The early bird neighbors with jobs notice it on their way out, their headlights reflecting off of the white plastic pile of 15 stuffed, smelly trash bags dumped on the side of our dark, dead-end dirt road.
Hours later, our elderly Norwegian neighbor Lou points it out to the Bearded One on his “morning” walk — “Would you look at that?” Lou says he has called the county and the Health Department. Coyotes will get into it, sure enough. Tarping it would be useless.
As they talk, another neighbor’s girlfriend drives by, then stops and backs up. We met her at Momma Goose’s when Jonah killed our Thanksgiving turkey. Now Jonah’s girlfriend commiserates with Lou and the Bearded One over the disgusting pile, and then offers to take it to Momma Goose’s to burn, so long as it’s okay with Momma Goose.
I feel the energy the second the Bearded One opens the door and comes into the kitchen. I’m cooking — bread, casserole, chili. He tells me the story and I say, “I love our neighbors. I love our road.” I’m with Emerson, I say, who preferred neighborhoods to communes. The Bearded One has his lawyer hat on and isn’t feeling it. He’s on a mission from God.
This is the 4th time in 5 years for such a big trash dump, and often as not it is him who cleans it up, hauls it to the dump and pays the fee. He says it would sure be nice to ID the culprit and let the county hammer on them a bit. Still, we’ve checked with the county before and never gotten so much as our hopes up. Trash dumping on rural roads is nothing new, and not a county priority at all.
He calls Momma Goose to check out Jonah’s girlfriend’s offer. She is also cooking. Making sausage. She says she doesn’t want to burn it — who knows what’s in it? — but she offers to take it to the dump in her truck this afternoon. The Bearded One tells her that Lou has called the county. Maybe they’ll take it. Maybe we won’t need her truck.
I overhear this and shake my head. The county won’t come. The hopeful thing this time, though, is that Lou is calling the Health Department. Something new. We don’t have to wait long to find out.
The phone rings and it’s Lou. The Health Department has arrived (how the hell did he do that?) and the Bearded One is out the door.
An hour later, the Bearded One is back and ready to talk. It’s the same story he tells the assembled group of neighbors a day later while he fills potholes from the recent snow storm.
Momma Goose came with her pickup. Jonah and his girlfriend, Lou and the Bearded One all helped the Health Department lady, a redhead in her 30s, open all the putrid bags — some had diapers, which sent Momma Goose to gagging — and sorted through them for pieces of I.D.
They found three pieces, including a car registration, but the Health Department said it wasn’t enough. The evidence needed is 3 items on one human. They found 2 items on the wife, 1 on the husband. Jonah even knew the people, or at least knew who they were. Not the best folk, apparently.
Then they re-bagged the garbage. The Health Department lady said that the county wouldn’t pick it up for days, so Jonah and his girlfriend took it to the dump. Several other passing neighbors stopped as this was going on and offered cash for the dump fee. Momma Goose headed home for a long, hot shower.
The Bearded One finished the story, and laid the Health Department lady’s card on the kitchen table. “Oh, well, she kept the evidence,” he said with some satisfaction. “She said that she had NEVER, EVER had neighbors go through the trash with her and help out like that. She was a little bit choked up.”
This made my day. It doesn’t look like a neighborhood out here, but we’ve got great neighbors. I serve the Bearded One a delicious lunch.
Whodumptit? Who cares?