THE NEIGHBORS

THE NEIGHBORS

A Story by R J Fuller
"

What was it like, once in the past, to have a role in life and fulfill that role?

"
The front door to the small abode opened and the dashing black man in a suit carrying a briefcase stepped out onto the step. His engaging wife smiled as she gave him a good bye kiss. 

"Have a good day, Quinndrick," she said as he continued on his way down the steps to the car. 

"I should call you sometime around lunch, Denecia," Quinndrick said to her. She smiled in agreement. Across the street a fair-haired white man was also about to enter his car and was taking a moment to look at his phone. 

"Good morning, Walt," Quinndrick called across to him as he opened his car door. 

Walt looked up to see him. 

"Oh, good morning, Quinndrick," Walt said, looking down at his phone again. 

"Off to the old grindstone, huh?" Quinndrick continued the baseless conversation. 

"Yea," Walt said, looking away from his phone and glancing about. 

"Quinndrick?" 

"Yes, Walt," Quinndrick said as he sat in the car and was about to close the door. 

"My grass looks like it could stand to be cut today before it gets much longer," Walt calmly stated. "Get it tended to today as soon as possible." 

Quinndrick looked at Walt and said nothing. The smile faded from his face. 

"Walt, I'm about to go to work at the office," was the best he could stammer. 

"Can you get on it immediately, Quinndrick?" Walt said as he opened his own car door. "Might as well get started before the sun gets too hot in the sky. Lawnmower is in the shed."

Walt got in his car and slowly pulled out onto the road. He barely looked at Quinndrick who still sat in his car. On the porch, Denecia stood motionless as she watched. Walt looked at neither of them as he drove away. 

Slowly Quinndrick got out of his car, leaving his briefcase on the passenger seat. Denecia came down to him as he looked around rather dejectedly. He unbuttoned his jacket and began taking it off. Without saying a word, Denecia helped him and carefully folded the jacket over her arms. Quinndrick slowly began making his way across to Walt's shed. 

Denecia was just about to return inside with the jacket when she heard her own name called. She looked around to see who it was.

"Denecia," the woman called to her. It was Walt's wife, Sandy. 

"Good morning, Sandy," Denecia attempted with a very insincere smile. 

"Denecia, I need my breakfast dishes washed up and put away." 

Denecia, now standing up on the porch, maintained her friendly smile and moved back down the steps. She opened the car door to put the jacket inside. It would be just as well kept in there as it would if she had gotten it within the house. Quinndrick never looked around. He was already in the shed and the lawnmower cranked up. Denecia likewise made her way across the street and entered the home and walked toward the kitchen. 

"How have you been, Sandy?" she asked as she began to run the water. 

"Denecia, I've just been run ragged lately having to tend to Walt and the kids. I just can't seem to get anything done. I'm so behind on everything." 

Denecia looked out the kitchen window to see Quinndrick in his clean white shirt and dress pants riding the lawnmower. He had removed his socks and shoes and was riding barefoot. She thought to herself that was best, so he doesn't ruin those shoes. Already his face was glistening with perspiration. 

"Oh, Denecia, I tell you," Sandy continued, "I've got to go see Walt's mother and visit with her, so you'll need to tend to the laundry when you are done there. At least two baskets full of clothes to be put up." 

"Okay," Denecia said as she tumbled utensils and children's plastic cups in the warm, soapy water. She looked over her shoulder to see Sandy picking up her purse and pressing a number on her phone. 

"And see to it Raymond gets on the bus for school, Denecia, and tell Quinndrick don't forget to trim up those hedges when he finishes the lawn," Sandy finished as her attention now turned completely to the phone. "Hey, girl. How's it going?" She said laughing on the phone as she walked out the door. 

Denecia leaned forward to see Sandy walking toward her car. She set a plate in the rinse water then to the dish drainer. As Sandy's car made its way down the drive, Quinndrick rode by again on the lawnmower. Denecia observed him as he passed by. She washed another plate and some forks and rinsed them, then to the dish strainer. She gave a faint, weak smile. 

"Nothing nicer than hand-cleaned dishes," she whispered to herself. Quinndrick drove by on the lawnmower again. He was now sweating profusely. His armpits were stained with water and he was covered in grass. He wiped his forehead on his sleeve for all the good that did. 

Across the street, Denecia saw her children make their way to the curb to catch the bus. Immediately she dried her hands and raced to Raymond's room. Where was Raymond's room? Finally, she found him lying on his bed while pre-occupied with his phone. 

"Raymond," she said calmly. "Get up from there. You need to be ready for the bus when it comes down the street." 

He didn't move. 

"Raymond," Denecia ordered. "Let's go. Get up!"

Raymond grumbled and groused as he got off the bed and continued with his game. He picked up his books and started toward the door. 

"Momma gone to work?" he asked. 

"She's gone to visit your grandmother," Denecia answered as the little fellow made his way out the door, still fiddling with his own phone. Denecia closed the door and hurried back to the kitchen dishes. She looked out the window at Raymond and her own children, opposite sides of the road, waiting on a school bus. Her own children, getting themselves off to school, while she tended to Raymond so his mother could visit her mother-in-law. Denecia scrubbed at the egg yolk coating a plate.  Quinndrick passed by again on the lawnmower. Across the street, his children watched him. 

The schoolbus came to a stop and picked up the children. The driver looked at Quinndrick on the lawnmower, then once all the children were on the bus, closed the door and pulled away. Denecia finished the dishes and pulled the plug on the sink. She watched the water go down the drain in an almost hypnotic gaze. When the water was all gone, she reached for the dish towel to dry her hands. As she looked at the towel, she quietly mumbled to herself, "two baskets of laundry."

She turned and looked across the kitchen in this house and made her way out of the room and down the entryway to the front door. Once there, she stepped outside. The lawn was cut and no roaring mower was to be heard. She looked around for Quinndrick as he stepped out of the shed while talking on his phone. He was coated in perspiration and the clean white dress shirt was stained green from the grass. He looked at Denecia and said 'good-bye' on the phone. 

Quinndrick stared at the woman he provided for. 

"Are you finished?" he asked her. 

"Two baskets of laundry still needing to be put up," she answered, then said, "Sandy wants you to trim the hedges when you finish the lawn." 

Quinndrick looked at Denecia and she looked back at him. 

"I've finished the lawn. Walt could have cut this himself, then gotten cleaned up to be at his job on time," he said, "and I've called the office to let them know I'd be running late today."

"They didn't object?"

"I'm the CEO," Quinndrick replied. "Are you going to do up that laundry?"

Denecia took a deep breath and responded, "I'm going to walk home with you and help get you cleaned up to go to work. Your blue suit should be good for today."

Quinndrick smiled and took her hand and they walked down the driveway together. 

"I was thinking the same thing about that suit, too."

They were crossing the road when Quinndrick asked, "but what about this one? Can you get it cleaned?"

Denecia calmly answered, "I'll get it tended to." 

It was the afternoon when Denecia made her way to get her mail from the mailbox. Sandy and a couple of other women were standing across the street in Sandy's yard. 

"Denecia, you didn't get that laundry done up," Sandy called to her. 

"Hello, Sandy, how are you?"

Sandy stood motionless, then commented, "I'm fine, Denecia. Is something wrong? My laundry needs to be put up."  

Denecia looked to her and smiled. 

"Sandy," she said, "I'm going to suggest that you have Walt purchase you an automatic dishwasher."

Sandy's mouth hung open. 

"well, I never," one of the other women mumbled under her breath, followed by chirps and whispers that grew more faint as Denecia turned to walk back to her home. 

"Denecia! Denecia!" Sandy yelled, half-crossing into the road, "is something wrong>"

Denecia stopped and turned halfway to face Sandy. 

"Sandy," she said, "you can find automatic dishwashers online," then made her way to her front door. 

She heard one of the other women say, "and after all you've done for her."

That night, Denecia reclined in bed and said nothing as she observed Quinndrick standing at the window, staring between the gap in the curtains. The lights were off in their bedroom, so he couldn't be seen. He was watching Walt across the street. 

Walt seemed to be fighting with something and Sandy stood on the porch, illuminated in the interior lighting and fussed. Walt griped back every once in a while. Quinndrick realized Walt was fighting with some hedge trimmers. Walt couldn't see in the dark how to turn it on. Finally, he yelled back at Sandy and she went inside and slammed the door. Walt struggled with the trimmers in the setting dusk, swaying as he did so. Quinndrick suspected Walt must have had a few beers. The trimmer suddenly vibrated to life, startling Walt into dropping it. He fell back as tho he had been attacked and just sat on the ground with his hands against his head. 

"Will he retaliate?" Denecia asked. 

"Possibly," Quinndrick replied, unmoving. 
Quinndrick
 watched another neighbor come over to see if Walt needed any help, and give him assistance. He helped Walt to his feet, then reached down to get the trimmers and shut them off. This caused Walt to become exasperated and raise his voice. The neighbor looked at Walt, then took his arm and slowly walked him to his front door. Walt seemed to be yelling his hedges needed to be cut. The neighbor opened the door and led Walt in. 

Quinndrick raised his head, then turned to gaze at Denecia in the darkness. 

"Kids okay?" he asked as he walked toward the bed. 

"They're fine," she answered. "Beltran got an A on his physics exam."

"Glad he is doing so well," Quinndrick said as he moved in close to Denecia. For the merest second, they sat there quietly and said nothing, then Denecia spoke. 

"Quinndrick?"

"Hmmm?"

"Quinndrick, why did we do it?"

"What?" 

"Why did we do as Walt and Sandy insisted of us?"

"Shhh," Quinndrick whispered. "Maybe we should ask why did they insist labor from us, for tasks that should be theirs?"

""Or get Raymond to tend to the yard," Denecia said, "and have Walt visit his mother."  

Quinndrick seemed to think for a moment, staring into the dark room, then said, "or maybe we just had to see what it felt like. We had to know, . . . what that was like. Just once. And at our age."

Across the street, a moment passed, then the neighbor came back out, still holding the trimmers and walked over to the garage and placed them within. Then he turned and made his way home. Never once did he look to Quinndrick and Denecia's home.  

© 2021 R J Fuller


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Added on June 18, 2021
Last Updated on June 18, 2021
Tags: servitude, submissiveness, orders, disregard, objections