Monday, April 5, 2010

Spies Like Us...

So, the fun and fabulous Tawna suggested that I allow all you a peek at the inner workings of my not so dark and demented mind. This might scare some of you, especially when you realize that this is only one in a very long string of crazy things I have done. So, buckle your seat belts, kids, and enjoy the show!

I bought my house a little over four years ago. There were three main reasons I purchased the home that I did: house size (come on! I did not need a mansion), location (conveniently close to Target, Blockbuster, and the Japanese Steakhouse, but far enough removed to still be in a quiet neighborhood), and the neighbors themselves. At the time, most of my neighbors were elderly couples. Quiet and unassuming elderly couples. Perfect for someone like me. Yes, even though I am nowhere near middle-aged, I am a closet old lady.

The one exception to the utopia that was my neighborhood, was the house that was located behind mine and to the left. Although very nice, the people that inhabited that house were quite rambunctious, and when they moved, no one was sad to see them gone. It should be noted that this was just a year into my home ownership.

In these harsh economic times, the house stood empty for a very long time. So, we all waited on pins and needles to see who would take their place in our quaint little world. It took a little more than a year, but our waiting was rewarded with a new addition.

It was exciting to watch the new couple redo the home, cleaning painting and making the home livable once more. That was until....

I witnessed something that really freaked me out. Now, to be fair to these people, this was at the same time that I discovered the incomparable Allison Brennan. Suffice it to say, I was so enamored with her tales of serial killers and the cops that hunted them that I was probably over-reacting. Okay, maybe not probably.

I was outside with Dumb and Dumber (aka the big old oxes that masquerade as my puppies) for their last pee break of the night when all of a sudden, Dumb starts growling for no apparent reason. Considering my home is in an active Burrowing Owl area and my boys love nothing more than to harass the local wildlife, I quickly called him back to me. When he trotted to my side, I noticed that all his hair was on end (not a normal occurrence for him).

I just happened to look up at that exact moment and saw a rather large shadow standing just outside the home of our new mystery residents. Thinking the neighbor was outside having a smoke, I herded my boys inside and turned off my outside lights.

Being the Nosy Nancy that I am, I decided to peek at him through my kitchen window. I was just being a concerned citizen, I told myself. Who cares that I was watching him with binoculars...from inside a darkened house?

I watched him for about ten minutes and had just about come to the conclusion that he was harmless when the flood lights at the front of his house came on. BUT he was walking about in the backyard. If you weren't practicing illegal activities, you'd use the backyard lights...wouldn't you?

He lugged about several very large and bulky garbage bags from the lanai all the way around to the front of the house where he carried them into the garage. This in and of itself was enough to freak me out, but as he passed under the light, I could see very clearly that the man was outfitted in a thick plastic apron and the matching gloves that went all the way up his arms to the middle of his biceps. Have you seen Hostel? Then, you know exactly what he was wearing: Serial killer gear.

I had two choices. I could attribute all this craziness to a very vivid imagination gone wild or I could call the cops right then and there. Instead, I chose option number three. I would not call for back up until I was absolutely certain of this man's guilt. And, how do you establish guilt? Gather evidence. That was what I'd do.

The next day while I was on my lunch break, I made a little trip to the army surplus store and purchase a few essentials for my plan: Camo-gear, pepper spray, and night-vision binoculars.

Now, that I was prepared, I began my mission. It was simple. I was going to "stake-out" the perp until he did something illegal. Then, I would contact the boys in blue and have them haul him away in handcuffs. I could just see the headlines now: LOCAL WOMAN CATCHES ELUSIVE SERIAL KILLER WITH ONLY A BINDER CLIP AND TWO RUBBERBANDS. McGuyver would be so proud.

Every night as soon as his lights went out, I tip-toed around my house and hid in the shrubs with my binoculars and other essentials, including video camera to document illegal activities. And, every night, he did nothing. I began to wonder if maybe he knew I was out there, watching him. Was he planning my murder and subsequent disposal of my body? Would I be chopped up and stashed in the freezer I was sure he kept in the garage...the freezer where all the other bodies were?

I was two weeks into my investigation and still hiding out in the shrubs when my cell vibrated in my pocket. Because any little bit of light could give me away, I'd set the screen to black so I didn't know who was on the phone. I answered it anyway, breathing a sigh of relief when my mother's voice was on the other end and not the serial killer next door.

She launched into a full-scale attack about how my dad was getting on her nerves AGAIN. I just grunted and "uh-huh"-ed whenever she paused. I couldn't afford to screw up my stake out. If I looked away for even a second, I'd miss something, and then where would I be?

She rambled on for a good ten more minutes before she realized that I wasn't really responding. "What are you doing?" she demanded. "And, why are you whispering?"

"I'm on a stake-out." I told her as if it was the most logical thing in the world. Duh.

"What?!?" she shrieked.

"I'm on--" I started to repeat, but right then, I detected movement. "Holy s#*t! I've got to call you back!" Without even waiting for her to respond, I hit the END button and dropped the cell back into my pockets.

He moved quietly around the perimeter of his house, without a light to guide him. Once again, he was all decked out in his axe murderer garb and carrying those cumbersome garbage bags. Into the garage he went, and I could hear the whirring motor of the opener as it closed behind him. I waited another twenty minutes, but he didn't come back outside. I was torn between creeping up and taking a closer look and hiding in my own house.

Fear won out, and I skidaddled. Back in the safety of my own home, with my pooches to protect me, I called my mother back, who was understandably freaking out over her daughter's hare-brained antics. I tried to calm her down, but with her shrieking about calling the police and my dad yelling in the background that I'm over-reacting and didn't I remember the story of the boy who cried wolf, I quickly realized that I was fighting a losing battle. Yes, I told them. I did remember that story. That's why I'd been crouched in the bushes when they'd called. I was gathering evidence.

Suffice it to say, my parents threatened to make the trip down to see me (a 12 hour drive) if I did not curtail my extra-curricular activities. And, so I promised to stop stalking the neighbor, thus ending my brief career in law enforcement.

I still believe the neighbor's got bodies in his freezer, and even though I've stopped the stake-outs, I will eventually gather the evidence needed to put him away. I live for that day!

Life lesson learned from this little debacle: When going on a stake-out, make sure you choose a vantage point that is NOT overrun with fire ants.