Curious Characters: The Redneck Neighbor

As a quiet introvert, one who usually hangs at the back of any group and doesn’t speak especially if I am not familiar with everyone, I observe a lot more than I am given credit. Since the pandemic and quarantine times, this was cut down significantly, but I still play little “spy games” when able to (legally, I might add, I don’t actually spy on people in their homes but I’m curious enough to people watch extensively either from my chair on our porch or when walking). Public people watching is free game, and it’s not like I keep notebooks on people (think Nickelodeon’s Harriet The Spy movie).

Neighbors are by far the most prevalent and popular because they are the easiest. Much to my “wanting to live alone in the country” mindset’s demise, they are always around and almost always make their presence known through one noisy way or another. I’ve written about one neighbor from before (see the post about the lady that used to live next to my sister and me). I sat here with my morning coffee, remiescening, and another neighbor, not nearly as nerve-wracking but intriguing nonetheless, came to mind.

I only remember a few facts about him: his first name was Barry (never knew his last name), he was a country man who lived alone with his two hound dogs, and he loved hunting. Being a neighbor in North Carolina, this isn’t too unique; don’t worry, I’m getting there. Barry was the one neighbor I didn’t really mind, mostly because he kept to himself, didn’t play loud music, and was courteous. I remember John wouldn’t come home until 8pm some nights and one evening, Barry knocked on our door. I am not one to just open the door for anyone (I am in love with my Ring doorbell so I can talk to people and see them without having to crack the door at all), especially when alone at night. I called through the door and Barry said he had a package for John that was left by his door by mistake. Without me asking, he immediately offered to just leave it and I could get it after he went back downstairs to his level.

I appreciated that. I actually have had people get irritated with me when I refuse to open the door, especially at night and when alone (they don’t know that and I don’t offer that information but I’m sure they know). I had a stranger once just stand on my doorstep with me peeking through the peephole, and despite me calling out to them asking who they were, they just stood there unresponsive, motionless as if waiting patiently for…well, who knows?

So Barry was an okay neighbor (one of very few). John and him talked occasionally, both being hunters familiar with the rural NC terrain and woods. Barry began telling John about how he had acquired a plot of land out in the more rugged areas beyond our city and he would be moving very soon. John congratulated him and told him he would be missed. He actually was; I enjoy a quiet neighbor who respects boundaries.

Now here is where things DO get odd about Barry, as kind and thoughtful as he was.

One day, not long after his news, he just was gone. We didn’t see his beat up red truck in the lot anymore, the occasional barks of his hunting dogs was entirely gone, and the porchlight outside his door stayed on day and night, something that wasn’t usual for him.

Well, he must have moved rather quickly. We didn’t think much of it at first; Barry must have been excited and probably didn’t have a lot of items in his one room apartment.

It wasn’t until the apartment next door to us, which was directly above Barry’s apartment, was having issues being sold…due to a very horrific odor that filled the place. Several times there were management figures going through the empty apartment, asking us if the neighbors there (who had also recently moved but we actually witnessed them use a moving truck to pack and leave) kept any animals or smoked something awful. Several times, we said “no, they never had a pet, but you may want to check downstairs where Barry was. We think he’s gone and it may be coming from there.”

Despite us telling them, they replaced the carpets in our neighboring apartment and repainted the walls twice before coming to the realization that (gasp) we were probably correct and the sickening stench WAS coming up through the floor.

Soon, the maintenance truck was parked downstairs in the lot, right in front of Barry’s apartment with its door wide open.

And the disgusting odor filled the parking lot, becoming a physical wall you had to pass through when going up our stairs. It reminded me of that awful bodily odor you get whiffs of either in hospitals or poorly run nursing homes, just the smell of human waste and…well, just unwashed bodies.

But this was so much worse; it was a powerful odor that sent the maintenance men out into the lot to dry heave by their vehicle. I remember the retching and cursing, the men half-screaming, “What the f*&% is in there?!”

And then the police vehicles came by…with cadaver dogs.

Yep. It was becoming that kind of scene. I couldn’t help but think of old news clips of Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment being cleared of bags of human remains. I mean, the smell was awful and Barry did keep to himself. No one in the unit really knew him on a personal level and we never saw anyone visit, like family or friends.

However, my overactive true crime mind was set straight when the police left without any bodies or pieces of one in tow. The maintenance guys had to make way for a professional cleaning service whose workers wore white hazmat suits.

Okay, so if there wasn’t a dead person inside, what was the need for that, right?

There was a body, or rather pieces, but not of a person.

Barry, ever the hunter and country man, was taking pieces of his deer kills and just tossing them into his bathroom for his dogs to chew on. I have no idea if he even cleaned them, but apparently the bathroom had blood and bones, which was the reason for the police involvement. As soon as it was determined that the bones and flesh were that of wild deer left for rather fresh treats for Barry’s dogs, the police were no longer needed…but the hazmat team was.

For days, piles and piles of trash were removed from Barry’s apartment. Apparently, Barry did have a lot of items, equivalent to that of a hoarder. There were several feet high piles of trash and junk sitting all through the already small apartment. We overheard the workmen saying they could barely get the master bedroom door open due to the ceiling-high trash that was blocking it. The fire hazards were astounding, and an immediate notice was sent to the entire apartment complex to remind us to not turn our apartments into the next setup for another Chicago Fire of 1871.

Barry never made a reappearance. Management had dead ends as well, asking other tenants if they had any current information on Barry, where he moved to, or anything else that would help them reach him. Barry was gone and we could only imagine that he and his dogs were happily living on some land in the woods. Hopefully the deer treats would be thrown to the dogs outside in the yard but to each their own, I guess.

And this was one of our good neighbors!

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