What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?


I grew up in an old ”leafy” suburb of Washington DC. Everyone’s father was some kind of government official or lawyer. One house was different that the others.

My next door neighbor David was my best friend and his sister Mary was my sister's. They were wild and fearless. They had no grass on their “lawn”. Two vicious Rhodesian Ridgebacks patrolled the dirt back yard.

Their father was some kind of doctor and the family was from the South. Their mom was an alcoholic and mentally ill. She shrieked and never came down from an upstairs bedroom.

They had no pictures on the walls. The furniture were broken. They had no bedtime.

They would taunt and curse at an ancient grandmother they called “Nanny”. (‘Fuck you Nanny!’)

They had nothing in their kitchen but liquor and candy. . (With orange crush and gin -“Have you ever had a screwdriver?”)

The school principle told my mother the children didn’t seem “clean”.

I learned all cusswords from David. (Singing “ Nannnnny’s a butt hole”) He would also pull down his pants and shake his dick at passing cars.

Drama and danger were always present. “David’s having an asthma attack!”

He once leaned against the dishwasher and turned it on.
(Lurching drunken father removing belt “That was uncalled for”)

David once stood on a hill by the school and broke every window on one side while I watched. (David: “I try to get em in a row!”)

Mary was wild in different ways. She wore makeup. She rode around with older guys in cars. She was thirteen.

David once led me to a ledge off their garage roof where we could see Mary naked. This family was guided by different “rules”.

One summer, when I returned from camp - never to be heard from again.

In the space of several weeks, the mother died, Nanny was put in a home. Mary became pregnant. David burned up their basement by setting fire to some ping-pong balls. Then the Rhodesian Ridgeback attacked and almost killed another neighbor girl.

I have one crumpled instamatic photo of them in one of the bedrooms. The wallpaper is torn and the windows have no curtains. They’re each only wearing one half of a pair of soiled pajamas. They are grinning ear to ear and giving the finger to the camera.


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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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