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The Neighbour (standard:mystery, 4226 words)
Author: HulseyAdded: Jun 09 2002Views/Reads: 4632/1973Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Chris Cooper suspects his elderly neighbour of being a child murderer. His involvement gets him in deep trouble.

Christopher Cooper, professional loser, drawer of the short straw, and
owner of the black marble. That would be an appropriate epitaph for me. 
It had been an inopportune thirty-five years. I had not even had the 
fortune to win a prize in a raffle. Now here I was, judged insane. Too 
insane to stand trial. My crime was the murder of innocent children and 
a sad old man. I was dispatched to my cell with the judge's harsh 
recommendation, that I should never be released fresh in my memory. How 
I regretted ever meeting Harry Barlow, the cause of my misfortune. 

It all started on a blazing hot summer's morning. I was lazing in my
back garden, still moping over my recent divorce. Jenny had abandoned 
all hope of me making it as a writer, and my moods worsened, as refusal 
after refusal fell onto my doormat. The publishing world was so cruel. 
I was convinced that I had written a bestseller. What did the 
publishers know? She was invisible to me, was her comment. “You're 
obsessed with your writing.” Perhaps she was right. I was not a very 
nice person to live with, as I aspired to reach my ultimate goal. 

The chimes of the ice cream van roused me. Harry Barlow, God bless him;
the Samaritan of Duke Street, hastily made his way to the van, the 
children following like the rats after the pied piper. Barlow was sixty 
years of age, and a widower. He would do anything for anybody would old 
Barlow. He was a pillar of the community. I was not so sure. Granted, 
we are on speaking terms, but there was something about old Barlow. 
Something about the way he leered at children, and the way he touched 
them. Maybe I was imaging things. I was too engrossed in my novel to 
keep in touch with society. 

Today I had made the decision to switch off my PC and take in the sun. I
sipped my ice-cold beer and turned over onto my stomach. Barlow 
returned from the ice cream van with several children in tow. He had 
erected swings and a slide in his garden for the children to play; 
their parents happy in the knowledge of where their offspring were. 
Barlow stooped over to lick the ice cream cone of a young boy. I could 
see through the rickety fence the content children, screaming with 
glee; but what caught my eye was the hand of Barlow. It was caressing 
the bottom of the small boy. 

I rose from my lounger and leant over the fence. Barlow's liver spotted
hand was swiftly withdrawn when he witnessed my presence. 

“Ah, Mr Cooper, isn't it a wonderful day?” 

“Is it, Mr Barlow.? What were you doing just now?” 

“What ever do you mean?” 

“Young Peter Wilcox over there, you were touching his bottom.” 

The bald headed old man laughed, more of a cackle really, “You must have
had too much sun, Mr Cooper. You should be careful what you're 

“I know what I saw Barlow. I've had my suspicions for a long time, and
now they've been substantiated.” 

I crossed over the road towards a group of women who were drinking wine
in the garden, giggling and chatting about the latest chat show. 

“Mrs Wilcox, could I have a word with you please?” I asked. 

“Sure, what is it?” 

“Somewhere more private would be more appropriate, Mrs Wilcox.” 

“Whoa!” sneered one of the women. Others wolf-whistled. “You're all
right there Pat. Your old man won't be back until nine.” 

Pat Wilcox, a busty not unattractive woman, led me indoors. I tried to
deviate my eyes from her ample cleavage. 

“Well, what is it?” she asked. 

“It's your son, Peter. I saw Barlow with his hand on his bottom

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