It’s the afternoon already and I haven’t left home yet. I stood on the doorstep for some time, but I didn’t go out. Being near outside was enough – seeing the broken champagne glass someone left there, the garbage truck roll by and some school kids on their way home. When he had his back to me I threw a rock at the one with the dreadlocks.
Looking at the champagne glass, I imagined a high-heeled girl stumbling from the pub with a red face and a drink she didn’t know she stole. Glossed up for a night out but still single at midnight – I’m surprised I didn’t hear her last night.
You notice more about the world when you never leave your home. I read a book once about the verandah and how it’s a halfway point between the natural world and the created world. Like a viewing point – a platform at the zoo – where we can fool ourselves that, maybe, we’re experiencing the world, yet we’re still safe in our homes. Well that’s what I feel like.
I didn’t really see my neighbours before, but I’m getting to know them now. Well, not in the usual way – it’s not like we’re chatting in the alley and lending butter and eggs. On the North side of the house is Mr Good Wok and his family. They’re Vietnamese, I think, but I named them after the Chinese restaurant underneath their flat. They have a gigantic satellite on their roof that I think I could tap into if I got up there with a wire. But I don’t have a TV, anyway. But it might get rid of that crackle on the Arabic radio. Mr Good Wok has this little fluffy dog that coughs at night. He sits the thing on his lap to trim the curly hair around its eyes. One time he had a crab sitting on the table with him, all bound up and ready for Mr Good Wok soup.
On the other side is Gunther. This morning I heard him singing in the shower and slapping his belly like a portable bass drum. In my half-sleep I dreamt of a seaplane touching down and trimming the water with a whip each time that Gunther slapped his belly with a soaped-up palm. He sang a German marching song. As if Sinatra had been enlisted and was on foot to the front line.
His name isn’t really Gunther. I haven’t talked to him actually, but he looks like a Gunther. I’ve passed Mr Good Wok in the alley behind our houses, but he only ever talks about his dog. I animal lover – love animals. Dog is loud, coughing like kah kah, but ok – that’s what he says. He’s had complaints about the dog, and must be worried I’ll complain too. But the dog’s under enough stress with the crab and the haircut, so I let it be.
I hope my neighbours aren’t getting to know me as well. Maybe they saw me sitting on the doorstep, trying to reach for the champagne glass in the gutter, throwing rocks at the pigeon on the roof. I hope they didn’t – I hit the pigeon, and Mr Good Wok would be upset.