All was quiet for two weeks after the disastrous dinner party and then…
It may have been the top hat and tails or maybe the car full of new shoes purchased with their first month’s rent plus security deposit or the idea that Joan wasn’t moving to Japan after all and was planning to live in the basement that stopped the couple from moving in. So Joan stayed in her flat and rented out her extra bedroom.
Tom is my guest editor for this story as I was not present for it.
I first realized that’s what she was doing when a guy came to our door introducing himself as Joan’s tenant and asking if he could hang out at our house because Joan was on a rampage. He didn’t rent for much longer. The next renter was a young woman named Victoria who was attending College of Marin. She was also pregnant.
Victoria’s room is where the small windows on top are.
Not long after Victoria moved in, Stevie was flying and I had the kids, so I invited a friend, Uncle Smoky, and his two dogs to dinner. Uncle Smoky richly deserved that moniker as he loved smoky links and it was a name he was proud to have. I took the kids to the grocery store with me. Returning home we passed a paramedic truck coming out of our street. I didn’t think anything of it until we pulled into our driveway and there was a police car in Joan’s driveway. She was handcuffed and the officer was talking to her. Joan was in another world doing her ballet stretches using the police car as a barre. The kids watched in awe as the officer pushed Joan’s head down as she climbed into the back seat.
Uncle Smoky arrived, we played with the dogs and had dinner. As we were cleaning up, the phone rang. It was Victoria. She was calling from Marin General Hospital and needed a ride home. She explained that Joan had pushed her down, she had called 911 and the paramedics and police had shown up. She was in the paramedic van we had seen on our return from the grocery store. The kids were worried about Victoria and the baby so went with me to pick her up. On the way I asked them not to mention the baby suggesting they let Victoria tell us what happened.
Naturally, as soon as Victoria got in the car Max asked “Is the baby ok?”
That got Victoria started with the story. She said that Joan was in a manic phase and Victoria called Joan’s doctor. That infuriated Joan who yelled at Victoria and pushed her causing her to fall down. Worried about the baby and concerned that Joan wouldn’t stop, she called 911. The paramedics took her to the hospital to be checked out. The baby was unharmed.
When we pulled into the driveway and Victoria got out of the car, she looked up and saw Joan outside the house hosing the walkway. I took Victoria into our house where she was greeted by Uncle Smoky’s dogs jumping around her. I left her with Smoky and went up to “talk” with Joan.
“She’s not welcome in my house!” Joan yelled
“You have no right to go into her room, much less shove her!” I yelled. “She’s staying at our house tonight but she has every right to the room she rented and you need to stay out of it!”
As I left, I turned and there was Joan hosing down a telephone book. I assumed it was open to the page with the doctor’s number. I turned away to go back to my house.
“Tell her I fed her cat!” Joan yelled
As I walked down the walkway the door to the lower flat opened and a man whispered to me
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course. What do you want to know?” I asked as I walked to meet him at his partially open front door. His girlfriend was standing in the room behind him amongst the boxes from their move-in that afternoon.
“Does this happen often?” he asked.
“All the time. Every tenant has been driven out by her craziness. If I were you, I’d stop payment on the checks you’ve written to her and move out immediately.”
“Should be easy” he said as he turned and waved to the still fully packed boxes filling the apartment.
When I got back to my house Victoria was gone. Smoky said she went out the back door. Then we heard a siren. It was the police. Victoria had gone to her room while Joan and I were yelling and found that Joan had thrown her things out onto the deck so she called 911 again. The police hauled Joan off to jail where she was held for 72 hours before being released.
By the time Joan was released three days later both Victoria and the tenants in the lower flat were gone leaving Joan free to rent to new tenants. Shortly thereafter three young women moved into the lower unit. All seemed well for a week or so until I came home from work one afternoon, pulled into the driveway that faced Joan’s house and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There was Joan, crawling along the ledge that surrounded the now enclosed corner room of the lower apartment.
“What are you doing?” I yelled
“I got locked out.” She replied
“Locked out of what?! Their apartment? You have no right to go into their apartment! “ She ignored me, climbed down from the ledge and stalked away.
That night I heard noises from next door and went outside a couple of times to see what was going on but there was nothing unusual to see. Then I heard the distinctive sound of a police car rumbling up the street (we lived at the end of a one lane street that was very quiet except when garbage trucks or police cars made their way up to our driveway.)
I ran outside to see what was happening and saw the policemen inspecting the house with flashlights as the house was completely dark.
“What’s going on?” I asked one of the policemen.
“We’ve had a complaint from the tenants about the landlady” he replied.
Joan was hiding in the basement where she had shut off the main power switch.
The police eventually found her and hauled her off for another 72 hour hold.
This time I wrote a letter to the courts requesting that she be held and treated as we were sure she was bipolar. Naturally, she was released after the 72 hours were up and the tenants and my pleas for treatment ignored.
Shortly thereafter as we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to live next door to Joan, a miracle occurred. Joan’s house went up for sale. She couldn’t keep up her house payments and had to sell the house. It may be cruel to be happy about someone else’s misfortune, but we were ecstatic!
After her house sold, that wasn’t the last of Joan. She came back a few months later for the large iron gates she claimed were hers. As she wrestled with one of the gates, it came undone and fell on top of her. I ran outside when I heard all the commotion. The gate was too heavy to lift off of Joan, so I called 911. As the fire department arrived, one of the men looked down and said:
“Oh, it’s you Joan.”