Eviction, Poverty and Houselessness in AMerikkka

Tiny - Posted on 11 August 2011

Bill Dunlap

“Take out what you can carry,” said one of the officers who responded to my wife's 911 call.  “We're not going to stay here all day.”

“I'm not going to leave without my cat.”  My wife was adamant.  Her glasses hung crookedly on her face.  The person we thought was our friend tore them off and tossed them into the yard after Holly refused to be shaken down for five bucks.


I missed the whole thing.  I left the day before.  The person we considered our closest friend became a mad tyrant after we moved into a room in her house.  I am physically disabled and she constantly demanded that I do work I am incapable of doing.  I hurt myself repeatedly because I didn't want my autistic son tossed out in the street with us.  Now my hands are so wrecked from psoriatic arthritis that I cannot hold a hammer or use a paintbrush.  My ability to contribute financially is severely curtailed. 

Worse, I had a mini-stroke when she forced me to haul gravel.  I  became so weak I could not stand or breath.  My legs trembled.  I gasped “Asher, I can't breath.  Help me!”

“Stop snapping at me, Bill!” she screamed.  She walked away as I fell to the tarmac.  After a few minutes I managed to crawl inside the truck.  Too weak to dial 911, I hit two on my cell and got my wife.  She called Asher who refused to do any first aid until her truck was filled with gravel.  My wife got the ambulance when we got home.  By then the worse was over.  Tests show I had a mini-stroke.


“Get out of my house, you piece of shit!”  the madwoman screamed.  Her girlfriend, a hospice nurse added, “You've been free loading on her too long!”  It's a good thing she was a hospice nurse because her patients aren't expected to recover.  She is one of the stupidest people I ever met.

“Shut up, or I'll arrest you,”  The second cop added.

They made the nut stay outside while Holly grabbed what she could.  We scratch out a meager living through her clowning and by selling her handcrafts on Telegraph Ave.  She left $1,500 worth of merchandise behind as well as well as $2,200 worth of materials.  We also had to leave our vending license.  Between the two of us we had $55.00.  Holly can buy more balloons and busk.  That will bring in about thirty to forty dollars.  There are going to be some disappointed kids.  The puppets are still with the nut.


This was actually the second time I walked out of that mad house.  The first time was a few days after I came home from the hospital.  It was less than five days since I was released from the hospital.  She decided to have one of her temper tantrums over the flies.

Her back yard is entirely gravel, and she has a huge dog who is not allowed outside his run and severely underfed.   Of course he craps in the run, and the lunatic has fits if anybody tosses out the soiled gravel with the feces.  Along with the dog, she has two cats and a neurotic french poodle that pees on everything including our bed and my shoes.  So of course there are flies.  My wife is allergic to insecticides.  The Landlady went, if you will pardon the expression, fly shit at me, because she couldn't spray Raid and pretend she was doing something about the fly infestation.  Even though Holly was coming back with $40 worth of fly traps, she yelled and screamed in my face and kept at it until I yelled back.  She left crying and I collapsed on the porch with chest pains and yelling, “The flies, the flies.”  That was my second trip by ambulance in five days.


Holly was supposed to show up at eight to get the stuff we needed immediately.  She met Holly at the door and demanded a percentage of our General Assistance checks and five dollars out of pocket.    When tHolly told her that we were not giving her one more cent, she freaked out and attacked her.  She ripped the glasses off my wife's face and threw them into the yard and struck her repeatedly on the shoulders.  The nut grabbed Holly's hand when she took out her cell to call 911.  Holly's Tai Chi training came to her aid.   Holly kept the cell phone and called the cops without having to hit her back. She took several punches to her shoulder instead. A victory for pacifism.

With nowhere else to go, we went back to Berkeley and did what we could to get our property back.  Next week, we will have a storage locker and a place where we can store our stock and clothes.  Our son is in a program for autistic people.  All we have to worry about is ourselves and the dog.  My brother put me up for two days, and that is all he dares do.  He has a rent controlled apartment in San Francisco, and his landlords would love to get rid of him so they can jack up the rent.  Holly and the pets stayed with a friend who cannot stand having too many people around her.  After two days, we were screwed.


I came back two days after the fly incident, and renegotiated our deal.  Originally it was work for room, helping her out with her bills, and letting her join us for dinner.  I had been working 35-45 hours a week, mostly doing stupid things like hauling flower pots from one side of the yard to another.  My favorite was when she had me use a scoop to empty her compost bin into another container and then scrub out the bin.  Two days later, she decided she liked it better in the original bin and I had to put it all back.

Little real work got done because the madwoman compulsively collected stuff from the Craig's List free section.  She came back with the damnedest garbage from giant balloons to hydroponic gear.  It didn't matter to her.  If it was free, she would grab it.  I spent weeks clearing the bedroom and porch so my family could use them.  In a matter of weeks they were a worse mess than before.  Plus she had the front entrance blocked with the most incredible garbage.  More of my time was spent trying to stack the shit so people could move than in any actual work.  Then I got hissy-fits when the actual work wasn't done as well.

Since I couldn't haul anymore, my new job was selling her  garbage on Craig's list, which I did.  In three days I sold about $175 which was brilliant.  (Better than I ever saw her do in the 7 years we knew her.)  All it got me was more bullying.  I also let her know that I wasn't working more than 25 hours a week.  I clocked 70 hours in the next two weeks.  Holly and Colin also contributed quite a few hours of work.  Not only did she ignore our new agreement, but she continued to verbally abuse me.


There wasn't much we could do once we were in Berkeley.  It was July 4th and the police and legal aid were all doing Independence Day stuff.  So we hung out and I went to my brother's.  I don't know what I would do without my brother.  He provided the money so I could keep my phone on.  The phone was a bone of contention between the madwoman and me.  My brother-in-law helped me get a smart phone so I could take credit card payments while vending.  She felt the money should have been given to her.  In her mind, everything is hers, including our general assistance and food stamps.   She was constantly haranguing us for money.  She claimed she had no income.  She freaked out about the unpaid electric bill.  Her house in the East Bay was mortgaged for more than it was worth and she claimed they would foreclose.  We were there for two months, and I saw no sign of foreclosure, but being a former mortgage salesman, I recognized the refinancing paperwork that came in the mail.

It was the electric bill that first warned me what a  dangerous nut bag she was.  After bullying us about it for two weeks, she realized that if we had it, we would have paid it just to make her STFU!  In the middle of June  she claimed  that she paid the bill out of the mortgage money and now she would be foreclosed on.  Two weeks later, I had the money and paid the new electric bill with my ATM card.  I ended up paying the electric bill for April, May, and June, and we had only been there since the beginning of May.  The mortgage was another matter.  I found a program that could renegotiate the loan.  She said she was too overwhelmed to call the number.  By the paperwork I saw in the mail, that was a lie. 

Just before I left the first time, we scraped up $1,000 to put towards the mortgage.  The next day she came back from one of her Craig's List expeditions with two chickens, a coop, fencing wire, and two day laborers from Home Depot to assemble the coop.  She told us the stuff was free.  I guess since she thought we fell for everything else, we would be stupid enough to believe her.


Yesterday, things got really tough.  Our son was finished with one residential program and there was going to be a few days gap until the next one.  Our friend, the surrealist poet Lee Gerstmann, was kind enough to take him for a few days.  Thank you, Lee.  You repaid every favor we did for you and left us in your debt.  Holly and I love you. Our welcome home dinner for Colin was in the park.  I got some charcoal and some vegibergers, chicken sausage, and salads.  It was the happiest family meal we had since losing the apartment in Mountain View.

My son is of the opinion that the madwoman was deliberately trying to kill me.  That's why she extorted me into do things that hurt me, and why she walked away from me while I was having my stroke.  That's why she screamed in my face over the flies, and why she sent me to the emergency room the third time.


The madwoman tried to horn in on Holly's clown busking.  She called herself Meshugah the Clown, but it should have been Downer.  She was always bitching about everything.  Either there weren'tenough kids in the crowd or her legs hurt.  It was always too far to drive, and we owed her  gas money.  Once she almost got them kicked out of a farmer's market by demanding a set price for Holly's balloon sculptures.  She never learned that busking isn't about the tips, it's about giving.  The more you give the more the crowd puts money in the tip box.  The more you love to give to others, the more others love to give to you.  Human beings are generally good and kind.  She is an exception that tests that rule.  Now that Holly ditched her, we have permission to busk at even more farmer's market.  The manager is a really nice person.


I think that our sudden eviction and lockout was planned.  We insisted that Aug. 31st was our last day at her house.  She knew  she was not going to get all the cash she hoped she could extort out of us.  In the past two months we gave her $1,284 in cash or consumer goods.  ($50 in flytraps alone.)  She also extorted $384 in food stamps.  Mostly in expensive coffee and whipping cream to add to it.  Between the three of us we did 317 hours of unpaid labor.  I sold an extra $175 for garbage she got off Craig's List and she took $30 from the clown disaster at the farmer's market.  Rather than pay bills with the clown and Craig's List money, she decided to take a five day trip with her girlfriend.  We were all over that.  We planned to be out of that hellhole before she came back.

The day before, she threw tantrums and threats until I bought her two bags of coffee, (making it three bags in under three days.) cream, two jars of tomato sauce and a yam. I told her that was it for the month.

The next morning she started her usual morning temper tantrum with a twist.  First she did it in front of Holly.  She never pulled that crap in front of my wife before. This time it was over a list of the stuff I was selling for her on the web.  I told her I would do it as soon as I did poo patrol, fed her big dog, and had my breakfast so I could take my pills.  She wanted it now.  I told her to fuck off.  I was leaving and nuking her Craig's List ads.  She went nuts and screamed in my face and physically blocked me from getting my computer.  She kept at it until I found myself screaming back.  Then she ran into the bathroom and broke her own mirror.  She ran out and yelled, “see, asshole, now I have you on domestic violence!”

The joke's on her.  My rheumatoid arthritis is out of control, I am debilitated from a mini-stroke and the doctor's report will prove that I am not physically capable of doing what she claimed.  I abandoned trying to get my computer and tried to leave, and she wouldn't let me out the door.  She kept screaming in my face and blocking me.  I had to threaten to break her china cabinet in order to get her to lay off.  Not cool, I know, but I was a little crazy myself by then.  She got out of the way and I was out the door.  I got about three feet away from the house when the chest pains hit and I fell to the ground.  That made it three times I was taken out by ambulance.


I have a lot to do today.  First I have to wait until my phone charges.  Next I have to call legal aid to get our stuff out.  Then I have to call the humane society about that poor dog.  I love that big goofy mutt.  He's been a prisoner since the chickens came in.  He doesn't  get the hour of run around time I used to give him, and he's too dog aggressive to take to the park.  Now that we are no longer there, he'll go back to starvation rations. 

I have learned that there are worse things than not having a roof over your head.  I just escaped from it.  After I took Colin to Lee's, I went back to the park. Holly and I found a secluded spot.  We talked and held hands until she fell asleep.  It was a little too cold for me, so I lay down and looked at the sky.  Zack the Wonderdog was with us.  We figured we would have her between us to keep her warm.  She's 13 years old and used to a warm house and a snuggy-bed, but Zack is a by-the-book type of doggie.  She understood her ancestral duty.  She took point and kept watch for us all night.  That's how we rested until the sprinklers went on.






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