It was only a matter of time.
I have barely been back in Florida three weeks, following a seven-month hiatus in El Gouna, Egypt, and already the intimidation and harassment on the street by the notorious Gang of Three has commenced.
Today, as I returned to my house on my bike after a 15-mile ride, one of these individuals — let’s call him Loafer Guy — was standing in “his” driveway, which is about 200 or so feet away from mine, with the nasty white-haired old hag — known as The Wraith —who lives across the street from him.
They stood like sentinel plants, insolently staring at me pull into my driveway, as if I did not really have the right to do that — in a house I have owned for nearly twenty years — as if, as an Arab-American, I did not really belong in this country.
Suddenly Loafer Guy hocked up a loogie then, ptooie, spat it out in my direction, making a deliberately loud khaptouf sound in this grotesque process. The Wraith did nothing except continue to stare, as if this behavior were normal and in fact called for.
Not to be seen was the ringleader of the Gang of Three — a despicable New Jersey runt, whom I’ve nicknamed Roger.
Rogee is pushing 90 and looks like a homeless person with one foot in the grave. He lives directly across the street from me, and has threatened me with physical violence in the past: I called the police; they did nothing.
Unusual for him, Rogee was not around for this little drama, but of course had again left his garage door open all day — though it is against the association’s rules to do so — as if to assert his twisted territorial rights.
Loafer Guy is in his 50s and has been unemployed at least a decade.
He hangs around on this street, after being thrown out by the County Sheriff for non-payment of his mortgage, around when the housing bubble crashed, in another association not far from here.
Now he’s just waiting for his 90-year-old bedridden Mama to kick the bucket so he can inherit the house and perhaps move on to wherever.
He’s from Middle America, one of the God-forsaken flyover states, and has spent the last twenty years as a transient in FLA, always lurking around its reddest fringes.
The Wraith with the dead husband — she could be from anywhere — is a hopelessly angry old coot who rarely leaves the immediate surroundings of her house.
This street may be in the middle of Nowheresville, but it’s their entire, pathetic world, one that they never leave, one they zealously guard against the blacks, the Mexicans, the Jews, the Arabs, Democrats… and whatever FOX news tells them is the enemy that is secretly plotting to make their way of life vanish.
When I left El Gouna less than a month ago, a few people whom I had become friends with bought me a goodbye present. I am still wearing it — a Bedouin style ID beaded bracelet with my name on it — that has been on my right wrist since the day I left Egypt.
Yet when I arrived here, not one person bothered to say hello and welcome me back.
I don’t imagine it’s breaking news to anyone reading this post that most of Florida, especially white, old Florida, is Trumplandia every inch of the way.
No matter what the Orange Turd does, these despicable racists will vote for him as well as for every corrupt right-wing pol who supports their Fascist agenda.
For the most part, around here at least, these are deeply uneducated people: boorishly ill-mannered, and filled with hatred — perhaps because at some level they must realize how deeply pointless their wretched lives have turned out, how at the end of their miserable existence they never amounted to much.
And so for that they have to find someone or a group of people to scapegoat. They are not adult enough to recognize that they simply failed in life and it is nobody’s fault but their own, that they were never good enough or intelligent enough to do any better than hate and poison the body politic with their toxic collective disappointment that they can never squarely come to terms with or it would destroy whatever shred of self esteem they may have left.
I am not talking about the traditional grumpy old geezerhead here; I am talking about the sorts of people you find in places like Florida, whose every word is laced with the acid of self hatred turned into a perpetual sense of aggrieved victimhood.
Imagine condemning yourself in old age to being… that, a loathsome monster filled with impotent rage that once in a while turns murderous.
Meanwhile, what should I do?
Buy a pistol?
Take Concealed Carry and Krav Maga courses, which are popular around here?
Lurk around gun ranges?
Seal the outside salt filter system in case Loafer Guy creeps onto my property one night and dumps lye or strychnine in my water filtration system?
Hmmm…. let’s see.
I do actually have an October 1st return ticket booked on Egyptair to Gouna… only because it was cheaper to do so, not because Egypt with its even more rancid governing junta offers any kind of solution.
In the meantime, I will continue to make my 66-year-old body stronger. This incident has only motivated me further to body build — not bulk, but lean taut muscle — such that these creeps, and any others like them, might think twice about crossing that invisible line that keeps us all from reverting to some primitive feral state of being.
Buying a gun or taking Israeli self-defence course is only becoming one of them, just another crazy Florida creep.
Time has a way of sorting things out.
The Wraith and Roger are probably not long for this world. They cling on — in fact I refer to them, and people like them, as Klingons — as the poison of rancorous hatred courses more strongly through their varicosed veins with each passing day, giving them some putrid reason to continue living.
As for Loafer Guy, no doubt when Mama keels over he will get his money and end up drunk or stoned and in jail somewhere for assault or worse.
From my point of view, as a classic old-school Manhattan Liberal immigrant, the three of them are a perfect metaphor for the still beating, unbeautiful, right ventricle of a 47% diseased, black-hearted America.
I’m going to bide my time. With each month that goes by, I grow stronger.
As the French say: on verra ce qu’on fera.
It was only a matter of time.