Photo by Antonius Smal on Unsplash

We were naturally outraged by someone defecating on our stoep. To be clear about this, we realised from the beginning that the responsible individual could not be much more than a foot tall. The size of the droppings told us so. Nevertheless, we felt this was very impolite.

We first became aware of this outrageous behaviour one Monday morning. We have a sliding door from our lounge onto the stoep, and there it was, right in front of the door. If you were not careful you would step into it.

We cleaned it up and were prepared to forget the whole thing. Once can be forgiven, but when a new dropping is waiting the next morning, your patience starts to wear a bit thin. “Are we sure it’s the same culprit?” I asked Miriam.

“Well, it’s the same size in both thickness and length,” she said.

“What about the composition,” I said. “Can we tell if the stomach contents were the same each night?”

“I suppose that’s possible,” she said. “You look into it. I’m not going to.”

I thought that was rather unsporting of her. But I also did not want to get my hands dirty, so we decided to leave the stomach contents a mystery. At that point our night visitor found some other place to do his business. I opened the door carefully the next morning and peeped out before stepping boldly into the new day and possibly into his next offering. This time there was nothing.

That situation lasted for three nights. Then he was back, choosing the same spot, in front of our sliding door. “That’s it,” I said. “Let’s identify the little sod and take retaliatory steps.”

“Like what?” Miriam asked.

“I don’t know. Let’s identify him first, then see what is an appropriate form of retaliation.”

So I stood watch that night, seated just inside the door in my recliner. We left a soft light shining on his chosen spot. The idea was right, but the recliner was soft and the night was cool. Somewhere around ten I dozed off and was only wakened by daylight streaming in through the glass of the door.

And there it was again. He had done it right under my nose, demonstrating an utter lack of respect.

The next night I was determined to get him. This time I was fortified by a pot of coffee and sat in an uncomfortable upright chair. It was no place to sleep.

Despite the discomfort, I did fall asleep. But I was wakened by a movement on our impolite visitor’s favourite spot. And, would you believe, I had forgotten to switch on the light. He was just a shadow, about a foot tall and four-legged.

If I was to identify him, I had no choice, but to switch on the light. I reached for the switch, and he must have seen my movement. If I say so myself, I moved quite quickly – but he moved faster. The light came on and I burst through the door, barely restraining a shout of “Gotcha.”

All I saw was a supple movement at the edge of the stoep, then a single leap that I later measured at four metres, from the stoep into one of the nearer trees, followed by a brief rustling in the branches. Then all was still. The light was on and I was in the centre of its glow. At least, he must have been able to identify me.

He has stayed away since then, and every morning when I look out and see no evidence of his visit. I am truly sorry for my clumsiness. I miss him so and am sorry that I destroyed the chance of our relationship developing.

Unmentionables on the Stoep