[Image Credit: “Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas” by Otto Dix]
The 20th Century waited up until just before dawn before sneaking out to use the bins next door (its own being full.) The 21st Century, yet to go to bed, watched the activity around its bins from an upstairs window, wondering when its elderly neighbour was ever going to do the decent thing and die. It went against nature to linger this long. Crap dumped, 20th shuffled away in an indistinguishable wash of security lights and breaking sunshine, a train of 2-ply trailing from the sole of its right foot.
Sometime before the street rose for breakfast, wild dogs must’ve got to 21st’s bins, whose combined contents now spewed in a wide arc across 20th’s front yard.
At least once a week, 20th would measure the distance from its house to the fence between their two properties, convinced it was losing ground. 21st, entirely aware of this practice, didn’t exactly discourage its children from hanging from the top of the fence by their fingertips, their body weight inclining it further their way (until 20th hammered bent nails through the tops of the boards), nor did it comment if their drone just happened to bob over the top to hover over the neighbouring plot. Perhaps coincidentally, BB pellets regularly zipped through the air over 21st’s garden, once taking out a bystanding blackbird, straight through the eye, to family distressing effect. Another shot shattered a heat lamp hanging from a tree, scorching the grass below. Following that, Satan-red laser pointers might then have been shone into 20th’s windows, day and night, to dance upon the walls and spaghetti the ceilings. It’s not impossible. And who knew who called in to get 21st’s Prius towed from outside its own house, citing some arcane local by-law pre-dating the light bulb?
Cards were not exchanged at Christmas.
‘I don’t understand you, I can’t stand you, and I was here first!’, pacing up and down, treading up the living room carpet. 20th’s skull was a kettle full of bees, boiling hotter with every day that passed. Addled and incensed, it banged its claws repeatedly against the brickwork, roared from the meaty pit of its bowels. 21st, on the other side of the wall, with its soft, sweet, flammable children running around within eyesight, heard and tensed. This was going to get ugly before it was done.