When I first moved in to my mobile home, my next-door neighbor came over and introduced himself. He then tried to sell me two tarnished silver chains and a used car radio. I politely declined; he proceeded to sweep leaves and talk my ear off, until his invalid mother rang a bell to summon him indoors. In the middle of the night I’d hear him sweeping or watering his bushes, while babbling to himself. Great, I thought, I’ve got a raging schizo living next to me. Welcome to the neighborhood

When you start to see more police than pizza delivery cruising through your trailer park on a daily basis, you begin to suspect there might be a problem. But I was a little slow on the uptake. It took me a few years to realize my ex was an addict and he was living right under my nose. “I’m depressed. That’s why I’ve lost sixty pounds and now weigh 140.” “I’m depressed. That’s why I’m sleeping all the time.” “I’m depressed. That’s why I lost my job, stole your credit card, emptied out our son’s piggy bank…”

Schizo neighbor was eventually arrested. Seems he wasn’t schizo at all. He was just a meth head. His niece and nephew moved in. They turned out to be meth heads, too. The niece would play the same four R & B songs over and over all day and well into the night. The nephew fancied himself a beekeeper. He had five hives along the side of the home. That was a big no-no with the management. Angry bees and small children are not a good combo. They were eventually arrested also. Turns out they spent a lot of their time inside cooking. And I don’t mean enchiladas.

At least I had sanity on the other side of my mobile mansion. Until those neighbors moved out. Then along came the family of seven, with their three Chihuahuas and a parrot that could curse in Spanish. One morning, while getting my son ready for school I glanced out my window and saw six members of the SWAT team with masks on, two German Shepherds, and lottsa cops circling around my new neighbors’ doublewide. Their front door had been kicked in, and the children, ranging from ages five to fifteen were lined up outside.

Oh hell, what now? I wondered.

Tip-off #1 for illegal behavior: If you’re living in a mobile home in the first place, it’s suspicious to be driving a brand-new Lexus.

Tip-off #2 for illegal behavior: Especially if you don’t have a job. (See above)

Tip-off #3 for illegal behavior: If you’re making a hundred trips a day, in and out of the complex, in your brand-new Lexus – trips that only last for six minutes at a time – that’s a little suspicious.

Off to prison goes the dealer dad. And then shipped back to Mexico, because apparently he wasn’t a legal citizen in the first place.

That left only one clean home on my “block” – a corner house, two down from me. Surely there had to be ONE home untainted by meth. (I couldn’t include my own, due to its “meth by association,” thanks to my ex.)

Fraility, thy name is meth. (To paraphrase Shakespeare)

It may have been two years later, but back came the SWAT team, the dogs, and the cops to that last house on the corner. This time the search was due to an anonymous tip regarding the son and his entrepreneurial exploits. I brought his two nieces, ages three and five over to my place while the authorities trashed the home looking for anything that might incriminate him.

“The cops are searching our house for drugs!” the five-year-old informed me, in the same excited tone as she might exclaim, “Santa is on our roof!”

“Yes, I know,” I told her, “but you don’t want to mention that when you go to school tomorrow, ok honey?”

Nothing was found that day, but of course, it’s only a matter of time…