I’m a wee bit naive. I always have been. When I was in grad school I lived in a duplex apartment with another grad student. Frank lived next door to us. He was 35ish. He had a really huge dog named Rocky. He drove a big SUV and had a boat.
I used to talk to Frank every now and then. I took note of the fact that he never seemed to go anywhere. One day while sitting out on the porch I asked Frank, “you really have a great schedule. What is it that you do for a living?” “Uh, I’m in fiberglass.” Hmmmm. I didn’t really know what someone who was “in fiberglass” did, but I said, “cool.”
Frank had a lot of friends. He paced around in his front yard talking on his cell phone all the time. His friends came over quite often. They came and went, came and went. Rocky was always hanging near Frank.
I’m not sure how long we lived in the duplex apartment before I noticed the smell. My bedroom smelled like skunk. Or maybe dead skunk. You know, when you’re a poor young grad student you put up with a lot, and a bedroom that smells like dead skunk is just one of those things.
I spent a lot of time in my bedroom. I was preparing that fall for my quals. Quals are the final exams one takes at the end of graduate coursework. You have to pass your quals before you can start on your dissertation. I studied for HOURS, so I wouldn’t say I got used to the smell, but I got to where I ignored it.
I’m not sure why my roommate and I were out looking at the electrical meter one day. Maybe we had a high bill one month and were shocked into looking at the meter. Poor grad students get shocked by their bills. I remember the neighbor’s meter was turning like a Ferris wheel. I’d never seen a meter run so fast. At the same time we noticed that Frank had aluminum foil on his back windows. It was on the windows of the bedroom that butted up against by room. I noticed it but I didn’t think anything about it.
Sometime that fall I started dragging my right leg around behind me. My friend asked me why. I told her that I wasn’t feeling well, that I think I had the flu. She told me, “well dragging your leg around is not a symptom of the flu! You need to go to the clinic.” The next day I headed over to the college’s wellness clinic. The doc sent me to a neurologist. When I couldn’t stand on my tiptoes the doctor proclaimed, “you either have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease.” Well, I had the latter. I went home with a pile of antibiotics, crawled in bed, and smelled dead skunk for several days til I was feeling better.
Later that fall I left the house one morning about 9. When I opened the door there were police and sheriff cars and SUV’s all up and down the street. I didn’t see any officers though. There was one guy with a long-lensed video camera out in our yard. I said, “can you tell me what’s going on?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “You don’t know?” He said with a skeptical tone. “No,” I said.
“Your neighbor’s apartment was raided at 7 o’clock this morning. (I’d slept through it.) He has a major marijuana grow room in there. Are you telling me that you don’t know anything about it?” He lifted his camera to his face and started asking questions. I guess he thought I was going to say,”he was a quiet neighbor, kind of a loner.” Instead I said, “do I have a choice about whether I’m going to be on the news?” “No,” he said, “so you might as well talk to me.”
I responded, in sort of a ‘woe is me’ tone, “well, if I don’t have a choice I guess I’d rather be on the news saying nothing.” I got in my beat up old car and drove off as he filmed my every move. Fortunately the only part of me that was on the Oklahoma City 6 o’clock news that night was my car driving off with the voiceover, “Neighbors say they knew nothing……blah, blah, blah….”
Just so you’ll know, if your neighbor never goes to work, is outside on his cell phone day and night, has visitors constantly coming and going, has a really big dog named Rocky, puts aluminum foil on his windows, and has a meter that spins like a top, he just might not be in fiberglass.
PS Am I the only one who thinks pot smells like dead skunk?