neighbourhood watch

Posted: November 13, 2022 in Lucia Gagliese
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Welcome to our little cul-de-sac. Your family’ll be happy here. It’s quiet, and most folks are friendly. You’ll learn soon enough who isn’t.

Well, since you ask, just between us, number 103, right across the street.

Happened last night, about midnight, my wife fast asleep. The guy who lives there starts shouting. He’s this big bear of a guy, radio-announcer voice.

No, don’t worry, they can’t see us; their curtains are drawn. Besides, likely still in bed. Mrs. Saunders, her backyard abuts theirs, says they aren’t what you’d call morning people. But he’s been ill, so—

No, don’t know exactly. Lots wrong with him, apparently. Regardless, last night, he was in fine form. I hear his booming voice. Angry, vile words. I step out onto my porch, just in case.

No, there’s never been trouble before, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be. Anyway, I’m out there in my robe and so is he, bigger than ever. His wife’s cowering in the doorway.

No, he didn’t see me. So, he’s holding this basket, throwing slippers from it. My wife thinks it’s probably the one they keep for company. Not that they ever have company, not even my wife anymore, not since he called her a nosy hen. So, he’s throwing slippers, bellowing. He stops, says something I can’t hear, and she, no kidding, she kneels in front of him and takes his slippers off his feet.

No, I tell you, I saw it plain as day. The porch light was on. Those are his slippers there – grey flip-flop and brown loafer. Mismatched because they say he’s got one foot that’s hot and one that’s cold. Flip-flop cools, loafer warms.

No, no clue what causes that. Doesn’t matter. As I was saying, she hands him the flip-flop. He throws it. The loafer, same thing. Then she yanks off her own slippers, the red booties right there, and he throws those, too. By now, I’m about ready to call the police. Seems to me, he’ll go after her next, and she’s nothing but a slip of a girl. At least a foot shorter and two hundred pounds lighter than him. But I’m wrong. In an instant, I swear, he seems to deflate, this giant. I’ve never seen anything like it. He’s crying, wailing, sobbing. A man that size.

Great question. Well, my wife or yours would be packing. But not her. She’s been his nurse too long for that, my wife explained this morning. Sainted, she said, never a thought for herself. Instead of giving him what for, she wipes his tears, or so it looks from a distance. She caresses his face, anyway, and he leans into her, arm around her shoulders, his weight on her. They stand there like that for a bit, bare-footed mind you, and then she guides him indoors. Soon, all the lights are out. Show’s over.

I assume she’ll be out to gather them up. But you have a point. In this neighbourhood, we do leave unwanted stuff by the curb for anyone to take. On second thought, go ahead. Help yourself, take a pair, take two. Good as new after a wash.

In fact, my wife might like these moose slippers.


Lucia Gagliese’s stories have appeared in Best Canadian Stories–2021, The New Quarterly, This Will Only Take a Minute (Guernica), The Healing Muse, and others. She is a clinical psychologist and professor at York University in Toronto.

Photo credit: Alice Zorn


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