The Neighbour’s Gun
It was the summer of 1990 and life on 27th St. in Woodridge, Seattle, USA, was truly grand. I was 16 and in the incredible position of having a father away for the summer on business, and a mother who worked the graveyard shift as a nurse. This meant that as my Mother’s car rolled away to the hospital at 9pm, a group of local miscreants I called friends rolled in with whatever eclectic collection of alcohol our under-aged yet resourceful minds could procure.
One of the aforementioned miscreants was my mate Keith Jones. Keith could well have been the inspiration for Mr. Louise Stevens’ famous Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as it would take the merest drop of alcohol to turn him from a mild-mannered, polite young man, into a strange creature prone to performing the most random and often hilarious acts of misadventure. It was one such act that now leads to my confession.
We began our merrymaking early at a charming and seldom visited municipal water tower, this being America the under-aged are masters of identifying any and every conceivable locale to imbibe without interference from the police. As it was 9 o’clock we prepared to transition the festivities to my now vacant family home. We had last seen Keith an hour previously, removing his shirt and running off into the surrounding woods on some quest only he could truly understand. I assumed the sordid details would make for entertaining listening the following day. Little did I know how portentous that assumption was.
The following day I learned that Keith’s quest had taken him to my neighbour’s home, which in his Mr Hyde persona and mind was clearly my house. As his repeated knocking on the door went unanswered, he became convinced that he was being purposely excluded from the merriment, which fuelled his determination to gain entrance to the house by yelling my name coupled with colourful and creative expletives.
Growing up I was (emphasis on the past tense here) blessed with a fantastic set of neighbours, Bob and Ann Daniels. They were a childless couple who were always wonderfully friendly and generous with our family. Regrettably fate also chose the Daniels to make the victims of burglary on two different occasions. This being America with the constitutional right “to bear arms”, their course of action was clear. So, it probably shouldn’t have been a huge surprise to Keith when his persistent knocking on the door was finally rewarded with the illumination of the porch-light, and the appearance of seriously pissed off Bob Daniels waving his handgun and threatening bodily harm if peace wasn’t returned to his home. Miraculously instantaneous sobriety ensued followed by a hasty retreat.
I am still amazed that a neighbourly summit/tribunal never materialised. Strangely the Daniels seemed to grow a bit more distant after that and my parents could never quite understand why.