Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rain Clouds on a Sunny Day

Today is a warm, 72 degrees. I decided to take the dogs to the park -- the one next to my Dad’s house. We’ve made it here, but with some trouble.

As I arrived today, I was reminded of something that had irked me the last time I was here: two metal signs had been recently posted upright, squarely in the middle of the small plot of land that sits on the opposite side of Dad’s driveway. The signs inform the public to neither dump, nor trespass along the hillside, but the proximity of them suggests that they are constant reminders to my father only. They stand out from the natural scenery of the wooded thicket and block out the view of Western Hills and the Mill Creek Valley that he had cleared away himself. They mercilessly stare at the house, almost shouting their message over and over. Like the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckelburg above the Valley of Ashes, they are aesthetically disturbing.

So I walked up to one these offending, white-faced bastards and gave it a shake to test how firmly it rested in the soil. I was surprised to see that it had been lazily jammed in its place and could easily be removed; as if the person who did it really didn’t believe in what he or she was doing. Just following orders, I suppose.

As my hand rested on the metal pole, I heard a voice call out to me:

“What are you doing to the sign, Bryan?”

It was my Dad’s awful neighbor, Rolf, an Ichabod Crane-like person with unkempt wisps of thin hair and Coke-bottle spectacles. The man seemingly has no job and spends an obscene amount of time wasting it; keeping close tabs on the dead-end street and pretending to be busy with something in his garage. He often sits in his car reading, perhaps to the eight or nine cats that sprawl about his property.

The worst part about Rolf, however, is what he’s married to; a perpetually crabby troll, who’s once normal face has been molded into a permanent scowl, which looks like a catchers mitt making a sour face from living in constant disapproval for so long. She is the generator of house cats. Never seen without her bathrobe and only heard complaining, her mission in life is to -- at all costs -- exude her potent misery upon all those around her, and, if possible, to never leave the house again. If you’re picturing the stereotypical, crazy cat-lady, then you’ve nailed it.

“I’m seeing how loose it is,” I replied. “It’s terrible. Right in the middle of everything.”
“The City came and put ‘em up,” Captain Obvious pointed out.
“Did someone complain?” I asked.
This question provoked Rolf’s eyes to wander into his coffee cup and shrug. “I don’t know about that.”
“All that’s been dumped back there is yard waste. Can’t be that big of a deal.”
“I’ve seen your Dad dump all kinds of stuff back there,” Rolf countered. He began listing off what he’d seen dumped. I heard concrete but became angry before listening to the rest.
“So it was you,” I said. He just shrugged again. I stormed off toward the house, complaining loudly how it wasn’t bothering him or anybody else for that matter. As I turned the corner to enter the back door of the house, I saw a catchers mitt making a sour face peeking through the fence at me. Noticing this stirred me to continue ranting on about how they should just leave us alone and I believe I even called them spies. The troll said nothing, no doubt cataloging the outburst in her ledger of doom under “Revenge to be Exacted”.

Tomorrow I expect to see even more signs from the City commanding I not touch the signs, punishable by fine under City Code: xjbc9-OH-167B.

Mojokong – there all kinds of bad neighbors in the world, but busy-bodies may be my least favorite.