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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Humus was made for Kebabs

A short story by Kerin Gedge

I have these really annoying neighbors. They've lived on my street for ages. I've never done anything to really bother them except move here. You see I inherited this house from a rich relative. I got into some trouble a long while ago and just when things looked really bad they swooped down and just gave me this awesome place. So gratefully I moved in, and what a difference it has made to my life having a place to call home!

By all rights I should be happy except for one small problem. NONE of my neighbors like me. They have a totally different perspective of the world than I do, its pretty clear that my beliefs offend them but ever since I've moved in I've just minded my own business and got on with it. My property went from being a cross between a dump and a kitty litter to being the greenest plot of land on the street. I have zucchinis growing in my garden the size of ankles and sweetcorn you could play baseball with. My pumpkins are so big they would scare a vegetarian away. My flowers make Scarlet Johansen look like used dental floss - they're really that pretty. So its not like I make the neighborhood look bad. In fact my Garden of Eden style lawn has done a lot for the market value of the area!

One day, a few years ago, my neighbors began throwing rocks into my garden. Sometimes they would have letters attached to them saying "You have no right to be there" or "Get out". It got pretty bad when I started running over them with my lawn mower (the rocks, not my neighbors). I decided to ignore it at first but when a rock hit my little girl on the head I became enraged and called the police.

I was half expecting them to come over right away and arrest my intolerant neighbors. But they didn't. They said, "Why don't you just go chat with them?"
So I did. The neighbors on my left denied ever throwing anything. The ones on my right boasted proudly that it was them while the people living behind my house said it was them. All of them agreed that they had been there longer and that I had no right living here, despite the fact that I had no where else to go and the land was a gift. I asked them if they could kindly stop throwing rocks onto my lawn but they would not commit to anything.

A few weeks later, and to my horror, I watched as my neighbor brought from the back of their house one of their small children. I watched bewildered as they attached a note to this poor kid and then, I swear I'm not kidding, they biffed her over my back fence. I ran to this crying child who had sprained her wrist while trying to break her fall and did all I could to help her. I even took her to the Doctor's and paid for the fee. I read the note that was tied to her - "Leave this place!" - and went to the cops again where they accused me of hurting the child and would not believe for a second that her own parents had done it.

I wouldn't believe it myself if you told me but this happened three or four more times. I would be outside doing the gardening when suddenly a small child would come hurtling over my fence. Each time with a note telling me I had no right to be there and each time the child was so badly hurt that I had to take them to a doctor. The madness. No one wanted to believe that their parents were involved! Even the local paper ran a story about me being the local "horse shoe kiddie hurdler"! I wrote to the editor to complain and all I got was more criticism. I was baffled. What was going on? Had I woken up in a new episode of the twilight zone where everything was back to front?

Then I started to notice that all my neighbors began sitting on their porches with guns! Every now and then they would point them at my house. Sometimes I would even hear a rifle go off in the night. I was beginning to feel very unsafe. I was worried for my wife and my children. I couldn't let my kids walk to school anymore. I was too concerned that a rock, or a child or a bullet might be thrown at them.

One night I hear a sound of scraping, I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. It sounded like steel hitting dirt but I could not see where it was coming from so went outside. Nothing. Then I got the urge to put my ear to the ground. Someone was digging somewhere under the ground. I'm not sure but if I didn't know any better I think that all my neighbors are digging a network of tunnels! I would say this has made me paranoid if the word "paranoid" didn't have so many negative connotations. I'm not on any drugs and I'm not crazy. I live between a bunch of scary people with guns, expendable children and a never ending supply of message bearing rocks!

I called the police so many times, met with the mayor... I even wrote to the Prime Minister. Everyone said the same thing - "Just talk it out with them, its a process but sooner or later you'll see its for the best."

And believe me I did try and talk with them. Time and time again. Sometimes I was able to make a truce with them but then I would find a bruised kid in my pumpkin patch or a rock in my forehead!

Now I'm a proud man and feel that I have as much right to be here as they do. Its never entered my mind to just get up and leave. Why should I? And frankly where would I go? But one day out of desperation I went to my neighbors and did the unthinkable. I gave them half of my backyard. Yep, its true. We signed papers and everything. I said, "Please take it, its yours". And they took it. For about a week I thought I had peace of mind. Sure I lost my shed to them and my little girl's tree house but all of those things were worth sacrificing for a bit of peace and quiet. But then, sorry, I'm shaking as I write... I know it sounds crazy. But they began throwing things at my blasted house again!

So I built a great big wall around my property. I thought, that will stop them. It helped for a little while, I could even allow my children to go outside and play without fear of their heads becoming landing pads for rocks. So I was more than a little shocked when I opened the National Times to discover my great big fence was front page news! Saying that I was inhuman for blocking the view of my neighbors and the occasional thoroughfare across my back lawn.

Then it happened. A big rock with a great big note came hurtling over the fence and smashed the windshield of my car. The cops weren't interested. A week later two rocks came hurtling towards my house, killing a window and three pot plants. The mayor didn't return my call. Another week passed and left behind three more rocks, in my living room, toilet window and my favourite mug. I was also awoken one morning to rays of light like Lazar beams shining through several bullet holes in my roof. The prime minister's secretary said "Please stop wasting our time."

But then... the saddest thing. The event that crawled out of my nightmares and filled reality with despair. I found my beautiful little four year old child dead in the driveway with her tricycle toppled over next to her. One of the wheels was still spinning. And covered in her blood a letter "We're not going to stop until you get out."

So, with nothing else left to do I picked up the rock and threw it back. I threw it as hard as I could and felt the ripple of justice surge through me as the sound of breaking glass twinkled through the air. I picked up another rock and another and just kept throwing. I threw one for every squashed pumpkin I found in my garden. I threw another for my favourite mug and I threw a hundred thousand more for the apple of my eye, whose grave I wailed by the next day for what seemed like an hour for every year she should have lived!

I just kept throwing. They kept throwing back.

The papers were in an uproar! Everyone reported bout this mad man who kept throwing rocks at his neighbors. Not one mentioned the vast amount of patience and restraint I had shown in the many years leading up to my defence. "Its disproportionate violence" they said. Well screw them! You attack my home, you attack my family, you kill my child and I will show you that a price can not be put on peace. If something such as my own home is priceless then there is no disproportionate way to protect it. If I have to throw a million rocks just to stop them from harassing my family - I sure as hell will!

One of my rocks hit one of their Grandmother's and I got ridiculed again. What the papers didn't say was that They had wheeled her chair right next to the window on purpose, hoping that I would hit her so they could cry foul murder. Another day I hit a child. I got ridiculed of course but what no one mentioned in the paper was that they had filled their house with children and kept hurling rocks my way knowing that if I retaliated I wouldn't be able to miss a child!

I got a letter from a relative overseas. It turns out my story is everywhere these days... only not the entirely correct version of it. In any case people have started throwing rocks at them now too...

I want peace just as much as the next guy, I'm going to fight until its mine to keep.

Kerin Gedge

And now something completely unrelated!

My Mate Shane, best classical guitarist in NZ - visit him at