The Proprietor

I suppose there was nothing immediately striking about the new neighbor at thirty-four Dorechester Drive. He was of average height and build, with thick dark hair that contrasted with his pale milky skin. He moved in with little fanfare, late one night a small moving truck had quietly parked in the driveway as the stranger took residence in the shadows.

He had kept to himself in the month that followed. There was no wife or children to speak of, I kept an eye out for these things as my daily chores went unnoticed, my curiosity deepening. Being retired, I snooped through the windows of my house, being a widower, I had no one to tell me to mind my business while I did so, being a writer, I became absorbed with the mysterious character and his nighttime activities. I began walking Henry, my graying poodle, up and down the cul de sac at dusk, taking a closer look as there was something vaguely familiar about the lonely man and his movements.

One evening, after dinner and our snooping walks, I rinsed my dinner plate at the sink and Henry worked at his bowl on the floor, I looked out across the deck to the darkened house next door. My eyes perked as a single light came to life in the basement window, flickering in the darkness. I was drying the chipped and battered plate when an old narrative flashed in my head and I grabbed my hat and headed for the door, ignoring Henry's pleas to tag along. I stepped outside and into the quiet night, unaware that my involvement in the situation was growing with each step towards the house.

Approaching the basement window, I carefully stepped between the shrubs. I had planned on knocking on the door and introducing myself as the customs of a civilised society suggested, but as my archaic mind began indexing the hundreds of thousands of words that I had committed to paper over the years; screenplays, articles, rough drafts, and the three novels, two words kept bursting to the surface, a killer.

I crouched down, peeking into the window while igniting a sharp pain in my lower back. I spotted him in the corner, frantically digging into floor of the basement. Violent stabs into the dirt floor with his shovel, under the incandesciant bulb in the rudimentary fixture fastened into the beams overhead. I took a deep breath, beside him there was a lump of mass covered loosely with a faded brown tarp. Bosely Conner was digging a grave.

I would have written this scene during a storm. I thought, seconds before feeling a single rain drop fall on my hand. Bosely Conner, how did I know that? A crack of thunder boomed, the air stirred, I backed away from the window, unsettled.

I hobbled up the steps to the deck, entering the kitchen, the name Bosely Conner puncturing my thoughts as I ascended the stairs to the attic, Henry followed cautiously. My family had tried for years to get me into a smaller house but I had refused. Now as each stair brought an uproar of pain I cursed my own stubborness.

I began with the boxes of manuscripts, unleashing the years of my labor into the air, fumbling through the musty titles as I searched for the plot. I froze as I heard the heavy steps on the wooden deck outside. Back to the box, I found it, The Stranger in the House, the only time I had worked with Hitchcock.

My hands trembled as I flipped through the pages. Bosely Connor…..opens the door…..knife…..bodies in the basement. The kitchen door opened slowly. Back to the manuscript, the door turns slowly…up the stairs….breathes his last breath…The script, rejected by Warner Brothers long ago,had gone unfinished and was packed away and forgotten for almost 50 years.

I jumped to my desk to where my trusty Underwood typewriter sat, pulling off the dusty cover. My hands shook as I opened the white out, slapping the brush across the last paragraph. The first step squeaking as my fingers hit the keys, picking up speed as they raced the 13 remaining steps on the staircase. He trips… I punched in a flurry, a desperate attempt to buy time and change my fate. I heard him stumble in the stairway, back to the script; I banged away, click click click, he entered the room.

His hair was wet, a single lock of black hair fell into his dark eyes. He held the shovel in his large, punishing hands.

“Mr. Higgins? I’m sorry to intrude, my name is Bosley Conners, from next door..."

I sat paralyzed in my chair, unable to take my eyes off of the dirty shovel. Henry, my faithful friend, was nowhere to be found.

"I'm so sorry to barge in like this but you've got to see what I’ve found in the house.”

I slowly rose from my chair, ready to play out the scene and end the story, unable to believe what I had just typed.

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Comments 18 comments

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Wonderful story, I am surprised at your plot, which is just great.

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Becky, glad you enjoyed it!

Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

Good tale telling.

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

A terrific plot and a mesmerizing story, weestro. You're off and running with flash fiction!


weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Perspycacious, I appreciate it!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Jaye, the plot was from a writing prompt, about a neighbor that moves in and is one that the author has written about, but I liked the idea of being able to change his intentions!

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

I especially liked that you let the author write a new ending.

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

I tell you every time and I say it again "You blew me away!"

This is one of your best yet. I thought I had it figured out, but how ridiculously stupid of me!

I'm voting up and sharing!

johndnathan profile image

johndnathan 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas. USA

Very interesting story, Weestro. I do like it when you're not sure whether life is influencing art or the other way around.

Mr Archer profile image

Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

Excellent story, Sir! It sounds like it should have been a Twilight Zone episode. I read and re-read this story to be sure I understood the ending. It's raining and storming right now where I live as I am typing away on my keyboard, thunder and lightening abound; and I fear that I will hear those footsteps outside my door! Quick, I must sign off before....

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Jaye, it was fun to go outside of my comfort zone!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks shining, it was fun to write and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks john, I appreciiate it!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Mr. Archer! Mr. Archer! NOoooooooooo!

Jordanwalker39 profile image

Jordanwalker39 4 years ago from GA

Great story I really liked reading it. Fun time. Thanks!

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Jordan!

austinhealy profile image

austinhealy 4 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

Brilliantly somber, I truly enjoyed the reading

weestro profile image

weestro 4 years ago from Virginia Author

Glad you liked it austinhealy, thanks for reading and commenting!

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