I’m a writer. It’s not just what I do; it’s who I am. The day I sold my first short story, “Pineapples in Paradise,” I thought I’d hit the jackpot and fame and fortune would soon be nipping at my stilettos.
My stories made me popular on the local writing scene and then online, and soon I’d cranked out enough short stories to get noticed by an agent. When I received “The Call” from my agent that there was interest from a publisher for a book deal, I almost peed my pants! This celebration called for champagne instead of my traditional Godiva chocolate bar!
My American dream came true the day I signed a contract for three novels in two years with a nice advance to carry me during what would be the lean times, considering I would have to quit my day job to fulfill my new job. I had stars in my eyes, plot twists in my veins, and more work to do than just at night. Something had to go, but the going-away party at work was a fun surprise!
That evening when I got home, there was a moving van in the driveway of the house next to mine. Mine was a quiet neighborhood, perfect for working at home. The movers quickly unloaded the van, as I was unloading 10 years of my professional life from the back of my SUV. By the time I finished, the moving van was gone, and I could hear my neighbors’ stereo blaring in the backyard.
The flood of bad memories from my previous neighbors made me wince. That house had a pool! I could already hear the splashing over the thumping of the music. It would have been rude not to introduce myself, so I walked over to their gate and pushed it open.
They were a young couple that looked more like teenagers than homebuyers. They were frolicking about in the water until they saw me standing by the gate.
“Hi, neighbors!” I waived as friendly neighbors do. “My name’s Ava, and I’m your neighbor on this side,” I pointed toward my little garden home.
“Hey, there,” the man said as he stood up, which I really wish he hadn’t. Speedos are a shock if you aren’t expecting them. “I’m Harry,” he said as he extended his hand for me to take, “and this is Rose, my wife.” Oh, I don’t think I could have picked a better name for Harry had I tried, and that was a mental picture I could have done without.
Rose was the tiniest thing I’ve ever seen, and while her bikini looked like it was from the last issue of Vogue, it also looked like it was in a child’s size. She seemed shy, which made sense since they were new to the neighborhood, and I was intruding. And, they seemed nice. “Sorry about the radio,” she said. “We just wanted to blow off a little steam.”
“No problem! Y’all have a great night!”
The next morning was a beautiful spring morning, so I took my coffee and laptop outside and sat on the deck to begin my day. Not 10 minutes later, Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” pumped up next door. The thumping vibrations of the bass guitar caused my favorite latte mug to tip over and spill my morning java. It soaked the napkin under the corner of my laptop. The rest ran between the slats of the table and dribbled on my yoga pants.
I went inside and grabbed a towel and a water bottle and went back outside to clean up. The radio was blaring even louder. I had to say something. At the gate, I spotted Rose lying on a lounge chair sunning herself. I knocked loudly on the gate, nearly punching through the wood.
“Well howdy, neighbor!” Rose sat up and invited me in. “You must be here to complain about the noise. I’m sorry. I just love Bon Jovi!” She reached for a remote and eked down the volume.
“Me, too,” I agreed. I wished I had a camera to take a photograph of Rose. She looked like a Barbie doll in a string bikini. Her bouffant hair and pink nails were done to country hick perfection, and she was wearing makeup as any true Southern belle would do. We never leave the house, even if we are just planning to stay in our own yard, without full makeup. “I hoped you might turn down the stereo. I’m a writer, and I work at home. It’s distracting.”
“Oh,” Rose said. “I see, but this is our house, and I can do what I want,” she said with a tiny little smirk.
“True, but the city has a noise ordinance, and I don’t want any trouble. I want to do my work in peace.”
“Then, buy some earplugs, sugar. Have a nice day, neighbor!” Rose turned over and turned Bon Jovi back on full volume. “Oooohhh, we’re half way there…Whoa, living on a prayer!”
My walls and furniture thumped well into the night until it cut off around 5 a.m. With my bedroom window less than 200 feet from my new neighbors’ pool and state-of-the-art sound system, it was easy to learn all the words to every Bon Jovi song ever recorded.
The noise lasted day and night for a week before I called the police.
Silence. I was so far off schedule with my book that I wasn’t sure what to do other than get a good night’s rest. I was awakened by something hitting my bedroom window. Thinking I was delirious or dreaming, it took a while to realize someone from the shadows was throwing raw eggs at my window!
Another call to the police.
The harassment went on for weeks. I kept my mouth shut. The police escalated the situation from all-night parties to raw food tossed at my window or roof. No sleep for two months, and I decided to get creative.
I filled several ice trays with water and red food dye and stuck them carefully in the freezer. That night, my neighbors turned in early. Thank heavens! My covert operation was underway. I took the trays and emptied them into a large bowl. The red ice cubes looked like bloody chunks of body parts.
I tossed them one by one into my neighbors’ pool and went back inside. I knew immediately when my covert operation was discovered. It was the scream heard ‘round the cul-de-sac, and I sat in my office…smugly sipping on my morning latte…and trying to imagine what they were thinking.