Something was going on with one of our neighbors. He was a relatively nondescript man who one could usually find on his front porch with a beer in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. My wife was certain something sinister had occured, so we spoke about it in whispers, in the dark, sordid shadows of our living room.
“He hasn’t moved in days.”, my wife informed me, as she peered through the living room window, across the street at Mr. Leadbetter.
“Its worse than that.”, I added, “He hasn’t changed his clothes in days, either.”
“Something’s not right.”, she said. “Something strange is going on over there.”
“Or maybe”, I said, “maybe he’s just on vacation.”
“No, its not a vacation.”, she replied.
“How do you know?”, I asked.
“Just a feeling.”, she replied. “Something’s not right. You should go over and talk to him.”.
“I don’t think so.”, I told her. “We should just mind our own business, and leave the man alone”
She sighed that sigh that I had come to know so well. The one that means we’re doing it my way regardless. She paused, deep in thought as she eyed the property across the street. “I wonder where his wife and kids are. I haven’t seen them in a while.”
“Don’t go there.”, I said. “Just leave it alone.”
“Go where?”, she asked.
“All Alfred Hitchcock like.”, I said. “You do this all of the time. You’re going to turn this into something from a Hitchcock movie. I know you. Just leave it alone.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”, she replied. “All I did was to mention that I haven’t seen his family for a while.”
“Uh huh.”, I stated. “Just like the time you believed a little boy was being kidnapped from Chuck E Cheese. Remember? You were sure someone was snatching him. Turns out his father had come to pick him up from a birthday party.”
“He was screaming.”, she said.
“He just didn’t want to leave.”, I reminded her. “And there was the time you were convinced that the birds congregating on the telephone wire were preparing to attack. You wouldn’t let the kids go outside.”
“There were all kinds of birds out there.”, she remarked.”
“There were a half dozen sparrows on the wire.”, I reminded her. “Hardly a terrifying event.”
“Well, that was different, anyway.”, she said.
“Not really.”, I answered. “You always get like this. Whenever something strange happens, your mind goes right to Hitchcock. Unless it involves spirits. That you never think that’s weird.”
“Well.”, she said in her own defense, “you can’t deny that something strange is going on over there.”
“I can. You don’t know that anything is going on. Just leave it alone.”, I pleaded.
“I wish I could.”, she said. “Well, if you won’t go over and talk to him, I guess that I will have to go.”
“Well”, I said, “you’re on your own with this one.”
“Are you really going to let me go over there by myself?”, she asked.
“If you’d like. I’m not going.”, I told her.
“So we’re just supposed to sit here and do nothing?”, she asked.
“No.”, I replied. “We’re just going to sit here and mind our own business. Everything is okay. Tim didn’t chop his family into pieces and bury them in the garden. This is not a suspense thriller.”
“What if he did do something terrible, and he sneaks off in the dead of night?”, she asked, trying to sound completely rational.
“Alright.”, I said. “I’m going over there.”
“So you think I’m right?”, she asked. “You think something weird is going on?”
“Not at all.”, I answered. “I just want to get my power drill back from him before he leaves the country.”
“You’re such an ass.”, she informed me.
“Now, if I see anything that looks peculiar, like graves, or crop circles,”, I said, “I’ll let you know. And if I’m not back by dark, call the police.”
“Don’t count on it.”, she said merely to show her anger with me.
“Okay, then.”, I said. “I’m off.”
“Be careful.”, she said. “And pretend that you think everything is normal.”
I returned about ten minutes later, visibly upset. “What’s wrong?”, my wife asked. “What did you see over there?”
“Its unbelievable.”, I responded. “I just can’t believe the bastard could do something like that.”
“He killed them, didn’t he?”, she asked.
“Killed who?”, I asked.
“His family.”, she answered. “He killed his wife and kids.”
“Hell, no.”, I said. “There all inside, sick with the Black Plague or some other virus of death. The bastard broke my damn drill.”
“What?”, she asked.
“He broke my drill.”, I repeated.
“So nothing’s wrong?”, she asked.
“Did you hear me/”, I stated rather sternly. “Yes something happened. He broke my drill. Isn’t that enough?”
“Well.”, she said, as she laughed that coy way she does when she feels just a bit foolish. “At least no one was killed.”
“Not yet, anyway>”, I told her. “But if he doesn’t replace the drill, that may change.”
“You’re so dramatic.”, she said, as she put her arms around me. “You really need to sit down and relax. I don’t know why you always have to blow everything way out of proportion”