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Samhain Essay: Paying Respects - page 15 / 22





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from my home. They were present day and night, in and out in clusters, glaring at anyone who looked at them, loud at late hours, their friends and associates visiting in a steady parade of arrogance.

For two years, the situation had been increasing. Weekends, especially three-day holiday weekends, had ceased to be times of relaxation and pleasure. When the tenant was gone, as she frequently was over the weekend, people came in carloads, blocking my driveway and loitering on the sidewalk, talking loudly, bringing their laundry, stashing items in an unlocked car on the property. Drugs and petty prostitution were part of the mix; my partner of 16 years had been offered both. It embarrassed and offended him to think that these people regarded him as a potential customer. The father of one of the young men, the most belligerent and aggressive of the lot, would come over himself to participate in the activities.

Our little block was marked territory, nearly a gang zone, although the young men, mostly in their early twenties, were not a gang. Calling the police was dicey, as it was never clear whether or not the tenant had given her permission for the crowd to be at her house. The owner was more or less hoping everything would go away, apparently unaware of the Oakland statute that allows the police to evict tenants who have become a severe nuisance, and that he could be liable for a hefty fine upwards of $12,000. When I mentioned it to him, he still didn't want to do anything.

Useless to describe the irresponsibility and indifference of the tenant herself, she is a good-natured individual who is hard to dislike, but she really does not care what her neighbors must endure. Nothing changed until it began to affect her directly.

The last episode in this silly drama had occurred on the Memorial Day weekend.

At a subsequent grove gathering, after consulting with my Arch-Druidess, I called upon the Morrigan. I asked them for help in protecting my home and neighborhood, not for any punishment for or revenge upon the people involved. As I spoke aloud, great vultures circled low over the trees of the grove, continuing their flight until I finished my request. I am not making this up; they did not begin circling until I began my request, and they did not long remain after I was finished. I recall seeing two, but am not sure how many were actually there.

The next long weekend was July 4, and, as expected, the tenant of the problem house departed with instructions to the homeowners left, right, and across the street (me) that "no one" was to be in the house. Leaving it in our hands, was, of course, a convenient way to be sure that nothing really would be done, because we were concerned about retaliation, among other things. The big, bluff middle-aged man on one side was reluctant to call police, because he did not want to see young African-American men in jail, but he was not afraid to let them know that he was ready to make the call.


Late on a weekend night, the party began. Cars slipped by and people disappeared into the house, but no lights were on. Quiet or not, there was a lot of traffic for a house that was supposed to have "no one" in it. I am not sure that it was our call that initiated the visit by the police. They had to have been very close by. We called the Oakland non-emergency number to ask what we should do, as we knew that the tenant was not home, not to ask for police intervention, but while we were on the phone, the patrol cars arrived.

My partner and I stayed inside, peering out the window of a darkened room; there were at least five patrol cars, and a helicopter circling above. The racket was frightening; later, neighbors from down the street collected on the sidewalk in front of my house to watch after danger of gunfire had passed.

The Morrigan is said to fly shrieking overhead, in the form of a raven, or carrion crow, and to call up a danse macabre of dead warriors to stoke the fury of battle; indeed it seemed so that night. There were fifteen or so people in that tiny house, and those that were not immediately arrested attempted to flee. Three, a man and two women, hid under the car of the neighbor to the left of the raided house. Others jumped fences and led through yards. It is my understanding that all were apprehended, including a person who was on probation, and most certainly faced a much longer jail term than he had before.

It was well after midnight before the last of those arrested had either been taken away or released. The house was locked up again. We managed to get some sleep; I learned from the neighbor whose car had played temporary "donjon" that she was none too pleased with the action, as she was imprisoned in her house for most of it, but she was not surprised that it happened.

There was more to come; Sunday night, even after the ruckus, we saw one of the miscreants come to the door of the house, and go in. I called the police; they came, and, this time, unleashed a police dog when the people inside refused to come out. Two young men were wrestled out of the house and onto the ground. One was let go, and the other taken to jail. The one released had a key, which, we found later, he had made on the sly when he had had one of the tenant's keys in his possession.

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