What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?


From the kitchen window I hear voices coming from the neighbors’ back yard. Through the gaps in the fence I see two men, heads bent, looking down at a huge snapping turtle moving through the grass. It hunkers down when the older man bends over and begins to wack its head with a small hammer. Wack. Wack, wack, wack– now the sickening sound of metal hitting turtle shell. The turtle must weigh over 50 pounds– I’ve never seen such a monster. I’ve got to DO SOMETHING– but what?
Two children wander out in the yard. I see the girl (about 12) pull her hands up around her ears. She spreads her fingers across her eyes but stands there transfixed. The boy hovers in the periphery, also watching. Then the man with the hammer disappears in the house and returns with a hand saw. He hooks the turtle’s mouth with pliers, yanks at its head and starts hacking away at the neck. After a few moments the hacker straightens up and lets go. The turtle’s head, still attached, lifts in reflex. The mouth, wide enough to swallow a man’s fist, gapes open. When the man leans over to resume his sawing, I slam the window down.
I decide to do some quick research– I can’t save the turtle but I can report what I saw to the Department of Natural Resources. To my great dismay I discover that Indiana has an open season on turtles. And the bag limit is 25.
Later I see the two men standing over a table, heads lowered, elbows slicing through the air. I know they’re digging the meat out of the shell though, thank God, one man’s back is blocking my view. Though I’ve never met him, I’m sure the older man is Judy’s husband. Judy, the animal advocate, who feeds table scraps to the neighborhood possums. All day she’s been absent from the scene. And I think I know why.


No comments yet, why not leave one of your own?

Leave a Comment or Share Your Story

Please Sign In. Only community members can comment.

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.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.