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On Gloria and Albert and the dog-hating surprise packages

Albert gardened for Gloria. He had a green thumb … and a mean streak. And he hated dogs.

Gloria lived next door, but she never came out of her house, and no one ever mustered the gumption to ring her bell.  (Except maybe Albert.)

Truth be told, we were terrified of Gloria, even though she appeared quite frail and advanced in years. Once, she might have shrieked at Bobby Billinger. Another time, she may have swerved towards Sukie Jameson on her tricycle. The stories grew from there, veiled in as much mystery as the dusty lace curtains that swirled across her dark front windows.

When we went trick-or-treating, we skipped Gloria’s house, certain that she would put razors in her apples, cyanide in her chocolates, or hemlock in her popcorn balls. Perhaps she would not answer the door at all.

Gloria’s gardener Albert was even worse.

We were never actually sure how Albert fit into the whole Gloria equation. Clearly, he puttered around in her yard and garden. We had heard he received mail at her house. Stories swirled around the neighborhood, pointing at more, but no one got close enough to ask any untoward questions.

Anyway, this elderly fellow faithfully manicured Gloria's lawn and gardens. As we played in our yard, we would often peek through the bordering shrubs and watch him hunch over her pachysandra and pluck weeds from her plantings.

We would dare each other to sneak up behind old Albert and snap his suspenders, but I'm pretty sure no one ever did.

As kids, we romped all over the neighborhood, in and out of every yard. Every yard except Gloria’s.

We would run and jump and tumble with Panda, our family dog of unknown heritage. Occasionally, the ball would fall in Gloria’s yard, and we would play “Rock-Paper-Scissors” to determine who had to muster up the courage to fetch it. Even the dog seemed afraid to cross the border.

Rumor had it that little Jimmy Jacobsen from a few blocks over stepped off the sidewalk onto Gloria’s lawn. Although his sneaker missed her front garden bed by more than a foot, Albert supposedly looked up and growled at the kid.

One autumn weekend, as I helped my dad to rake leaves in our yard, we discovered a surprise. My father lifted some branches in the bushes between our property and Gloria’s. Nestled in the fallen leaves, we found something shiny.

“What is this?” Dad asked.

He bent and pickup up a zippered plastic bag, filled with dog droppings. Puzzled, we continued raking and unearthed more than a dozen bags, all filled neatly sealed and filled with dog doo.

Albert had neatly packaged it up and launched it into our yard. Perhaps Panda was braver than we thought! From that day on, we kept a much closer eye on Panda. She never entered Gloria’s domain again. Who would dare?

Brown Dog –
ABSpic public domain photo

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