Guillermo gets out of prison in 6 days. My neighbor is distraught. He walks over and talks to me about it, and I don't know what to say to him. Part of me wants to say he is evidencing a classic guilty conscience, and simply walk away.
Guillermo was a friend of mine, who made a terrible mistake. My neighbor...well, he's just my neighbor. There was a misunderstanding, to say the least. He lived in my hood for almost a year, and I got to know him quite well. Or did I? It depends upon who you ask. My neighbor, whom I've only known for 6 years, knew Guillermo for 17 years. I knew everything I wanted to know about this particular neighbor just about 6 months after making his acquaintance. Fine to say hello to, but not someone you'd want to spend a Sunday afternoon with over the BBQ and a cooler full of beer.
About 3 years ago, he invited a lifelong friend, who was going through some changes, to move in with him for awhile. That's how I met Guillermo. He was born in Los Angeles, but is Nicaraguan. I bonded with him immediately, and we became good friends. My Spanish had languished over the years, and gotten a bit rusty. We would talk, cook together, laugh together, enjoy music together...all in Spanish. Soon, my Spanish was not quite so rusty.
The family he was living with was pretty messy. I mean...majorly messy. Alcoholism messy. Two mostly unattended kids messy. The oldest kid had, and still does, some real mental disease. He's probably 23 and has never had a job...schizophrenia, I'm guessing. Maybe bi-polar. Whatever it is...he's whacked. The girl was just 17, and mostly just ignored. Her parents were too far inside of their own addictions to pay her much attention. Let alone their bi-polar son, who could spend 24 hours sleeping on the living room floor while everyone else had to step over him.
I got all of this lowdown from Guillermo, after he moved in. He would come over to my place and unload sometimes. It was a pretty depressing situation.
But Guillermo, although a recent friend to me, was known to the family across the street for 17 years. They had known each other for almost two decades...vacationed together as families over the years, new each other's kids intimately.
That all ended quite suddenly one night, when the friendship had gone quite sour.
I'm not going to go into the sordid details of what actually happened that precipitated my friend's arrest and stint in jail. It wasn't violent, but there was a confrontation, and a threat of violence. On both parties' behalf.
Guillermo ended up getting arrested, because he wasn't in his own house...he didn't have one of his own, and because he had a concealed gun permit. A disagreement between two people who had known each other for two decades got out of hand and the other guy was whacked on pain pills and booze, threatened him with a baseball bat, and it ended in a call to 911.
When the cops showed up, nobody was taking notes about how long anyone had known each other, or what precipitated the argument.
That was over two years ago. Guillermo gets out in a week. And my neighbor is distraught about it.
He came over just yesterday and bent my ear about how he feels like he has to look over his shoulder, and how the State of Oregon didn't notify him of a reassignment in Parole Officers for Guillermo, and how he is a victim....always, the victim. And he says if Guillermo comes around, he will be waiting for him. He has a .38 caliber gun.
I told him...you know what? You sound like one guilt ridden Son of a Bitch to me. And I doubt that Guillermo will be coming around this neighborhood. One thing...he likely has a restraining order. Two...this place is ground zero for his fall off of the face of this earth. He's coming out of a 2 year stint in jail, at 51 years old, and now with a felony record. When he gets out, he has major work to do. He has a life he needs to reassemble.
He has much bigger fish to fry than you, Pal. He has a life he has to try to patch back together...and good luck with that.
I hope Guillermo can get his life back in order, but I think the road will be tough...just based upon his age, his predicament and this job market. And I hope Tommy, my neighbor, lives his Cape Fear fantasy of Max Cady coming back to haunt him. Because I know Guillermo, and he's no Max Cady...but I think the neighbor is tormented mostly because he knows he let a misunderstanding between old friends get out of hand, and it cost someone 2 years of their life in prison...and he's feeling a little queasy about the whole thing.