Good Neighbors

Mrs. Platt fed her cats, then went out to her gazebo to read. It was a warm, sunny spring morning, with just the slightest breeze, birds chirping all around her, and it wasn’t long before she was napping. Mrs. Sullivan startled her awake, with the strange news.

“Ghosts in the daytime?” Mrs. Platt said. “Who ever heard of such a thing.”

“It’s true,” Mrs. Sullivan said. “They’re wandering all over, right in broad daylight. Haunting the whole town, that’s what Mr. Ferguson said down at the market.”

“Well, that isn’t right.”

“Mr. Ferguson says everyone should stay inside, although I don’t know what good that’ll do, seeing as how they can walk through walls and such.”

“Mr. Ferguson is a jackass,” Mrs. Platt said.

“Oh, dear,” Mrs. Sullivan chuckled. “You shouldn’t be saying nasty things like that about our community leaders.”

“Why not? He thinks he knows everything, and the truth is, he barely knows how to run a decent market.”

“It’s a nice market, in my opinion.”

“Nice market? He’s out of spinach half the time I go in there. I don’t know why it’s so hard to keep spinach in stock. And the freezers are leaking, and he doesn’t keep the floors very clean, either.”

“Mr. Ferguson wants the town to hire a medium to find out what they want. He sent me to ask for contributions.”

“How much are you asking for?” Mrs. Platt asked.

“Five dollars.”

“Here’s a nickel instead.” Mrs. Platt pulled the coin from a pocket in her apron. “Even that’s a waste of money.”

Mrs. Sullivan looked at the coin, and put it in her collection envelope. “You know why you’re so lonely?”

“I’m not lonely,” Mrs. Platt said. “I have friends.”

“I’m not talking about your cats. You have no civic spirit.”

“I had it once, and it was nothing but grief. Let me give you a little advice. Tell Mr. Ferguson and the council to do their own collecting. I know you like to get involved, but stay out of this one. It’s for your own good.”

“Well, good day!” Mrs. Sullivan said, and marched off.

Mrs. Platt smiled, and went back to napping.

Around mid-afternoon, she was awakened again, this time by her former neighbors, Mr. Davidson and the Crenshaws, who stopped by for a glass of iced tea.

“How are the hauntings going?” she asked.

“Oh, splendid,” Mrs. Crenshaw said. “I do hope you plan to join us some day. Not that we’re trying to rush you.”

Ω

Clinton Lawrence is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. His fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Galaxy, Reflection’s Edge, The Fortean Bureau, and a number of other print and online publications. He is a high school science teacher, and lives in Davis, California.

Other works by Clinton Lawrence

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