Once again a feral hog has torn up a portion of our backyard, the area between the septic system and the live oak.
“Perhaps you should sprinkle the area with crushed red peppers,” I tell David, thinking that the hot flavor would be off-putting to a hog.
David wants to look it up online. What do other people do when hogs go after their grass? But we haven’t had internet for a few days. He canceled Zeecon because it was slow and sporadic, and our new provider has a cap on gigabytes per month. We used a month’s worth in less than a week, and we don’t even stream. Calling the provider, David asks for proof of our usage. But it seems no record is kept.
“Are you telling me that you have no way to prove that I actually used this much,” he asks, “when I’m telling you that I absolutely did not?”
His tone is calm and condescending, the way he speaks when he’s decided that he’s talking to an idiot. Because he’s on speakerphone, I’m able to hear both sides of the conversation. The man on the other end agrees with David that of course there should be some kind of record, but there isn’t. This is the way the system works, he says, and he’s sorry that David’s unhappy. So David tells him that he no longer wants to use their service, at which point he’s told that he’ll be charged three hundred dollars for breaking the contract.
“But you broke the contract when you didn’t provide the service,” David says. Once again the representative agrees that David has been treated unfairly. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be charged the three hundred.
Fed up, David ends the call. He calls three other providers in the area. Two of them do not service our development, Capstone Ranch. Another one says he’ll be over the next day to get it set up. But he never shows. After staying home most of the day, David calls and asks the man when he’s coming.
“We don’t operate in that area,” the guy says.
“I’ve been waiting all day. You should have called and told me.”
“Zeecon comes out there,” the guy advises. Zeecon. The one David cancelled. David thanks him and says good-bye.
“I have a great plot for your new book,” he tells me. “It’s about what happens when a person can’t get internet in the year 2016 and he goes crazy.” He looks at me like he expects me to run and start on it right away.
“I’m working on something else right now,” I say. He does have good ideas sometimes, but this isn’t one of them. “Does anybody else have a hog problem?”
“Elton says hogs don’t bother him because of his dog.”
This is a sore point with me. Elton’s dog wanders. How can Elton claim he loves his dog when he doesn’t pen him? Dogs have no sense. They are not people. They don’t understand what a car or truck can do to them. One of these days Elton’s beautiful sweet dog is going to be found dead out on 401. Stupid Elton.
“What we need,” David continues, “is a motion-activated dog barking device. I could order it online if we had internet.”
“I’d rather not be disturbed by fake barking at three in the morning. And when it comes on, what are you going to do—run outside and yell at the hog?”
“I’ll shoot it.” He makes this claim, though we aren’t gun people.
“And then we’d have a dead hog out there.”
David calls Zeecon, who doesn’t hold a grudge. They come out the next morning. When it’s time for me to go to Mahjong, I go looking for David to let him know I’m leaving. He’s out on the back deck, looking upward as the two guys mess with the antenna on the roof.
“How’s it going?” I ask, carrying blind little Trip down the steps and carefully setting him in the grass to do his business.
“They’ve got no line of sight. They’re reclaiming their antenna.”
“That can’t be right. We had internet with them before.” I follow his gaze. Yep, they’re removing, not installing.
“They changed tower locations. They’re recommending Rise.”
Four hours later, when I get home from Mahjong, there’s a new antenna poking straight up from the highest point of our roof. David comes out to meet me on the driveway, and we both look up at it. It’s massive, dominating, completely disrupting the lines of our house. The whole cul de sac is going to grumble.
Wayne drives by, rolling to a stop when he sees the monstrosity. He leans forward and gawks upward as we go out to the street to explain.
“Are you having hog problems?” David asks.
“Oh yeah,” Wayne tells him. “What I’ve done is put out mothballs. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it can’t hurt.”
Mothballs. Of course. Much more repulsive than crushed red peppers.