The Neighbors

They weren’t just stupid. They were also careless. They left their tools on the grass in the backyard next to the tree they’d slaughtered that afternoon just before the rain. For no reason, they’d cut it down. In their primitive fashion, they had torn at it with a machete after sawing it down with a chainsaw.

They’d left the chainsaw on the grass as well.

It had started raining, so they rushed inside. God forbid the elements of nature touch them. Which was why they were destroying the only beautiful thing on their property. A maple. Full grown and green and lush. Now in segments on the grass.

It was the chainsaw that caught my eye.

As darkness came upon the place, I saw the chainsaw still there.

Once it was fully dark, I dressed in my black pants, shirt, black gloves, and a hooded sweatshirt. I was a ninja now, all in black. I went out and made a beeline to where I’d seen the chainsaw lying. It was still there. I picked it up and moved towards their house. The flickering television, a massive 50” piece of work, held their attention. There were five. The older man, the owner of the place, his wife, their daughter from out of state with her husband and her own five-year-old daughter. They sat, entranced by American Idol. Who would be selected tonight? Whose voice was sweetest? Who did the cleverest thing of all on that stage?

I went back to my own place, chainsaw in hand, to wait for the flickering light to go black. I set the chainsaw down by the back door.

In the walk-in closet, I found my father’s shotgun and a half-empty box of shells on the shelf nearby. I loaded two bullets and waited.

Around midnight, I went back to their house. No moon in the sky was a great help. In their house, all was silent. All was dark.

I threw a pebble at the window of what I determined to be the master bedroom in the back of the house; the room where the owner and his wife slept. I threw another. And another. A light went on. The man came to the window to peer out, saw nothing. The light went out.

I threw another pebble. This time slightly larger.

I went to the back porch door and waited.

I saw a flashlight’s bouncing light move down the stairs and turn the corner toward the backyard. I stood, braced by the side of back door. The hall light went on, shedding light onto the porch. He opened the inner door. I held my breath. There was a screen door as well. The chainsaw had a push button starter and as the man opened the screen door, I pounded the button and the chainsaw roared to life.

I raised the chainsaw to the level of the man’s neck and sawed easily through, right to left. The head rolled forward off the neck, down the chest, and hit the back porch deck with the thud of a large cabbage. The body staggered a single step and fell. The legs twitched. I sawed off the arms and legs just as they’d done to first my trees and then their own.

Seconds later, I reached for the shotgun. The screen door opened as I trained my sight between the son-in-law’s eyes, just above his gaping mouth. I knew the blast would shatter a foot-wide hole through his head and whatever was behind him, so I wasn’t too particular about my aim. I was about to squeeze the trigger when the owner’s wife and daughter appeared behind the son-in-law. Their timing was more than perfect. They stood in the hallway screaming for me to stop.

I squeezed and all three were done. Night was silent again.

The last living creature in the house was the granddaughter of the owner and I had no bone to pick with her. Plus, she had stayed fast asleep through all the chaos.

I set about sawing off the arms, legs, and heads of the other three and left them there on the porch in splendid disarray. I took the chainsaw to my house, hosed it off, and washed off myself as well. I put the chainsaw into a plastic shopping bag and then into a large, hard plastic suitcase. I stashed the suitcase in the trunk of my car.

And then, I went to bed.