The Neighbors, Part 2
There are those among us who live cowardly lives. Nasty men. Vicious women. Forgotten children. You will never see them. They pretend normalcy; friends and neighbors and co-workers. Inside they are monsters.
Am I one? Some things are best discovered on your own.
The fence was finished three days later, seven feet of solid wooden slats, going from soil to sky. A fine fence. A mighty fence.
I’d seen Janice outside with the dog, playing, watching the men erect the fence. Of James and Jane, I saw nothing. Then again, I wasn’t looking.
The last day before the fence shut my view of them, Janice slipped through the boards and caught me walking to the house from an errand. The dog followed behind her. I’d come to think of them as one being, a child-dog, for never was one without the other.
“Why are you putting up a fence?” Janice asked, dog sniffing around my grass.
I turned. Faked a smile. “Haven’t you heard? Good fences make good neighbors.”
“Are you a good neighbor?”
I admit, I had to think on that a moment. “Yes,” I said finally. “This fence will make us good neighbors.”
The dog started to squat. I picked it up by the scruff of the neck and deposited it through the fence. Nasty things, dogs. Dirty and smelly and flea-ridden. A hand scrubbing was in order.
It started to come back through, but I gave it a glare. Whimpering, it crouched, watching. Dogs are liars, too. Spies and sneaks and thoroughly untrustworthy.
“His name is Pumpkin,” she told me, quite seriously.
“Indeed.” A beat. “Do you like pumpkin pie?”
I gave her my warmest smile, She was to young to notice how unwarm it really was.
“What is that?”
“Pumpkin pie? It is a pie made out of pumpkin.”
A frown creased the soft skin between her eyebrows. “Not my Pumpkin?”
“Of course not,” I assured her. “Totally different thing. A vegetable, I believe it is.”
Satisfied, she smiled at me.
“Go along now,” I shooed her. “Play with Pumpkin.”
With a wave, she scooted back through the fence and was gone. As was the dog. Pumpkin.
Then again, I was a liar, too.