Friday, September 22, 2006

Murder on My Mind

by Rebecca Drake

The gas line is being replaced on my block, a process that seems to involve lots of huge vehicles, even more men and the solid roar of jackhammers and backhoes for several hour stretches each day. I put on headphones and try to pretend I don’t hear them. They knock on the door and politely ask that I move the car.


In one respite from the noise, I hear the unmistakable sound of water dripping. A leak has sprung in the tile roof and water is pouring through a crawlspace and down into my daughter’s bedroom.

A bucket is hastily put in place. A roofer is called. They come a week later, joining the line of company trucks outside, and mount their ladders outside my office window, climbing across my flat office roof to reach the section of tiled roof that needs to be repaired. Back and forth they go, back and forth, thump, thump, thump. My head throbs along to the beat.

In the stillness of the night, always near midnight and often at 3 and 4 a.m. too, the man across the street who suffers from insomnia, walks in and out of his house, letting his heavy screen door slam behind him. A jarring, sit-up-in-bed and say “what-the-f” kind of noise.

Every night.

Several times a night.

I’m an advocate of gun control. I’ve participated in peace marches. I could at one point have been certified as a latter-day tree-hugging hippie. Now I could just be certified. I want to kill someone.

Should I pick the construction worker blithely tossing his empty coke bottles on my stretch of sidewalk? I could stuff him in one of the holes they’ve left and fill it up with gravel from the enormous pile sitting at the end of my road. They’ll never miss him.

Maybe the chatty roofer, who wants to explain exactly when I should call to get my gutters cleaned, instructions so complicated--call the main office and ask to be put on a schedule--that he needs to explain the process to me at least five times.

Smile, nod, agree that, yes, that’s the thing to do all right. Can’t let those leaves pile up because you’re bound to have more trouble down the road. Got to call now to get on that schedule. If you wait you won’t get on the schedule and then you’ll be waiting. Forever.

It’ll take less time than that for them to find him if I reach out my office window and give that ladder he’s standing on a little push. Whee-e-e. A short flight backwards through the air and he won’t be bothering me about the fall clean-up or any clean-up anymore.

Or maybe I’ll help the neighbor across the street with his little problem with insomnia. I’ll tiptoe over one night and wait for him. Just as he’s making his second trip outside, I’ll sandbag him and then I’ll bang his thick skull so hard in that screen door that he’ll be sleeping with the angels.

I’m thinking of posting a sign on my lawn: Beware of the Crime Writer!


mike said...

I thought my street was noisy! Oh, Becky, thanks for the eawrly morning your expense, I know, and I'm sorry 'bout that, but I needed it after being forced to make a long detour around a traffic jam on the Parkway West, then getting to work only to find my computer on the fritz (fixed now after crawling around on the never-cleaned carpet to figure out which plug to pull).

Annette said...

Becky, you need a vacation! You can come out here to the country and use our camper. The cattle mooing might wake you up, but otherwise you'll get some rest. Which it sounds like you desperately need!!!

And let me echo Mike in saying thanks for a good laugh this morning.

Tory Butterworth said...

My next door neighbor is on disability but he's always working on something (I presume having to do with his house.) He appears only able to use machines that make high-pitched buzzing noises, like the sounds of very large insects. He's a bit deaf. I wonder why?

I've been reading your book. I'd like to remind each of us the dangers of living in a home far from our neighbors. Especially when a serial killer is after you!

Nancy said...

When my kids were in elementary school one year, a slew of friends and neighbors put my name on the school nurse emergency card in case their kids got sick. I was the only "stay at home mom" in the bunch. Let me tell you, it was only one year. After my not-so-subtle hints, everyone got the message. Mind you, I got one of my best story details the day I picked up one kid and took him home to a creepily filthy house with the doors and windows hanging open. I thought his mother had been beaten in a knock-down-drag-out fight & kidnapped. Turned out, she was on a "mother's strike" and was totally embarrassed that I'd seen her house in that condition. It made a great moment in a good, though. Maybe you should brandish a toy weapon out your window, Becky, and see what happens. (Hey, if you can't use the details of all those construction workers diving for cover, I surely can from a block away!)

Nancy Again said...

Book. A great moment in a book. When will I learn to Preview??

Kristine said...

I'm picturing you perched outside your office window with a toy gun, Becky, and I can't stop laughing.

Rebecca Drake said...

Oh, I'm even worse in the country, Annette! All that silence gets on my nerves--then I'd really go postal!

I've decided that my first victim is going to be my husband, who is relentlessly cheerful through everything. "Well, it's good they're getting this work done," "I'm glad we caught that leak before it got worse," and "Poor Mr. ____. That's really sad."

Why oh why does that just increase my crabbiness? :)

Annette said...

Oh, yeah. I forgot your phobia about rural areas. Never mind...

Judith said...

Becky: I need you and your gun in my neighborhood. Apparently we have a group of burglers going around in the dead of night, breaking into homes and stealing whatever they can get... while the people sleep. Ergo, I'm not sleeping. We could have great fun target shooting the deer, turkeys and a burgler or two. I think we might also need Annette, who knows what to do with the gun.

Cathy said...

It's the people who park in our cul-de-sac, in front of people's mailboxes, in the middle, so that you want to throw eggs at the cars. Maybe we could pick them off one at a time, and things would straighten up. Yes, perfect answer.

By the way, love the book, and Alan, my fiance, is trying to take it off me and I'm not even done yet (but almost). Better finish the next one, Becky.

Rebecca Drake said...

Thanks, Tory and Cathy, for reading the book!

Well, when we form the posse I'm betting that I don't get to fire the gun. I was embarrassingly bad at the firing range, though Ray and those other nice guys were polite enough not to laugh.

Judith, I'm so sorry to hear about the burglars. That's truly annoying, not to mention scary!

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