Two neighbors Saul and Dennis, live side by side in a residential area. Saul is built like a refrigerator and lives in a colonial style home. Dennis is very tall and has a habit of hitting his head against things. His is a Spanish style home with vaulted ceilings. Established oak trees line the streets. Heat radiates off the pavement.
Saul pulls into his driveway one evening and crosses the lawn to Dennis’s front door.
“This tree is causing damage to my property,” says Saul, “Come, let me show you.”
“But I’m having dinner. Can I come after?” Says Dennis, a fork in his hand.
“Please come now.”
Dennis follows Saul to the invisible line that separates his lot from Saul’s. On top of that invisible line sits an oak tree. It’s roots jut out from the ground like city walls. Saul’s driveway has started to split and buckle.
“I have a land survey,” says Dennis, “that we can review, but in case this tree does sit on the property line, I’ll go 50/50 in getting the tree removed.”
“But I don’t want the tree removed,” says Saul. “I want a smooth driveway and a better house and a better car and a better life. But this tree is the start of it. It’s all because of this tree.”
Dennis stares at his neighbor. “I can’t help you with any of that,” he says, “except the tree. We can remove the tree.”
“But I don’t want to remove the tree. I want a front yard that doesn’t look like shit. And a better house, and a better job, and a better wife. It comes back to this tree.”
“Well, listen, I can’t help you with your driveway. Or your car or your house or your life. But I can help you with the tree. But you can keep the tree and still fix your driveway. Then you can have the oak tree and a nice driveway.”
Saul glares at Dennis. “Screw you, Dennis. Screw you and your Pollyanna advice! I’m not a child!”
Saul rages off across his lawn and into his front door. Dennis is left standing by the oak tree. It’s a good looking tree, Dennis thinks. It provides a lot of shade. It helps keep his house cool in the summertime and helps keep the electricity bills low.
Dennis returns to his house to eat his dinner, which is now room-temperature. As he’s loading the dishwasher, he thinks about the tree. He doesn’t want to remove the tree. What a pain in the ass it is to have a tree sitting on a property line.
Shattered glass jolts his attention to the front room. One of the arched windows facing the street is broken. There’s a brick on the floor wrapped in copy paper, attached with a rubber band. Dennis opens the note and reads.
You deserve this brick through your window for your stupid advice.
Dennis sweeps up the glass from the floor. A piece scratches the hardwood. He remembers the cardboard box from his new picture frames and covers the window with the cardboard. He searches the city website for tree ordinances.