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Loathe Your Neighbor

Loathe Your Neighbor by D.A.Cairns


Contemporary fiction

David Lavender is a man with a talent for making bad decisions. In his fortieth year on planet earth, a dangerous restlessness overwhelms him, and, as his marriage crumbles, and a dispute with his neighbor escalates, he responds to theses crises in his life with characteristic folly. Frozen out by his mysteriously indifferent wife, Lilijana. Baited by his cantankerous stepson, Tomo, and alternatively supported and rebuked by his two best mates, Matt and Chalky, will David successfully negotiate the minefield which his own discontent constructed, or will he destroy himself and everyone around him?

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Chapter One

There were no sirens, flashing lights, or screeching tires when the police arrived at number 1008 Princess Hwy. David felt offended.

loathe_your_neighborThe only sounds were of whirring steel blades and plastic cords as locals attacked the fast growing Buffalo grass on their lots in Chinaman’s Hollow. Victa lawn mowers and Stihl line trimmers were the weapons of choice in the war against the humidity-fuelled growth in the yards of suburbia.

David had been refueling his lawnmower when he heard loud voices inside the house next door

Loud arguments were nothing unusual. They happened in his home as well, although outsiders would never have heard or even cared if they did. None of my business, David thought as he stood with straining ears to catch some of the words in the jumble of sound and anger.

‘You did this and you did that. Fuck this and fuck you.’ A stifled scream as though someone suffocated then a bang and another scream, which morphed into a growling yell. The noises became more animalistic, as if words were no longer effective. Perhaps anger robbed them of speech. A crash and another bang. He could feel the rage pulsing from the house. For a moment it paralyzed him. Should he keep his nose out of their business and keep mowing the lawn, or intervene? Knock on the door and ask for milk? Sugar? He had not been afraid to interrupt during previous arguments, even though he’d looked like a fool. Intervention, yes. Police? No, not yet.

David ran to knock at their door.

He wondered if they argued new material or just rehashed the same issues. He listened.

“Why don’t you leave me the fuck alone? I’m tired. I don’t want your shit.”

“I don’t want your shit and I wish you’d leave me alone.”

“Well stop talking then. Fuck off!”

You fuck off!”

“Why should I?”

“Because I want you to. I’m sick of your shit.”

“I’m sick of your shit.”

“Well fuck off then!”

“Why should I?”

David knocked again and realized he was still listening. He was fascinated; transfixed by their intellectual debate, its deep philosophical nature and their incredible range of vocabulary. A whole five minutes worth.  Of what? I’m sick of your shit. David tried to imagine his wife, Lilijana, using that line with him. Not in a million years. Sure, she’d probably thought it but was far too self-controlled to ever speak that way.

A thud, like something or someone hitting the floor brought David back to attention He knocked again, this time to ominous silence. No one answered his knock. No face at the door, looking angry or sheepish. No one came to apologize or threaten him.  David raced home to call the police.

So here they were. Two officers. The short, female cop tried steering her towering, male companion toward talking to David first.  In response, the male officer gestured to the neighbor’s house. David nodded then gave them the thumbs up. They’d found the right place.

Once the police passed the garage, which obscured his view of their front door, David crossed onto his neighbor’s property to watch.

“Hello,” said the male officer in a commanding voice. “Is any one there? It’s the police.”

David anticipated drawn guns, smashed doors and the cops charging in, yelling for weapons to be dropped. Instead, the male officer knocked a second time then tried the knob of the door. He called out as both officers entered and the screen door banged behind them.

What would the cops find once they navigated the garbage-strewn living room? Was the rest of the house in a similar state? A teenager dropped garbage wherever he pleased, but for adults to trash their own home?

“What are you doing, David?”

It was Lilijana.

“Nothing.” David struggled to hide his irritation at having his watch interrupted.

“Are you going to finish mowing the lawn?”


He waited for the cops to emerge with a struggling Phil. Naydine would yell threats to protect her man, now forgiven after their war of words.

“Are you going to finish today? We’re going out tonight, remember?”

Damn. He had tried to forget. Lilijana always wanted to go out or have people over. She loved to spread her sunshine, and the recipients of her graciousness and kindness lapped it up. Why not? There was no danger of sunburn. Zero possibility of melanoma. Five seconds in Lilijana’s company and the hardest glacial heart was guaranteed to melt. Cares and worries washed away by her positivity. It gave him the shits sometimes.


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D. A. Cairns is married with two children and lives on the south coast of New South Wales in Australia where he works as an English language teacher and writes stories in his very limited spare time. He has had over 20 short stories published,(but who’s counting, right?). Devolution is the name of his first novel.

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