ONE EVENING, AFTER A VERY HOT DAY.
Alpha: People are sitting out in the street trying to get cool, and the man next door has a mattress out on the footpath in front of his house.
He and his girlfriend are sitting out there cooking tea, with a frying pan on a little gas stove.
Mother: His life seems to be much less drama-filled these days, and it's always quiet in next door when his girlfriend is there.
Daughter: But a few days ago Alpha saw him stumbling around out in the street, very drunk.
Mother: At least he's been managing to get a bit of work done on his house lately.
Alpha: Even if it takes him 10 years to finish doing up the house he will be ahead.
He bought it very cheap, because of the state it was in, and it must be appreciating in value each year.
So there's no real rush for him to finish.
You know the big house up near the end of the street where extensive renovations have just been completed.... It had been vacant for many years when a man I know bought it, cheaply. Now, after he's done it up nicely, it's been sold again.
Mother: Yes, as I walked past the house this evening the lights were on, and it looked lovely and white and immaculate inside, sparkling under the chandeliers.
Alpha: When I was shown inside the house recently, I was impressed by how lovely and luxurious it is, with really large rooms, and great views upstairs.
Mother: But who would want to live there, knowing what happened in the house ten or twelve years ago?
And would all the renovations have completely wiped away all traces of the violent murders that took place there?
Do you know exactly what happened?
Alpha: First a woman was stabbed to death by her husband. Then the dead woman's father was killed in the fight that followed, while the murdering husband was badly injured. Finally the house was set on fire, killing the baby.
Daughter: No doubt bad things have happened in lots of houses in this street, since they are well over a hundred years old. Yet people are happy to live there anyway.
Mother: Someone I haven't seen around for ages is the extremely fat man, and I haven't seen the extremely skinny woman with long claw-like fingernails either.
Maybe they've run off together!
Daughter: Maybe they're dead!
When I walked past the extremely fat man's house yesterday I noticed a strange smell.
I wasn't exactly like the smell of rotting flesh. It was more like the smell of rotting vegetation.
Mother: I'm trying to imagine what it could be.
The front door is open, and Alpha is talking to someone outside.
LATER, IN THE KITCHEN.
Alpha: I've just been talking to the man next door.
Daughter: What did he have to say?
Alpha: He asked how everybody was, and he was very impressed to hear that you're an artist, and that you're to have an exhibition soon.
He's very keen to get an invitation, and to see the exhibition. He would also like to get an invitation for his mate Phil, across the road.
He's finishing off lots of things in the house before an architect comes to design the exciting developments he plans for the house, including changes and extensions to the kitchen, and the aquarium-walled bathroom he plans for upstairs.
He expects to get a bank loan to pay for the work, and maybe his parents will help out a bit.
I saw them when they were visiting his house recently, having a very thorough look at everything
They were very well dressed, and they drove a very nice car.
Alpha: Before daybreak this morning I heard something that made me laugh.
Someone in the house was snoring, and each exhaling burst of ...ugh...ugh...ugh..
was being answered by the more husky, growling, ...hhhgghhh...hhhgghhh...hhhgghhh...of a Brushtail possum outside.