Trellis Passing (Flash Fiction)
The new neighbors were moving vans and glimpses behind curtains. In time, they became an electronic fiction behind a white trellis fence.
My dog could smell their vacancies. She was the first to tunnel under the fence, burrowing thawed peat moss and cedar. I followed, calling her name in the muck. On the other side, I saw her dive into their in-ground, the turf fleeing her fur to atomize chlorine, cerulean brown. I called but she was wading in the middle, a rippling furry epicenter orbited by brown and blue.
August windows, buttoned up tight, damask and Venetian, dared me to do it. The soil I carried slid off in the shock of the water, clothes and all. It reefed the uncertain tile floor of the pool with our cast away dirt. The dog paddled in circles.
Then something turned on. A buzz of machinic vibrato burbled and hissed the water. I did not have to call her then. I followed the dog up-pooling, out-yarded and sub-trellis, re-mucked and guilty in our own plot again, all singe and clay tilled by mounding fire ants.
The next time it happened my wife noticed the piston sniff, a certain pause and drag of the snout, and they shrank to muddy sandals thrashing at the lattice. I followed calling, rebirthed as Gauguin’s Tahitian, a patch of ochre on a patio made of sun. My wife and dog tested their wicker with delicious lethargy. I joined them.
The naugahyde of the rocking chair cracked in my sway and with closed eyes I imagined us staying all day, uncovering the canvas from the grill that cost more than Lonnie’s molar work last month and cooking out all the specials, until the other metal box crouched in rhododendra, sputtered an adjutant’s call in the key of H/VAC that evacuated us through loam and lattice.
One night, not long after, as the dog slept kicking phantom paths, I tunneled the lattice alone to the garden across their lawn, dripping wet with waxing moon. I wanted to add their mud to mine, so nestling into the furrows of their exotic fruits, jicama and pitaya, salsify and romanesco, I pulled one of their gourds from the earth like a buried skull, at the same time, I could hear the sounds of an antiquated modem connection rising from the vacated plug, yesterday’s dinner bell of static doing its adagio in two notes for tin oboes and vitriolas made of sand.
I used their pool to rinse the hybrid mud and returned through the lattice with a sadness that only neighbors and foiled thieves could understand.
< Originally published in Hobart >