What's Your Next-Door Neighbor Story?

The Invisble Milkman

Oakfield Road. It was a very classy clutch of bedsits. One girl had used a shit filled nappy to smear the hall wall in a protest. Rabbit fleas from the girl upstairs danced and vaulted in and out of my wine. The shower was live – literally. You would feel a life affirming/death threatening tingle if you risked taking more than sink scrub clean.
Then there was Finlay. If we played at drunks, Finlay was the nadir we wouldn’t even deign to attain. A stalker of curry houses he, as they served until past midnight. He was a big, big man. Only about 5 years older than me, but it seemed like a quiet, shy lifetime of acceptance – he had made his choices, without angst, without a story . A polite, and unstereotypically Scottish drunk. Some nights we would help him, one in front, one behind up to the garret of his room. Some nights when he was too drunk for us to cajole or asthmatically manhandle, we’d lay him down in the utility room under a flat tent of curtains. Mostly he’d grapple hook himself up the 5 flights of stairs with his swaying large hands to his small room, as the song says; a burnt out wreck of a man. Sometimes in his early morning upwards spiral crawl he could not will himself up with his baggage in plastic and I, living in the first room by the front door would, on my way to work would find 2 bottles of white wine, the ghosts of a night out, next to my door. Unbidden and mysterious they would seem. An invisible milkman.
To be unseen for 2 weeks, for him, was normal, but one afternoon the landlord phoned saying Finlay’s parents where very worried and if the landlord’s wife came by, to make it official, would I investigate Finlay’s room.
I said yes.
Repeated knocking at his door flowered my knuckles into a bruise and with a look to the wife I put my foot to the lock, and kicked.
Don’t look, and phone an ambulance I said, and the crew turned up and used my tiger balm to smear under their nostrils against the smell.
In the door draught I’d seen the flies rise from the lard white hump of his death.
Porcupined too, the ambulance men said, porcupined where he haemorraged and fell on the bottles.


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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.

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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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