THE GOOD NEIGHBOR - J. F. JUZWIK
Hello. I’m so happy you decided to stop by to visit. I’m always interested in meeting new people. Please sit down, dear, and I’ll make you a cup of hot cocoa. That’s always a nice treat on a chilly winter’s day.
Let me begin by telling you a bit about myself. My complete Christian name is Henrietta Marjorie Corcoran. I am 62 years old and am a retired school teacher. I was married to Mr. Kenneth David Corcoran for going on 40 years. He passed on, oh my, it’s already been 10 years now. He was such a good man--responsible, hard-working, honest, and so helpful to anyone who needed it. We bought the house on Maple Trail a year after we were married and the mister and I lived there together up until he died, and then I stayed on alone right up until all this bad business with the neighbors.
How’s your cocoa, dearie? You ready for a refill? You’re alright then, so I’ll continue.
Mr. Corcoran had always taken pride in his garden. The problem really began when his arthritis took a real hold on him. He was always in a terrible amount of pain whenever he tried to use his hands and he got so he just decided to give up, I think. He stopped tending his flowers and vegetables and the darn weeds just took over and turned it ugly. I never cared much for gardening, so I did the only thing I could do to rid the yard of that ugly patch.
After I disposed of Mr. Corcoran, I paid some high school boys a few dollars to dig up all those unsightly growths and set them out for the trash men to see to. Mr. Corcoran fit nicely in our deep freeze out in the shed so it really wasn’t any trouble at all. Everyone else in the cove had kept their lots up--I couldn’t let ours be the exception.
Life went along swimmingly until that terrible woman moved in next door. My good friend, Helen who had lived in that house, had fallen down her basement stairs a couple of months before, and her son sold it on the first offer. He hadn’t even met the woman who bought his mother’s house--did it all with lawyers. That’s how communities go to the dogs, you see. There’s no direct contact between buyer and seller and you think a decent human being will now be residing in your dead mother’s home, but instead, what moves in is just plain trash, pure and simple.
It’s funny how you take care of one problem and along comes another right behind it. Helen was as sweet as pie until she fell under the spell of the drink. She stopped trimming her grass and bushes and when she put out her cans on pick up day, they overflowed onto the sidewalk. That’s when I decided she needed a reminder of how a good neighbor keeps up with their own. She wasn’t able to keep up with our conversation so I decided she should probably surrender responsibility for the house. The stairs were quick and quiet.
When her son came and did all the trimming, I thought things would get back to the way they should be, but then he sold it to that horrible woman. Cars parking all over the front yard and on the sidewalk during her Saturday night get-togethers. That’s what she called them when I went over to welcome her to the neighborhood and try to explain how things were. She laughed at me--at me--and called me awful names and tried to push me out the door. This was not a fit individual for our community and measures needed to be taken.
When she turned to go back into the kitchen, I picked up the knife that was laying on top of some boxes. They’re very useful for cutting through packing tape, you know. Anyway, I pushed the knife in sort of off center toward her left shoulder and she went down without a sound. It wasn’t hard either. That was just the right spot. But, how was I to know one of her men from last night’s get-together was still there and saw the whole thing. Most unfortunate.
And so. Here we are now. They put me in this cramped little room to wait. All this time to wait. For what. For them to give me a shot so they can put me to sleep like you do to a dog or a cat or something. And why? All because I tried to do the right thing. Listen, hon, when you tell my story, please make sure you let everyone know that I was only trying to keep things clean and safe in my community. That’s all. Just trying to be a good neighbor.
BIO: J. F. Juzwik has had a crime fiction novel, a horror short, and several crime shorts published. Her thriller will soon be appearing in an anthology. She is a member of several writers’ networks and maintains a blog for both writers and readers at J F Juzwik’s Blog. Information on all her projects can be found on her website at J.F. Juzwik - Author - Published Novels.
Jun Tzu - Born in Belfast
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