Remember how every quiet suburban block seemed to have that one creepy, mysterious house that every child feared? Conveniently, there were two such houses on my block, one on each end.
I happened to live right next to one of those houses, where a scary little old lady lived by herself. She spoke to no one and often chased kids off her sidewalk with a rake. My older brothers all had run-ins with her at one point or another, and she’d even yell at us in a different language if she saw us walking out the gate of our own property! (I think she spoke Italian…or maybe it was just scary witch speak).
My most vivid memory of her is when me and my BFF (with whom I now correspond exclusively through Facebook “Likes”—same relationship I have with all my closest friends) were raking leaves in my yard. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the crazy little lady appears from her garage and starts yelling at us over my fence. My BFF came from an Italian family, so he was fluent in the language and began talking back to her (I guess she was speaking Italian). Now, I don’t know what he was saying to her, but the next thing I know, she lifts her feeble old hand over my fence and lobs a brick at my BFF’s head! Holy shit! Amazingly, he didn’t bleed. We never raked near that fence again.
Down at the other end of my block was the home of the more notorious crazy of the block: the ANT LADY. No joke. That’s what she was called around town. She had to be at least 300 years old and was rarely seen. The urban legend was that she got the name because you could spot her outside at night, in her yard on her knees with a flashlight, hacking up ants with a meat cleaver.
It was totally believable. Why? First of all, how else would someone get that name??? Also, this crazy old bitch once threw a pot of hot water at my brother because he walked on her sidewalk! What do old ladies have against kids walking on their sidewalks? And what is it with crazy old people being able to get away with horrible atrocities toward children? No parents ever reported these hags to the police despite the assaults!!!
My one personal run in with the Ant Lady came when I was again with my BFF. We were walking home from school, and as kids are wont to do, we were enticed by the thrill (and terror) of walking past a scary house. The Ant Lady’s corner property was surrounded by a border of bushes. So we began our journey along her sidewalk very quietly, staring over the bushes at the windows of the house, wondering what kind of satanic child sacrifices were going on in there.
Suddenly, not three feet away from us, the fucking Ant Lady’s head was just there, staring at us evilly over the top of the hedges, not moving, almost like it was disembodied and impaled on a bush branch. WTF? We ran like hell. It was like she just waited all day in her yard, silent, plotting, thriving on the terror she could strike into the hearts of any children who dared to approach.
When I get old, I’m so going to be the scary old man on my block until the day I die. Then I’m going to switch careers and become a professional poltergeist.