It’s Thanksgiving. Be thankful you don’t live in this neighborhood. But, if you do, then never mind.
In a rural, upscale housing development two neighbors share a passion for yard care. Bill pounces like a tiger on anything that lands in his crystal clear swimming pool. Zino fanatically scouts his lawn for any blemish to the putting-green surface.
In this episode we’ll watch them use the gifts of communication and compassion to delicately assist one another toward the goal of becoming complete baboons.
It started so innocently. A child helping his dad clean the yard tossed hedge clippings over the fence to finish quicker. When the neighbor discovered the dried stems scattered on his lawn, he threw them back.
Bill, the original owner of the clippings, didn’t realize they were his and again tossed them across the fence. This agricultural exchange continued for several days.
A note was skewered to the chain link. “Returning your trash from my yard. Added leaves that blew over from your trees.- Zino”
Bill impaled a return note on the same fence. “If my leaves can’t drift into your yard, then the smell from your dog pen can’t drift into mine. Tear it down.”
The next day Bill was supervising his son’s pellet rifle target practice. A bird flew across both yards and landed in a tree on Zino’s property. The temptation was too great for the boy. He aimed and fired. The shot missed the bird but glanced off the tree trunk and harmlessly clinked off a window of Zino’s house.
Zino appeared holding a shot gun. “If you’re shooting into my yard, I’m shooting into yours!” he shouted as he raised the barrel and fired straight up. Seconds later a rain of buckshot peppered the surface of Bill’s swimming pool.
Turn about was fair play to Bill who got his shotgun and returned a twelve gauge volley across Zino’s perfect lawn. For twenty minutes the warriors sent barrages of buckshot arcing through space to litter the opponents manicured property.
Hundreds of lead dots accumulated on the bottom of the pool. This didn’t suit Bill at all so he brought out a pistol. “Let’s see how your perfect little lawn likes a three-fifty-seven!,” and he fired several rounds into Zino’s yard. Each round blew up an ugly divot as it entered the grassy carpet.
Finally the boy could take no more. “Dad, what are you two doing!?”
The voice of the child conjured the voice of reason. Both men stood dumb-struck at what had just transpired. They somberly promised to never again raise fire arms against the other’s lawn.
Zino spied a pine cone in his yard next to the fence. He didn’t own a pine tree but Bill did. “OK” Zino said as he picked up the pine cone, “we can be friends again, but I’m keeping the dog pen.” He casually tossed the cone over the fence into Bill’s yard.
“The plat restrictions say you can’t put up a dog pen!” Bill yelled as he picked up the pine cone and tossed it back at Zino’s feet.
“The restrictions don’t even mention a dog pen” Zino returned angrily, and he threw back the pine cone along with a piece of shot-up turf.
“They say no obnoxious activity,” Bill responded as he once again stooped for the pine cone and scanned the ground for something extra to throw with it.
Zino decided a preemptive strike was in order so he charged into the nearby dog pen and scooped up a handful of the ultimate weapon.
With ammunition in hand they faced off across the chain link. Each glared at the other with tight-jawed, squinty-eyed rage. For several moments nothing happened. Just waiting. Then suddenly each was blind-sided by an irresistible surge of common sense.
“What are we doing?” each asked himself. “I’m a grown man. This is ridiculous.”
Bill knew that throwing a hard pine cone at this close range could really hurt Zino. He didn’t want that. He dropped his ammunition and relaxed his stance.
Zino realized that throwing his dog-pen-grenade could only make matters worse. “Also,” he thought feeling the stickiness in his fist, “It was a really bad idea to pick it up bare handed.”
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