Bill has always been an excellent neighbour. He kept to himself mostly, but he would give you the shirt off his back if he thought it would make you happy.
It was odd, Steve supposed, that he still lived alone. It was a big house, so he must be doing well at his job. Something in finance, Bill would murmur if asked. He was also handsome by any standards, although his smile always seemed a bit forced.
Still, it was surprising when the police came by. They asked Steve if he had noticed any odd behaviour, or if he could recall any large garden projects Bill had been working on. They wouldn’t explain what they were looking for, but Steve had seen enough TV to have a suspicion. He told them that he wasn’t aware of anything.
That afternoon, Steve stared from the kitchen window at the garden shed his friendly neighbour had helped build months back. Bill had insisted on pouring the concrete for the base and was even willing to pay for the supplies, as he “could use the practice for later”. Due to his odd working hours he had worked on it at night, so Steve did not need to help.
The amount of dirt left displaced had seemed a little much, he had thought. Still, it would be a shame to ruin such good work. Plus, Steve had kept the bloodied earring he had found in the dirt pile, just in case Bill wouldn’t agree to help build the pool he was planning.
He had thought it would help his writing to join a writer’s circle.
Alan had been sitting on his first draft for months, terrified that there would be more work in editing the thing than there had been in writing it. He had basked in the pride of having written an entire story and couldn’t bare having to cut away pieces or to reshape it. As he walked towards the apartment block with a printed copy of his first chapter, he hoped they would not have many notes for him. Surely they would at least go easy on him for the first week?
It had been difficult to find this group. They had actually advertised in the newspaper of all places. Even to someone who bragged to his barista (who knew his order by heart) about writing a crime novel, it seemed pretentious. However, he had needed to find the right audience for his work and the ad reading “crime writers meeting – serious interest only” had given him a good impression. After he sent the listed email address his first chapter, he had quickly received an invitation to the meeting.
It seemed odd to invite a stranger to an apartment, rather than vetting them in public first, but he assumed the group outnumbering him made them feel that there was no danger. He supposed the real risk was to him, but he carried a pocketknife just in case. Not that he thought it would come to that.
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It was very trying
He thought, compressed
To be trapped lying
In a crate perhaps five feet abreast
It was awfully cold,
He thought, making do
the padding was old
and smelled strongly of mildew
It must be quite a gale,
He thought, feeling queasy
It was better than gaol,
though the swaying made him uneasy
It was annoying, however,
To have nothing to do
He had a letter from his lover
But she was not there to screw
She had convinced him
To get rid of his wife
While the task had been grim
His desire was worth more than her life
He had taken her sailing
An outing she would often demand
And to reward her failings
He made sure she did not return to land
It should have been straightforward
To restart life as a widower
But he was soon cornered
And he made a deal with a ship owner
It had cost him dearly
To ship him away
More than he made yearly
But worth it to finally escape
The storm was growing worse
He thought, his calm beginning to fail him
As he pressed upwards, he began to curse
The idiots had put real nails in
It was more than damp now,
He realised as he heard splashing
Then the grinding of the ship’s bow
And he knew they were crashing
He clawed and he hammered
But he was already entombed
And no matter how loud he clamoured
There was simply nothing to do
He now heard words he had tried to ignore
Which his wife had spoken, before the screams
"This is all I have ever wished for,
For you and I to take a trip to the sea!"