VOICES

My neighbor just down the hill from me, right next door actually but from my deck I look down on the top of his head when he’s out and about, is psychotic.

This is the same person who was drunk and screaming death threats at me a few years back, shortly after he’d moved in there, because he was going to sell me an old beat up car that was left behind in the garage, then reneged on the deal because he decided it was worth more than the agreed on price. It wasn’t, and in fact he eventually just gave it away to get rid of it. But he lost all his self-control when I told him that he was welching on the deal, which he was. It took 3 visits from the police and being taken away in handcuffs to finally get him to calm down. That’s pretty crazy.

He’s gotten worse, however. Under California law you can get a permit to grow 12 marijuana plants, which he did, and grew them in his back yard each year. Many times over the past couple of years I’ve seen him apparently drunk and dancing and singing to his plants, talking to them, howling, yelling at people who don’t actually seem to be there, and so forth.

Ah, but now… Today for the first time, while I was out having coffee on my back deck, I heard him carrying on a calm conversation with someone and I took a peek at him because it sounded odd, and there was no one there. At first I thought he was on his cell phone, but he wasn’t. Yet he was saying something about finances, waiting for an answer and then responding to the answer, from a voice in his head.

That’s schizophrenia. I studied clinical psychology for awhile in college and while I didn’t pursue it as a vocation, I learned the basic forms of mental illness and their symptoms, and talking out loud to voices you hear in your head is advanced schizophrenia. He’s been in legal trouble in the past for drunken behavior coupled with episodes of physical assaults, and then there’s his behavior toward me.

He’s exceeded the legal limit for pot plants this year, with 32 large plants in his fenced yard now instead of the allowed 12, plus an unknown number inside his house under lights, where he starts all of them out. He’s plainly paranoid about being caught and I think this is augmenting his schizophrenia and probably is why he’s now conversing with imaginary people.

My concern is that he might go berserk on me like he did before, because of something he imagines. The pot growing season won’t end for a few more months yet and hopefully things will stay calm until then. Meanwhile our county supervisors are debating whether to either outlaw pot growing in the county entirely or hire a bunch of extra police to supervise it and ensure it stays within limits, regulate it and make tax profits off it. Personally I hope they decide to outlaw it and put an end to my neighbor’s little pot farm efforts. If he can’t grow it any longer there’s a good chance he’ll move on.

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