*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.*
The wildest thing that ever happened in my neighborhood growing up was when The Mercers painted their whole house matte black to mess with the neighbors who hated what they had done. All of the neighbors were beside themselves that the house was not only now a black eyesore but also had a full overgrown yard of wildflowers - not the neatly manicured grass of every other house on the block.
What the Mercers did was their passive-aggressive way of letting everyone around them know that they didn’t care what people thought of them. The Mercers also had a pool in their backyard that I was allowed to use constantly while growing up, and Mrs. Mercer would lay out in her bikini all day back in the time when women slathered oil on their bodies to tan their skin even darker. It’s no wonder cancer eventually took her.
Looking back, I’m surprised that so many neighbors complained about the black house and the overgrown front yard and never seemed to complain about seeing Mrs. Mercer traipse about in her bikini. This is because later in life when I was renting a house for me and my daughter, the neighbors on one side of me seemed a little bit unstable.
Neil and Marcy were a married couple in their early forties and they had serious marriage problems. They constantly were fighting loud enough for me to hear them across the lawn and over the low fence that separated our houses. One time I even called the authorities because Neil was yelling and Marcy was screaming so loudly I thought he was hurting her.
The thing is though, you never really know what is going on between people in relationships, even if they are friends or family, and definitely not usually when they’re your neighbors. I was close, however, to the neighbors on the other side of Neil and Marcy, another married couple but this one was only in their twenties - Dan and Shea.
Dan and Shea were both computer programmers who worked remotely from home and made good money. The first thing they did after moving into their house was put in a pool in their backyard.
The fences between all of our houses were low, put there I’m guessing by the people who built the houses in the little development all at once. When Shea was out in the pool, I could clearly see through my kitchen window into her backyard, and yes, she often wore bikinis and would lay out in the sun for at least a half hour to an hour a day. So, it stands to reason that since Neil and Marcy were right next to her, they got a better, bigger eyeful.
One summer afternoon I was blowing bubbles in the backyard with my daughter, Tori, and noticed that both Dan and Shea were sunning together on their pool deck.
At one point, Shea got up and went into the house, and almost the moment she did, I saw Marcy running out her back door and over to Dan’s fence.
“Come here, I want to talk to you,” Marcy said to Neil in a voice that made it sound more like a command than a request.
Dan got up and walked over in just his swim trunks and asked Marcy what was up.
“What’s up is, my husband is constantly staring at your barely-clad wife’s body every time she uses the pool.”
I heard Dan let out a huff of a laugh and then he said to Marcy:
“Well, that sounds more of an issue you have with what your husband does than what my wife does on our own property.”
“I don’t want him to be able to see her anymore! You need to build a taller fence between our houses and I want it done before the end of the summer!”
Dan laughed again. “Yeah, okay, Marcy,” he said, “But I think you should go talk to your husband about this, not me.”
Then, Dan walked away and went inside.
I heard Marcy let out a low shriek of rage and then she turned in my direction and caught me looking at her.
“Well, don’t you think he should build a bigger fence so we don’t have to look at Shea all day?”
“Sorry, Marcy, I don’t want to get into it,” I replied, and she huffed and went back into her house. Shortly later, I heard Marcy and Neil screaming at each other again.
I only lived in that house for two years, and when I moved out, Dan, Shea, Marcy, and Neil all still lived there, and Dan definitely never built that fence.
How would you have reacted to Marcy if you were Neil, or do you think Marcy had the right to request that?
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