A fictional story just for fun and inspired by the US Homestead Act, 1862. Canada was chosen since it is my nearest international neighbor, and is in no way meant to reflect Canada, its policies or its people. My grandfather immigrated from Canada so it is close to my heart 🙂
There is a man in my garden. When I saw him early this morning at sunrise I didn’t think too much about it — maybe he was looking for his lost dog, after all. But then he took a shovel and started digging, and now I had a problem.
I stepped out on the porch and demanded, “Hey there, what are you doing?”
I startled him. He stopped his shoveling and looked at me. “I am from Canada,” he said by way of explanation.
“What are you talking about? ” I asked. And then I noticed his tent in my backyard. He had a tent pitched square in my backyard. Behind the tent, he’d parked his car, and a woman (his wife?) and a young child were building a fire near my cedar tree.
“Just what in the heck are you doing?” I asked again.
“I’m digging an outhouse,” he said. “At least until I get my house built.”
“Again, what are you talking about?”
“I’m from Canada,” he said again, and extracted a parchment from his pocket. In fact, it was a deed issued by the government of Canada, entitling one “Joseph Pickens” to my land. It even listed my specific address. “I was given this land by the Canadian government, and it is legally mine.”
“Are you nuts?? I live here. This is my house. You are on my property. Take your family and get off! And don’t put your tent or your car on my lawn again!”
“But I am from Canada. This is my land.” He was a mixture of bemused and increasingly indignant.
Now, I’d had enough. I was a fit and muscular man, and I used these muscles to my advantage: I grabbed Joseph Pickens by the collar, walked him to the street and threw him to the ground. “Now try coming on my property again,” I said, standing over him. If I’d been a gorilla, I would have beat my chest, but I am a human so instead towered over him with my hands on my hips. Later, I’d realize I was wearing only a half-open bathrobe and a pair of pajamas (not exactly befitting my stance and posture at that particular moment).
His wife and child had now gotten into the car and tore through my yard toward Joseph Pickens. I jumped back to avoid getting run over, and the car screeched to a halt. Joseph picked himself up from the ground, shook a fist at me, and cried, “This isn’t over. You’ll see. The Canadian government gave me this land!” With that, he leapt in the passenger seat, slammed the door shut, his wife stomped on the accelerator and just like that they were gone.
But the shovel, tent and the fire remained.
Convinced I was hallucinating, I none-the-less walked to the tent, pulled it from its stakes and threw it into the street atop the shovel. I doused the fire with the hose, hardly believing the start I was having to my day.
My neighbors appeared on their porches. “What is going on?” Beth Crosby from across the street called.
“Some crazy dude from Canada said this was his land. He had a campsite in my backyard and everything.” This sparked some laughter, and my mood lightened a little.
Beth Crosby said she’d organize a Neighborhood Watch meeting. “There are too many crazies running around,” she said. “It’d be good for all of us neighbors to get together again.”
I thought this bizarre scene — where I clearly was not hallucinating but just as clearly the man and his wife were on drugs — was over.
But I was wrong…
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