Today I suddenly realized that I had the material for my next book in my head and in files on my computer. A few years ago a psychopath moved into our neighborhood. At first she was the perfect friendly neighbor. As she was in the process of buying the house across the street from me, she spied me sitting in the shade in front of my house, crossed the street, introduced herself as Mary Kelly (one of a long series of names she had used, I later learned) and asked me about the neighborhood.
Shortly after she moved into the neighborhood, the house to the east of hers went into foreclosure. She bought it for a low price, reconditioned it, and sold it for a nice profit. I learned that that was the way she earned her income, buying, fixing, and flipping houses. While she was fixing that house, she had a falling out with the neighbor in the house on the other side of hers. She called me to complain about him, and I listened patiently but without comment. I had known that man for years, and to me he didn’t seem at all to be the type of person to do the things she claimed he did, throw garbage in her yard and curse at her.
Next she had a falling out with a neighbor at the end of the block, with whom she had been good friends. Again she called me to complain about him. I had only spoken to this man a few times, so I didn’t know whether her complaints had merit or not, but I did notice that a pattern was beginning to develop.
One weekend I planned to participate in a three-day bicycle race in Tucson, and I told her I would be gone and asked if she would keep an eye on my house. She agreed to do it.
While I was in Tucson, I called my home phone number to check for voice mails. There was one from Mary complaining about a man who owns a large property behind mine. Had I seen him in the irrigation canal the night before? Was I aware of what a tricky person he was?
I called her and reminded her that I was in Tucson and couldn’t possibly have seen anything that happened the night before. Oh, yes, now she remembered that I was away.
I won’t detail her accusations against other neighbors, but one by one she turned on most of the people on our two-block long street. My turn to be attacked also came.
Over the following months there were neighborhood meetings and many court cases (once there were three hearings in three different courts in the same week) as she filed restraining orders against us, and we had them overturned. We filed restraining orders against her, which she challenged in court, and they were all upheld. We learned that she had caused the same problems in another neighborhood before moving to ours and that she had been arrested twice in Phoenix and once in Scottsdale, a suburb. Then, one day while setting in a courthouse, I used the computer to look up records on her and discovered that she had changed her name from Mary Finton to Mairead Kelly and that her original name had been Mary Whalen. It turned out that Mary Whalen had a long history of civil and criminal offenses in Las Vegas.
To wrap up this story, the last I checked her name in our County Recorder’s Office, I found that she had had several documents notarized at the United States Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua. Where she went from there or what name she is using now, I have no idea, but I suspect that somewhere she is causing problems in some once-peaceful neighborhood under yet another name. Has anyone like that moved into your neighborhood lately?
It just occurred to me that in my last blog post, I referred to Vladamir Putin as a psychopath, and the novel I’m currently writing is about an imaginary psychopath who becomes president of the United States. Now I am contemplating writing a book about a psychopath with the names of my neighbors changed to protect their privacy. Do I have a fixation on psychopaths?