• Jessica Sherry

It's a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood?

* WARNING: This one’s NOT for the faint of heart.

The neighborhood is a great source of info and inspiration for writers and otherwise. That’s the gist of this blog. If you have a problem with animals killing other animals or if your a diehard cat lover, then you shouldn’t read any further.

Still here? Okay then.

Dark Side Mat

Hubs and I have community apps on our phones. We’re connected to neighborhood info via RING and NEXT DOOR. Both provide us information from our neighbors about what’s going on within a few miles radius. While RING is more security-centered, the NEXT DOOR app allows users to share ANYTHING. While that includes interesting things like criminal activity and animal sightings, it also allows the ho-hum. Does anyone have a ____ I can borrow? Did anyone hear that loud noise? That sort of thing. Still, I highly recommend such apps because, hello, it’s always better to be informed. Right?

Hmm, maybe not always.

On the day in question, hubs tells me that someone reported seeing a coyote strolling down the road with a dead cat in its mouth. Yikes. Images of a coyote gang terrorizing the neighborhood comes to mind. I can see them, in their red bandanas and blatantly cavalier attitudes, moving slo-mo down the street in a pack, looking for prey.

Our neighborhood coyote problem isn’t news, really. At least, not to us now. During the first year of moving here, I spotted one strolling down the road outside my house at dawn, strutting like the canine version of John Wick about to enact vengeance.

My mouth dropped. “What the hell is that?” I actually ducked inside my house so the thing wouldn’t see me. Having never seen a coyote before, except, of course the eternal optimist Wile. E. Coyote, I didn’t know what it was, only that it wasn’t a dog but could be a wolf.

I texted hubs. There’s a wolf on the street! He ignored me. In his defense, it was like 5:30. I’m an early bird, but where are my worms? Anyway, the animal strutted along and disappeared. Later, hubs thought I was crying wolf. *Smirk. Guess I was.

Later, we learned of coyotes, partly because of the apps, but also just by talking to people, you know, like the old days. And once we saw one stalking through the snow behind the house. Hubs saw it, too, so, you know, validation.

So, back to the day in question…

At lunch, Joe and I go to the park about three miles from home for our normal walk, where we find THIS….. Cue stabbing music…

Poor Cat

Told you. Not for the faint of heart.

We continue on the path, a little skittish about our park walk now, maybe a bit nauseous, and on the other side of the trail (it’s a circle) we find ANOTHER PIECE OF CAT surrounded by fluff balls of orange fur. That murderous coyote (or gang) raced through the park tearing that kitty apart and, I think, purposefully left its bits ON THE TRAIL TWICE for us humans to RECOGNIZE. I certainly don't know who's running this neighborhood anymore. I think it may be them. Damn.

So, cycle of life, yada, yada, yada… but we’re a little disturbed at all this. That poor cat. And this launches into a discussion. Why are people letting their cats loose in the neighborhood? We aren’t cat people, but shouldn’t they stay inside? Was it declawed (Read this for a PSA on why you shouldn't get your cat declawed; they can't run away)? Why, oh, why? We peer into the woods, both half-expecting to see the flash of devilish eyes on us as the coyote gang locks in on its next target. US!

We only do two laps instead of our average three. On the way home, our shoulders, hearts, everything sink at the MISSING CAT signs posted on every street sign. And to this day, we keep a cautious eye out for the coyotes. They're here, and they're watching.

We COULD HAVE posted our findings on the app, but we didn’t. No one wants to discover that their precious family pet has been torn to pieces by coyotes. Not cool. We simply accepted the dark truth about our neighborhood, and went on with life, albeit more suspiciously.

This dark tale, of course, inspired many story ideas. First, about wild coyote gangs, but closer to my wheelhouse, mysteries in general. Could a real life mystery be solved via neighborhood apps? Could a neighborhood ban together to fight crimes this way? Or take their own revenge? Could bandits use these apps against their targets? Could the coyotes?

Ha, just kidding about that last one. Or am I?

Anyway, it also made me think about how crazily different it is—animal-wise—living in coastal NC compared to Virginia. Though its a few hours away from our previous home, there are stark differences. There, we dealt with deer eating our Hostas, not coyotes eating cats. Here, we have migratory ibises in our yard, green anole lizards (they change colors, so it’s fun), AND I once saw a hawk eat a snake, spaghetti-style, in my own FRONT yard (not fun, but definitely badass because I hate snakes). Sure, there are hawks in Virginia, but damn, I think they’re a little ballsier here. These are city hawks, you know, from the streets. Or maybe I notice more now that I’m spending my days constantly looking out the window.

Just kidding. Mostly.

So, if you want to REALLY know about where you live, there’s an app for that. The other day, a lady posted that someone stole her flower pots off her front porch, which begs, well, many questions, starting with WHY? There could be a story there like when I wrote about how people really will steal ANYTHING. Is it a jealous neighbor? A jilted lover? An angry teenager? Or maybe the person posting is making the whole thing up? If there are crazy people in your neighborhood, don’t you want to know?

So, if you want story ideas, like me, get the apps. Or even if you’re a normal person, connecting with the world around you is usually a good thing.

And, if you want to stay safe from the coyote gang, don’t feed them after midnight. Oh, wait, that’s another movie. Um, just stay inside and, like, don’t let your cats or small dogs out.

Share your neighborhood insights below, if you dare. For more crazy story ideas, check this out.