The Neighbors

Submitted into Contest #148 in response to: Write about two neighbors who cannot stand each other.... view prompt

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Thriller Funny

This story contains sensitive content

**TW/CW** Story contains instances of physical violence and adult language


Phil moseyed down the stairs while tethering his necktie and glanced at his watch as he reached the center-hall landing. 6:47am. With a five-minute drive to the Downers Grove commuter station from the house, if he was out the door now, he could still catch the 7 o’clock express train and be at his desk early by 7:40. Early-in, early-out, exactly what he wanted for this Memorial Day weekend. 


Phil filled his coffee tumbler from the fresh pot and walked out the front door to his waiting Honda Accord in the driveway. As he rounded the front of the car towards the driver’s side, his eyes glanced at the house next-door where his neighbor Darren was mirroring the routine albeit to his Toyota Camry. Their eyes met, immediately sending fire up Phil’s neck. Hate that guy, he thought as he increased his pace.

“Morning Phil.” 


Goddammit. “Morning Darren.” He shouted and rolled his eyes as he ducked into the Accord. 


On the opposing driveway, Darren slid into the driver’s seat of his Camry and put his coffee tumbler in the cup holder and hit the engine start button in one sweep. He dropped the car into reverse hurriedly, hoping to get to the train station quickly where parking would be difficult this Friday morning. He reversed out of his driveway and shifted the gear selector into drive only to be met by Phil’s reversing Accord obstructing the residential street. 


Of course, Darren thought, always getting in the way. Hate that guy.


Phil waived in the rearview as he pulled forward and the pair of American-manufactured Japanese technologies paraded down the suburban thoroughfare towards the train station. They tandomed the entrance to the train station parking lot, splitting at the first aisle with Phil going left and Darren going right. As both cars lurched slowly through the manufactured forest of asphalt and metal, a lone hollow opening hid amidst a canyon of SUVs. Both gunned it down the corridor, Darren’s Camry reaching the space first. 


“Dammit!” Phil shouted to himself as his pounded his fist on the steering wheel. Darren exited his vehicle and wiggled his fingers in a malicious waive to Phil accompanied by a spiteful smirk. Phil swirled his steering wheel and guided his Accord back to the safari hunt for an uninhabited parcel. He flipped his middle finger to Darren in the rearview as he turned at the end of the aisle. Darren caught the neighborly gesture as he stepped onto the curb of the train platform. 


What an asshole, he thought. Darren slid his commuter pass at the turnstile and glanced at the time on his watch, 6:59. He glanced down the train tracks and saw the bright lights of the engine car hurdling towards the station assuredly keeping a tight on-time schedule for Chicagoland’s busiest commuter line. The train arrived and released the doors and Darren led a cattle drive of suburban commuters to the capitalist trough of America’s third largest slaughterhouse of humanity.  


“Express service for Chicago Union Station now departing. Stand clear of the doors.”


Darren looked up at the window to watch a frazzled Phil sprinting for the closing doors, coffee tumbler and briefcase in hand. He dashed along the side of the train to the contracting egress and ran full-speed headfirst into the moving metal wall as the seams shut, sandwiching his coffee tumbler between the closed door and his plump white-collar body. Coffee blasted through the loosely fit lid and splattered across the window of the train and his freshly pressed linen dress shirt. 


“Shit!” he yelled as the train pulled away. Darren laughed from the window as he watched his neighbor of six years bathe in hot coffee before nestling in for a half hour nap to the city. 


On the platform, Phil used his tie to wipe the dripping coffee off his face and snapped his arm to alleviate the brewed morning potion from his person. He watched the train disappear around the corner and looked back at the parking lot and begin a brisk walk straight for Darren’s Camry. As he arrived at the waiting sedan, he pulled his Swiss army knife from his pocket and butchered a slash in each of the four tires, air immediately hissing an escape to the outside environment. 


“Prick,” Phil whispered to himself, “gets what he deserves.” He then slithered back toward the train platform and glanced up to the arrivals/departures board to confirm the 7:13 local train was still on time. 55 minutes into the Loop with additional stops along the way, he wouldn’t be at his desk until 8:20 at the earliest. So much for an early three-day weekend, he thought.


***


Darren arrived back at his car after a long day battling the gladiators of modern finance to find his Camry sitting on four flat tires. 


“Are you kidding me?” He focused his eyes on the front driver’s side tire and saw the gash along the top. After examining all four tires and concluding the obvious, he stomped to the station security office on the pursuit for information. 

           

 “Somebody vandalized my vehicle today! Do you have CCTV footage here?” he yelped to a jaded security guard who was reading a magazine. She looked up in an eye roll to find the middle-aged suit steaming.


“We cannot provide security materials to the general public.” 


“Are you freaking serious? Ma’am my car is immobile, and you won’t…”


“Got a flat, Darren?” 


Darren turned around to find Phil smiling like the Cheshire cat, the mud-caked coffee stain long dried but instantly noticeable. 


“Did you say flat?” Darren asked, his eyes narrowing as he cocked his head in an angled questioning frown. “What would you know about that, Phil?” Phil’s demeaner shifted to a confused, slightly worried contortion as he realized what he just said. Darren hadn’t mentioned flat tires to the security guard, only vandalism. 


“Uh. Um.” Phil stammered for an answer as Darren bounced his head in a questioning motion. “I gotta run, Darren. Adios amigo.” Phil ran off towards his Accord as Darren’s eyes tapered and jaw shifted into a knobby scowl.


“That motherfu –“


“Is there anything else I can help you with, Sir,” the annoyed security lady asked. 


“No. Happy Memorial Day,” Darren said without looking back at her as he walked away.


***


Saturday morning yard chores had Darren up by 6:00am, earlier than he would’ve liked to rise after spending two hours with AAA at the train station the previous evening. But Tom Skilling at WGN was forecasting a high of 90 degrees, so he wanted to get the lawn cut early and hopefully before the waste of human flesh next door reared his ugly face. Darren mowed the lawn and trimmed the hedges, placing the grass and shrub clippings in a trash bag. He popped his head over the fence between his and Phil’s yards to see if his friendly neighbor was awake yet. With no sign of movement in the yard next door, Darren hoisted the trash bag upside down over the wooden fence, dumping pounds of shredded yard waste all over Phil’s vegetable garden. 


“I’ll show you flat tires, jackass,” Darren laughed to himself as he shook the bag to vacate every ounce of waste. 


***


Phil poured a cup of coffee and looked out over his backyard as he took the first sip of what had been the previous day’s linen shirt ornamentation. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the vegetable garden covered in lawn debris. He ran outside to examine the mess and heard the clunking of equipment in the next yard over. Phil stood up to glare over the fence into Darren’s yard and saw him putting his lawn mower into his storage shed amidst a freshly manicured turf. 


“Hey jerk!” Phil yelled to Darren. Darren turned around with a massive smile and waived from across the yard. 


“Morning neighbor! Happy Memorial Day weekend!” Darren shouted as he waltzed across his back deck and through his sliding glass door. Phil huffed and lowered himself back into his kingdom and hurried over to his garage. He looked around his workbench and located a hack saw which he promptly grabbed and took back to the wooden-fenced border dividing the two suburban realms. He left back to the garage and returned a moment later with a ladder, which he raised along the fence under the sycamore tree in Darren’s yard that abutted the boundary. Phil lifted the hack saw and began massacring a large limb with more force than the tires just 24 hours before. In less than a minute of sawing, the limb fell crashing into Darren’s yard. Phil smiled as he climbed down the ladder and returned the weapons of the sycamore bloodbath to their respective garage shelters. 


Darren heard the crash from his kitchen and pounced back out his sliding door to see the severed limb surrendering to plant death on his crisp lawn. 


“That ass!” he yelled as he ran back in the house and up the stairs to his office and straight to his gun safe. He grabbed his Marlin 336C hunting rifle and moved to the window of the office that overlooked the side of Phil’s yard. He opened the window to his vantage point of his own personal schoolbook depository and raised the rifle to his sights. He opened fire on Phil’s house, lodging six perfect shots: one to each of the three visible coach lights, and one shot each into the three upstairs windows facing the narrow alley between the two suburban citadels. 


Phil was sitting at his kitchen table drinking his second cup of coffee when he heard the six shots ring out. 


“Shit!” he shouted as he ducked under the table. He waited for a minute to see if any more shots would come before vacating his makeshift dining table trench. He snuck upstairs to investigate where the shots had hit and examined one of the shattered windows. His eyes refocused past the shards of broken glass to his neighbor’s upstairs window. He watched from across the passage as Darren re-holstered his rifle in the gun safe and closed the door and spun the dial to lock it. Phil grunted and scowled and ran downstairs to his liquor cabinet. He grabbed a half-empty bottle of vodka and went to the kitchen where he grabbed a dish towel and fashioned a Molotov cocktail from the characteristic domestic items at his disposal. 


Phil marched upstairs to one of the shattered windows and looked down into Darren’s side yard where his propane grill sat waiting for Memorial Day barbecue festivities to be held in a few days. He took his lighter and lit the towel at the end of the Molotov cocktail and launched his weapon of war towards Darren’s grill. Phil ran towards the wall of the room and jammed his fingers into his ears and crouched towards the ground awaiting the inevitable. 


The houses both shook as a violent flash of light was ignited by the explosion of propane gas and the Molotov cocktail. A massive eruption discharged into the vinyl siding and wood of both residences as Phil’s body flew into the wall and fell unconscious on the floor of his spare bedroom. 


***


Phil’s fuzzy vision dissipated into a cloudy image of pure white. Wondering where he was, he blinked a few times and attempted to raise his hand to his forehead to rub an excruciating pounding sensation. Unable to move his hand he glanced to his side to see his left wrist handcuffed to a metal tube. Phil groaned and looked forward to visually explore his new surroundings. He laid flat in a linen gown and sheets in a sterile, white tiled hospital room. The patient information board ahead revealed the day to be Sunday. He took a deep breath. 


“Morning Phil.” 


Phil looked to his right to see where the familiar voice had come from only to find his neighbor continuing his role in the hospital bed beside him. He was bandaged in casts on his left arm and right leg and was also handcuffed to his hospital bed at his left foot. He stared blankly at the ceiling.


“Morning Darren,” Phil sighed as he closed his eyes to relax his throbbing head. 

June 04, 2022 02:22

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1 comment

01:34 Jun 09, 2022

This is quite the violent story! I'm impressed with how you described Phil and Darren's different yet surprisingly similar lives. I also liked how you separated different points of time within the story with those asterisks. A few things I believe you could consider more closely if you were to edit this story: - The term "waived" is when you refrain from using something (usually the rights or claim to something). For example, the lawyer waived his legal fees for the financially struggling man. The term "waved" should've been used in your s...

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