and it’s not even dawn. Hear it? He’s starting earlier and earlier the past few days. Therese, who lives on the other side of the green house, will most certainly chew my ear off about this when I run into her at the store. I’ll commiserate and pretend that the harsh grinding of the new neighbor’s saw woke me up too, but the truth is that I’m an early riser. I’ve got lots to do so I get up early to make sure I have lots of time to do it in.
At least I’m quiet about it, not like that new neighbor. I’ve only seen him a handful of times since he moved into the pale green house next door. The one with the cracking paint. That cage-like gate around the front door is a new addition, installed the night before he moved in. Sometimes, when I’m walking Reggie, we pass the green house. The windows are covered with thick, blackout curtains.
Once, well after midnight, I watched from the yard on the corner of the block, in the shadow of that big oak. I watched him drag two unwieldy plastic bags from his front door into a rented van. Yes, the big oak in your front yard. The white van slid down the block like a ghost, he didn’t notice me, and I didn’t move until his glowering tail lights disappeared into the dark.
The previous owners of the green house were the Williams’. Husband and Wife, Glen and Clare. Died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Glen would sit in a lawn chair out on the front sidewalk reading beat-up science fiction paperbacks. He kept a good eye on the neighborhood and I made it a point to stop by every so often and tell him so. His affability is missed, not so much his eagle-eyed presence. Though you have every right to feel differently. They were dead in that house for at least a week before anyone figured out that something had gone wrong. If the UPS guy hadn’t been so persistent with old Glen’s Civil War Plate of the Month, who knows how much longer it would have been.
The new neighbor hardly gets any mail. When he does it’s packages. He also gets the daily newspaper. When I was walking Reggie I snuck a peek in his recycling bin, the newspaper was shoved on top, and its pages were all cut up, so I took one. I couldn’t help it. I’m naturally curious, and in this day and age you have to know your neighbors. Some might be dangerous.
I compared the page to my own days-old issue and discovered that he’s clipping articles about those children who have gone missing. Did you know he took down that old rusted swing-set in the back yard? Did the Williams ever let you play on it? He’s taken it down and has been tearing up the soil back there. Digging in the dirt. Not deep. Not like a garden or a pool.
Sometimes, at night, I hear waxy music, as if from a Victrola, wafting out from the upper floors of the green house. Strange and solitary deeds start to attract attention after a while.
Some of the other neighbors are thinking of complaining, of getting the authorities involved. His saw wakes them up in the morning. That’s all I need. All I need is for the police to start watching this neighborhood. I’m careful, but if they see the wrong thing. If they come by here to look around. If they look in my cellar they’re liable to find you. If they look hard enough they might even find your head.
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