Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Man Next Door. Chapter 5.

Mother:  Last night I was waiting outside for Peter to come along in his car to pick me up, when the man next door came out of his house and shuffled off to the pub. He soon returned and went back into his house. Then he came out again and was off back to the pub, but he returned almost immediately, and this time, instead of going back into his house he came along to outside our house. I was waiting just inside the fence and he stood close to me on the other side of the fence. "Do you like corn chips?", he asked, as he offered me some of the contents of the open packet he was holding.

I felt uneasy about him being there, and wished he would go away, because Peter was likely to arrive at any moment, and might get suspicious if he saw the man next door talking to me.

"Corn chips are quite nice" I replied, "but I don't want to eat any now because I am expecting someone to come along to pick me up at any moment, and here he comes."

The man next door shuffled off just as Peter's car drew up. Peter didn't ask who I had been talking to so I hoped he hadn't noticed the man next door.

You know, I have an idea that the man next door took the opportunity to talk to me because he was curious about the Alcoholics Anonymous literature you put under his door last week. He may have wanted to sound me out to see if one of us was responsible for it.

Daughter: He must suspect that it was one of us. I'm afraid that he will have to hit rock bottom before he decides that he should stop drinking.

One morning a few days later.
Mother: Peter must have noticed me talking to the man next door out the front last time because the first thing he asked me last night was "do you know any of your neighbours, or people in the street very well?"...."What are your neighbours like?" So I told him briefly about the nice couple living on one side of us, and that the man living on the other side of us is a bit crazy.

Daughter: Listen to that man vomiting.

Mother: It sounds bad doesn't it.

Daughter: Alpha and I have been hearing him vomiting like that every morning for months.

Mother: Do you know where he lives? Do you think he lives in one of the apartments behind our house?

Daughter: I think so, but I'm not sure which one.

Early one morning, the following week, Mother answered a knock at the front door. She found a policeman standing there, note pad in hand.

Policeman: Did you hear any shooting last night?

Mother: Yes. I was woken by the sound of shooting close by, but when I got up and looked out the window and saw and heard nothing, and when I didn't hear any sirens, or police cars or ambulances arriving, I began to think that the noise must have been fireworks.

Policeman: We didn't come because no one rang us. Do you know what time it was when you heard the shooting.

Mother: I had been asleep, and it woke me up. I didn't check the time, but I have a feeling that it was about 1.00 am.

Later that day Mother noticed that, for the first time, all the blinds were down in the bottom floor apartment directly behind their house.

Alpha: Today there were police in the street outside the block of apartments behind our house. They were no doubt investigating the shooting last night.

Mother: I wonder who got shot?

Some days later.
Mother: Have you heard the man vomiting lately?

Daughter: No. Its strange, but we haven't heard him.

Mother: Do you think that maybe he got so sick of his life that he shot himself the other night?

Daughter: I guess that is a possibility. But how many shots did you hear?

Mother: More than one, I think...I'm not sure.

A few days later.

Son (who was visiting): I heard on the news last week that there was a drive-by shooting on The Block, close to your place.

Mother: Was anyone killed?

Son: They didn't say.

The blinds remained down in the ground floor apartment behind the house for many weeks, until new tenants moved in. The vomiting man was never heard again.

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