My neighbor Eugene usually smiles and throws a wave in my direction when he sees me outside, or driving down the street. Eugene is a responsible citizen in my community. His yard is well kept, the house is in good repair, and he keeps his mechanical projects in his garage or behind his six foot privacy fence where they are not an eyesore to the rest of the neighborhood. Eugene is an avid hunter who always shares his bounty with everyone when he bags game. He owns a successful gun shop and indoor shooting range on Orange Avenue. The first Saturday of each month Eugene offers a free gun safety and awareness class to the public; if you own a gun, the class includes a 15% off coupon for ammo, paper targets, and a free Hr. of range time (off peek).
Eugene is a no nonsense kind of guy who knows how to get things done. When my wife and I first moved into the neighborhood, I noticed that one of the roads leading into the neighborhood had a speed trap where the police would set up shop and prey upon decent people just trying to come home from a long days work. Eugene fell victim to this trap one spring day. He quickly researched and wrote a petition stating that no accidents have occurred at this location over the past 15 years. An average of 150 tickets has been issued per year for the past seven years. The fact that the tickets are recorded as minor crimes had caused our neighborhood to be listed as a high crime area, lowering the value of the community’s property as a whole. Our area surrounds the Conway chain of lakes. Eugene first went door to door only to the lakefront property. Our city’s Mayor and two state representatives were among the first of 200 plus signatures on the presented petition. Since the following fall, I have not witnessed another squadron of police lying in wait on the other side of that hill where the speed limit makes an immediate fifteen mile per hour drop.
Eugene has and still makes contributions to the community, but he has not made friends with everyone in the neighborhood. Being the proprietor of a gun shop, He has endured his share of pains dealing with bureaucratic red tape. When Mr. Jennings, a retired shop teacher from Boon H.S. was doing light mechanical work for extra money, Eugene felt that it was his duty as a citizen to report this tax evasion and unlicensed business to the state business office. Because of the legal fees and loss of his retirement, pending investigation, Mr. and Mrs. Jennings had to sell their house at the bottom of the market. They in turn had to move in with their daughter and her coarse drunkard of a husband out in Deland. Eugene also believes he is well within his right to trap the neighbor’s cats and turn them into the A.S.P.C.A. God only knows how many loved family pets have had to meet their end terrified, tormented, alone, and wandering where their family was; they were just wanting to be home safe and warm. Instead they received an unwanted pinching stab and the searing burn of toxins invading them until sound and light fade to nothing.
Eugene is unapologetic for his actions. In fact he is proud that he is keeping people honest and ridding the neighborhood of unwanted feral cats. I asked him if he felt anything for the children who wait every day for their cats to come home or for the old man and woman who lost the house over his actions. “No” he replied “Those Puerto Ricans let their cats go in our neighborhood because they won’t get their cats fixed, and that old bastard was running an illegal business out of his house! That screws everyone out of that tax money. So NO! I don’t feel responsible, if they were not doing anything wrong they would have been fine!” All I can do is just shake my head. Although, Eugene operates within his rights and contributes to our community, I wish he would go contribute to someone else’s community. So there you have it, Eugene, a responsible citizen, entrepreneur, employer, tax payer, volunteer, and all around horse’s ass.