THE GESTAPO DOWN THE BLOCK
“As the earth’s population continues to grow, humans are forced to live in ever closer proximity to each other, pissing each other off in new and disgusting ways. The neighbor note is the most effective medium to alert your neighbors to the myriad [of] ways in which their way of life is destroying yours…” ¹
I tripped over the dog that morning as I was trying to get out of the door, ‘Chewie, move!’ I pushed him aside with the ball of my foot. He rolled over just as I decided to step over him. My foot rolled down the side of him and I tumbled forward, ‘shit!’ I said as I dove headfirst into the aluminum front door. He’s a small dog, set in his ways, slightly senile, twelve years old. But other than that a very good Basset Hound. He’s also quite fond of cats.
I grabbed the car keys from the side table then headed outside. But I saw something wedged between the wiper blades of the car, squinting I tried to figure out what it was. It was lined. I hurried down the steps, removed it from between the windshield wipers. When I unfolded it, it was a handwritten note, it was two pages long, front and back. I opened the car door, sat down and began reading it. Then it hit me who it was from… The neighborhood Block Gestapo, Lilith.
Fuck, not again. What the hell is wrong with this woman? I tried to figure out what she was ranting about today it was about an orange Tabby cat who had gotten into her garbage bins on trash day. Oh – and it was our cat. One small issue though: We don’t have a cat.
Cuckoo, I mumbled, stuffing the note into the side panel of the car, I drove away trying to forget about it. I dug my finger nails into the steering wheel and sighed. I kept thinking about the time she got into a spat with our long-time neighbors who used to live beside us.
This argument had been about bushes they were planting along the side of their property. The Block Gestapo had exploded a few days earlier telling them they weren’t allowed to plant the shrubbery there. During the night with her husband, she dug up the shrubs from where they were planted. The next morning, the cops had to come to resolve the case of the rogue shrubbery.
The entire north end of the street avoids this woman. In her quest to dominate the ‘hood, she’s managed to acquire a co-conspirator for her meddling, a recruited SS officer that follows her around. The Hedge-Spy, Anastasia, we refer to her inductee as. She assists her by relaying bits of Intel about the rest of us living under this oppressive Suburban Nazi regime – between the shrubbery and rogue cats, they know everything about everyone. All within a two block kilometer radius.
I arrived home from running errands I noticed her husband was out watering the lawn again. Even in the hellish summer heat when over-watering is prohibited, their lawn still glows fluorescent neon while the rest of us struggle to keep the remaining sprigs of grass attached to our lawns. But there he was, saturating his lawn with water in his tank top and shorts, his pasty skin dotted by freckles and splotches of sunburn. I looked at her husband standing there, grimacing I grabbed the letter out of the side panel of the car door and walked over.
‘Is this from your wife, again?’ I adjusted my skirt, as I tried not to rip his face off. He glared at me then looked down at his lawn.
‘Lilith left the note on your car’, he barked back with enough bite I thought he was Hitler in the flesh.
‘Uh-huh, so you realize we don’t have an orange Tabby cat or any other cat then?’ I hissed back at him. He stopped watering his lawn and furrowed his brow.
‘Yes,’ I nodded, ‘No cat!’, ‘Have you read this passive-aggressive letter your wife penned to us? It’s two pages long’, I handed him the slightly crumpled note paper I had twisted into a knot previously in heated anger.
‘Really? No cat?’ he asked while rolling his eyes, ‘Yes! No cat!’ I responded.
‘But I always see your dog wandering around your backyard with this cat!’ Guilt by association, ‘Listen–who Chewie associates with is none of your business! He happens to be quite fond of the neighborhood cats though…’ I trailed off.
We both stopped and looked at each other for a moment. This was the point of ridiculousness we had reached in neighborly relations with the Gestapo, the Hedge-Spy and now with Hitler.
I dug my feet further into the scorching asphalt of his drive way. He grabbed the letter from me and began crumpling it up, then he stuffed it into the side pocket of his shorts. I blinked. He had just destroyed the evidence!
‘Just fucking forget it. We thought it was your cat. He keeps getting into our bins and tearing them apart, curb side on trash day, ‘ he said while winking.
‘You mean to tell me, this cat isn’t even breaking into your garage to do this? Why on earth is anyone else responsible for your trash curb side but you!? Secure your shit!’ I said then stormed off down his driveway. Then I heard, ‘Jesus. What a bitch,’ I looked back and yelled, ‘Same to your wife!’
When I got home, I took Chewie out into the backyard. He stretched and yawned then walked over to his favorite place under the Lilac bush. I heard a faint meow. I stepped off the porch and found him sitting under the bush with a very chubby orange Tabby cat.
‘Xena! Xena! Come to mommy!’, I turned around. I could swear I had just heard the Hedge-Spy beckoning someone. Her home borders part of our backyard.
‘Xena?’ I called out quietly to the orange Tabby now sitting comfortably beside Chewie nibbling and cleaning his ears. Her tiny, sweet face turned to look at me as she struggled to stand with her roly-poly body, then walked towards me. Chewie followed.
‘So you’re Xena, huh? I hear you’ve been getting into garbage bins on trash day’, she head bonked my right leg and continued to purr. ‘Naughty girl!’ I said while smiling, ‘But I’m really going to enjoy this,’ I scooped her up, she nuzzled into my chest.
‘Anastasia, are you looking for someone?’ I asked while half-hidden behind our pine fence that bordered her yard while I held her cat like precious collateral.
‘Oh! Hi there. Yes our cat keeps getting out…’ she said.
‘Is she an orange Tabby cat perhaps? Rather chubby? Kindly even. Enjoys spending time with dogs…’ I inquired.
‘Why yes, that sounds like her’, she answered softly almost trying to hide it.
‘Anastasia, can you believe that woman with her cat!’, I heard Lilith’s voice boom then a screen door slam shut. ‘What are you doing near her fence?! Stay away from her and her cat!’ Lilith said as I heard her footsteps approach The Hedge-Spy’s side of the fence.
I chuckled then said, ‘You mean this cat?’ I held Xena straight up in the air with one hand under her belly, slightly higher than the fence. She looked down at me confused, Chewie jumped up on my leg to see what the commotion was about.
‘See this cat… is Xena. And she’s been in my backyard visiting my dog’, I brought Xena back down into my arms then stood on my tippy-toes and stared directly at The Block Gestapo who was sipping Lemonade. She coughed then sputtered.
‘Funny story, Lilith. Guess who this cat belongs to?’ I asked. I watched The Hedge-Spy’s eyes widen with fear, ‘Pardon?’ she asked.
‘Actually, it’s Anastasia’s cat’, I responded. I gave Xena a quick kiss and shoved her back over the fence to The Hedge Spy. She quickly grabbed her and looked at Lilith, their faces went beet red.
‘May I make a suggestion here? How about you knock it off with the passive aggressive notes on my vehicle, and you and Anastasia watch your garbage bins and please take care of your cat better. But she’s more than welcome to visit Chewie anytime. C’mon Chewie!’ I said as I started back to our porch. He followed.
I heard screaming between The Block Gestapo and The Hedge-Spy when I reached the porch with Chewie. It continued for a half -hour until another neighbour thinking someone was in trouble, called the cops.
The next trash day, I looked out our front window to see Xena crossing the boulevard. She was on her way back to The Block Gestapo and Hitler’s house once again. I shut the curtains and laughed.
¹ “The most entertaining obnoxious or completely insane notes written to neighbours.” http://happyplace.someecards.com/thinking-of-you/the-most-entertaining-obnoxious-or-completely-insane-notes-written-to-neighbors/ n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.