained on your own property.  Oh yeah, and he told the man with the ducks that it was his job to keep his ducks contained so that the coyotes and dogs couldn't get to them.  I agree with that, but he wasn't seeing the flip side of the coin.  It was also his job to keep his dog contained so that it wouldn't wander onto other people's property.  Shooting dogs that you know belong to neighbors, as well as coyotes, is a whole issue in itself, but listening to this man's perceptions made me realize just how close my neighborhood is to being something out of the wild west.


Tina said...

Grandfather sounds like a winner! NOT! You sure showed a lot more patience than I would have been able to.

achieve1dream said...

Um I'm thinking their grandfather was full of crap. If something like that had happened you would have heard about it. There is no way someone could be shot that many times and keep breaking into houses.... unless I'm underestimating how truly stupid some people are... just sounds fishy to me since you didn't hear anything... I think you had it right when you said he's batshit crazy lol!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Well, I do hear gunshots all the time around here, and the newspaper is really bad about keeping us appraised on important events. I didn't know many neighbors at the time, so no one would have told me about it if it happened. Drugs would explain why the guy would keep breaking into houses after getting shot. For a while there, bath salts were a big problem. People would take off their clothes and run through traffic, breaking and vandalizing everything in sight. Not even tasers could bring them down.

achieve1dream said...

Really???? That is so crazy!!

Tina said...

Where I live in AL, the mountain I live on is known as Meth Mountain. There is even a documentary about it!! It's true too! So many druggies up there. Luckily there is also a ton of nice people who don't do drugs also.