I was not the first to be disappointed upon seeing this place, not by a long shot. Back in the 60's, when the swamp was first developed into a residential area, spurious salespeople sold thousands of lots over the phone to out-of-state buyers who had no idea that every summer, despite nearly 200 miles of recently dug drainage canals, they would need boats to reach their land due to the extreme rainfall and high water table in the area. Over 40 years later, though the introduction of the raised dirt road is slightly better than arriving via boat, the land as a whole is definitely still best described as “marshy”. The farmers, who are my only neighbor, seemed to only raise chickens, because the uninhabitable cypress swamp is too flooded to grow anything else of value. Although, according to some locals, the intense humidity in this area does make the chore of hydroponically-grown marijuana considerably easier. The one rooster and his many hens were typically pretty noisy at night (party animals beyond any doubt). Looney Tunes taught me that roosters were meant to crow at daybreak, but this particular one seemed to be a little soft in the head and opted just to crow every half-hour or so, day or night. This noise had a tendency to attract several forms of predatory wildlife. One particularly notable predator was a bear, who was not a huge monstrosity like you'd see in a movie like The Great Outdoors, but still almost as tall as that damned Christmas tree when standing on its hind legs and after all, it is a bear, so they’re always pretty intimidating.
The house itself was completely stripped, as my friend had moved out nearly a year earlier. There was no bed, no stovetop, no fridge, nothing resembling an appliance. The sole piece of furniture was an old couch that wasn’t worth the trouble to throw away. Now, due to the events which led me to this living arrangement, I was doing a fair amount of drinking at the time. I would come home some nights at about 2 or 3 in the morning, very drunk, and in no state to drive (not that it stopped me). On more than one occasion, I exited my vehicle and saw the bear attempting to get through the neighbor’s fence to access the chicken coops. Many times, I'm told, he succeeded and slaughtered many of their roost. On one particularly bad night, when I came home completely smashed, and not particularly caring about my physical well-being, the bear was directly in front of my car, blocking the way to the front door. I'm sure he or she wasn't meaning to block my way, but rather that I had come home at the wrong time while the bear was attempting to break into my garbage can. I flashed my lights. It ignored me. I honked my horn. It didn’t care. So, being very tired and wanting nothing more than to enter the house and sleep on that nice hard sofa... I decided to get out of the car and face off with the bear, rather than wait for it to leave on it's own. You see, I had to be up for work in three hours, so time was of the essence.