The next week, a trailer appeared on a piece of land midway up the lane. Again, Vic had thought the land in question was part of the lots on either side, not a separate lot.
The appearance of the trailer meant that within two years (the Township did have one bylaw), a cottage would be built. She hoped they’d hire the local construction crew. It would be done in three weeks, Monday to Friday, nine to five. If they did it themselves, there’d be no telling how many years it would take.
It also meant that, in the meantime, they’d have to pay just $200 a year in property taxes instead of something closer to $2,000. Even though they’d use the roads, the dump, the library — scratch that, what was she thinking—even though they’d use the roads and the dump just as much. More, probably.
And since they probably wouldn’t pay to hook up to hydro until they started building, it meant that everyone on Paradise Lake would hear their generator whenever they wanted to watch TV. They’d probably also hear their TV, given how loud it would have to be to be audible over the generator.
When she paddled past, on her way up the river, she saw that the teenaged son was up with all of his friends. Three tents were set up around the trailer.
She thought for a minute. Had she seen an outhouse? Or would there be sh***ing in the bush. Ten feet from the lake.
She heard a belch. A long, extended belch.
A lot of sh***ing in the bush.
She considered giving a heads-up to the woman down-current with the red bathing suit who swam every day. Scratch that. Used to swim every day. (The jetslams near-slammed into her one day.)
She thought nothing more of them until well after she’d returned. Until two o’clock in the morning, in fact. At which time the bongo drums started.
They probably have a fire too, she thought, as she set aside her work and headed out.
It was that whole primeval thing again. Sitting by a fire, sending messages by drum, chowing down on a mammoth… What’s next, she wondered as she got to their driveway, hurling spears?
Something whizzed by, just missing her face.
“What the f***?” she screamed as she dove into the bush.
“Sorry!” How he’d heard her, given the bongos, she had no idea.
She picked herself up and walked in.
They had one of those straw targets set up on the driveway. Its back to the road. See what she meant by the drop in IQ due to all that DEET and two-stroke engine fumes?
It was, she noticed, as yet unpunctured.
“Give me that thing,” she said to the nearest 20-something, the one with the bow and arrow in his hand. He handed it over. She loaded the arrow and fired it into his leg.
“F***!” he started hopping.
“And enough with the bongos!” she screamed.
They stared at her.
“There’s a fire ban,” she said then, searching for the one in charge. The one with half a brain.
“What’s a fire ban?” someone asked.
“We haven’t had rain for over two weeks,” she explained. “No outdoor fires are allowed.”
She waited for it. Altogether now, ‘We can do whatever we want on our own property!’
Surprisingly enough, they were silent. Probably still trying to figure out the relevance of rain to fires.
“Suppose that thing,” she pointed to the six-foot high blaze, “throws a spark.” She bent down, picked up a rock, and tossed it into the fire. Some of those present — not all, note — moved back from the shower of sparks.
Unfortunately, one of the sparks landed on one of the tents. Nylon, it blazed immediately.
Sh**. She looked around, but they didn’t have buckets of water at the ready. Of course not.
“Call 911!” she screamed. Her cabin was just five lots away.
“And enough with the bongos!”
But as quickly as it had blazed, the tent, now an ex-tent, had congealed into a sad, melted marshmallow.
— Jass Richards
Jass Richards has a master’s degree in philosophy and used to be a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants. In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head,” followed by its sequel Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun. Her most recent novel, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God, can be purchased (in print and various e-formats) at all the usual online places.