Donít Buy Me This Crap, Will You?
Daphne Buter

 

After I had woken up the birds this morning, I went inside to do some writing. The words didn’t arrive. I thought it might be a good idea to look outside and write about something I saw out there. I gazed through my window and saw a heron on top of the roof of our neighbour’s house. That’s all I saw. At that moment our cat, who is named A Dog, started howling. The heron looked at A Dog with a majestic eye, jumped up like a feather-rocket, shrieked in the sky, and landed gracefully in the garden of my neighbour Angel.

My neighbour Angel is an interesting man. Interesting, because he’s so colourless and dull, he should be buried right away. His hair is gray, like burned and ashy brushwood. His eyes, I’ve never seen eyes like it. His eyes are small clouds on a rainy day. And what about his first name? Only God would call a man like Angel, Angel.

Angel almost never speaks a word to me. He’s not like that. He is a man of little words. In the ten years he’s lived in the house next door, he’s maybe spoken one word a year to me.


Another thing is very fascinating about Angel. He duplicates the looks of the gardens of my other neighbours. First I have to explain something about my other neighbours, who are much like Angel in some ways. All of them are fond of working in their gardens. For several mysterious reasons the gardens always look the same. Sometimes I look in books about garden flowers to figure out the obscurity of my neighbours’ minds. There are thousands of flowers, but all our neighbours seem to like gardenias and chrysanthemums. Our street is one elongated border with gardenias and chrysanthemums. For many years that’s all I saw. I absolutely hate gardenias and chrysanthemums because of this. I hate their colours and their smell. I hate them just as much as I hate my neighbours.

Recently one neighbour, George, decided to make a little pool in his garden. It was absolutely the gossip of the day. All the other neighbours ran outside to watch the spectacle. George had bought an ugly black tub in the shape of a kidney. He excavated a hole in his garden, a hole in the shape of a kidney, and pressed the tub inside it. Around the edge of the giant kidney he’d put big rocks, and a gigantic plastic dwarf with a red penis sticking out of his pants. All together it was more than ugly; it was Armageddon on a summer’s day. Just imagine what I have to bear during my stay on planet Earth.

Surprisingly all the neighbours loved it. They clapped their hands and smiled with happiness. They pointed their fingers at the penis of the dwarf and blushed and giggled because plastic turns them on.


I went outside to take some pictures. I never get used to human beings, especially not my neighbours.

The next day the kidney was filled with water and some water plants. Reflective goldfish swam in circles. The plastic dwarf peed water in the water.

A few weeks later all our neighbours had excavated kidney-shaped holes in their gardens; had pressed kidney-shaped tubs in them; had bought goldfish and some water plants; and had a dirty plastic dwarf to pee in it.

Including Angel.

This morning after I had woken up the birds, I saw that heron on top of the roof of Angel’s house. I saw it watching our cat, A Dog, and I saw it landing in Angel’s garden.

A few minutes later I saw the heron again, with a goldfish in his beak this time.

I just kept writing this story. I thought, We cannot battle nature, no matter how hard we try.

After I had finished writing this story, I went outside for a walk. When I’d left the house, Angel waved at me from his garden. I tried to avoid him but he didn’t let me. He spoke to me a lot of words.

He said, “Listen, do you have a cat?”

“A Dog.”

“Right. I thought so. Well, I need to explain something to you.”

“That’s OK. What’s on your heart, Angel?”

“I’m missing a goldfish and because I missing a goldfish I have to warn you I shall kick A Dog to death if I see him in my garden.” He rubbed his chin with nervous fingers. “I strongly recommend you tie up that wild animal and keep it in your house.” His ashy eyes blazed poison in my face.

I said, “Well, I saw a heron in your garden this morning.”

Angel laughed his porcelain teeth naked and said, “Nope. Come and have a look in my garden, woman. Follow me, please.”

I followed Angel to his garden. He showed me a plastic heron on one leg. It was standing beside the pissing dwarf. It looked very much like the heron I had seen this morning.

“Listen,” I said, “I saw a real heron. It was on top of your roof and landed in your garden. A minute later I saw it in the sky with a goldfish in his beak.”

Angel shook his head and said, “That’s impossible. That’s not reality. This plastic heron is designed to keep real herons off my property.”

He raised his index finger right before my eyes, ready to stitch my eyeballs out. His voice grew huge. “I’ve paid a lot of money for this creature. Wise men have studied the effects of this plastic heron on real herons. Don’t buy me this crap, will you? I’m not afraid to kick you to death first, before I kill A Dog who is in fact a rotten cat. You see things that are not real, you stupid bitch.”

My neighbour Angel had spoken. I had nothing more to say. I went inside and read this story over.

 


I live in the Netherlands. Holland is a small rusty freckle on the map of Europe. Only the Dutch can tell you where to find it. No one wears clogs here anymore. Only our grand-grand-grand-grandparents did, and they were Neanderthals. I was born in Amsterdam, the capital city of Holland. (I know what you are thinking but prove you know where Amsterdam is located on the globe.) I am a writer. I have published two books with De Bezige Bij & Thomas Rap publishers. Translated stories are published in Snow Monkey (print) and upcoming in Cadenza UK (print), and now in FRiGG. I wrote the stories that are published in FRiGG directly in English.


“Don’t Buy Me This Crap, Will You?” has the same theme I keep repeating. What is real and what isn’t? The good thing about writing is I can do things in a story, mentioning in the story I did these things after I wrote that story. It is OK if you can’t quite make sense of this. I am a swindler.

 

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