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Let Frank Handle It

by EK Cutting

“Come in, Jordan. Sit. You seem overly anxious today. What’s happened this week? Tell me about it.”

Jordan grunted as he sank onto the couch. “It’s my neighbours. They’re driving me crazy.”


“They moved in about six months ago. Almost straight away, they were annoying. I just thought, ‘Oh, that’s only one thing that annoys me.’ And then another thing would happen. ‘It’ll be fine,’ I’d say. But it’s not fine.”

“What were they doing?”

“I like my peace and quiet, as you know. I go to work. I come home. I potter about in my garden. I work on my project. I have a sleep-in on Saturdays, go to church on Sundays. So, when they started using a woodchipper, I didn’t think much of it except for the fact that it was really loud, and it interrupted my quiet time. First, it was an afternoon here and there. Then every weekend. Then it was every day. Every goddamn day for nearly a month! I tried sleeping at different times. I tried staying up late so it didn’t wake me early. I mean, come on, who runs a woodchipper at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday?”

“Your neighbours?”

“Yep, my neighbours. I even went and got earplugs, you know, the expensive ones? But when there’s a woodchipper going next door, there’s only so much earplugs can do, and it just wasn’t enough. The weirdest thing, though, is there’s not even that much wood in my neighbour’s yard. There just isn’t. I mean, It’s not like we live next to a forest or anything. So where is all this wood coming from? And the worst part is, I can’t even complain. According to council law, they can run small machinery from 6:00 a.m. 6:00 a.m.!

“That does seem very early. Is that what’s bothering you today?”

Jordan shifted in his seat, moving himself more upright. He clasped his hands together with a wet sound. “Oh, there’s more.”

“Tell me. What else did your neighbours do, Jordan?”

“The next thing that started bothering me was the screaming children. Every afternoon they’ll come out and run around the yard, screaming. I’m not sure what they’re screaming about, but my God, are they loud. The earplugs are some small mercy, but these little screamers are just awful! And yet again, I can’t complain.”

“Why not?”

“What do I say? Oh, ‘Your children are too loud, please make them shut up,’ or ‘Please stop doing whatever it is that is traumatizing your children enough to make them scream loudly and so often’? I’m not good with confrontation. You know that.”

“It doesn’t have to be a confrontation, Jordan.”

“With me, couldn’t not be.”

“We’ve been working on your social interactions. On not being so reactionary.”

Jordan’s face became pinched and his cheeks reddened. “Doesn’t help when I get so angry.”

“Do you do your breathing?”

“Yes, I do my breathing. I bloody breathe. In, out. In, out.”

“Why don’t you do some now, Jordan?”

He took a breath and nearly spat with the force of the exhale. “Anyway, after a particularly torturous weekend of them woodchipping and the screaming, I happened to mention it to my colleague. You know Bob, the one you told me to talk to every day?”

“As part of your social interaction practice. Yes, I remember Bob.”

“Yeah, well, he made some snide comment about how tired I looked. To shut him up, I told him what happened. Do you know what he said? That I must be living next door to serial killers and they’re using the woodchipper to hide the bodies.”

“Serial killers?”

“Yeah, and I don’t think he was joking.”

“Sounds like a joke to me, Jordan. Something to help you laugh.”

“Yeah, well, once the thought got into my head, I couldn’t stop looking at everything they did as if they were serial killers. Like, they were sending out the screaming kids to cover up the screaming of their victims. We can’t all have a soundproof kill room in our basement.”

“Seems a little implausible.”

“Sure, but I haven’t finished telling you all they do yet.”

“Go on, then.”

“I then realised that there seemed to always be different cars parked outside in our street. Sometimes they’re there for just a day, sometimes longer, and once I’d thought of them as serial killers, had to think the cars were their victims’, right?”

“And then what, they’re just driving the cars somewhere else?”

“And dumping them. What else do you do with them?”

“Have you asked the police to investigate if you’re that concerned?”

“Oh, no. I don’t think the law needs to get involved.”

“But if you think they’re serial killers?”

“Did I say that?”

“Yes, you just said that once you’d thought of them as serial killers...”

“They’re hardly the stereotype of serial killers. They’re a family. Parents, kids, the proper social interactions. There’s no single white male living over there.”

“Serial killers aren’t just single white men.”

“Yeah, and I guess I have no proof. I’m not really suggesting they kill people. I’m just talking here.”

So is it the cars that have upset you, Jordan?”

“Not on their own. Something happened this week that was the last straw. I love my garden, as you know. I love growing things, feeding them with the proper nutrients — not that garbage you get at the store — and keeping it all neat. It soothes me.”

“You’ve shown me some photos. It’s beautiful.”

“I’ve worked very hard to make it so. So just yesterday, I saw little heads pop up at my fence and throw things over it. INTO MY GARDEN. What the hell were they standing on to reach over the fence? It’s two metres tall. And how DARE they throw things into my lovely garden. Turns out, they’d built some kind of barrow against the fence, and the screamers were standing on it to throw their plastic crap toys into my garden!”

“A barrow? What’s that?”

“Yeah, a barrow. You know, those giant mounds of earth covering a burial site?”

“You think your neighbours buried someone in their backyard and covered it with dirt?”

“Well, it could just be a big pile of earth for something, I suppose.”

“Are you going to talk to them about it?”

“No. I’m going to finish my project and then use him to sort it out for me.”

“Him? Wait, Jordan—”

“He’s going to be beautiful and strong. I’ve worked so long on him, and his test run can be to go next door and take care of those bloody neighbours.”

“Jordan, now—”

“I chose my house very carefully, and I can’t have suspected serial killers living next door. I have my own work to do.”

Jordan stood up and stretched, a smile on his face. “I feel much better now I’ve talked about it. Same time next week?”

Copyright © 2018 by EK Cutting

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