I’ve lived here a good long time. I know most folks in town, and they know me. The neighborhood has a routine just as much as the Burlington Northern that hauls away the lifeblood of our community. I still live in the house my daddy built from the stick up. Sure enough, going to die here. I’ve seen most everything, but nothing has bothered me more than the house on the corner.
I keep my eye on things, especially since I retired. I sit on the porch and listen to the news or one of my shows. I like to knit. Passes time. Anyway, just because I’m old doesn’t mean I don’t know when something doesn’t fit right, when the facts don’t meet up with observation. See what I’m saying? All my facilities are intact, and I’m not stupid.
The boy’s not right in the head. Ask anybody around town. Back in the day, we would have called him ‘off,’ but this kid… he goes a step past that. Hateful he is. Built up a lot of rage in the eleven years he’s been kicking. Look you straight in the eye, but not out of respect, no sir. He’s sizing you up like measuring you for a coffin.
Early on, I would babysit the boy. Troublesome child from the get go. Seemed happiest while he was wailing. Even sucked at the bottle like he was ripping out a heart. Little bastard bit me once, drew blood— then smiled and licked his lips. He knew it was wrong, but he did it anyway. Sharp as a tack. Did it when his mother wasn’t around. Of course, she didn’t believe me when I told her about it.
She’s European, and I know they live by a different set of rules, and call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think a boy that age should still be sleeping in the same bed as his momma. She calls it nurturing, well, I think the boy has had his fill of nurturing. Just not healthy. A boy’s got to find his way without his momma, see what I’m saying? Besides, with this kid, all that coddling is like pouring kerosene on a fire.
His mom had a best friend who lived two doors down. They used to sit outside singing and drinking wine from a box. Me and the other neighbors tolerated it because you could see they had a special kind of bond. The boy… he didn’t like it one bit. You could hear him slamming doors, screaming, breaking things. Finally come where the friend wasn’t allowed to go over there except on weekends when the boy left to go to his dad’s.
After the neighborhood cats started to go missing, I tried to warn her, but you know how that sits with a momma bear.
Surprised the police weren’t there more often, but his mother covered for him.
Covered for even after they found the best friend at the bottom of the stairs.
I know what happened, and don’t try and tell me I’m wrong. You know how folks give their neighbors a spare key for emergencies or what have you? Well, I think that little bastard took the best friend’s key, hid in her house, and waited until she had enough wine in her to ‘accidentally’ fall down the stairs.
He had opportunity, and he had motive. Now he’s got a taste for it. I’m kind of worried.
Wish I hadn’t given them my spare key.