I took my grandmother (Mamaw) and my 9 (soon to be 10) year old daughter and a friend of the daughter to a bluegrass concert this past weekend because Lily wanted to go for her birthday.
We had a great time. Once the concert was over we left, took the friend home on a dark country road, then headed back toward town. As I drove along at a reasonable clip a pickup truck came from out of nowhere and started tailgating me with its lights on bright. I do not negotiate with tailgaters; I slowed down.
When we reached the intersection with the main road I curbed the urge to roll down my window and yell: "do you have a problem?" If two of the most important people in my life hadn't been in the car I most assuredly would have.
I looked both ways three times before pulling out and continued toward town, with the intention to get on the parkway so the jerk in the truck could pass at his leisure. Except there was a passing lane before the intersection with the ramp. He pulled alongside and matched my speed.
I looked over, expecting to see his middle finger or him cursing. Nope. He's pointing a gun at me. And Mamaw Lacy. And Lily.
I let off the gas and he sped away. Not before I got his plate number and dialed 911.
We continued home. We're safe. But it took all of my self-control not to go back to town after I dropped them off and look for him. ALL of my self-control.
Originally, I had assumed this incident was part of the Trump Effect. I posted the preceding portion with an ending that lambasted Trump and his supporters, and reminding the world that I had predicted this sort of thing would happen in a Trump/Tannen reality. I posted it up at 5:00 am this past Sunday morning (the dogs had woke me up to go out and bark at the coyotes that live up the way). A Facebook friend replied and said they didn’t think it was the Trump Effect but instead an effect of the local drug problem and cited some examples. I thought about it, being a little more awake after I let the traitor dogs back in, and took the post down.
The more I think about it the more I’m fairly certain our felonius friend was involved less in local politics and more in the local drug scene. Then my thoughts turned to the current situation in my own neighborhood. Drugs haven’t creeped in; they came strolling up with the mail wearing familiar faces.
We’ve had people come to the door looking for the dealers asking for them by names we know all too well. Recently a guy came to the door and tried to sell us some scratched up DVDs. When we said we weren’t interested he tried to get us to buy the whole case for twenty bucks. So he could walk across the road and buy meth? Heroin? Pills?
We’ve started locking not only all of our house doors but our car doors at night as well. I worry about the garbage that gets burned at the drug house. We’ve had to educate the kids about what to do if they come across needles. We’ve had to tell them not to talk to anyone along the road (that goes to their great grandmother’s house) or answer the door to anyone they don’t know...well.
This is our house. This is where we live. Our home.
I know I’m not the first father to worry about these things and I know what we’re dealing with isn’t a fraction of what a lot of people have to deal with. I understand and I’m not trying to cry victim or garner pity. I’m pissed.
I’m tired of watching the Breaking Bad Amateur Hour. How long before a deal goes bad and bullets fly? Or the house catches on fire? Or someone inadvertently or advertently harms my kids?
I don’t know if the road rage incident was the Trump Effect. Frankly, I don’t care if it was Trump or drugs. We’re living in a Biff Tannen fever dream all the same. There is a bigger problem in Powell County. We don’t have enough law enforcement. We have too many criminals that know that. Drugs in Eastern Kentucky are running rampant.
This is not the kind of world I want my children to grow up in. I thought by getting out of the big city (Denver) and moving back to rural Eastern Kentucky life would be more relaxed and satisfying. I was terribly wrong. The most galling things about the situation at home is that its family that has brought drugs to the neighborhood. Its family that has attracted the criminal element.
When I was a full time bike commuter I used to confront reckless drivers. Sure, go ahead and cut me off to get to the red light. I'll just pull up to your window five seconds later and we can "chat" about how you almost hit me. Mandy used to tell me that one day I was going to get in a fight or get shot. The other night when I told her I almost rolled down my window and yelled: "do you have a problem?" she said that should be a lesson to me; that I probably would have gotten shot.
Would it have been wrong for me to demand an answer for the tailgater's behavior? And if he shot me—while no real consolation to me or my loved ones—it would have been him morally accountable; not me.
Why do the bullies get to win? I know, I know, I should turn the other cheek. When they go low, I should go high. But where is that line between letting it go and taking a stand to protect my family and myself? The other night I was able to let off the gas and the problem sped away. What if he had decided menacing us wasn't enough? He'd already committed a felony by pointing the gun at me. What if he'd ran us off the road? What if he'd followed me home to prove some idiotic point?
That wasn’t the first time I’ve been threatened in recent months.
One night a few months ago about 11:00 we hear a Gator shaped object revving up on the hill. We look out the bedroom window and the neighbor has driven a hundred feet from the house to a flat spot just off the property I call "the dump." Old tires and stuff. He starts screwing around in front of the GSO on the ground for ten minutes or so, then drives it back to the house, parks it and goes inside. The next day when I got home from work I parked up the road and kind of sneaked through the woods to see if I could see what he had been up to. There amongst the normal junk was a truck toolbox sitting upright on the ground. I figure that's where he was stashing stuff.
A few days later he comes by when I'm outside and wants to chat. We never chat. He asks if we've lost any chickens. Says he saw a bobcat on his game cam a few nights back. Tells me his boss bought him a gun and they've been sitting up in the woods waiting for it. I'm a dim light bulb. It doesn't register right away. It’s such a bizarre non-sequitur I ponder it for a few days before I realize: I'm the bobcat.
Whose boss buys them a gun? I kept wondering that. Make absolutely no sense. Unless your boss is a drug dealer.
This weekend has been that movie moment for me when Marty McFly finds his father’s tombstone in the Hill Valley Cemetery. The dark dystopian reality has come home.