Love Thy Neighbour

Entry by: Alobear

22nd June 2016
Love Thy Neighbour

Everybody loved Dan.

He was an easy-going guy, always quick with a smile and a joke. He remembered people’s names and the minutiae of their lives, so he could express an interest in them even after only short acquaintance. If someone was in trouble, Dan was the first to offer assistance, be the requirement for use of his phone, or an entire afternoon’s effort moving furniture. He was always the first to welcome any newcomer to the neighbourhood, and always the last to say anything bad about anybody.

The book club, made up of the five retired women who lived on the street, often discussed Dan in preference to whatever book had been assigned.

“He’s such a nice young man,” Erin said, opening the familiar topic with a statement none of them could dispute.

“Do you know, he came round to fix my fence last Saturday?” Nora announced.

The others all looked jealous. It was a bit of a competition between them as to who could claim the most attention from Dan over the course of the month between book club meetings. Nora looked round the circle, but none of the other four had anything to beat fence-fixing. She graced them all with a smug smile.

“It’s such a shame he doesn’t have a nice girlfriend to look after him,” Sophie said, moving the subject away from Nora’s triumph with alacrity.

“Or a nice boyfriend,” piped up Claire.

The others all nodded sagely. None of them liked to be thought to be behind the times.

“Yes, it’s quite a mystery,” said Daphne, the first to voice what they were all thinking. “He’s so handsome and charming. How is it that he’s all alone in the world?”

This was a common theme of their discussions, and not one they ever thought they would resolve. They had all tried, at one time or another, to delve into the particulars of Dan’s love life, but it was impossible to glean any information on the subject. Dan was always open and friendly, happy to chat over a cup of tea after finishing a job for them, but he somehow always managed to deflect any enquiries along that line.

All five ladies were dying to know his relationship history and whether or not he was currently looking for a partner, but Dan would not tell them, which only made them more eager to know.

It came as a great shock to the whole neighbourhood when Dan disappeared without a word to anyone. One day, he was seen in his front garden, clipping the hedge and waving cheerily to anyone who passed by. The next day, there was no sign of him, and the curtains in the upstairs windows of his house remained open all night, with no evidence of lights on anywhere. Everyone was very concerned, but nobody knew what to do, since Dan had never given anyone a copy of his house keys, nor had he entrusted anyone with emergency contact details for a friend or family member. All the neighbours could do was to gather at their garden fences and speculate as to what might have happened. But not even their wildest guesses came close to the reality.

A few days after Dan’s disappearance, everyone was doubly shocked when a police van arrived on the street and disgorged multiple officers. They ranged up and down the neighbourhood, knocking on all the doors and all asking the same questions.

The next book club meeting was brought forward by a whole week, since the ladies couldn’t wait to discuss the developments.

“They had a picture of Dan, and they kept waving it about in front of my face,” Daphne reported.

“As if we don’t know what he looks like, right enough,” Claire said, sniffing disapprovingly.

“But they kept getting his name wrong! I told them it was Dan, but they would keep referring to him as Steve,” Sophie told the others, amazed at the stupidity of the police.

“And when they said he killed all those people - I didn’t know what to think!” Nora exclaimed.

“Well,” Erin said, “you know I was always suspicious of him. Didn’t I say it was odd for someone to be that nice?”

The others all nodded in agreement, secure in the knowledge that they had known there was something wrong with their neighbour, Dan, all along.