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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Neighbor Hyde

(This is a story about a conflict between neighbors caused by a dog!!! It had me laughing when I wrote it and I hope it makes you pee your pants. It started out as a totally different story about a lady looking for a job as a house sitter. The original Idea disappeared and the dog wanted out.)

There was another yellow spot on the lawn! The neighbor had been walking his dog again. Always ticked me off. So I went looking. The darn thing always left more than 3 lbs of kielbasa-shaped dog crap. I knew it had to be here somewhere. It always was. The neighbor was a pompous bugger with a special love for us. He would never have let his dog drop it on anyone else's lawn. I found it and scooped it up and dumped it in the white plastic garbage bag containing the sum total of the last three days 'puppy chow'; maybe 15 lbs.
The neighbor had a pure bred dog, part Afghan hound, part St. Bernard, part German Shepherd. The Afghan genes obviously dominated his intelligence, coloring and general shape. He had the St. Bernards size, 'output volume' and drool. The German Shepherd showed through in ears, tail and attitude. This was one ugly dog.
Mr. Hyde was one ugly neighbor too. We used to joke about how Dr. Jekyll was never home. Like the dog, this guy was a pure bred cross. I could see elements of Bella Lugosi, Peter Lorre, and Yul Brynner in his genes. Lugosi's face, Lorry's snivel and a Yul Brynner strut.
He loved to brag about his 'house-trained' dog. Heck yeah, house trained is right! He had trained the dog to go to my house. He would open the door. The dog would sniff the air, come out the door, take the steps 2 at a time, bound across the lawn, jump the hedge with about 2 ft to spare, and do an inspection tour of my lawn before he chose a spot to leave his mark on the world. To add insult to injury the dog would turn his back on the pile and kick up clods of my fresh mown sod with his back feet in a useless attempt to cover his donation.
My lawn was in serious need of saving.
I decided defensive tactics were in order. My brother-in-law is a know-it-all. Just ask my mother-in-law or my wife. He knows everything there is to know. He said just throw the dog crap back on the neighbors own lawn. I tried that. I found a key scratch all down the side of my new volvo the next morning. I kinda knew what that message was saying. It spelled out "Don’t mess with me." in nice big scratchy letters. I was mad and in a mood to be much more destructive but my natural cowardice took precedence, for now .
My brother-in-law was enraged for me. He figured I should walk up to the neighbors door, ring his doorbell, and punch his lights out. I thought it was a great idea but since I was going to be away that day I asked my brother-in-law if he would do it for me. He didn’t even pause when he said "Maybe its not such a great idea." My mother-in-law agreed with him. She had agreed with him when he first suggested the 'punch his lights out' approach too. My brother in law then suggested 'pepper'. Okay, that sounded better than the 'lights out' scheme ..
So the very next day I bought 3 large cans of Malkin's Black Pepper . (Somehow I didn’t think bell peppers or even Jalapenos would do.) ( During the middle ages black pepper was more valuable than gold. .. Now too!!) I spread it all over the lawn, side to side and corner to corner .. I spread it thick. Im sure it would have worked if that freak 'sneezing' storm hadn't come up and stole my thunder. I could hardly believe it. Twenty minutes after I laid out my defensive carpet a wind arose blowing away from Hyde's place. People complained about that freak storm for months. They wondered what caused all the sneezing. They wondered how every resident of every house for 2 blocks down the street erupted in fits of uncontrollable sneezing. Even the cats ran away. I thought they were goners. They didn’t come back. The fat lady next door had to be hospitalized, but she lost 20 pounds in a week long sneezing fit. Two older gentlemen were hospitalized after a fight that broke out when one of them sneezed the poker pot off the table. I stay silent thought out the rumors. I figured with all the serious complaints people had about the storm I didn’t have to compain about my relatively unimportant loss of three Kg. of black pepper. No one ever did find out the source of the black specks of pepper spread through the next two blocks.
Then one day when my brother in law and I were out watching the kids play soccer he brought out a grocery bag and we lazed back in our lawn chairs with two kinds of cheese, some pepperoni and some crackers. It was a great impromptu lunch. The real thing he gave me that afternoon however, was the gift of revenge. When we got back to the house with our respective sons , soccer sweat and muddy boots he complained to my wife, his sister, that he had eaten enough cheese to wreck 3 years worth of Metamucil. We all laughed at his line but then I saw the light. Cheese worked like a plug. I knew exactly where a plug like that might work. That night I bought 3 kilos of mild Cheddar.
The dog didn’t like cheddar. It ignored the cheddar.
This was strange for me .. I remembered my dog as a kid .. Loved cheese. My Norwegian relatives sent us some Norwegian Gamle Ost one year. (Gamle Ost translates rather innocently to 'Old Cheese') This translation doesn’t carry with it the mortal fear children in Norway have for this dark brown cheese with the strong odor and bite like a snake. We have boogey men. They have 'Gamel Ost'. When the parcel delivery guy arrived with a package from my mothers Norwegian cousins, my dog barked and waged his tail with obvious excitement. And the package had been triple wrapped in cellophane and sprayed with 'Evening in Paris' eau de toilette. As we unwrapped it layer by layer, our poor mongrel border collie had gotten increasingly agitated. When we opened the top of the box we got the full force of a smell enhanced by a months unrefrigerated trip across the North Atlantic. The sweet concentrated odor of sweat socks and sewer treatment plants wafted past our nostrils summoning tears of sentimental joy. My father said "What the Hell… " (He never swore.) and tossed the whole package as far as he could out the back door toward the alley. The dog was in full stride when it went between his legs and jumped a full 10 feet from the back steps. The dog reached its prey and soon had the cardboard box ripped to shreds. By the time I got to the door to watch, she was rolling deliciously in the soft brown crumbly 'old cheese'. 'Eau d' Paris pour les Chiens' - whewwwww. Since that day I have known that dogs love cheese .. And the greater the smell the greater the desire. I needed more smell.
The next day I went to the German Grocery Store. I had seen Gamle Ost there once before. I was in luck they still had the same one (I remember the date was from 3 years previous to the first visit.).. And this was 9 months later. .. This Gamle Ost was OLD!! … and it still had its special sale price. But only 500 gms .. I would have to mix it with the Cheddar. So I stopped off at the army surplus store for a gasmask.
Two trial asphyxiations and three baths in salt water later the cheese was on the fenced off lawn. The paint was blistering on that side of the house when the neighbor let his dog out. In a split second it was rolling in the cheese. The wake of the widening smell of fermented cheese attracted every dog for blocks. I smiled. I watched while the hound gulped down all 3 and a half kilos of thick cheese.
We didn’t get much sleep that night .. Cause the dog spent the night in the neighbor's back yard howling its head off. I got up and marinated a 2 kilo of ground beef .. In castor oil. About 6 am I tossed the very oily raw hamburger over the back fence. The dog quieted down for a bit .. About an hour later I heard the neighbor swearing up a storm as he used plenty of soap and water on the beast. I smiled.
I listened quietly on the other side of the hedge. I smelled talcum power and Irish Spring but I was waiting for the inevitable. My waiting was in vain. Nothing happened! The cheese was not going to surrender to the hamburger easily. Finally after the sun had been up long enough to dry the dog off I watched from behind the back screen door as Hyde let the dog in. I could see that he had sheered the dog like a sheep. …the dog was moving a bit more sluggishly but Hyde gave no complaints. Obviously, the dog smelled better .
I was suddenly struck with terror. Any minute now that dog was going to scratch at the front door to be let out to do its thing, in my front yard!!!! .. Crap and double crap. What could I do?
I panicked. We were all going to die .. I only had one gas mask. We had to move .. Fast. I mean really move. Pack up our belongings. Armageddon was here. A smell worse than fire and brimstone would soon permeate the yard. No one would buy our house. Visions of Chernobyl forced themselves on my mind. The need to defend my castle came next. Did we have any bear spray left over from holidays... Maybe I could hold off the beast. .. A sword .. A cross bow .. Anything .. And then it came to me .. Pepper .. .. Maybe it would work. .. I raced to the kitchen… and raided the spice cupboard until I found a small half full pepper bottle. It would have to do. I was at war.
I raced from the house and bounded over the intervening hedge .. Almost tripping as I caught my foot on the branches as I went through a particularly thin section. I landed on one foot and kept going as I stooped beneath his picture window to his front step. I quickly dumped the half bottle of black pepper in a pile on the Welcome mat. I turned and headed for the hedge, stooping under the picture window and doing a swan dive over the top. Somersaulting to my feet and looking to find my garden shovel to fend the beast off.
As I found the shovel by the flower bed beside the house I scurried back just in time to hear the neighbors front door opening. I braced for the onslaught. .. Looking through a small gap in the hedge I watched as the dog started out the door. He stopped and sniffed. He then lowered his head and got a good whiff of the strange material he smelled .. And he sneezed.. And did he sneeze!!!! As he backed into the house in panic. .. The door was still open as I heard him heave in great lung crushing sneezes. Gut squeezing sneezes. Sphincter loosening sneezes. Great brown gob shooting sneezes. And I hear chaos. I heard Hyde swearing. I heard a dog yelping, sneezing as it ran around the house to avoid its angry master. I heard a continual sneezing as furniture made way. A lamp crashed. Through the window I saw Hyde slip and fall. Visions of Chernobyl... And I smiled. ...
Hyde moved out. His house was up for sale for over 6 months but it finally sold. The new neighbor was a opportunist who bought it as a fixer upper to be flipped. He did major renovations but finally had to sell for a loss when the market fell. The older couple who finally got the house more than a year later, are great neighbors. They have two yappy little Maltese dogs. I think they like cheese.