Fifteen years ago, my wife and I decided that our 2-bedroom, 1-bath bungalow in West Nashville’s Sylvan Park was getting too small for our growing family, and we started looking around for a bigger house. We knew we wanted to stay on the west side of town, but most of the houses we looked at either had fatal flaws, like having giant electrical transmission lines in the back yard, or were too expensive.
Then we happened upon an unloved-looking former rental triplex in a desirable neighborhood. A young couple had been trying to renovate it and had run out of money, and the roof was leaking so badly that the ceilings had fallen down in several places. We got it for a very good price, put on a new roof, and had a huge dead oak tree that was hanging over the house removed. My wife moved in one weekend with the kids and the dog while I was up in Canada on a music tour.
Shortly after I returned, we hosted a house-warming party. Nothing too noisy or late, just a house full of friends sipping wine and chatting, while our ten year-old son and a couple friends kicked a can around in the back driveway.
The next morning at 7 a.m. someone started pounding on the front door. When I staggered out of bed and opened it, there was a middle-aged man I didn’t recognize standing there with an unpleasant look in his eyes. He thrust a crumpled Coke can at me and shook it in my face. “Look what I found in my driveway this morning! What are you people going to do about this?” I was pretty foggy, but I apologized, and explained that we didn’t have frequent parties, this was just one to celebrate our new house. “But,” I said, “It’s just a can on your driveway. Did this really require pounding on my door this early?” He shook his finger at me. “We like things quiet in this neighborhood. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of me!” With that he stalked off to his house next door.
As we started meeting other neighbors, it seemed everyone had a story about this guy. The lady down the hill on the other side of his house told us she had burst into tears after he screamed at her when one of her cats had strayed into his yard. She had become so uncomfortable with his constant glaring at her that she was thinking of moving.
One day, I was cleaning out a 4-foot area between my back driveway and the fence around his patio so I could plant some forsythia, and I was using my chainsaw to cut a few skinny trash trees that were crowded in there. He came storming down my drive, red-faced, demanding to know why I was cutting “his” trees. “The fence is not the property line!” he yelled. “I’m going to call the police!” I tried to reason with him, but it was useless. He was a nut.
The next day, there was a fencing company there, erecting a wooden privacy fence between his front yard and ours. We were actually pretty happy about that. His strange and ugly behavior had made just the sight of him working in his yard an unhappy experience. He was poisoning the neighborhood with his bad vibes.
After about a year of unpleasant encounters with The Neighbor From Hell, as we had started calling him, we heard some good news through the grapevine. Another acquaintance down the street who was on friendly terms with our bad neighbor’s wife said that they were putting the house up for sale. The day they left, my wife and a few friends from the neighborhood popped a bottle of champagne on the front porch and cheered loudly as they drove away.
Shortly afterward, Peter and Margy moved in next door, and by coincidence it turned out that Peter and I had once played in a band together. Soon we were all fast friends, and just like in a fairy tale, the evil spell that had been cast upon our block was broken, and we all lived happily ever after.
I just feel sorry for whoever is living next to jerkface now.