Nikki locked the gate in her backyard after taking out the garbage. Her and Maya’s backyard featured Nikki’s vegetable garden and a yellow recycling tub filled with Maya’s liquor bottles. A six-foot-tall wooden fence ran the border of the yard. From the neighboring yard, unseen behind the fence, a male voice asked, “Miss, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Are you talking to me?” Nikki asked.
“I’d like to tear down this fence,” the voice said. “Just rip it up. Do you mind?”
“Are you talking to me?” Nikki asked again.
On the other side of the fence, Jack Baldwin sat in a lawn chair, with a bottle of Laphroig and a glass, dressed like he had just pulled things at random out of the closet, mostly because that’s exactly what he had done.
“Yes, I’m talking to you. Do you mind if I tear up this fence?”
“It’s not my fence,” said Nikki. “We just rent this house.”
“Well, the owner doesn’t live next to me. I don’t owe him anything,” said Jack. “But you’re my neighbor. We have a bond. We share a mailman and a voting place and a zip code. You, I owe the politeness of asking. So I’ll ask you again. Do you like this fence? Will you miss it if it’s gone?”
Maya shouted from the house out of the kitchen window, “It’s my favorite fence, nutbag. Come on inside, Nikki. I told you not to talk to strangers.”
Nikki asked, “Why do you want to take down the fence?”
“I don’t know. You ever felt like you can’t breathe? Like you forgot how to breathe?” he said.
“Huh. I sound like a drunk.”
“You sound like an idiot,” called Maya. “Tear down the fence if you want. We don’t care.”
(c) copyright 2016, Eric Maywar
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Follow the story of a Graceful Self-Destruction here.