Short Story Sunday: Dale

My neighbors on the left side have two cats and a dog. The dog is some sort of medium size Lab mix. The cats are an orange and white tabby looking thing, and a solid black cat. The neighbor behind me has a calico cat and an Australian Shepard. I have a black cat, and sometimes pet sit for my friend James.

The neighbor on the right side of me has a 11.5 foot alligator in his backyard. Alligators live between 30 and 50 years. I have no idea how old Dale is. That is the alligator’s name. Dale.

Gary, the guy who lives in the house to the right of me said Dale was there when he moved in ten years ago. Buddy and Martha Basterone who lived there before Gary said Dale was there when they moved in. None of their kids wanted him so they left him after retiring to Hawaii. The Basterones lived there for 23 years. Before that nobody lived in the house for 20 years. It was kept up by the family of the original owner who passed away. His name was Melvin Carter. He lived alone after building the house in 1936 for a woman named Susan who would never marry him. 

Maybe Susan never married Melvin because of Dale. Maybe it was Melvin’s habit of standing on the front porch at 5:00 am wearing nothing but his underwear and smoking cigars. It could have also been Dale. Or it could have been the fact that Melvin was a chronic skirt chaser who couldn’t keep it in his pants. I think it was Dale.

As far as I know Dale has never eaten a neighborhood dog or cat. Martha once told me he’d eaten a skunk. That didn’t go over too well. For the next month every time Dale would burp the entire yard would stink to high heaven.

Gary is in his early 30’s and getting married soon. He and his fiancé Olivia put off their wedding due to Covid. People have asked them if they’re keeping Dale. That is due to the fact that they’re trying for a baby soon.

“Buddy and Martha had three kids and raised them around Dale. He has an enclosure with a pond that he never leaves, even when the door is open. I don’t know where Dale would go,” said Olivia.

At night I can hear Dale making his gator noises. I’ll miss that. Even though Gary and Olivia had planned on keeping Dale he is moving soon. Our zoo lost their alligator to old age and has agreed on adopting Dale. He’ll be in a larger area with a real pond he can swim in and plenty of attention. 

Gary said he wants to adopt a couple of cats as soon as Dale is gone. 

My kids are in college and will miss seeing Dale when they come home for breaks and holidays. I told them they’d get to see him at the zoo. They said it isn’t the same as throwing raw chicken pieces over the fence.

All things change. One day you have an alligator as a neighbor and the next day you have cats next door. 

Good luck Dale. It was nice having you near. We’ll keep in touch.

~ end

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