My wife had a pretty frantic week at work , so after we finished the morning chores Saturday, we took the mules up to the pond to let them graze while we sat looking at the water, talking abstractedly and sipping wine. We’ve been having some issues with a new neighbor across the street who thinks our fence line is the property line,when in actuality we placed the fence ten to twelve feet on our side so we could access and maintain it . He’s gated off our access road, partially because he’s a silly greedy bastard, and partially because he can’t help himself, being a white Southern male prone to all sorts of panics of both the sexual and financial variety. The few interactions I’ve had with him reminded me of my previous life as a bartender, long about 12:30 AM when you were virtually guaranteed to have to talk to some idiot (always male) with a stick up his ass about something and looking for a fight. I learned fairly early that you dish these fuckers off to one of the waitresses, who nine times out of ten can tell them they’re an asshole and to get the hell out without an ensuing spittle flecked display of impotent cracker rage. But there weren’t any waitresses, and I had to listen patiently while Mr. Mustache banged his dick on the dashboard of his pickup truck. At that point he wanted to use our land (there was no mention of rent payments) to plant Monsanto Roundup Ready Corn: a genetically engineered monstrosity that can pollinate non-hybrid seedstocks over distances of ten miles or greater. To do this (and he’d obviously been thinking it over for awhile) he was “gonna have to knock down all them old trees. They ain’t worth nothin’. You keep lettin’ em go like that an won’t nobody be able to walk in there.”

Well, Sweet Virginia, here I must pause to scrape the shit off of my shoes.  He was referring to a dense belt of “poverty pine” that we’ve grown to love because 1. Virginia Pine is native to this region, and 2. Ain’t nobody able to walk in there. Even motherfuckers who talk like Mick Jagger sings. 3. They will shield the view when, inevitably, some soulless grasping bastard clearcuts the adjoining property, leaving a hideous landscape of stumps, windrows of wasted timber and unsecured topsoil that turns into rivers of mud in the lightest of rainfalls simply because they must get their hands on every bit of goddamned money they can before someone jams their bloated ass in a box and inters them in one of those necropolises (necropoli?)  laid out like a mill village and resembling a miniature golf course. My wife says she can barely restrain herself from reminding the losers that they have two kidneys and they can sell one of those as well.

I told him I’d think about it, which is how I tell people FUCK NO.

He planted his corn on his own land which cracked open in the drought that summer and washed away in the fall floods, like it has every year for the past twenty. Score? Monsanto: several thousand dollars. Mustache: another run on federal crop insurance, provided courtesy of taxes on urban Yankees.

Where were we? Oh yeah. The pond.

People don’t walk here anymore. They use either a golf cart or an ATV to shift themselves, walking being a negative social signifier. But I was still somewhat surprised when we heard what my wife calls a “fourwheelit” approaching the pond from the east side of our property. This would be the side bordering the neighbor who is registered to vote in both Florida and North Carolina, and who purchased the abandoned farm next door to us to take advantage of government subsidies for conservation easements. Yes, he’s a Republican. Yes, he’s a prick. Shortly after he bought the farm, he constructed a number of heated deer blinds on the edge of the fields adjoining our property. This means that beginning in November, our woods and fields will be enfiladed from the goober rental property to the Southeast, the erectilly dysfunctional strivers to the East, the openly hostile brushface crouched in the Virginia pines he despises to the North, and to the Northwest, a mobile home park full of testy inbreds shooting at each other and sometimes missing.

I dislike this, because one of my few non-nebulous ambitions is to escape being shot in my lifetime. After that, just fire the fuck away. So the ATV mounted idiot pulls up to the edge of what could be our property ( I didn’t have the plat handy), and begins chainsawing a path through the ravine between us and the vote fraudster. I started to approach him directly and ask him what he was doing, but it occurred to me if he was in fact trespassing, and wielding a chainsaw, I might be a little short on body armor for such an encounter. So I just hung back and monitored his progress as he cut down saplings that might interfere with  the progress of his spluttering midlife crisis toy, and the chainsaw let me know where he was at all times, even when I couldn’t see him. I got to ghost him and play Sitting Bull to his Major Reno. The big problem was Sitting Bull was frequently monitoring from a spot filled with mosquitos and chiggers, and his testicles are somewhat raw today. Other than that, it was almost fun, until I remembered that the guy who couldn’t see me following him through the ravine is going to be parked in that ravine come this winter, shooting at things he believes he is seeing.

It occurs to me whether he is trespassing on our property or not, we are in vastly increased danger of being shot by a purblind sadass whose shell of an existence has left him with nothing but an overpowering need to match wits with ruminants.

This morning I got up and grabbed my compass and the plats and checked the path he cut through the saplings. He’s not on our property, not overtly. Still, when Tammie and I have been hiking that ravine, it always reminds me of  Magritte’s “The Blank Check”. You very quickly lose sight of each other, as well as sound. It’s not a safe hunting area. Sometimes I think these guys are trying to provoke an accident.

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