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Slugging It Out.

by BryanW 

Posted: 11 July 2014
Word Count: 699
Summary: Entry for Tassie Devil's 516 Neighbours Challenge

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"Well, it's what we all do, isn't it? I mean, you don't like to kill them. Makes such a mess when you do, the little sods. You just chuck 'em over the hedge. Everyone does it. It's what you do. That's all I did. Honest. Had to stop 'em eating the wife's flowers.

"So the next day, him, next door, well, he was hedge trimming wasn't he? Tipped his privet bits all over me decking. And it rained, didn't it? Have you tried sweeping up privet leaves on decking? The wife was right angry, waved her broom at me. ‘You're going to have to do something about it!’ she said, like it was my fault. I told her I'd sort it out. But that didn’t shut her up. Give her her due, she does like a neat garden. ‘Just do something,’ she repeated. ‘It's the last straw. Yesterday it was the smoke from their barbecue and I had me clothes on the line. They all smell of hickory wood and sausages now. That woman, I admit, she’d told me as how they were having a few friends round to try out their new Bondi 500, but she knows I always do me washing on a Sunday. Inconsiderate.’ 

“So that’s when I knew I had to … be more assertive like. Yes, I admit it. I put the cat's poo through their letter box. Now don’t screw your face up like that. I had to do something, didn’t I? 

“But it was the next day, just when I got home from work, that was when it really kicked off. The glue in the key hole. Couldn’t get into me own house. Now, this was different. This was going too far. This cost me. Had to have the whole bleeding lock replaced, didn’t I?

“If they’d only said something then. Apologised. And, of course, paid for the lock. It could have turned out different. Could have stopped there. But I had to do something. I mean, what sort of man am I?

“And I admit, I did enjoy the sound of the air coming out of the tyres as I stuck the knife in. How was I to know he needed the car for an important meeting the next morning? He just shouldn’t have said what he said. The missus was right upset. ‘Language like that in this neighbourhood! It’s made me go all funny,’ she told me. And give her her due. She'd never swear like that … well, not in public. 

“It was the paint stripper all over my car the following day that really got to me. I mean I couldn’t think straight. I know. I know. You don’t have to tell me. It wasn’t proportionate. But a man can only be pushed so far. Anyway, they should have had fire alarms fitted. There’s no excuse, what with the adverts and that. And how was I to know that their upstairs double-glazed windows were locked with the keys downstairs so they couldn’t get out? Mind you, that double glazing was good - you could hardly hear the screams from outside. 

“And you’ve got to admit, I was a bit unlucky to be run over by the fire engine what that interfering neighbour on the other side called as I was trying to run away from the scene. You might call it dead unlucky, eh?  Get it?

“So, what do you think? You going to let me in or what?”

St Peter looked at the man waiting impatiently in front of the huge gates - their golden filigree frames radiating, throbbing warm, glowing ineffable light across the infinite blue, whilst the sheen of their myriad millions of opalescent pearls glistened celestially. 

“Sorry, mate,” Peter said.

He watched as the man tumbled away, open mouthed, down, down, towards the interminable horror of that dark netherworld far, far below.

“Stupid bugger,” Peter muttered as he picked up his copy of that evening’s Elysian Echo. Turning from the sports pages to the front page he saw the headline ‘More Fighting and Deaths in Gaza’. “Oh God! More of the same on the way. Neighbours. Blooming neighbours. Who'd 'ave 'em?” he sighed.


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Comments by other Members

euclid at 23:49 on 11 July 2014  Report this post
Escalation with a capital E!

The first act was snails chucked over the fence, right?

I seem to remember a Rumpole of the Bailey story about a man who placed the snails from his garden on top of the fence so they could go either way. The case revolved around whether or not a snail is a dangerous wild animal.

Nce one.


Bazz at 14:30 on 12 July 2014  Report this post
Hi Bryan, really like this. The juvenile escalation turning into something ever more sinister, is a fascinating display of cause and effect. How many conflicts stem from such trivial incidents, before spiralling out of control?
I also like how the entire story is developed through dialogue, it works perfectly for this kind of put upon protesting narrator. 

TassieDevil at 16:25 on 12 July 2014  Report this post
Well done, Bryan. It reminds me why we lived on five acre properties in Tassie and now here in France.

I was thoroughly engrossed by the use of speech alone to tell the story as you did it so well. Also the introduction of another neighbour calling the fire brigade.Furthermore I enjoyed the self-justification for his actions although I did feel that the end let it down a little. Only a little.  

The mention of the benefits of double glazing reducing the sound of screams, whilst amusing, led it past reality to the surreal. In addition Saint Peter and his speech pattern spoilt it for me as it again detracted from the real escalation you portayed in the grittier first part of the story. I would have preferred his deathbed confession to have been made to the paramedic as he is dying.

However It's a personal view of course and on another day I would probably have no negative comments at all. Chocolate withdrawal symptoms always make me grumpier.

To your extended credit you did sneak in a mention of neighbouring countries and their conflicts and made it sadly very topical in the process.

Thank you for embracing the challenge so well. If I do eventually setle where there are pesty people next door, your 'how to' list will be most welcome.



LMJT at 11:40 on 13 July 2014  Report this post
This was a great read Bryan. I really enjoyed the first section with the man trying to justify himself to St Peter. 

The episodes of neighbours' revenge were great and, as Euclid said, escalated perfectly. 

My only criticism is that the speech at the beginning went on for a little too long with no context. Maybe you could have inserted a response from 'the man' and given the reveal that it's St Peter at the end. 

Anyway, just an idea. 

Thanks for sharing.


BryanW at 14:15 on 14 July 2014  Report this post
Thanks for the comment, Liam.
Good call, too.
You're dead right. Something like "Listening to him, the figure in the robe frowned..." after the first or during the second para, would help break it up and also add an extra bit of mystery to the story that would link to the revaluation of the last section.

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