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“I’m sorry, lady, there’s nothing we can do” Austin, New York City In late August of this year there was an elegant dinner party held in an elegant apartment on E. 51st St. in Manhattan. The guests were clever, creative and amusing people. They were critics and cinematographers, a New Yorker writer and one declass fellow who worked for an ad agency \(but it was one of the really creative deal of money and although they were under 35, several of them were into their second marriages. And almost all of them were undergoing psychiatric analysis. I live in a white, working class neighborhood on Austin’s near northside. Us old-timers in the neighborhood deplore the “hippies” who have been moving in lately students, that is. For a couple of years now, the people in my neighborhood have been bothered by a Peeping Tom. Ms. Butterbank,* the librarian who lives across the street, got two GerMan shepherds because she was so worried by the fellow. different tack. One night the peeper was outside the bedroom window of their 15-year-old daughter, so Jean Sue marched out on the front porch and shrieked, “Git me the gun, George, I kin see him in the bushes and I’ll git him from here.” The peeper, whom she couldn’t see at all, took off lickety-cut up the alley and Jean Sue and George laughed about it for days. They also kept the gun in the front room. I started to find beer cans and cigarette butts underneath my living room windows a few months after I moved in. If the weather was mild and I had the windows open, I’d usually hear something after awhile, so I’d turn on the porch light and go out and see him running off down the street, a slender man with a greaser hair-do or else his cowboy hat on. It really is a nice neighborhood, so I used to leave my back door unlocked when I went out \(being one until I noticed that someone had been in the house while I was gone. The peeper \(I number that way and for a while did the Breather routine. Ms. Allen, my other across-the-street neighbor, came over one night and told me she and the girls had seen the peeper outside my window, but he run off before they could call Sam to do anything about it. We arranged a DEW line: Ms. Allen would call me when she spotted him from * All of the names in this story are fictional. The people are real. across the street and I’d call the cops. But he always ran away before the cops got there. The cops were very nice and several times set up a “slow patrol” a squad car cruising by every five minutes or so. But they never caught him, “I’m sorry, lady,” they kept saying, “but there’s nothing we can do about it.” After the first year, Sarah and Bob moved into the little house next door. The Aliens and the Janaceks disapproved Bob has a beard but I was delighted, because they have two large dogs. The peeper quit peeping on the living room side and took to peeping on the bedroom side of the house, where there’s less street light anyway, and it faces the alley so Ms. Allen couldn’t see him. The money I’d spent on special shades and curtains for the living room windows was useless. I nailed a blanket across the bedroom windows, but it looked tacky and it got to be a drag, taking it down again whenever company was coming and every morning so the plants could get some sun. The peeper bothered me, but didn’t worry me much: according to the books, peepers get their kicks by peeping and are seldom dangerous. Then one night he tried to get into the house through a side window. With commendable presence of mind. I grabbed the nearest weapon, which happened to be my left tennis shoe, and threw it at him, whereupon he retreated rapidly. I called the cops. By this time, I could give’ an excellent description of the peeper. “I’m sorry, lady,” they said, “there’s nothing we can do.” In the daytime, I could make an amusing tale of the defiant stand with the tennis shoe. At night, I had to nervously remind myself what a large, healthy young woman I am. “Probably outweigh him by 25 pounds,” I’d mutter. “An’ me in the Fat Ladies Exercise Class at the Y: I could take him any time.” But I started waking up in the middle of the night and thinking that the shadows were moving. Heart beating fast. When I started looking under the bed, I decided it was getting too ridiculous. So I got a dog. A black hound, combination Lab and Weimaraner. Named him Frijoles. I’ve had cats all my life: Frijo was mr_first dog. This will be no news to dog fans, but dogs relate more intensely than cats, they get involved. Every morning when I departed, Frijo acted as though it were the end of the world; every evening when I returned, he went into ecstasy, just as though I hadn’t departed and returned every day of his young life. I took Frijo camping with me and to Scholz and to Armadillo. On one splendid occasion I even took him to the state capitol with me: I refrain from reporting on whose office door he had the good judgment to pee. One day, Frijoles disappeared. Just like that. In five minutes. I called and called for him. I went around for blocks, yodeling his name. The next day, I borrowed a bike and went further afield. My brother and Bob and Sarah helped me look for him. I put ads in the Austin American and the Daily Texan, and on the radio stations that carry lost-dog items. I put up notes on all the telephone poles and in the stores for blocks in every direction and I went door-to-door and people were very kind and said they’d keep an eye out for him. And I went to the pound. Every day. For a long time. About two months later, a man came to my door, said he lived up a few blocks and he’d seen one of my notes on a phone pole. He and his wife had found a dog answering Frijo’s description within a few days of his disappearance. The dog’s body was in the alley behind their house with its throat cut. “I’m sorry, lady,” said the police. “There’s nothing we can do.” I told my landlady I was moving. But the house is cheap and the students were back in school and the only rooms available were in $250-a-month plastic apartments. I kept looking. Sandra Palmer was one of many sympathetic friends. “We’ve had a problem something like that,” she said. “We’ve come home several times and found my lingerie strewn all over the bedroom. Someone had been breaking into the house and going through my underwear, taking out the Kotex and things like that. It was creepy. Our neighbors had had the same kind of trouble. We found out who it was. A 12-year-old boy. Retarded. My husband went to the boy’s father and said, ‘Look, if you’ll get the boy psychiatric care, we won’t report this to the police.’ John said he felt so sorry for the father. It’s a chicano family. They don’t have much money. The father had been trying so hard to bring up the rest of the family and this retarded kid. John said the boy’s father almost broke when John told him what the boy had been doing. It was just the end for him. After everything else. I don’t know where they’ll take him. They haven’t any money.” “You really must try it, my dear. Psychoanalysis can help you so much with December 15, 1972 11