Keeping Up With The Joneses

Keeping Up With The Joneses

A Story by J.P. Paradise

A tale of competitive serial killers


When your neighbour is digging his garden at three in the morning, you know you have someone special living next door. I watched through a crack in the curtains. I knew what he was up to of course, which made it all the more delicious when I raised the matter over the garden fence the following day. A new patio was coming on apace. Barry Jones, recently moved into number 27, had the cement mixer going and was stripped to the waist.

“Morning Barry,” I said, as nonchalantly as possible. “Starting work early, what with the hours you were putting in last night?” That had him on the back foot, though, to give him his due, he played it cool.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he lied. I could tell he was lying, though most wouldn’t. Then again, most people aren’t murderous sociopaths like myself. “Thought I’d get a bit more work done in the garden,” Barry went on. 

“Each to their own. I watch telly if I can’t sleep. Or go to work,” I replied. 

Barry hesitated for a moment and then said, “Go to work?”

“Like yourself,” I explained, “I just don’t bring my work home. Well not anymore.”

Full credit to my neighbour; he didn’t bat an eyelid. Just carried on pouring cement into short trench about six feet long by two feet wide.

“Unusual foundations for a patio. Bit on the deep side. And short as well,” I commented.

Barry slopped some water around inside the mixer to clean it out and then sidled over to me. He leaned on the fence so we were barely inches apart and could talk without being overheard. “What work do you do when you can’t sleep?” he asked softly.

“Pizza delivery guy, prostitute, cabbie, security guard, street sweeper,” I said, pointing to different locations around the garden. A small tree or shrub grew at each spot and, to be fair, they were doing rather nicely.

“Doesn’t your wife know?” he asked.

“Oh yes. Doesn’t mind at all as long as I don’t make a mess and it’s no-one she knows. Keeps me active she says. So, who’s that then?” I nodded towards the drying cement.

“Traffic warden.”

“Nice touch,” I said, a little jealous.

“Yeah. No-one likes them so I figured one wouldn’t be missed.”

“Fair shout,” I agreed.

“You said you don’t bring your work home any more?” Barry said.

“Run out of space really. It would look like a bloody jungle down there if I tried to squeeze any more in. Wouldn’t look right. No, I now use pig farms. There’s loads around here and those porkers don’t half get through a body in no time. Saves a lot of hard work on my part.”

Barry actually went slightly pale. “I think I’ve just gone off chops and sausages.”

I grinned. “We’re supposed to taste a bit like pork, not that I’d know; not into that sort of thing. Definitely not my cup of tea that. Where was I? Oh yeah, anyone noshing on a chop wouldn’t know what that pig has been eating so it’s win-win; piggy gets a meal and my problem disappears.”

“Don’t care. Pork is off the Joneses table for good,” said Barry. “No barbecues, nothing. The missus ain’t gonna be too happy but I ain’t risking it.””

The fact Barry had bagged a traffic warden bugged me for a while. I generally went for people at the lower end of the social scale. Seems a bit harsh but their disappearance tends to have less impact and there are more of them. But a traffic warden; he’d upped the ante. Not exactly big league but a sort of minor authority figure. Damn him. I was going to have to bring my game up a bit.

A few nights later I peeked out through the curtains again. It was fairly dark but I could make out Barry rolling something into another pit. He glanced up. I don’t know if he saw me but I gave him a thumbs up anyway.

“Neat job,” I said the following day, admiring Barry’s handiwork. A nice new decking area had been built and looked a lovely spot to spend an evening.

“South-facing. Had to be done,” he said. It did add a nice touch to an already very nice garden.

“I can’t help noticing it is conveniently covering your recent excavations,” I mentioned in as casual tone as I could muster.

“Possibly a co-incidence,” he smirked.

“So, go on; who was it this time?” I had noticed that Barry  was not the gloating sort, I had to pry the information out of him.

“Bank manager. Never liked the b******s ever since one turned me down for a mortgage. Shouldn’t let it get to me but this one was personal.”

I expressed my surprise. “Not the same bank manager, surely?”

“God, no! Just picked one at random. They’re all as bad as each other. How about yourself? What, or who, have you been up to?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” I asked, pointing to the red nose I was sporting. “Clown. A few kiddies are going to be disappointed. Mind you, clowns always freaked me out as a kid so I’m probably doing them a service. Not a patch on a bank manager though,” I said glumly. I had been quite proud of my catch and now Barry had taken the gloss off it. I took the nose off and threw it over my shoulder. It made a comedy parping noise as it hit the floor.

“Oh, come now. Points for originality,” said Barry. The bugger did have the knack of looking on the bright side.

And this is how things panned out for the next few months, Barry always being one up, the irritating little shite. He’d even got a job at a landfill site to make disposal easier. He was good; really good. I had to give him that.

Me: Council planning officer

Barry: Company director

Damn it!

Me: Journalist

Barry: Newspaper editor

Oh for heaven’s sake!

Me: Community Support Officer

Barry: Detective Sergeant

What? You are joking? Please tell me you’re joking.

Me: County Councillor

Barry (sporting a very natty wig): High Court judge

Right, that’s it.

I tamped down the soil around the new Amelanchier. You can always make room for one more when it comes to a push. “Serial killer; top that,” I called across to no.27 but, of course, there was no reply.

© 2021 J.P. Paradise

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register


I love your writing! Two murderers living next door to each dueling to see who can bag the mate with a higher social standing. Hilarious! It’s nice to read someone else’s warped stories…makes me feel not so alone.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago

J.P. Paradise

3 Weeks Ago

Thanks Suzanne, very much appreciated. I think we share a very similar dark sense of humour, and it .. read more
Not really a surprise ending. I could see it coming.

Posted 3 Weeks Ago

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


2 Reviews
Added on July 8, 2021
Last Updated on July 12, 2021
Tags: murder, serial killer, drama, comedy


J.P. Paradise
J.P. Paradise

Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Occasional writer, serial procrastinator.I write tales that are sometimes comedic, often tragic, and nearly always very dark. Bad things happen to good people, even worse things happen to bad people.. more..