Bad Company

The woman next door, I’ll call her Sandy, went through some rough patches after her husband left her. He liked guns and had a bowling pin suspended from a tree he used for target practice. Since it was near our property line, he took it down when we moved in, but he complained to Hank the neighborhood was getting too crowded for his taste.

He also had a Doberman pincher he didn’t tie up and we didn’t trust, with good reason it turned out, because Bobby, the dog’s name, turned on the man’s daughter while she was watching TV. He shot the dog, then left the body in the woods because the ground was too frozen to bury the body. The coyotes picked it clean anyway, I know, because our dog kept dragging Bobby’s bones to our yard. I could tell from the tufts of fur.

As I said, Sandy went through some hard times after that and was keeping bad company. One late night, Hank and I were done watching “Pulp Fiction” on our TV when a state trooper knocked at the door. He asked to use our phone. It didn’t take much to get him to say two men, one them Sandy’s boyfriend, got into a fight and the boyfriend stabbed his buddy through the throat. He fled to the woods, and they were getting dogs to find him. He’d likely be going back to prison. He hadn’t been out that long.

I thought for a moment I should tell the state trooper I was a reporter for the local newspaper, but I didn’t. I was planning to pass the story to another reporter anyway. The police dogs found the boyfriend hiding beneath the floorboards of a shed, and he was sentenced later to seven years after admitting in court he intended to kill his friend.

Sandy turned into a model neighbor except for an occasional barking fit by one of her dogs, but they were harmless. Last I knew, she had a beautiful garden and worked hard at it.

More about my former hometown in the hilltowns of western Massachusetts. But this time I changed my neighbor’s first name.

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