It has been building for so long that I can't really pinpoint when his most recent mania started. I know from a post last month that it's been at least six weeks. But there's been an uptick even since then, and it seems like all of us in the neighborhood have started doing our damnedest to avoid him.
We heartlessly call him "Crazy Ed" because, well, he's unbalanced. The many cars scattered across his front yard were finally removed about 18 months ago, after years and years of creating a miniature junkyard. They were removed under threat of heavy fines levied by the city.
When he was popped for a DUI in early fall, he stopped driving altogether, becoming more and more entrenched in his own home, much to our dismay. At least when he was driving, we neighbors had a break when he would travel to other pockets of our fine town and bug the crap out of other people. One neighbor jokes about starting a collection to pay for his insurance so he can start driving again.
Friday was my breaking point. Coming home from school with Youngest, the first words I heard as we exited the car were "C$#ksucker" and "motherf#@ker." Screamed loudly, shooting up the hill toward me and beyond, reverberating around this mini-canyon in which we dwell and in which he lives on the center floor, his words assaulted us.
I went in and called the police. Talking with the dispatcher, explaining where I lived and what I was calling about, she offered immediate understanding. Of course she knew about Ed. Of course she knew precisely where he lived. Of course she knew what he was yelling. Of course she knew how he had taken to decorating "his" stop sign. Of course she knew about the signs and trash and displays he'd created all around his yard.
Of course she knew.
I told her I felt he had started trying to find our breaking point, to find precisely where our proverbial line in the sand was. He had found it, I told her. And the authorities needed to do something about him.
It's been days since I've seen him. Other neighbors have reported rare sightings of him. His garage door, always open from the moment he wakes until the moment he finally retires in the evening, has remained shuttered. There have been no lights on in the house. There has been no noise. There have been no in-your-face verbal lashings of passersby.
It has been lovely. And, if that lovely silence happens to be tainted by a sense of sadness and guilt, well, I'll just have to live with it. Quietly.