I live in an 'on-the-verge' neighbourhood of New Town. In one block that way are well cared for and stately Victorian homes, very genteel and well-behaved. One block over that way is an eclectic mix of down-at-the-heels neglected houses, snug little cottages, and charming older homes recently - or in the process of being - lovingly and carefully restored to health. My neighbours are as diverse an assortment of humanity.
Take the hootin' and hollerin' fella in the house next door. I live on the second floor of a century home converted into five flats. He lives on the third floor of the house beside me. His deck - which he enjoys with great regularity - overlooks my kitchen entrance. On the day I first moved a few belongings in, he was propped against his deck railing having a smoke and said hello. Friendly enough to be sure, but I have never quite got over the habit of treating neighbours as if they are invisible and expecting the same consideration from them. Not to mention, the deck is just so... close. When I know he is out there and I am either coming home or going out, I tend to scurry up and down the stairs as unobtrusively as I can. Let your imagination make me as ridiculous as it can. I really do wish I had invisibility super powers!
I soon discovered Mr Hootin' and hollerin' is a very generous gent. He shares his second-hand-smoke generously (sometimes of the whacky tobacky variety), his phone conversations, and even his music. He occasionally has his friends over to help him with the sharing and because there are more of them, they tend to have more to share for much longer periods of time.
For the most part he is tolerably well-behaved. Observing his comings and goings surreptitiously, I am puzzled by his circumstances. My nosiness supposes he may be a single father with part-time custody of a little girl. He does have full custody of a dog, however.
And so enters the main character of this little tale: Harley. Harley, though well-behaved and pretty to look at, is not the brightest four legged creature I have ever come across. I can tell this because, when Mr. H-n-H lets Harley out to take care of business, Harley has to be told each and every time, many times over, in a carrying voice to "Go pee, Harley, go pee." There are never any other instructions, no other conversation, no other interaction to confuse the dog, just that one injunction repeated four or five times at 6 in the morning and 11.30 at night. Perhaps Harley has short term memory loss? Does that happen to dogs? I do think there is a fortune to be made in doggie-sized mic and ear receiver technology, like the secret service uses to communicate. That way Mr H-n-H could relay those private instructions to Harley alone.
The coast is clear... perfect time for me to sneak out.