(Knocking, and banging and voices could be heard next door.)
Daughter: The man next door must be happy to have an audience in there, while he knocks down more of his house.
(Then there was laughter next door.)
Older Daughter (who was visiting.): You should call out to the man next door ...."Don't laugh, or your house will fall down!"
"And that will be no laughing matter!"
A WEEK OR SO LATER.
Alpha: I was out on the front verandah, trying to fix the leaking tap near our water meter, when the man who lives on the other side of the man next door, came knocking at his door.
There was no response.
"Have you seen Lertch?", he asked me, and I didn't know where he was.
He added "There's something on fire in his house,.....I have to find him."
"Try the pub", I suggested.
I waited out the front to see what happened, and soon the man next door came hurrying home from the pub, carrying a bucket of water, because no doubt the water is still turned off in his house.
When he opened his front door, smoke billowed out, but he went inside, and he must have managed to put the fire out.
Soon afterwards I had an opportunity to ask the man next door what had happened, and he invited me into his house to see the damage. There were charred floorboards in front of his fireplace, where burning firewood had fallen out onto the floor.
Mother: Imagine if the fire hadn't been noticed in time, and his house had burnt down!
Mother: As I walked past the man next door's house yesterday evening, I glanced in through his open front door and saw young men, and a young woman, all dressed in black, arranged around in the house.
A party was beginning.
Later the party got noisier, and I heard the man next door swearing drunkenly at someone.
Then he said "You've had 40 chances, and wasted them all." ....."No, you can't touch my water!"
ONE DAY, OUT IN THE STREET.
Daughter: See that skinny woman in a summer dress, walking towards us. She dresses like that in all seasons and weather.
(The woman walked towards them in a spritely-enough way, yet a little bit unsteadily, as if she was so light on the ground that a puff of wind could blow her away.
As she passed them Mother noticed the vacant expression on the woman's face, and the big patches of ingrained dirt on her forehead.)
Daughter: Did you notice her fingernalis?..... The way they're curled like claws. They must be nearly two inches long.
And did you notice her hair? It's so matted that it looks like a piece of felt.
Mother: Is she homeless?
Daughter: Although she looks like a homeless woman, I've been told that she owns at least three houses around here.
I can tell you a very surprising story about her.
A few days ago a man up the street was showing me inside his house, when he suddenly called me to the window to look at something, .....something he had only seen once before.
This same skinny, homeless-looking woman, (who lives next door to him) was sitting completely naked in her back yard, leaning back against a wall, arms spread out, and a blissful expression on her face, as she enjoyed the warm sunshine.
It was a freakish sight, and I was struck by her skinny chest, and her little flat breasts, hanging down.
She was very close to us, but she looked quite oblivious.
Mother: I'm so glad she doesn't live next door to us.
EARLY ONE UNEXPECTEDLY COLD MORNING.
Daughter anxiously sang out to Alpha, because she was alarmed by the smell of something burning, and by plumes of smoke coming into her room, apparently from inside the wall, and emerging through cracks where the window met the wall.
She could feel that the dividing wall between her room and the man next door's house was hot, as if the house next door was on fire. Through the wall, Daughter could hear crackling, and little bits of who knows what, falling down.
Daughter: What's happening! What will we do?
(To be continued.)