8 Jul

Part ONE of this tale is The Sports People.

Part Two is The Real Simone

Part Three is A Drink in Time

Part Four is A Sunday Lunch for Three

Part Five is Salutary Tales and Downright Lies



FATHER AND DAUGHTER photo unhappy-father-and-teenage-daughter_zps44c550c9.jpg

He lied to me, dad,” muttered a pale-faced Paula, “he lied to both of us. Here was me thinking he liked me, thinking he wanted to go out with me, and all the time he’s doing … it … with the bitch Simone.”

I thought you liked Simone.” said her father quietly.

I thought she was okay.”

How okay?”

Well,” murmured Paula thoughtfully, “keep this to yourself, dad, but I know she does serious things with boys. She sort of boasts about it. Sometimes she sounds like a cheap romance novel! She’s always saying she left her knickers down the back of so-and-so’s settee or found her bra in Mr X’s car after he’d given her a lift home.”

And you believe her?”

Well … I sort of don’t know. Simone’s a bit odd and she sometimes tells me things I know aren’t quite true.”

Things like David making her … pregnant?”

That’s got to be true! She told both of us! I’m sure she wouldn’t tell any of her tall stories to my dad!”

Let me tell you something I remember from a long time ago,” began her father.

Another salutary tale?” asked Paula.

Call it what you will, lass, but years ago, long before you were born, soon after your mum and I got married, we lived next door to a man who we felt sorry for. At least, we felt sorry for him at first. He said his wife was sick – he was in his forties – and apparently she was terminally ill. So we offered to help out where we could, but he never let us in to meet his wife. Your mum would say how it would be nice for her to get to know a neighbour, to have someone to talk to, but he always put her off.”

I guess he thought it wouldn’t right for someone young and pretty to remind a sick woman what it’s like not to be so sick,” suggested Paula. “It would be like rubbing her nose in it.”

That’s very much like what your mum said,” nodded Mr Potts. “And this carried on for ages – above a year at least. And we did little things for him because of it. I used to mow his grass, your mum cooked him nice things and offered to sit in if he needed to go out. But he never did. He stayed in the house twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Goodness knows how he would have got any provisions if we hadn’t offered to fetch them for him!”

You were good Samaritans, dad,” sighed Paula.

That’s what we felt like until there was a massive police raid on his house. The whole neighbourhood was suddenly in chaos! The street was cordoned off and we were all treated as if we were complicit in some dreadful plot. It was terrible, I can tell you.”

What was it, dad?” asked Paula, alarmed.

Well, we found out, once things had settled down, that things next door hadn’t been what we thought they were. In fact, they were very different. Far from his wife being sick and on her way out, she was a prisoner in her own bedroom until the day she died, along with her tribe of babies. That’s what he was doing: breeding a tribe of babies, keeping that poor woman pregnant and doing the home-delivery himself. And the babies all died within a short time of their birth because as far as he was concerned they’d fulfilled their purpose. They didn’t need feeding or caring for. He had a spare room that he used as a sort of mausoleum, wrapping the tiny corpses in old sheets and lying them in there for time to dispose of. It was worse than macabre: it was true evil.”

That’s dreadful, dad!”

And we felt complicit.” Mr Potts still felt the bitterness that he’d experienced years earlier, and it showed in his voice. “We never suspected anything of the sort was going on, – but the neighbours on the other side did, and it was they who alerted the police. You see, they were sure they could hear the desperate cries of starving babies and the weeping of their mother when she was unable to do anything to help them. I thought afterwards that they’d looked at us a bit oddly, as though we knew things we didn’t know, but from our side there were no clues that anything was wrong. But, as I say, all we felt was sympathy for him and his dying wife – until we found out the truth, that is.”

And that’s your latest salutary tale, dad?” asked Paula.

Yes, lass. It’s about lies. We were lied to, and we believed those lies though there were plenty of clues to warn us that something really must be wrong. After all, it never crossed our minds that, if the woman was as ill as the devil said she was, why there never seemed to be a doctor calling on them.”

I see, dad.”

Do you, Paula? I looked into Simone’s eyes when she was grinning and telling you that she was expecting David’s child, and I’d seen eyes like those before. Back then, soon after your mum and I got married, on the face of the monster from next door. It’s spooky how similar they seemed to be.”

But what if she’s telling the truth, dad and it’s just the way her eyes are?”

The truth is an honest world, Paula. It’s the kind of place where eyes like hers can’t see: they’re blind and the truth is no more than shadows to them. Tell me, love, and be honest: who do you hold in highest esteem as being truthful? Simone or David?”

You know what I feel about David, dad…”

He’s special to you. I know. And because you’re my daughter and as special as I know you are, you’re not going to feel like that about any old boy. Now how do you feel about Simone?

I thought she was my friend, dad. We play tennis on Sundays together. We talk and gossip. Or, at least, it’s usually her doing the gossiping…”

And has she been to bed with David?”

It took Paula quite a long time, and then she shook her head.

He wouldn’t dad,” she whispered, “I’m sure he wouldn’t.”

There you have all the answers, darling. In your knowledge of him. So go to your quiz tomorrow night. Go with him and, if you feel it’s right, tell him what Simone said and see what he says.”

All right, dad.”

It’s a topsy-turvy old world,” sighed her father, “and sometimes it’s plain hard to see your way through it…”

©Peter Rogerson 08.07.14


2 Responses to “THE MONSTER NEXT DOOR”

  1. pambrittain July 8, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    I’m really enjoying this story, Peter. Can’t wait till you find out what happens next.

    • Peter Rogerson July 9, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      Maybe not today, Pam – we’re expecting a furniture delivery and that’s bound to involve loads of related stuff, like cleaning…

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