Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Man Next Door

Daughter: He must hate us.

Mother: Why?

Daughter: Because we witness the way he lives.

Mother: I wonder what he thinks about the way we live?

As I walked past the pub one day last week I saw him standing outside, and when I looked at him he rolled his eyes contemptuously.

Daughter: We treat him with contempt too.

He seems to be going downhill and I hope our attitude isn't affecting him.

Mother: It's just that when I first saw him he reminded me of a mangey rat, the way he skulked around, trying to dash unseen down the back to his toilet, head down, showing his thinning hair which I used to think was covered in plaster, but maybe he's just going grey.

I'm glad our back door isn't at the side like his is, where we can see him from our kitchen windows when he goes outside.

Daughter: You know, he doesn't have a bathroom at the moment, or a proper toilet. Just the outside one up next to the back fence. I heard him tell a girlfriend one night ... "I don't have a bathroom or a toilet. I just have what you can see."

I think some girlfriends don't like using the toilet down the back. That must be why some nights we see one drunken girlfriend down the side of the house, her white buttocks teetering unsteadily over a bucket.

After a noisy party there one night Alpha said he had seen naked women pissing around all over the place outside.

You know, when I first came to this house, a year before you did, the man next door seemed very nice, and he was bright eyed and enthusiastic, delighted to have bought his house, and full of ideas about doing it up.

But after a little while it began to seem that he had lost his way and that he didn't know what he was doing, so all he could do was to demolish things.

Mother: With the amount of rubble and bricks and timber that have gone out of his house you wonder what can be left inside. Now you can see that he's removing the upstairs ceiling. You wonder why he removed some windows upstairs.

Do you think he really is a builder? One day he spoke to me over the side fence, saying that he is a builder and that's why he was sometimes away during the week. He said he was doing building jobs in the country and that he was about to start a very difficult job that no one else could tackle. So he would be away a lot more. It's funny, but he was only away for a couple of days, and now he doesn't seem to go away at all. His vehicle seems to always be out in the street. Apart from all the banging, and all the removal of timber from inside his house, I've seen little evidence of building going on next door. Just one tiny window installed upstairs at the back of the house. Maybe he's going to put the bathroom there.

Daughter: You know, I think his problem is that he's a perfectionist and he can't bring himself to tackle the jobs that need to be done. He wants to do them properly and he is nearly always too drunk or hungover to be able to get started. I saw him through the kitchen window one day doing a really good job of washing his frying pan and cooking utensils. He really worked hard on making them perfectly clean before putting them away. And one day he was making chips, peeling the potatoes, then diligently chopping them up, concentrating on making the slices perfectly even.

Mother: Yet his house is a complete mess.

Daughter: That doesn't stop him from inviting people home to party after the pub closes at night.

Mother: Did the party he had last night keep you awake?

Daughter: Yes, especially when he started to play drums at 1 am.

Mother: It's the loud mouthed drunken women who annoy me the most. And he leaves the back door open so you can't help hearing all the talking and shouting and music.

Daughter: You know, after I finally got off to sleep this morning I dreamt that I was in next door, partying too, and dancing. I dreamt that there were some nice young men there. It's not the first time I've dreamt that I was in next door. In my dreams our house and his house are connected.

(To be continued.)

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