Cometh The Midnight Hour, Cometh The Neighbour


The Neighbour, he of the crisp white hat with the curly brim, has been very quiet for a while following his excursion into the world of casino gambling using someone else’s money.

However, things have been changing in our little corner of the world…violent crime has entered the area – usually on a motorbike and armed with a gun.

We were used to the normal sort of crime….the regular burglary of the jewellery store followed by the inflated insurance claim; the settling of accounts between the rival Chinese (money) laundry gangs and anything involving local council contracts, but things have changed.

In the past year the post office has been raided, as has one of the bank branches;  small shops have been targeted too, as have the more notorious money lenders  of the area who suffer the double whammy of losing their cars as well, because the raiders can’t load safes onto the back of their motorbikes.

Where are the police? Well, you might well ask.

They claim that they are busy dealing with the rampant drug trade and, to give them their due, they are trying to do just that. It doesn’t help that once they arrest someone the local judge lets the bugger loose on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Given the level of competence of the local prosecutors (the Fiscalia)  it is perfectly possible that the case presented to the court does not, indeed, show sufficient evidence to arrest a dog in possession of a bone, let alone a dealer with a house full of crack cocaine in packs ready to sell and vast amounts of unaccounted for cash.

We have had recent experience of their expertise – a case in the long hangover from the fight against the developer – where their idlenesses were content to copy almost word for word the documents supplied by the defendant’s lawyer and on this basis recommend to the local court to reject our case – the which it did with alacrity.

We appealed and a judge from San Jose came out to determine whether our appeal should be allowed.

She listened to the recording of the original trial and summoned all the parties. – though by this time the prosecutor had become bored and had messed off.

Her decision was that the submissions of the local prosecutors’ office had no foundation in fact and, furthermore, their treatment of the case was not only illegal but also contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, so we could indeed lodge an appeal.

Unfortunately, the police do not have the same liberty as ourselves and are stuck with whatever garbage the prosecutors produce for the delectation of the local judge….probably, in the case of the chap with the houseful of crack cocaine, that he just happened to be passing at the time and stopped to see what the police were up to…

The more cynical among you may be wondering whether it is indeed incompetence…or something else.

I could not possibly say. Nor even indicate  my views by a nod and a wink.

But the crime wave – and the drug trade – go on unabated.

Thus The Neighbour.

We heard about his reappearance  yesterday when Don Freddy came over to tell us that the bridge between us and civilisation was to be rebuilt, some two years after it was carried away in heavy rains.

In the meantime we have been taking the back road up to town – as have the  cattle lorries from our side of the stream which have managed to damage an already doubtful drainage system now on the verge of collapse.

The good news had been given to the barrio’s development committee – of which Don Freddy is a member – at the monthly meeting, which had been attended by The Neighbour, nattily attired in sparkling white trousers, highly polished western boots, a black shirt and, of course, the crisp white hat with the curly brim which he retained during proceedings.

Unkind supposition had it that he could not take it off as he had not been able to afford to have his hair dyed recently….

Delicate enquiry as to the whys and wherefores of his return from hibernation revealed that he had come forward in order to perform a public service.

Given the crime wave, he declared, no one was safe in their own homes.

As a man whose past history included waving his revolver on peoples’ doorsteps it was felt that he could speak from experience…

The police, he declaimed, were useless.

Not much argument there, then…

He had , however, the solution.

He usually had.

The committee must appreciate that he had, shall we say, a certain reputation.

It did indeed so appreciate: visions of roads being blocked by his lorry, people being attacked with machetes and certain missing goods rose to its collective mind.

It was time to use that reputation to good effect. As a security guard for the inhabitants of the barrio. He would, he declared, be willing to give up his nights to patrol the area, armed with his revolver, to deter criminals…in return for a small honorarium.

But, said the committee, it did not have the power to engage a security guard, let alone the funds to pay for one.

Not a problem.

A.There was no need to enter his offer in the minutes and

B. As the bridge was about to be built they could go a bit light on the cement and pay him that way…in cash.

Don XXX, slated to be in charge of the works ( and the cement) protested.

What was the problem, asked The Neighbour. Surely Don XXX  didn’t mind giving up some of his own prospective pickings to further the public weal….

But we all know that that revolver isn’t licenced, said Dona Mery. Suppose you shoot someone…

Simple. If it wasn’t licenced it couldn’t be traced to him….

The committee asked for time to consider his kind offer and the official meeting broke up.

I asked Don Freddy why they didn’t report his unlicenced firearm to the police.

No point, said Don Freddy. He has friends in the Fiscalia…
















61 thoughts on “Cometh The Midnight Hour, Cometh The Neighbour”

  1. The neighbour sounds like a man who can make his crimes disappear and those crimes may easily include people who disagree with him. Please be careful Helen, don’t become a statistic. From a purely selfish point of view, I wish you’d chosen a new home in a Country where crimes aren’t so easily overlooked.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    1. It never pays to be overconfident, but one has to take things in their context.

      The Neighbour is a well known violent nutter and as such has his uses for those who need enforcers. He used to have a reputation as something of a witch doctor as well, but things began to fall apart for him when he was hired by a developer to ‘rearrange’ the water supply in our area to give the developer sufficient to pass the tests for planning permission for a new rash of houses further down the valley.
      When we moved into what had been our holiday house we walked right into the midst of all this….
      The outcome has been, though, that people refused to be intimidated and have eventually set up a new scheme of water distribution approved by the appropriate ministry – while The Neighbour has lost face – and standing.
      His appearance at the meeting is just his usual optimism that he can turn a penny at any opportunity. He roams about in the early hours anyway, checking on anything not nailed down…..

      Not so different from rural France. when I was first there in the eighties.
      There was a ram raid on the post office in the village square – and no one in the surrounding houses heard a thing…
      Years later, having barred hunters from my land I was threatened by armed men – in my garden – with having ‘an accident’….and from what I gathered from the gendarmerie such an ‘accident’ would certainly not have been investigated by the local prosecution body.
      I knew of another ‘accident’ caused by the hunting fraternity in the area a few years earlier – never investigated, to the disgust of the officers of the gendarmerie involved.

      You are a dear men to be concerned.

  2. Do they all belong to the Conservative Party by any chance?
    It sounds familiar.
    Possibly informing the Chinese that the neighbour has some dodgy dealings he wishes to share with them would rule him out – for ever.

  3. One of the things I like about Spain is the – minor – disregard for the law when it is irrelevant. Old men cycling down the promenade or the one-way street because … they always did.
    But there is minor and major. Seeing people hardly able to open their car doors let alone drive them isn’t too good.
    And, dobbing in. It just isn’t done. We were walking past a local dope exchange and the buyer looked worried. Especially as we were guiris. ‘No pasa nada,’ said the seller who we’d known for years, ‘no te precupes.’ We walked on and they did the deal.
    Franco’s memory lives on here. Certainly among the older ones and our age group.

    1. De minimis non curat lex is a sensible principle and much observed here too.
      Dobbing in here, though, is a national sport – but not where it concerns someone likely to take offence in a violent manner…

  4. Your posts always make me smile, Helen. Your writing style is wonderful, and I’ll be first in line to buy your book should you ever choose to write one. But this post made me feel worried for you. It sounds like your little corner of the world has become a bit less safe, and therefore less friendly. Please take care.

    1. It is worrying that violent crime has come to this little town, in the wake of drug use. To think that the police have to take sniffer dogs into the schools – and make finds of drugs!

  5. Jeepers … I don’t need to warn crusty fusty you of the dangers all around you but I would like you to be a teeny bit careful. Though in such circumstances, caution may not be at all fruitful. Bad people, really bad people get away with the golden goose in all societies – it is, as my late father would have said ‘very depressing’. In the end all we can do is be selfish and look after self and try and remain removed from the worst of it. That said, I adore reading installments for your life in CR and I know you have far more life-experience and probably far more sense than me so I’ll just say thank you for the read which I enjoyed wholeheartedly

    1. As father used to say
      ‘If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined…’

      You just have to look at society as it is to see that the bad eggs rise to the top….individually we don’t have the power to stop them and so all we can do is try to talk to each other, try to find alternatives, try to put them into action.

      I’ve always lived in the countryside…and it is a far more dangerous place than the town whichever way you slice it.

      Oddly enough we will be more at risk of an ooh nasty when the bridge is repaired…as it is potential malefactors can only use the back road…with the bridge they can come down one way and out the other, minimising the risk of being spotted through the curtains.

      1. I agree with your father for what it’s worth. Its about assessing the risk, the pros and the cons and accepting that we only have one life, I think. As for the bridge it sounds like you win some you lose some – perhaps a powerful periscope as well as the curtains is in order? BTW my father (a naval man you may recall so perfectly happy to use ripe language where appropriate) used to say ‘turds lurk beneath the surface and float to the surface if left alone for long enough’

        1. It’s not so much our curtains – don;t have any – but those of the elderly ladies who like to know – in detail – everything that passes. And they know everybody…
          What worries me is that our society seems to encourage the turds to rise…

          1. Its endemic the world over …. the encouragement of floating turds. As for the curtain twitchers – I have no suggestions …. you have to go on living your life and you have to exit the house from time to time. It is beyond worrying when the break-ins are accompanied by fire arms – something I had not ever considered before being here. Where you are is a bold guerilla version of the nonsense with guns here.

          2. They don’t worry me…no one within twitching distance of the house….but they do worry rogues about their business as these old girls know every regular car, bike and horse – and their owners – and can spot a ‘furriner’ at a distance.

            Like rural France, though, you are always under observation, whether friendly or otherwise. Wouldn’t do to leave your door unlocked.

          3. I guess in the end we are attracted to the same places even in different parts of the world. We recently took a short trip to Vermont and instead of staying in a swanky Inn opted for a log cabin in the middle of woods with warnings about moose jumping out in front of cars and causing carnage and bears getting in to the kitchen – rather like home in France except the wildlife wears different clothes! Old nosers are the same the world over too … even here in frightfully couch liberal Massachusetts – one is definitely under surveillance and not from hidden cameras 😉

          4. I suppose that putting up a Trump poster would see them reviving the more western tradition of tarring, feathering and running you out of town on a rail…or perhaps – more tellingly – exclusion from the Womens’ Club.

          5. From what I see of thing here, exclusion from the Womens’ Club is something devoutly to be wished.
            I suppose you could always do something more subtle…like asking what might be the similarity between Clinton and Talleyrand…

          6. How I wish you lived next door! Sadly I think that would be too subtle …. I shall be sharing your ideas with The Brains when he gets home. His joy at work is goading the natives at lunchtime. I personally think that Hillarious will triumph and there will be a collective oh-bugger moment when the people remember how much they hate her, don’t trust her and find her as empathetic as a dried squid … As for wimin’s (stet spelling) clubs – I would be barred from entry in any language I have no doubt and am proud to say.

          7. You could add that boast to your Times dating one!

            I am worried sick that they will elect Clinton: the continuation of Uncle Tom’s militaristic strategy in the interests of U.S. big business will bring about WWIII as Putin is no Kruschev.

          8. Isn’t it funny … I keep very quiet about our feelings on this one but I am absolutely willing to share with you that we are as one. My husband is a US citizen and is placing a vote against the wench which won’t help because we are, as previously noted in Couch Liberal heaven here, but it is a statment from us both. If she gets in I really worry. We both do. Putin has no qualms at all and she is happy to bait him on all levels – foolish, greedy, self-serving liar that she is.

          9. I do wonder what Couch Liberals use for brains…probably their couches…

            Her attitude while at Foreign Affairs makes it clear that she poses the gravest danger to world peace that we have seen for many a long day…how can any CL vote for that!

            Not to speak of her incompetence, dishonesty and money grubbing…though many CLs graduated in these arts so would not see it as a disadvantage.

          10. It’s as though they have drunk of some opiate to numb what brains they do have (those that work with the Spouse are generaly pretty bright most of the time) …. these are people who were voting for Sanders and campaigning for him, can’t seem to see that he was severely and obviously threatened not to go to the Party Convention and continue to rally for action – his departure was sudden and shocking. If you watch the footage of him endorsing Clinton it speaks volumes for what he thought versus what he said with a shotgun at his temple. And now they think that this witch whom a few short months ago they would do anything to keep out is a good bet. Give me a gattling gun!

          11. Sanders should have had the guts to refuse to get into the ‘Anyone but Trump’ campaign – after all, he was an Independent, not one of the Democratic Party’s minions.

            So reminiscent of when Le Pen was in the run off with Chirac (entirely due to the arrogance of Jospin).
            Did people think to sit on their hands so as to refuse legitimacy to either? No…it was ‘Anyone but Le Pen’…

          12. It boils down to money, doesn’t it? Sanders has since bought a lakeside vacation home in Burlington VT for around $600,000 cash which given that he states his wealth at $512,000 last year is evidence of a backhander I’d have thought.

          13. And notwithstanding war she couldn’t give a flying stuff about minorities be they women, ethnic, handicapped or anything else – she has only one agenda and that is herself. Vile Body

          14. Minorities are electoral pawns – recognise those who will serve you as their leaders, make sure that you never take measures to make people not feel separate and different any more and, hey presto, votes!

          15. Further, I know that Trump is a complete Godhelpus: whatever his policies he will not be able to implement them – but they don’t seem to include baiting Putin and that, to me, is the thing which counts.

          16. You are spot on. She is the most dangerous of dogs. And they of course think that the US is so powerful that it will rub the Russians noses in whatever they think it needs to be rubbed in. Trump won’t get anything of substance passed – it only takes the smallest of brains to work that one out. But he does want Putin on side and that is essential to the continuing survival of the world as we know it – i.e not plunged into a World War with that vile wench supposedly leading the free world.

          17. The free world….it’s a long time since that has been the case due to the pusillanimity of national leaders vis a vis the U.S.A.
            Bring back the Grand Charles! Obnoxious, devious – not no one’s puppet.

          18. I’m with you all the way on that one …. I use the expression ‘free world’ ironically, of course, as I do when I refer to the USA as the only First World country in the world (which is how they think of themselves and educate their children … FRance, Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Japan – all second world). Two Brains made the comment last night which we have both used over time ‘you wouldn’t want anyone who stands in politics to be elected if you had the choice’.

          19. No, thanks to the mainstream parties culling anyone of independent thought. No wonder that decent people do not stand for office when jumping through the party hoops would offend their conscience.
            But there has to be an answer…a better answer than just voting Trump …we need to break the strangehold of the parties and it will be a long process – especially if the likes of Sanders cave in..
            You know your Browning…
            ‘Just for a lakeside apartment he left us…

          20. What you say is absolutely spot on … and it will take a long long time. I have four daughters and I have tried to educate them all to think outside the party political box, to stand up for what they believe in and to support those that are willing to fly against the wind and to try to affect change. Believe in your own voice and don’t back down. But I certainly don’t need to educate YOU in that one! Sanders, in our opinion was threatened and then paid. I agree that he should not have backed down. Really really should not but she will stop at nothing. She is ruthless and I believe she has much real blood on her hands let alone the carnage mass blood that will be spilled if she gets into the Oval Office.

  6. Reads like a mix of Poe and King. Think it’s time for me to lend you my rottie, Max! But then on second thought he’d wiggle on his three paws up to the intruder and lick him to death. The best plans… You can come visit us any time–we live in a relatively safe area remote from main cities. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. Love your posts/writing!

    1. The two Staffies – Stein and Bunter – are delightful dogs…but they don’t look it and they have the run of the place at night – as the would be courting couples who park their cars further up the road have discovered.
      Nothing so lowering of expectations as having a large inquisitive head thrust against the window, mouth open and probably slobbering…

  7. Corruption – the universal language etc. Your police force seems as incompetent as our own, which is unable to stamp out either the widespread paramilitary/drug dealing activity or the endless drunken, riotous behaviour in the university district. They invariably pass the buck to someone else.

    I doubt if your neighbour would be much use as a vigilante. It sounds like he’d probably be in some gambling den while the bank was being cleaned out.

    1. Individual men want to do their job….the problem is a lot higher up the food chain…as everywhere.
      No, his offer was just to scrape up some cash…..he’s a man that in the old Scots term you could not trust with your money, your malt or your maidservant.

  8. Sounds a bit like living in Africa! Too many guns and none have licences or very few.
    As for the police, I remember my Dad phoning them one night as he suspected a burglar was in the house opposite and the people were away. The answer from the other end was “if you need us you will have to collect us all our vehicles are broken!” By the time everything got sorted out it was too late and although nobody got shot the house was a mess! Its a wonderful world 🙂 Take care you two Diane

    1. Very similar! Now that the Chinese have donated cars to the police we don’t have the problem of – ‘well we don’t have transport…’ so that’s something…
      Bet you are looking forward to RSA!

      1. At least it will be warmer there in February than it will be here! We will be mostly travelling the game reserves in Botswana, Swaziland and Eastern Natal so hopefully away from the maddening crowds. Diane

  9. Intriguing glimpses into the dodgy underworld of CR. It’s a shame that the drug business has become established so close to home. I hope it doesn’t come any closer!

  10. Life in Costa Rica is wilder than I thought. It may be entertaining, but I would be happy to settle for something more mundane.
    Even here in the UK the police are regularly shown to be incompetent. It seems to be a worldwide problem.

    1. Don’t try North Norfolk, then….
      I think the problem lies less with th4e men on the ground, doing the job, but with their superiors, whose agenda is pleasing those who hold the power of promotion.

  11. The Neighbour rides again! The thought of him patrolling with an unlicensed gun is not a happy one…. Sorry to hear that the tide of crime is lapping ever closer to your little corner of Costa Rica and the power-that-be seem unable to check it.

    1. Indeed he does! He appears to have money troubles again….he has just sold his sugar cane cutting machine – a sign that he can neither afford to keep cattle nor find anyone to pay him rental for his finca.
      Yes, a shame that crime has moved out from the capital to this little neck of the woods: most of it is felt to be drug related.

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