The Neighbour

The Neighbour by Chris Barraclough, Humour/Mystery, 2,000 words

After a traumatic confrontation with a mugger, the nameless protagonist finds himself suffering from agoraphobia. Unable to leave his apartment, and tormented by a noisy neighbour, he soon discovers that his possessions are going missing...


2. Short Circuit


My face no longer hurt, but the wanker must’ve jarred something good in my skull. I realised something was wrong around two months ago. I was gazing out of my window at the constant haze that constitutes a view, when my vision darkened and tiny black bubbles swarmed over me. I only just made it to my bed before the bubbles exploded.


Who knows how long I was out. When I collapsed, the neighbour had been playing Tom Jones at full pelt; on my return, it was Lionel Ritchie. I lifted my head and saw I was spread over my duvet, empty water bottles poking into my back. Despite a horrible nausea in my gut, my lips twitched and I found myself smiling. Dad would’ve been dancing in circles and waving his arms wildly at this song – ‘all night long’ it was called. Personally, I prefer unconsciousness.


But the music took me back to a wedding reception when I was five, sat in a corner of a bustling pub playing He Man with my cousin Hayley. Skeletor had been thrown into a pint glass of acid and vanquished, and He Man and Teela were celebrating in the beer mat fort. He Man tried to kiss Teela, but she pushed him away. She said boys had tiny monsters in their mouths that would eat you from the inside out. He Man said don’t be so stupid, and the resulting fight destroyed the fort and sent Skeletor’s glass prison crashing to the ground. Hayley stormed off, and I slumped on a stool and watched the grown-ups twirling around the centre of the room. Lionel was belting out this song, and dad was bumping his bottom against mum’s and pumping his fists in the air. They looked happy as hell.


Twenty nine years of marriage, and I’ve never seen them argue. Me, I’ve never made it two weeks into a relationship without my date storming out after a blazing row. Come to think of it, Hayley was just the first of many.


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