I’m writing another story using words which were the answers to an Octordle, an on-line word puzzle where you have to work out eight words in thirteen words. I’ve shared the first two parts and I hope this will conclude it. Here’s the next instalment with eight more words from another Octordle, which I have listed at the end. A couple have moved into a new house on a new estate, and the neighbours on one side, Jack and Sandy, soon become friends. However, when new people move in on the other side they are not only unfriendly, but a little scary.
Jack and I were looking at the wire fence which he was going to replace. He had already erected the fence between him and us, and the one at the end of the garden which had been almost destroyed in a storm – Jack’s new fences were splendid and sturdy, they wouldn’t blow over!
“Please don’t think I want to shirk doing this,” he’d said. “but I’m going through a busy phase – I’ve a lot of work on at the moment, and in my line of business I have to work when I can!”
“Don’t worry Jack, we’re in no hurry, it’s jolly nice of you to do it as it is!”
I don’t know what Jack was going to say, but he put his hand on the wire of what passed for a fence at the moment and – “Oi! Get your effing hand off my property!” It was Terrance, standing in the doorway of his kitchen, glaring at us. He seemed to have puffed up like some reptile and the phrase ‘squat like a toad’ came into my mind.
Jack jerked his hand away but said nothing, and glancing at him I saw that he wasn’t scared or intimidated but seemed to be holding himself back from an aggressive response.
Terrance went back into the house, but we could see him, glaring balefully out of the kitchen window at us. I suggested coffee, I felt quite shaken not just by his unwarranted aggression but by the thought that we were stuck with him as a neighbour.
We learned to live with Terrance, avoiding him as far as possible, and when new neighbours moved in on the other side of him and Fanny, he concentrated on trying to make their lives as miserable as he could. There was an argument over the bins, he objected to the guy, Steve riding his bike across the front of the house – on the road, mind you, calling him a boy racer although Steve was at least fifty, moaned at Steve’s partner Charlie that their bins blocked the alley on the other side Steve and Charlie’s own home (nothing to do with Terrance of course) and complained about the car they parked on the road because it was a load of old junk and a disgrace. In fact the car was by no means a pile of junk, not brand new, but a perfectly tidy ten year old Hyundai.
Steve and Charlie invited us to go round for supper, and Jack and Sandy too. It was to introduce themselves, and get to know us, but it was also for us to all have a good old moan about our neighbours from hell. I won’t go on about or list all the annoyances and sometimes scary things which had happened, but it was clear Terrance and Fanny took a delight in causing as much of a nuisance as possible. Needless to say, we hadn’t got a fence between us and them because of the huge fuss they had made, and the difficulties they had caused when Jack had begun to dig holes for the concrete to set the posts in.
We should, Steve said, unify against them, unite, not unify, Charlie murmured. We tentatively agreed. We’d been the unfortunate neighbours of the couple for half a year and even Jack who was a mighty strong bloke, clearly didn’t fancy a tangle with Terrance. What do you suggest? we asked, because we’d been trying to think of ways out of our predicament for months and months.
Charlie had a plan, apparently, which wouldn’t exactly involve us, but might have some short term consequences. Ok, we said, what’s the plan? Charlie smiled conspiratorially and told us the less we knew the better.
About a week later there was a massive banging on the door. It was Terrance; luckily I was alone, if Sarah had been home, combative as she is I think she might have been a little intimidated.
“Will you turn that bloody noise down! It’s driving us bloody crazy! I’ll complain to the council if you don’t stop! I’ll have the environmental health on you!”
I replied that I didn’t know what he was talking about and held out the earbud I had removed to speak to him. I was listening to my own music, the house itself was in silence.
“Don’t tell me a pack of lies! It’s been nonstop since the crack of bloody dawn!”
I didn’t suggest it might be coming from Steve and Charlie, I just repeated that there was no noise coming from us and without slamming it, closed the door. Even if I had been playing music, and even if it had been loud, there was a six foot gap between our houses, and none of our windows were open.
I peeped through blinds – we usually closed them because spooky Fanny had a habit of staring in. Terrance went round to Jack’s and even through the double glazing I could hear the sound of his bellowing.
Next evening at about eleven, there was a repeat performance – not that we were in, but some people from across the road who we were getting to know, mentioned that Terrance had been banging on our door with his fist so loudly they could hear it from inside their house.
This continued over several days – I had tried to see Steve and Charlie, but apparently they were away on holiday – the people from across the road told me. And then we had a visit from the environmental health, about an anonymous neighbour’s complaint. On one of the days when we were supposed to have been so antisocial, we had been at work.
We had a letter from the council about some electrical equipment we were supposed to be using at night which made a high pitched and persistent and very annoying hum. I invited them round to show them that we had no such equipment. They were very thorough and even went into the loft.
I invited them to drop by any evening they liked and see if they could detect anything remotely antisocial. They actually did, without warning we had a noise abatement officer visiting us with various bits of equipment. I told them we were getting more than fed up with this harassment and these unfounded accusations. There was a hum in our neighbour’s house – i.e. Terrace and Fanny. They had heard it and recorded it. Well it blooming well wasn’t our hum, and if these accusations continued I was going to take it further. I don’t really know what I meant by that, but Sarah gave the official a very hard look, as Paddington bear might have said.
Our lives continued to pootle on, we enjoyed the company of Jack and Sandy and Steve and Charlie, and ignored Terrance and his weird wife as much as we could. If he banged on the door, we didn’t answer, and we put up with not being able to sit out in our garden – it was a wet summer anyway, and then one glorious day a for sale sign went up outside their house, and they vanished from our little street and nice new people moved in, an elderly couple who were happy to babysit Jack and Sandy’s kids any time.
Funnily enough, they never heard the slightest hum, or loud music, or any of the other sounds the horrors had complained of. We did learn that Charlie was in some ultra-hush-hush line of business which involved surveillance. I daresay his work might have involved bugging premises, and possibly install micro sound systems which could broadcast whatever – music, annoying hums, whines and buzzing…
alley, brand, jolly, phase, racer, shirk, squat, unify,