Enough already, Gerard thinks. From his home office over the garage, he watches a speckled Great Dane take a massive crap on his St. Augustine lawn. I’m not going to put up with this anymore.
The Dane is not alone; his owner stands proudly next to him, with a side part in his hair and a pair of glasses that would have gotten him punched in the face back in the sixties. But now those glasses mean he’s trendy, or so Gerard has heard from his daughter, who’s always talking about things he doesn’t understand.
The dog owner is nameless, but Gerard has seen him several times before, perhaps nearing a hundred. He lives just around the corner in one of the smaller houses on the block, a white brick one with dark green shutters.
Sometime around April the Dane decided that Gerard’s lawn was prime pooping ground. October is here now. It is not the first time a dog has crapped on his lawn, but on other occasions an owner might look around nervously and hurry the dog along or even pick up the number two with one of those tiny doggy bags from a roll the size of adding machine paper. But Side Part has zero shame. He’s belligerent.
The first time, Gerard was surprised when Side Part didn’t pick up the poop. Maybe he ran out of bags, he thought, generously. The second time, Gerard was furious but figured it couldn’t possibly happen again. But it did. After the third time, Gerard put up a “Keep Off Lawn” sign that he made using red spray paint and stencils on the reverse of an old Mitt Romney campaign sign. That deterred Side Part for a couple of weeks, but then he was back.
After two more occurrences, Gerard waited for Side Part and the Dane, peeking through the wide-slatted blinds of his office. When he spotted them, he ran down the stairs, burst through the front door, and confronted them.
“Look,” he said, a bit out of breath. “I’ve put up a notice here.” He gestured with an open palm towards the backwards lawn sign.
“Yeah?” Side Part raised his eyebrows, feigning ignorance or surprise.
“I work hard on this lawn, cutting it, fertilizing it, weeding it, maintaining the sprinkler system.”
Side Part blinked behind black-rimmed glasses with lenses the size of coasters. Gerard noticed that his shirt read ‘Think Globally, Act Locally.’
Gerard swallowed hard. “So what I’m saying is, I don’t want your dog pooping on my grass. Got it?”
“Sure,” Side Part said, sauntering off. He made no attempt to remove the steaming brown cow pie on the distressed lawn.
That encounter had kept them away for about a month. But they came back, leaving feces one to two times a week, for months. Gerard had decided that his lot in life was to be a pooper scooper for an animal he didn’t own—a colossal dog who produced as much fecal matter in one go as Gerard did in an entire week. He didn’t even like dogs, but what was he supposed to do? Call the police?
But today, something snaps. Gerard fantasizes about punching Side Part’s lights out, sees the blood spatter on his broken glasses and girly large-buttoned cardigan. But that’s not Gerard’s style.
Instead, he waits for them to leave, picks up and throws away a shovelful of excrement, then goes inside to down a tall, gritty glass of Metamucil. That night, he tells his wife he’s got a project due, and he waits in his office until two a.m.
When his wife is snoring and the neighborhood is still, Gerard leaves the house quietly and paces in the front yard until he feels he’s ready. Finally, it’s time.
He walks briskly over to Side Part’s house and confirms that the windows are dark. No barking from the dog, so it must be inside. He picks a spot next to a viburnum bush that partially blocks him from the view of the street, then drops his jeans and squats against the shrub.
After admiring his deposit, he realizes he has failed to bring toilet paper. No matter. He will change his underwear when he gets home. Pulling his pants up, he decides to take a picture of his work. The phone flashes quickly and the photo is clear.
He traipses awkwardly home, already a little itchy. After he’s in the house and cleaned up, he connects the cable from his phone to the computer and prints out the picture in full color, size eight by eleven. He tapes it next to the window, to the right of his beautifully framed diplomas, and thinks this is his biggest accomplishment yet.
Miranda Divett González is an MFA student at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her work has appeared in Monkeybicycle, GNU Journal, and Heart Online. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and three children. Find her on Twitter at @miranda_write.