I picked up my friend at the mortuary yesterday and brought him back to my house in a neat little box. Tomorrow I have to pick up the death certificates…then begins the tedious process of cancelling/changing all his accounts. To prepare, I’ve had to sift through the mounds of papers in his house. It’s such an odd feeling being in this situation. He’s lived next door since before I was born. As a little girl, he was always the elusive old blind man that wore a weird hat and drove really really slow that lived next door. He never seemed to have any regular visitors. Occasionally, I’d see his mother pull into his driveway and I’d hear all sorts of doors slamming and her crackly voice ordering him around. Our street is pretty quiet and the neighbors here are so nosey that even when you keep to yourself, they still know what happened at your dinner table last Thursday despite your best efforts to keep it private and they make sure everyone knows. So, when there was movement at HIS house, you can bet every housewife was peering through her front kitchen window at the “weirdo” & his mother, gathering their gossip tid-bits for the daily morning swap via phone over their cups of black coffee with the ones on the side of the street with a less desirable vantage point. No one made too much of an effort to befriend him and the story always was “he’s weird” “he never comes outside” “he never talks to anyone on the street” “he went blind from some government experiment in World War 2” “he’s got weird contraptions, like some kind of midevil sexual torture devices in his living room”. The general rule for all the kids on the street was to stay away from him because he might molest you. So nobody bothered him. Well, except for…me.
I was intrigued, I guess. I wanted to see who he was. I went to his house nearly every day. I’d knock on his door and he’d answer. He was always friendly to me. He never liked any of the other kids and he told me so. He & I would talk for a long time in his front doorway. I’d usually have my dog Duchess with me & he loved to see her. He had tattoos on his arms, a lion on each, and I’d always ask him to flex his muscles so I could see them move. I remember playing in his garage, sitting in the bed of his pick-up and watching him work at his workbench. I never felt scared or unwanted by him. My parents got a lot of flack from the lookie-loos on the street about letting me play over there for hours unsupervised with him. But they trusted him, like I did.
So now, at the conclusion of his life here, I am getting a chance to look into who he really was and I am beginning to learn why he was so…weird. From what I’ve gathered, he didn’t seem to have a close relationship with his father. He was quite close to his mom but I think he may have been mistreated by her. I get the sense that he didn’t have much respect for her though. He seemed to want to out-do her intellectually. He had an older brother, who was his fathers namesake. He married a woman. He had a daughter and possibly a son. I think the boy died when he was young and his daughter refused any sort of contact with him. I get the feeling the family was broken up by a devastating event and somehow my next door neighbor-friend had a lot to do with it.
Aside from all the family drama I’ve read about that he had dealt with, he was also a World War 2 vet, honorably discharged from the US Army in 1945. He was injured somehow and ended up in a hospital. He says he was given a shot in his arm by a doctor as part of his treatment then the next day his eye was completely bloodshot and his vision blurry and at the site of the injection was a large fluid-filled blister that ended up as a permanent, very visible scar. When he made the doctor aware of the eye problem, the doctor made excuses about what caused it and said it would heal in a short time. His medical records showed he was on some sort of schedule to have these shots on a daily basis over the next few weeks but he suspected he was being used for an experiment. He had only 2 of those shots, which later was revealed that he had been injected with mustard gas. The military also infected him with malaria – he claimed.
After he was discharged from the Army, his eyesight deteriorated, but he managed to get his teaching credentials and became a Professor at San Francisco State University…at least until he was laid-off due to complaints from students and staff that he was rude, disrespectful and just plain mean. No student would take his classes and the other faculty avoided any contact with him.
Then there’s the hatred towards women. In his journals [which by the way, he meticulously kept for from what I can tell so far, every day, his entire life] I don’t know how many times I’ve read “kill the fetus” or saw his very graphic drawings of a woman giving birth to something that looks evil like the Devil. His drawings are all very detailed. The women in them are all slightly taller than the men. Always either dressed very classy or naked and posed obscenely. The captions are usually sexist. I want to have them looked at by an expert, but who? And why? It’s not like I can help him anymore. Maybe then, just so I have one of the last puzzle pieces to help me close this chapter of my life.
Those contraptions the neighborhood labeled as torture devices are actually still in the house and garage. Here’s some photos I took of his creations.
I am fascinated by how creative he was. The photos don’t give enough detail. He designed these 2 massive “home-gyms” and built them with very little commercially manufactured components as possible. He also pre-fabricated each one in miniature.
Now that I’ve found a family member of his, I’m feeling my loss. I became very close to a man that they really never knew and against his wishes, I have to give him up to them merely because he’s related by blood. They don’t know him as well as I got to know him and are swooping in like vultures to pick apart the corpse. I’m struggling with my automatic reaction to protect him still, like a gaurd dog, I wish I could chase them away.