Scandal rocked Retirement Acres this week as not one but TWO petitions were circulated through the neighborhood. We shall examine them in no particular order.
First we encounter Mrs V as she presents a petition ultimately destined for the city council to the evening gathering of neighborhood gentlemen. Having solved the world’s problems, they turn their attention to Mrs V, who is so mad her nostrils are flaring.
“They want to put in a barbecue place!” She announced dramatically.
“Where?” Asked Mr Frogman (occupation, not name.)
“When?” Asked Mr Glenn.
She is not sure which question to answer first and so plunges ahead with her prepared remarks.
“It’s going to be right out on Ridge Road! Think of the traffic! Think of all the trees that will be cut down!” (…in her backyard.)
“Think of the convenience,” muses Mr John.
“You reckon we could walk over there?”
“You’d have to cross the ravine,” Dad points out. “But we could build a bridge.”
Mr John, also an engineer, and Mr Frogman, a combat veteran, both nod as they ponder the complexities involved and also start strategizing to make someone else, probably Dad, get the permit. Not because he’s the best at dealing with city bureaucracy (whoa, nelly.), but because he’s the youngest.
“It’ll make the property values drop!” Mrs V continues, oblivious to the concerns of her audience. “We need 500 signatures before we can present it at the next city council meeting. Which is day after tomorrow, so chop chop.”
“Mrs V, we ain’t got but 175 houses in Retirement Acres,” Mr Glenn points out. “If everyone who lives here signs, that won’t be enough.”
She huffs out an annoyed breath.
“Obviously we’re also going to Hidden Agenda and Salmon Run. Of course there aren’t enough people here. And then we have a committee who’s agreed to go to God’s Waiting Room to get those signatures.”
This will surely not go well, as the aged residents of God’s Waiting Room are still quite resentful that their farmland was turned into subdivisions and they sold the land for a *lot* less than it turned out to be worth. They could, upon reflection, have asked twice as much and could now live somewhere besides a two lane road that backs up to Retirement Acres.
“Shouldn’t we wait to see if the barbecue is any good?”
The conversation ends abruptly as the Retirement Acres tribal council votes to see what kind of sides they serve before committing themselves.
The second petition of the night is presented by a younger woman whose mother is an esteemed resident. She is so angry that she’s vibrating, disturbing the air around her with barely contained fury at the inefficiencies inherent in local government.
“There are coyotes in the neighborhood!” She announces dramatically.
“There are also deer, fox, and possum,” Mr Frogman points out. “So?”
“So they’re rabid!”
“So are raccoons,” Mr John points add, mentally adding that they’re going to have to move these meetings somewhere less prone to interruption. Like Mexico. “We have those too.”
“Have you actually seen one?” Dad asks. “Or have you just heard them? Because you know that’s why they have donkeys over at Coyote Creek Farm.”
“They have donkeys over there?” She is momentarily perplexed, but shakes it off, refusing to be deterred. “I called Animal Control, and do you know what they said to me?”
“That it’s called Coyote Creek for a reason?” Mr John murmurs to Dad, who nearly chokes on his cigar. It’s not lit. It’s not like he’s a smoker. Unlike Mr Frogman, who has started to study the bowl of his pipe with a frown usually reserved for his troublesome sons. Once the scourge of the neighborhood, one is now a police officer while the other married the daughter of a preacher. Nobody is sure what to think.
“They said they wouldn’t come get the coyotes!” In her righteous fury, she is louder than she intended to be.
At Dr W’s house, the porch lights flash on. Mrs Gwen checks to see that all is well at the tribal council before returning to her novel. Only later will she recognize her error: turning on the porch light alerted the petition-bearing neighbor to the fact that she’s home. It’s gonna be a while before she gets back to that novel.
“How do you even know we have them?” Mr Frogman asks. Again. His squad of trained ninja cats could easily be mistaken for one crafty Coyote, but he didn’t get where he is today by volunteering intelligence like that.
“Mrs Connie’s cat got in a fight with one,” she announces.
“A coyote ate Mrs Connie’s cat?” Mr John repeats.
“Well, no. Not exactly.”
“How do you know, exactly, that it was a coyote and not a raccoon? Raccoons will eat cat food and of course Demon is not going to care for that,” Dad points out reasonably.
He is still somewhat miffed that they probably won’t get to build a bridge. He has an idea for a drawbridge that could be—
“Its tail,” the young woman mumbles.
“A coyote pulled off Demon’s tail?!” This is news.
“No. Demon pulled off part of the coyote’s tail. Connie found him playing with it this morning.”
The men ponder on this separately.
“But I’ve got a petition, and if you’ll all—“
“To force Animal Control to come trap the coyotes?” Mr Glenn asks, just to be sure they haven’t gone back to talking about barbecue. He also wonders if Bruce is hungry and how he feels about cole slaw. (He does not care for it.)
“Even though they said they wouldn’t,” Mr Frogman reiterates. Mrs Frogman might like a coyote coat. But he is somewhat disconcerted that the ninja cats have not reported on this coyote incident. On the other hand, they’re not stupid. It’s a much better use of their time to spy from their cat bases or sneak up on Bruce (to keep their skills sharp) than to tangle with Demon.
“But if enough of us called—“
“That’s not their policy, Mr John points out. “They don’t trap and release. You’re better off just letting everyone know to be on the lookout for the coyotes.”
They realize the next morning, when the neighborhood is covered in signs warning that coyotes will carry off loose items, pets, and small children, that they should have helped her craft a more specific message than “coyotes will eat your children.”
Live and learn, gentlemen. Live and learn.