The next door nutter

The last thing we wanted at our son's 12th birthday was a stripping neighbour

Published by: Fiona Ford and Henry Austin
Published on: 16 August 2012

Most people don't even know their neighbour's name. Yet not only was Lori a neighbour to me and my hubby Greg, 51, she was a great friend, too.
She'd moved into our quiet cul-de-sac four years after we'd been there and we'd clicked straight away. Plus, the great thing was our kids got on. My children Jacob, eight, Kyra, five and Kylie, four, would often play out in the street with her daughter MacKensie, seven.
‘Jacob, love,' I sighed, as he started play fighting with his sister one day. ‘Let go of Kyra!'
He stuck out his tongue at me.
‘He's better behaved than Mackensie,' Lori, 49, chuckled beside me, as she fiddled with the necklace we'd bought her. ‘I hope they'll all be lifelong friends like us...'
Lori was a single mum, and
I knew things were tough. She was also a bit frumpy and didn't seem to have many friends. My heart had gone out to her. So we'd bought her that mother-daughter necklace one Mother's Day to make her feel special.
‘Thank you,' she had smiled,
a tear in her eye. We were lucky to be friends. A couple of days on though, Kyra ran in crying.
‘Mackensie poured nail varnish over my dress,' she wept.
‘It'll wash out,' I sighed.
Funny, they'd never fought before. So I felt I'd better have a word with Lori about it. She opened the upstairs window when she spotted us outside just moments later.
‘Get the hell out of my garden,' she had snarled.
‘I just wanted to speak to you about the nail varnish,' I frowned, shocked by her outburst.
‘Go away,' she yelled, slamming the window shut.
Kyra started sobbing, so I scooped her up and ran back in the house.
‘She just flipped,' I told Greg.
‘Odd,' he agreed. ‘Just give her a bit of space for a few days.'
A couple of days later, I was bundling the kids in the car. Lori waved and smiled...
before forming her finger and thumb into an L shape and raising it to her forehead. She was calling me a loser?! How pathetic.
‘Come on, kids,' I mumbled, trying to hide the hurt in my voice. We were friends, good friends. I couldn't understand her bizarre change in attitude towards me.
Soon, Lori's behaviour got worse. She even started
laying in wait for us when we left the house.
‘You're the loser family!' she'd screech.
I was so shocked that I couldn't speak. I didn't want to make things worse or have the kids witness our arguments.
‘You should never call people names,' I'd explain to them, making sure they knew right from wrong. ‘Lori's just going through a tough time at the moment.'
But one morning, I went to our postbox to get the newspaper, and saw something had been stuck on it.‘What the...?'
I muttered. They were pictures of beer and scotch. Have another drink, someone had scrawled over them.Stunned, I ripped the pictures to pieces and ran inside, sobbing.
‘I can't believe it,' I cried to Greg. ‘This was Lori, I just know it was.'
She was one of the few people I'd spoken to about my past...
‘I used to have a problem with drink,' I'd confessed to her once. ‘It was a horrible time. I even got done for drink-driving.'
‘You poor thing,' she'd sighed, giving me a big hug. ‘You must be an incredibly strong person.' I'd trusted her, and she'd thrown it back in my face.
‘Come here, love,' Greg said, hugging me. ‘She'll stop soon.'
Except, Lori seemed to revel in my misfortune. It was as if she was determined to see me fall again.
‘What do you do with a drunken mother?' she'd sing repeatedly at the top of her voice for hours at a time.
Months on, she started hanging signs on her garage. One said I saw mummy kissing a breathalyser. Her torture was relentless. But the police were powerless to do anything because she was on her own property.
‘Keep a log of the abuse in case it gets worse,' they kept telling me.
So we documented all her taunts and secretly videoed her when we could. Months turned into years, but still Lori's nasty vendetta against me continued. I was constantly scuttling in and out of the house in fear, always wondering if she was going to be there.
‘I used to be so happy here,' I wept to Greg. ‘Now I'm frightened to leave.'
‘I know, love,' he sighed. ‘I wish I could do something.' She was clearly so twisted, who knew what trick she'd pull if we confronted her.
Next thing though, it was Jacob's 12th birthday, and I was determined to wear a smile and forget all about Lori. All his mates were round and we were having a barbecue in the garden. After a few hours, they were in the middle of a game of basketball at the front of the house.
‘Go Jacob!' I whooped as he ran past with the ball. But my cheers stopped when I saw Lori open her front door and walk slowly towards us.
‘What's she up to?' I muttered to Greg.
As Lori moved nearer, I realised she'd started to unbutton her top.
‘You've got to be kidding,' Greg hissed.
As she got closer, Lori lifted up her long skirt to reveal her black thong and bare bum!
‘Look at this, boys,' she yelled, before gyrating her bottom wildly in front of them.
All the kids had fallen silent. They didn't know where to look. This frumpy old woman was parading herself in front of them. It was cringe-worthy. A part of me couldn't help but feel sorry for her. She was pathetic.
‘Inside now,' I told them, my blood boiling. This was the final straw.
‘I did nothing but be your friend,' I yelled at her, as she carried on prancing around like a loon, ignoring my protests. ‘I'm calling the police.'
Later, the police agreed we did have enough evidence for a restraining order. But Lori still didn't take it seriously. Get a life you stalking freak, she wrote on one of her signs.
Finally, a judge lost patience and jailed her for 90 days. But the trouble was, it didn't last. Within weeks of Lori's return, she continued her reign of terror, even following me in her car.
‘Please, Lori,' I pleaded with her one day. ‘Just stop.'
But nothing worked. So I went back to the police.
Finally, last month, Lori Christensen was charged with aggravated stalking and ordered to sell her home. I was thrilled.
‘We've gone through five years of hell,' Greg said, breathing a huge sigh of relief. ‘Finally, it's over.'
‘I'll never know why she turned on me, though,' I sighed. Her behaviour doesn't make sense, but I've wasted too much time already worrying about it. All me and Greg ever did was be a friend to her, yet this was how she chose to repay us.
Kim Hoffman, 42, White Bear, Minnesota, USA