What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?


One weekend the neighbors set up a yard sale. They hang
clothes on a rope strung between two trees and pile everything else on or under makeshift tables of sawhorses and sheets of plywood. A set of barbells and a mound of stuffed animals sit in the grass along the sidewalk. The weather’s warm, breezy– all day Saturday and Sunday shoppers wander in and out of the fenced-in area searching for bargains.
Monday after the sale the neighbors drape the tables with long sheets of plastic. Days later a thunder storm wraps the plastic around a light pole and tromps the treed clothing down into the mud. Everything’s drenched but dries back up again after a week or so of sunshine. The next rain comes along and the next. Cardboard boxes melt away, patches of tall seedy grass grow between tangled jeans, shoes and the mish-mash of knick-knacks. The heap of stuffed animals takes on a kind of antique pee color where white plush used to be. The GARAGE SALE sign dangles on the gatepost. People stroll past, curious. Drivers slow down to gape.
One night I hear voices outside. I see the red dots of lit cigarettes moving in the dark. A U-haul is pulled up on the curb. Morning comes, the tables are gone; everything else is dumped on the lawn. Another week slides by– I hear someone tapping at my front door. Young city cop stands there. “Good morning,” he says to me. “Is that your stuff?” He tips his head sideways indicating the carnage next door. He smiles, kind of. I smile back, kind of, and I hear myself say, “No sir, my stuff’s in here with me.” He looks at me, blinks a few times. We both have better things to do. He just wants the story and he’s looking to me for the condensed version. “That’s a rental.” I offer, “The people downstairs moved out a while back and left that mess.” That’s all I got. He tells me to have a nice day.
I get home from work one day and every box, bag and baby sock is gone. The yard, with huge patches of yellowed grass, is trimmed and raked.


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Have a Next-Door Neighbor Story?

As part of our new webcomic, Next-Door Neighbor, we thought it appropriate to have a little contest. Tell us your best true next-door neighbor story, and the winning tale will be matched with an artist and transformed into a webcomic and included as the final installment of Next-Door Neighbor.

About Next-Door Neighbor

No matter how close or how far, we all live next to someone, and we all have a Next-Door Neighbor story. With that in mind, editor Dean Haspiel asked some of his favorite storytellers and cartoonists to create their favorite NDN stories so we could share them with you.

The Fine Print & Contest Rules

By submitting an entry, you are granting SMITH the right to reprint or republish that entry online or in print, as well as make any necessary edits. See SMITH's terms of service for complete details.

This contest ends September 1, 2008. Prizes are not redeemable for cash and must be accepted as awarded. Winners are decided at the discretion of SMITH judges and all decisions are final. SMITH reserves the right to change the contest rules. Enter as often as you want. SMITH reserves the right to reprint or republish all entries.

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