birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

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Notes and Observations About the Stranger(s) Next Door

214 Reeves Dr. Unit A. The two story apartment building next door to us housed 8 single apartments and seemed tailor made to accomodate a revolving set of transient residents.

The downstairs unit across from our front door was an especially temporary abode. The tenants tended not to speak to us.

1984 Elderly gentleman who worked as a security guard. He had a stooped frame, wore thick glasses and walked with a slow shuffle that may have been a result of a bad back. Neighbors said he died on the job.

1989 Tall blonde woman with two enormous dogs. She was gorgeous, Swim Suit Issue shaped and appeared to be brimming with vibrant health. Can only assume she needed a short term rental while some other far more luxurious housing could be arranged. Or maybe she was in town to audition for a career making part in a B movie about to begin filming. We saw her climb through her small side window one evening when she had forgotten her key. Her two Doberman roommates must have made it very crowded in there, as that unit was basically, just a room with a kitchenette and a tiny bathroom. The police were called when she reported a Peeping Tom.

1990 Quiet woman living alone. I’m not sure I ever saw this one enough to recognize her again. We called the Fire Department when we smelled and saw smoke drifting out her window. She had fallen asleep on her fold-out couch with a lit cigarette.

1993 Cranky dude who we never saw. On Easter morning, we were enjoying a beautiful sunny day outside watching the children gleefully hunt for the Easter eggs I had hidden around our apartment’s small garden area. It was around 11:30 am. “Shut the fuck up!” was our one contact with him.

1996 Have no idea who lived there. Called the Fire Department when we smelled and saw smoke coming from the apartment window.

1997 A young woman we never saw. Police were called when her family could not reach her. She died from an overdose of pills.

2002 A woman with long dark hair of dubious job description. As I was returning from the market one summer afternoon, I noticed an unpleasant viscous liquid dripping out of a pipe under the window of Unit A. I went over and knocked at Unit A to alert the tenant that someone should phone the management company and request a plumber. She answered the door, opening it about 3”. The room behind her was completely dark. Was it smoke-filled or is that my memory playing with me? Black-out fabric had been strung all across the windows and the lights were out. “Yes?”

“Hi. I live in the building next door and noticed something oozing out of the pipe below your window. You should probably call the rental company and have someone come out and take a look.” From behind her…” Hey, babe, who’s that?!! Come on back!” “Someone from next door”. She turned in her ivory satin nightgown. It was backless down to her butt crack. “ Sure. Thanks for telling me. Bye.” Irritated noises emanated from the dark. “I’ll be right there.” Click.

The Good Samaritan

To The Ends of the Earth