Mother: Is the man next door at home or isn't he?
Am I hearing him working on his house, or is it something else?
Sometimes I hear him stapling, up under his roof, but the noise I'm hearing now sounds like such a pathetic attempt at stapling that it must be one of the ghosts next door trying to learn how to use a staple gun.
Mother: There is no evidence that the man next door is at home, yet his back door is open.
Alpha: Maybe the ghosts next door have learned how to unlock and open his door.
Mother: They could've been fascinated by the challenge of unlocking his back door, which has a padlocked chain that goes through a hole in the back door, around bars of the security door, then back through another hole in the back door.
Alpha: Do ghosts unlock or open doors? Or do they just pass through doors and walls?
Mother: Do they ever pass through walls from one house to another?
There's a scraping noise that I regularly hear through the wall, in the man next door's roof space. Is it made by the man next door, or by birds, maybe by the pair of Indian Mynahs who hang around, and who could easily get in through one of the open upstairs windows, and poke around in his house?
Last time I heard that noise the man next door must have been at home, because next morning, early, I heard a power saw in use in his back yard, so close to his back door that I couldn't see anything from my window.
Daughter: I don't like the way you spy on the man next door.
Mother: I'm not spying. I'm just noticing what goes on, because the man next door's life is interesting enough to deserve to be noticed.
Alpha: Finishing the work on his house looks like a five year project!
Mother: He must have been working on it that long already.
Mother: This morning, just after daybreak, I was woken by a racket outside, with lots of scratching and galloping noises, as a cat hurled itself around while chasing birds on our roof.
I didn't get to the window in time to see what cat was involved, but I did see the pair of Indian Mynahs flap to the safety of the chimney top.
I'm hoping that the cat was not the black cat I saw recently on our deck.
I really liked the look of that cat. There was something very intelligent and dignified about it.
Maybe even something mysterious.
Daughter: I know that black cat. It often comes around. It even comes inside the house if the back door is open.
It comes into the kitchen, and if no one is there it ventures into the sitting room, confidently looking in on whoever is sitting there, checking things out and seeing what we are up to.
It probably checks up on lots of other people too.
I see it all over the place, looking at home wherever it goes.
ONE MORNING, A WEEK OR SO LATER.
Mother: Did you hear the loud rumbling noises in next door, and what sounded like a cascade of timber sliding down the stairs.
Daughter: What I did hear was some roofing iron being moved around somewhere in the house.
A FEW DAYS LATER.
Mother: Now there is absolutely no doubt that the man next door is at home.
First I heard him upstairs last night, while it was raining, swearing quietly, and talking to his girlfriend, as he pulled sisalation back up, over the upstairs back window.
Then, today, you can hear loud creaking as he walks around on his high roof.
Sometimes there's the loud noise of a power tool as he screws roofing iron in place, and you can hear the sound of a metal ladder being moved around, and repositioned, in the upstairs back room.
Next thing there is loud hammering and banging.
Mother: I was waiting to cross at the lights when a voice behind me said..."That's my neighbour."
I turned, and repeated ...."That's my neighbour!", after I recognised that one of the two men standing outside the door of the pub was the man next door.
"I thought you were up on your roof" ... I said.
The man next door replied with ... "I was, but I just came here to get away from the dust."
"I'll be back up there soon."
I noticed that the man next door was covered all over in grey dust. Even his face was now very grey, rather than red.
Just his pale blue eyes stood out, like headlights, with an other-worldly look about them.
Surprisingly, by the time I got back from my walk, the man next door was back up on his roof.
Daughter: He must be on a roll.
Mother: Just now, when I was in the bathroom, the man next door was walking around near the edge of his roof, almost straight above me. I tried not to focus on him, so he wouldn't fall.
Daughter: This morning I woke from the strangest dream.
We were all packed up with food and going somewhere for Xmas.
It was a long, difficult journey on steep, windy roads, through rainforest, and when we arrived and unpacked our things I found that I had forgotten two important items .... a bottle of apple cider vinegar and a bottle of Waterfords Apple and Ginger drink.
Since it had been my responsibility to bring these things I made a decision, and announced ... "I'll have to go back."
After discussion it was decided that the only way was by bus.
Soon after I got on the bus someone warned me, saying "this bus is usually held up by bandits."
"If you have any money they will find it, and take it, and if you resist they will kill you."
I looked in my handbag and found wads and wads of money, which I wanted to hide,
I stuffed them inside the desert boots I was wearing till I had big, wide feet.
Then I looked again in my handbag, and found a purse containing even more wads of money.
Mother: What happened next?
Daughter: That's all I can remember.
I must have been woken up, before anything really bad happened.