The Double Life

By: Nia Wilson

The neighbor’s house was locked up tight, windows and doors closed. I could hear the air conditioner humming around the side of the house.

“Good thing that stupid thing isn’t on my side, that would drive me nuts listening to that all day.” I muttered under my breath, getting more and more irritated while I tried to figure out what to do. I could just go back into my house and wait until they moved, but that wasn’t going to happen.

I stomped my foot in frustration and then laughed at myself. No sense throwing a tantrum when no one was even around to see my show of defiance.

I shook the gate a little, hoping that the rattle of the latch would carry into the house.


I was starting to get upset, and I looked around to see if anyone else was watching. Tired of waiting, and seeing no movement in through the blinds, I put my foot on the rail beside the gate. It fit perfectly in the space between the fence and the gate. With a shove from my other foot, I swung over the fence and into the man’s yard.

“No turning back now, Joy.”

I walked towards the house, my steps quick and determined. I counted to ten, trying to rein in my frustration as I closed the distance between the gate and the door. I lifted my hand to knock and the door swung inward.

I was face-to-face with an angry, pock-marked man.

“Who are you?”

He looked around behind me, scanning the street and then regarding me again.

“You blocked my driveway.”

“What?” He looked perplexed.

I took a deep breath and counted slowly, trying my best not to raise my voice.

“Your car is in front of my driveway and I can’t get out.”

He looked at his car and back at me, but didn’t say a word.

“I need to leave. Can you move your car please?”

He looked at me again, face expressionless. An exasperated sigh let out behind him, and a man I couldn’t see in the house beyond spoke to the man in the doorway.

“For goodness sakes, Frank. Move your car.” His accent was barely noticeable, but I could hear a hint of something in his speech that wasn’t Californian.

Frank grunted and shut the door in my face. I could hear the chain slide on the other side, and the door opened once more. I tried to look into the house, to see who the other man that had spoken was, but Frank grabbed my elbow and ushered me off the steps.

“How did you get in here? The gate is locked.”

“Are you serious? It’s three feet high, I jumped.”

“Why didn’t you just yell?”

“I’ve been yelling.”

“I didn’t hear it.” The implication was clear. He hadn’t heard it, so I must be lying. What an exasperating man.

“You might want to have someone check your hearing then.”

He glanced over his shoulder at me, his face unreadable.


He took a heavy key ring out of his pocket and shuffled through the keys until he found the right one. He opened the gate and walked through it ahead of me. He didn’t even check to see if I’d closed it behind him as he strutted to his car and got into the passenger seat.

I climbed into my Jag as he moved the car out of my driveway. I backed out carefully and put the car in gear, breathing a heavy sigh as I left the neighborhood and headed into town to get my shopping done.

“What an ass.”

I looked in the mirror and was pleased to see my hair was already dry, tight curls radiate from my face as they always had. I rolled the window down and let the air in. I wanted to put the top down, but I didn’t feel like wrestling with it today.

Chapter 5

I left our small suburb and got onto the highway, the wind whipping through the car and brightening my mood.

The suburb I lived in was called Alto Rio, an unincorporated city in San Diego on the edge of a nature preserve and the base of a low mountain. The neighborhood was quiet and friendly, the hustle and bustle of the city seemingly lost on the residents. In Alto Rio, time seemed to stand still. Neighbors were friendly, helping each other repair property damage from frequent storms and welcoming each other into their homes during the holidays.

I suspected that Frank was a friend of my new neighbor, but if he was going to spend any time on Rainey Street, he was going to have to learn his manners. Gruff and rude had no place in our town, and I wouldn’t be so kind if he blocked my driveway again. Maybe next time I would have it towed.

“Yeah right.” I wouldn’t. As much as I liked to voice my opinion, I wasn’t much for actual confrontation. Hopefully, he wouldn’t do it again.

I exited the freeway onto Main Street, happy that I didn’t have to deal with the normal weekday traffic mess that was highway 54.

I turned into the parking lot of Wally’s grocery store, parking in my normal spot and grabbing my purse. There were many big name stores between here and my house, but I liked the hometown feel of Wally’s. And he would order anything for a regular customer, so all my favorite items were always in stock.

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