Have I told you about the guy next door? He’s lived there all his life. I have this narrow, weird opening in my shed because when the guy next door was a kid, the people who lived here (same people who sold me the house) had a dog that they apparently never let in. I should try that with Edsel. Make him a backyard dog. See how he does. He’d make an impassioned video, it’d go viral, someone would build him an Edsel mansion made of Blu.
Anyway, they never let the dog in, and it bothered the guy next door, so he carved a door in the shed for the dog to go in and out. Kills me.
The point is he still lives there and he might enjoy a cocktail or two. This has been his cross to bear.
He does odd jobs. Someone picks him up in some mornings and I think he paints rooms or what have you. He was living with Sissy the cat’s mom, who planted flowers from seeds she got at the dollar store, and they’re just beautiful. They’re those round white tube-shaped flowers that kind of grow all over yonder. What are those called?
She also cooked and did laundry a lot—there was always stuff hanging on the line. They still have one of those T-shaped old-fashioned clotheslines in the back. I always liked seeing clothes out there. Reminded me of my gramma.
Then they had a big fight and she left, but she’s still around the neighborhood. She takes Sissy out on a wagon, in her cat carrier. Sometimes Sissy is on her own and bounds to the door to play with Milhous, who is always happy to see her.
I’ve no idea where the ex stay at (that’s how people around here put it, “Where she stay at?”) but she’s around a lot. Sometimes I give her food for Sissy.
So, I have two things to tell you regarding this. The guy next door’s at the end of our block. We’re also at a dead end. Behind us is a field and then a steep dropoff and the railroad tracks. So basically beyond us are our sheds then our alley then fields then a cliff.
The other night, I was throwing Blu for Edsel when I threw it clear over my fence and into his yard. Eds was beside himself.
“Can I go in your yard to look for my dog’s toy?” I asked him. The guy next door lived with his mother until her death, so his house still has things like a mailbox with a cardinal on it and a metal lamb on his fence gate, all of which kills me. He stood on his back deck while I traipsed in the yard. The grass was sort of grown, so I worried I’d step clean on an asp or something.
“What’s it look like?” he yelled out. “When I get the grass cut, I’ll look for it.”
How do you explain a phenomenon like Blu? Meanwhile, Edsel was in our yard commemorating it in oils. He’s built a sort of Watts Tower in homage.
I never found it. One, the yard is huge and two, even when your grass is cut it’s hard to find Blu. It sinks in. I ordered another, in red, so Blu will be red now and I understand everything is chaotic now. But I think Eds has trouble seeing blue Blu in the green grass, anyway, so.
But here’s why I’m telling you this. I stepped behind his shed, which is of course identical to mine, minus the dog door. I love how all of us have identical 87-year-old houses and sheds and even trees planted in the same spot. The mills did all that. We all have alleys because that’s where the mills put our outhouses. I could use that now for a cat litter room, but there’s not one outhouse left in the entire three-block neighborhood anymore.
Behind my next-door neighbor’s shed was a blanket, a pillow and cat dishes.
Is his ex sleeping behind his shed? Is she? I can’t even stand the thought of it. I promise you he never checks back there so she’ll get away with it forever.
That night I was trying to sleep but I kept thinking of putting a nicer pillow out for her, a better blanket. Is there something I could give her to store those, at least? Oh my god.
The other thing I wanted to tell you is that he has no water. Once Sissy’s mom moved out, he didn’t have enough to pay the bill, and a bunch of us in the neighborhood checked to see how much it’d be to turn it back on and it was
A FOUR-HUNDRED DOLLAR FEE
just to get it back on. Water assholes.
So at night, the guy next door takes water from my hose on the side. I told him to stop knocking and asking, to just go get it. Some nights I hear the water turn on and it startles me, then I remember.
Last night there was a knock at my door. It was my neighbor.
He brought me some paintings to thank me for the water.
“Where did you get these?” I asked him.
“I painted them,” he said. “I have a bunch in the shed. I used to have them on the wall, but…” he trailed off.
“You painted these?” There were landscapes and tigers and the winter sky.
“Yeah, I used to do shit,” he said, looking bemused.
I thanked him, and he said he might be back in awhile to get a bucket of water.
I went in and put the picture of the lilies on the wall.