Fiction by Paolo Bacigalupi

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Posted on Mar 20, 2007 in Blog, home town | 4 comments

family values

So, more on my neighbors. My friends and I used to joke and call them “crystal meth house” because they have all their windows hung with curtains 24/7 and they’re either skinny like skeletons or hung over. And they sleep really late, even though they’ve got a 1-year old and 4-year old. Suspicious, no?

The only times I used to see the wife was when she would emerge to smoke cigarettes on the porch, pale and skinny, blinking in the sunlight like some kind of cave rat, before disappearing back into her blackout home. They always gave off a weird vibe. Even before I got into conflict with them. Fertile ground for all sorts of unfair speculations.

It turns out the owner of the house used to be both a crystal meth addict *and* a cocaine addict. His wife as well. Not only that, his brother is serving three years in prison for selling meth to eight different towns in a 200 mile loop of Western Colorado. I feel so vindicated in my stereotypes.

How do I know this? Because after the whole pit-bull jumping on me and my kid thing, the owner of the house decided he needed to make nice and apologize, so he came over to talk, and he shared. How often do you meet someone, who, within five minutes of starting the conversation, allows it to veer to his various addictions and how hard it is to stay clean when he’s trying to make a positive and responsible impression?

I suppose the fact that he claims that he and his wife are clean now, means that when his wife was smoking and drinking her way through her second pregnancy (I watched her out on her porch, yes, I know, I clearly don’t have enough to do) that she was actually doing her fetus a favor. She was showing honest-to-god restraint.

Thank goodness for family values.


  1. Yow.

    We had similar problems two cities ago, living in an area that was slowly becoming gentrified. My wife had to rescue our younger son once when he was crawling on the lawn and (we believe) the neighbour’s dog thought he was an animal to attack. She also had to save a friend’s child from another dog, and a smaller dog of a different neighbour was mauled by two other dogs, right in front of my boys. Oh, and I almost got in a fight with someone from down the block – on the day we moved in – when one of his dogs crapped on the lawn and I offered him a plastic bag. But we made up.

    And, the owners of the first dog were a black man and white woman. The woman came calling one day wondering why we were so prejudiced against their mixed-race daughter (her words), all because one day we asked her to get the dog under control. It was all very odd.

    Take it as a good sign that he wants to talk with you and straighten things out. And hope the house doesn’t explode.


  2. At least he apologized…sheesh. I do know people like that though, who’ll give you their whole life story within minutes of meeting. It happened to me on my first day at my current job, and I nearly ran away screaming. The stuff in question had to do with her daughter’s tragic death, her son’s drug addictions, and her ex-husband’s uber-religious girlfriend, among other things…

  3. They don’t, uh, read your blog, right?

  4. I doubt they even read.


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