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The Werewolves Next Door

by Michelle O’Neill

“What do you mean, there’s nothing you can do? They’re werewolves for chrisssake and they’re stealing!” Simon Grant shouted into the phone. He paced his living room watching the last ribbons of sunlight color his front windows.

“Mr. Grant,” Deputy Roebuck said, his voice sounding threadbare on the line. “I’ve told you a half a dozen times, your neighbors are not werewolves, O.K.? And even if they were, it wouldn’t be a crime.”

“That’s what you say!”

“Have a nice evening, sir,” the deputy said before putting down the phone and ending the conversation.

Simon pitched the white streamline telephone back on its cradle and mumbled obscenities. The Pine Crest Sheriff’s Office was the most inept police force he’d ever seen in his sixty-two years. They couldn’t catch a robber if he’d ambled up on crutches and kicked one of them in the groin.

Well, he knew what he needed to do. He was gonna take a picture of them digging in his garbage and present that to the sheriff’s office. Then they’d get to the bottom of who was crazy.

Simon stomped into his bedroom and fished around in his bureau for his fancy camera with the zoom lens. He’d probably need to use the flash now that it was getting dark. He was trying to remember the last time he’d used it, when he heard a pounding knock on the door. Muttering to himself and tossing the camera on the bed, he made his way to the front door and looked out the peephole.

Simon felt a rush of heat climb his neck. It was his neighbor across the street, that Hungarian, Mr. Warnick. He flung the door open and stared at his nemesis. As usual, Mr. Warnick was impeccably well groomed, his dark brown hair neatly combed, and his iron-grey suit freshly dry-cleaned.

“Isn’t it a little early for you to be up and around?” Simon said with a sneer.

Mr. Warnick ignored the comment. “Simon,” he said, “something has been in your trash again. Could you please get your debris out of the road?”

Simon leaned out his doorway and peered into the street. He spotted his green trash cans on their sides blocking Sleepy Hollow Avenue. They were surrounded by fragments of black trash bag and a scattering of long and short human bones.

Mr. Warnick handed him a femur. “I pulled this out from under my front bumper. It must have lodged there while I was pulling into my driveway.”

Simon snatched the bone from Mr. Warnick’s hand and shook it like a magic wand. “It’s them damn werewolves! I keep calling the cops, but no one wants to do anything about them!”

Mr. Warnick looked bored. “I think werewolves have better things to do than go rifling through your trash.”

“So you’re an expert on werewolves, are you?” Simon said, nervously gnawing on the end of the femur.

“Hardly that.”

“Then what the hell do you know about them digging in people’s trash?”

Mr. Warnick pinched the bridge of his nose with long, pale fingers. “Nothing, Simon. Look, just get your rubbish out of the roadway.” Turning away, he headed back to his sprawling ranch-style home across the street.

Simon tossed the bone aside and stomped out his door. A gentle breeze rustled the branches of several large oaks overhead. “It ought to be them damn werewolves that clean this up,” he called after him. Mr. Warnick made no comment and disappeared into his house, slamming the door behind him.

I need to go and talk to them about this, Simon thought. This has gone on long enough. But before he could make his way next door, Andrea Wilson (the she-wolf of the family, Simon guessed) came out and marched over to him. She strode up, glanced around at the debris in the street, and gave him an evil glare. “Did you call the sheriff’s office on my family and tell them we were getting in your trash?” she demanded, her hands planted on her hips.

Simon had never seen her close up before and was taken by how beautiful she was. She was small, though, probably not much over five feet, with short dark hair and skin the color of warm chocolate. He tried to muster a smile for her. “It’s nothing personal, Mrs. Wilson, but you can see what a mess I have here.”

“What makes you think we did it, you silly old ghoul?”

“Well, Mrs. Wilson, everyone knows how you types like bones. And my trash is always full of those,” he said with a condescending smile.

Mrs. Wilson’s mouth drew into a straight line. “Our types? I would watch what I say about other species if I were you, Mr. Grant. I don’t hear many flattering things said about a species of monster that scurries through graveyards at night and gobbles up the remains of people’s loved ones.”

Simon self-consciously stroked his bald head and felt his face flush. Apparently, she was not as pretty on the inside. “There is no need to get ugly about this. All I ask is that you keep your people out of my trash, O.K.?”

Mrs. Wilson fixed him with her amber eyes. “You’ve been harassing my family with the police for months now, ever since my son accidentally ran over your mailbox. This is just one more of your lame excuses to cause trouble.”

“First of all, he did that on purpose. I was there, I saw it. And second, this is not about the mailbox, no matter what you think. This is about trash.”

“Bull crap,” she said tightly.

Their conversation was interrupted by Mr. Warnick crossing the street to join them.

Great, Simon thought, now he’s going to get involved. “We really don’t need your help here, Mr. Warnick. We’re done,” he called to ward off the approaching Hungarian.

“I’m here to see if the lady needs any assistance,” he said with that pretentious European bow of his.

Mrs. Wilson seemed to lap it up. She gave the Hungarian a friendly smile. “Thank you Mr. Warnick. You’re always such a gentleman.”

Simon frowned. “Don’t you have someone’s underage daughter to seduce? Or certainly there must be some poor, lovesick woman you could suck the life from.”

“That’s pretty obnoxious of you, Mr. Grant,” Mrs. Wilson said, folding her arms across her chest.

Mr. Warnick only laughed off the attack, showing his long, sharp canine teeth. “I don’t seduce children, Mr. Grant. I have plenty of women who enjoy my company, and they don’t need to be lovesick to do it. I also don’t need to spend my evenings obsessing about my trash bins.”

Simon felt a new depth of hatred for the man. “That’s really very funny,” he said dryly. He walked over to pull the cans out of the street where they had rolled. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out some rubber gardening gloves and slipped them on. He collected what large pieces of trash he could and replaced them in the canisters.

Mrs. Wilson and Mr. Warnick watched him but offered no assistance. Simon was especially peeved about Mrs. Wilson’s indifference. After all, this was her family’s damn mess. “No thank you,” he called to them as he struggled to put the bins on the curb. “I don’t need any help.” Neither of them interrupted their conversation to listen to him. After he finished, he returned to where they stood conversing in the roadway.

Mr. Warnick studied Simon for a moment. “Why are you so certain it’s Mrs. Wilson’s family getting into your trash?”

Simon couldn’t believe Warnick was asking him that. All one needed to do was see them in their animal form to know they were the culprits. Didn’t the man see the damage they caused, marring the plastic with deep, angry scratches? Simon rolled his eyes. “Come on now, Mr. Warnick, we’re not kids here. What else could have done that kind of damage?”

“It could have been a real beast,” Mrs. Wilson said. She was adopting a tone she would have used for a village idiot and he resented it.

“Why don’t we...” Mr. Warnick said letting his voice trail off. He was staring in the direction of the trash cans and Simon and Mrs. Wilson whipped around to follow his gaze.

Ambling up to the bins were two rather obese and dirty looking raccoons. The larger of the two, scrambled up and rocked one of the cans until it fell, while the other pried off the lid and foraged inside. After they had dug around for a few seconds, Simon walked over. He was not going to be intimidated by some fat, greasy scavenger.

The larger of the two lumbered out of the can and, upon seeing Simon’s advance, charged him, hissing. Simon cried out in alarm and ran from the pursuing creature until it gave up its attack out of fatigue.

Finding nothing left in the trash of any real gourmet value, the two ambled off again into the heavy brush behind Simon’s house.

Simon looked at his neighbors who were staring at him, a slight grin curling their lips. Mrs. Wilson tilted her head to the side, as if she were speaking to her dog. “I think you owe me an apology.”

“I agree,” said Mr. Warnick.

“Do you?” Simon said glaring at Mr. Warnick and trying to control his fury. “I think you should have stayed out of this to begin with!”

Mr. Warnick shook his head. “There’s nothing sadder than someone who can’t admit he’s wrong.” Then he left him alone again with Mrs. Wilson.

“Well?” she said.

Simon scowled and sighed. “It appears, Mrs. Wilson, I may have been mistaken about your family. I’m sorry I accused them.”

Seemingly satisfied, Mrs. Wilson sauntered back to her home.

Simon was standing in the middle of Sleepy Hollow Avenue absorbed in thought about the cost of purchasing new trash cans with locking lids when a powder-blue Cadillac Eldorado pulled up alongside him. The passenger window rolled down and he leaned over to speak to the driver. “What do you want?” he said.

“Is that your crap in the road I keep seeing, Simon?” Mr. Mephisto said, irritated.

“Yes, and before you say another word, it’s already being taken care of.”

“Good,” said Mr. Mephisto drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. “I’d hate to call a homeowners’ association meeting about your little cleanliness problem.” The window rolled up, almost catching Simon’s arm as it went, and the vehicle drove off at a respectable 35 mph.

Jerk, Simon thought walking back to his door, why don’t you go back to hell where you belong. He picked up the paper from his front stoop and leafed through to the sale inserts. There’s got to be a better trash bin on the market, he thought if only to get these damn nosy neighbors out of my garbage.

Copyright © 2006 by Michelle O’Neill

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