Originally it was a bombastic, belligerent, white haired, middle aged oaf, whose double dose of psoriasis left a cloud of skin in his wake, his voice, if used in the correct environment would have made elderly ladies swoon, he had an unmatchable bad temper, a white Holden ute, that he’d periodically try to set on fire to claim insurance as well as girlfriend over 20 years younger, diagnosed legally blind, yet could make it up the road, across a main busy street to the bus stop without the aid of a white stick or a Labrador dog and manage to hail and get on the right bus. He lauded over the building, hoarded white goods and building material and specifically intended to intimidate. One night there was a thunderous thud, the clanking of falling saucepans, then not a sound. Next day he was found dead with his head in the saucepan rack. His name came out of the freezer.
Next was a very tall, quietly spoken, gentle, grey haired man, a large pimple protruding on the left side of his nose. He arrived in an old ford Fairlane, his possessions rolled in a blanket, a very fat black and white cat under his arm. During the day he pounded a typewriter and only took a break to carry the timid, fat cat down the stairs for a loo break. Bowls of cat food littered the building. Consequently the fat cat died probably just prior to exploding – one more morsel of dry cat food would have done it. The local vet decided he’d be a good father to a rescued three-legged kitty. They became as father and son. One night father fell asleep on the lounge, rescued during a council clean up. His snoring droned through the building. Next morning there was silence, no sound, or sighting of him, no one bothered, it was a long weekend he must have gone away. Three days later he was found dead, his head embellishing the cheap carpet. Three months on he’s still in the morgue as police endeavour to locate next of kin.
Hopes rose when a little, middle-aged woman moved in. A tiny thing, four feet eleven with a story she’d had to relocate due to parties and drug use. The stories grew. The first one was a box of her possessions were stolen from the building vestibule as she moved in. The next day she invited a another neighbour in, she left to hang out washing, leaving him there. She claimed her library books and a twenty-dollar note went missing. Next day she was bashed and robbed walking through a local park. She was drunk when she told the tale, saying she didn’t usually drink and had taken up smoking again after eight years. She confabulates. The following day she was still blotto. That night she entertained a bloke who’s begged from the local bus seat every day for the past five years. He has schizophrenia, severely crippled and uses two arm canes to drag his callipered legs behind him. The local shopkeeper’s and publican change the coins he collects as he spends up on booze and poker machines. His eye-sight must be deteriorating as he knocked on the wrong door seeking “a young lady who moved in a couple of weeks ago.” No doubt the promise of more than a roast dinner inspired him to drag his crumpled body up the thirty stairs to the lair. Bumping and humping echoed through the building till the wee small hours as flailing bones and callipers collided.
Neighbours … the stranger they are the more writer’s fodder they provide!