Mother: Can you think of any reason why the man next door has a collection of little kiddies' bikes lying around on his front verandah?
Daughter: I've no idea why they would be there, and I'm not really interested at the moment. I had another bad dream last night, and once again I woke up in a bad mood.
Mother: What have you been dreaming about?
Daughter: In my dreams I've been feeling very unsafe. I'm often chased by bad people.
Mother: You need a ray gun, to point at the bad people in your dreams, to kill them.
Daughter: Would the ray gun be called Ronald?
A WEEK OR SO LATER.
On Mother's return home one night she heard something fall from a paperbark tree on the footpath, between the front of her house and the front of the man next door's house. A small branch had fallen from the tree, and next moment she saw the man next door, looking a bit dishevelled, and with little bits of paperbark in his hair.
The Man Next Door (greeting Mother excitedly): Have a look at what I've just done!... Look up there....up in the tree!
Mother: What is that little bike doing up there?
The Man Next Door: I just put it there!
Mother: You could have fallen!
The Man Next Door: I did fall, and brought down that branch......Now look higher up in the tree.
Mother looked again, and saw a really tiny bike suspended up near the top of the tree, looking somewhat like a Christmas fairy on a Christmas tree.
Mother: That's amazing!
The Man Next Door: Look up the next tree!
Mother: More bikes!.....And then three more bikes up the next tree!
The Man Next Door: Come along here. My favourite is the bike hanging from the upside down "Auction" sign.
(The sign was hanging upside down from a post, and the bike was hanging over the sign. It didn't seem to matter that it's front wheel was missing.)
Mother: I'm impressed. You're an artist!
The Man Next Door: You're not impressed enough!.... I'm going back inside.
Mother: I'm sorry. I really am very impressed, but when I try hard to show how impressed I am about something, people don't think I mean it. Maybe it's because I'm trying so hard that I somehow laugh.
The Man Next Door (who must have been reassured, because he continued talking, outside his front door):
My house is at a standstill because I'm seriously out of money.
Mother: Maybe you should marry a rich old woman.
The Man Next Door: What about a rich young woman?
Mother: Where will you find one?
The Man Next Door: I've met some on the North Shore, talking about their doctor fathers, and enthusing about my blue eyes.
My lovely girlfriend, who's very young, doesn't have much money, and her family is very poor.
Mother: That's a pity.
The Man Next Door: I think she's too young for me, but she really cares about me.
(a pause, then he continues with....)
I apologise for all the noise I make in my house.
Mother: What do you hear from our house?
The Man Next Door: The main thing I hear is laughter. I envy your family because you are able to laugh so much.
My family is Jewish, and I grew up in a household where there was no laughter.
My parents haven't visited me for about seven years because they are afraid of what they will find. They are worried about me. I occasionally visit them though.
(The man next door was sitting on his front doorstep, playing maracas, when mother returned home.)
The Man Next Door: I'm disappointed because I don't think anyone has noticed the bikes I put up in the trees.
I'm out here waiting for my girlfriend to visit me.
THE FOLLOWING EVENING.
As mother returned home she was disappointed to see that all the bikes in the trees were missing.
(At that moment the man next door suddenly appeared.)
Mother: What happened to all the bikes?
The Man Next Door: Council workers removed them. They just happened to come to inspect the trees in this street, when they found the bikes, and considered them to be unsafe. But when they tried to knock the bikes down they found that they were so well secured that it was necessary to bring in a cherrypicker, to get them down.
Mother: What a shame!
I wish I'd photographed the bikes while they were up there. I hope some people did notice them, and feel amazed.
THE NEXT DAY.
Mother: As I was coming back from the shop just now I saw two uniformed police walking along on the other side of the street. By the time I got here the police had arrived outside the man next door's house, and they were talking to him, I'm not sure what about. He was standing at his open front door.
I wanted to hear what was being said, but I couldn't just stand out there, watching, and being watched.
All I heard was a policewoman saying "Do you own the house?"
Once inside here I couldn't hear any more of the conversation. They're probably still out there talking.
Daughter: I guess they're talking to him about the bikes up in the trees.
Mother: I hope he doesn't get into a lot of trouble.