The doorbell rang somewhere between seventeen and thirty-two times. I knew who it was, especially after the thirteen harassing text messages and phone calls went unanswered.
As I walked out of my office, I considered moonwalking out of the situation and back into the safety of my nook but stopped myself with a pep-talk about facing my fear of insanely angry and mentally unstable men. It will be a healthy challenge and good for personal growth and conflict resolution, I tried to trick myself with positive self-talk.
Sure enough, it was Randy, the next-door neighbor, my long standing nemesis, peering in through a fingerprint smudged glass pane of the door. Long, greasy strands of grey hair fell over his skinny shoulders as squinted his eyes to see inside and pounded at the doorbell. He was relentless in hitting the button, over and over, like a rageaholic in front of a punching bag. Perhaps he was in the finger Oympics in a past life and was overcome by a distant training memory, but I doubted it.
Truly, one ring would have been enough, I still wouldn’t have answered until I gathered up enough guts to face the irate man.
Then I did the responsible/irresponsible thing and answered the door. In reflection, I should have called the police or at least grabbed a pair of scissors for protection or an impromptu hair-cut, depending on the direction of the conversation.
Surprisingly, he was not there to tell me a knock-knock joke.
“Puney, we have got a real problem here.”
I took a deep and centering breath before I agreed with him.
He stopped in mid-speech and narrowed his eyes in suspicion.
“It’s time for you to go and take a hike, for nature and the birds and fresh air. You work too hard at this warlord-curmudgeon business. Let me handle the harassing of the residents who live here. I will take it upon myself to fight for your imaginary solo rights to the shared driveway with the property owner, city council and the program director. Please, let me take this on for you so you can get out.”
“Wow, I guess I do need a break,” he gratefully accepted my offer with a smile as I tried to remember that quote about the danger of monsters and forced myself back to the reality that waited for me on the other side of the door.
“Whoever fights monsters, should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” Nietzsche