Daryl and I have teamed up with George Roth, a divorcee down the street. I guess he’s alright, but he likes cats. He keeps giant bowls of cat food on his porch, but he doesn’t actually ‘keep’ any cats. In other words, he attracts dozens of strays, keeps them alive and breathing, and doesn’t ever bother to keep them from breeding. In fact, I’ve found two litters in my garage in the past year--all of which ended up at the local shelter. This isn’t a shelter that guarantees a good home, if you know what I mean.
You know, if I had to choose one neighbor to get rid of, besides the people we’re trying to force out, it would be George Roth. He just rubs me the wrong way. It’s not just the cats—it’s his narcissistic attitude in everything he does. The cats are just one manifestation of it. Ok, he likes cats; but he disregards everyone else’s sentiments. He ignores the fact that these animals (more than half of which are feral) cause problems for the rest of us. He doesn’t seem to care about the infestation of fleas they are causing. None of our pets are free from the little buggars, and up until last year, my home was actually over-run with them. Not to mention the headache we all go through EVERY garbage night.
But this guy caught wind of what we’re about, and he wants to be a SMITHY.
Eventually, we’re gonna have it out. I can feel it. Sooner or later, it’s gonna happen. I’m the sort of guy who comes out and says things. Even if I make the decision to keep a civil tongue, I would let something slip on accident. Not to hurt the man, but to simply state the truth. I have a very bad habit of doing that sort of thing.
For example, there’s this weirdo who visits my dad every now and then. Did you ever notice that most circles of friends contain one misfit—one guy who, not only doesn’t fit in the circle, but doesn’t fit in anywhere else either. A guy who has absolutely ZERO social skills and can only make the claim that he has any friends at all because of plain, simple charity. A guy who, at first, was tolerated, but eventually, despite all his idiosyncrasies, comes to be loved. A guy who is just plain WEIRD. Well, that guy, in my circle of friends and family, is Weirdo Joe.
Weirdo Joe has a bit of a hygiene problem. Not to the point of smelling bad, but you can tell he doesn’t shower nearly as often as he should. He also doesn’t shave, and his beard is just nasty. I don’t even like to eat with him around.
One day, drops by my dad's house on his way to court (something about driving without insurance), and he was all cleaned up. He had shaved, put on clean, pressed clothes, combed his hair, and everything. The right thing to say would have been, “Hey, Weirdo Joe, you look nice.” Or even, “You clean up good.” But I didn’t say that. It’s what I thought, but what came out was, “Hey, what happened to you? You don’t look as dirty as you normally do.”
I swear to heaven, I did not mean to insult the man. I really did intend for my words to be complimentary. But they weren’t… they were insulting. And while this is an example that I’m a bit ashamed of, it’s a very typical example of my blunders.
Maybe I’m the guy in the circle who doesn’t fit… I never thought of that.
Anyway, I’m bound to say or do something that will express my feelings (as well as the feelings of everyone else) to George Roth. Not that I haven’t said my bit to him already. We’ve had words before. But we’re supposed to work together on this, and I’ll no doubt make it awkward.
Until then, I guess, it’s better if I just try to stay focused on our objective when I’m talking to him. Usually when we’re planning, the conversation turns to religion or politics or the like. Or sometimes we just sit and BS for a while. But when Roth is present, it’s gonna be all business. It has to be that way, because I don’t think I can be friends with this joker.
I talked about this fact to Daryl and Hank Tiller (Hank was the third member of our group). They had a similar feelings about the man. But again, we can’t be choosy about getting help. Anyone who is in should be accepted, because without unity we won’t get very far.
Or it could be that Roth just wants to use my forge. That’s always a possibility. It’s not like he cares all that much about the wellbeing of the neighborhood. If he did, he wouldn’t keep all those stupid cats.
Okay, enough about George Roth.
We’ve decided we’re going to start by talking to a few of the sheriffs. We could set up a sting, where we buy from someone, and then call the cops, but that’s not really a good long-term plan. I mean, word would get around pretty fast that we’re trying to bust people, and after one or two times, they just wouldn’t sell to us. So we’re going to find out what it would take, what we would need evidence for, etc.,.
Every now and then, a couple of the sheriffs sit in an old parking lot down the street from me. It was, at one time, a gas station. Now it’s just a slab of concrete. I think they sit there on their lunch hours. I’m going to approach them the next time I see them and then discuss it with the other SMITHIES.
Then we'll form our game plan.