We think the neighbors are into porn. Watching it, making it, getting paid for it, something. They aren’t roofers, that’s for sure. They had the van repainted for roofing, as if they’d legitimately revamped their business. And they tried to recruit us as roofers, in a multi-level marketing kind of way. But they aren’t into roofing.
The stroller lady said hi, got nasty in the saying of it. She said I must stop her from doing that, where that equals crapping in yards and her equals our big dog, Maggie, the Australian Cattle one that everyone walking the neighborhood thinks is a Blue Heeler. “I love your Blue Heeeler!” they say as we pass. My wife gets pissed when I don’t correct them. She’s never around when they say it because I’m the dog-walker, but when I tell her yet another person expressed admiration for our Blue Heeler she stomps her foot and says “She’s not a Blue Heeler!” I can’t correct them all. I don’t have the energy. But this point of distinction is crucial to her, and I am wrong to not issue challenge.
So I meekly correct the stroller lady. “She’s an Australian Cattle Dog.”
Stroller lady hisses like Gollum, turns her black stroller around, like it should not have to experience me. Says, “You must ssstops her, precioussss.” She drapes a blanket over the baby we can only assume is in there but have never seen. “Baby is afraid of dogsesss,” she says, the stroller lady does, and throws her asses between us and the alleged baby. “We have pictures.” She eyeballs me, tucking the blanket around whatever isn’t in the stroller.
I force my best smile, which is artificial, so I’m told. It says, I don’t understand what’s happening, but I must appear friendly and polite. At least it’s supposed to say that. “I’m sorry?” I say.
“They’re cracking down,” says Stroller Lady. “We have pictures of you. You can’t just let her do that.”
I have so many questions; but the only one that comes out is, “Of me?”
She waves her hand dismissively. “Allsss of you.”
I blink. I pull the plastic bag, the one I tear off the roll that costs $24.95 at the pet store — the one I use to pick up the shats of the creature I’m supposed to be master of, I pull this bag out out of my pocket and flap it in the direction of Black Stroller Lady. “I always pick it up.”
When I get home my wife says you can’t just flap it at her.
The water department sends us nice postcards. They are sweethearts. We have been observed wasting water, they say, and we need to be mindful of our usage. They place a checkmark in the observation box next to ‘watering pavement.’
I call them, the water department, and ask just what the fuck this is all about.
The lady who answers is very nice, perhaps the sweetheart who sent it? She explains that it might have been a water department representative but probably wasn’t. It was probably a concerned citizen, maybe someone from the neighborhood? She says we need not worry about a fine, says she can transfer me to someone who can pull up the case number, but we might just want to take a look and see if a sprinkler needs fixing?
Seven is the number of sprinklers already fixed by me. One I hit with the lawnmower, maybe two. But most were fucked with by human hands that were not mine. I’m convinced, anyway. We live on a corner lot, and I’m convinced someone enjoys fucking with the ones on the corner, for sure. Three times I’ve replaced that one, not once hit it with the lawnmower. That one is being fucked with enjoyably by someone. Someone who is unscrewing it and just leaving it there to screw with me.
Our littler dog, not the Australian Cattle one but the schnauzer-terrier-mutt one, who is quite dumb, shat in their yard again. He shats in their yard on purpose, whatever his reasons I don’t know, but he does it every chance he gets, every time we walk by. One time their sprinklers went off, and I would have gone to war with them but they were inside, the cowards, turning on the very zone he was shat-making in. I was furious. So furious I went back and got the big one, the Maggie one that’s not a Blue Heeler, and encouraged her to piss in their yard. It wasn’t a shat, but probably looked like one from inside, the way she sits, so that was satisfying. I removed my ballcap, raised it in the air like I’d just nailed the home owner’s mother. It was great.
Later, I found out motion-sensitive sprinklers are a thing. Apparently they sprinkle when a stray beast enters the yard, just to say scram. I put two and two together and tell my wife.
“What is wrong with you?” she says. Not without cause.
And a part of me rises, taps me on the shoulder to suggest that perhaps I am the problem.