The doorbell rang and I groaned; the bland, balding man from the council was on my doorstep again.
“What this time?” I sighed.
From the other side of the fence I heard muffled giggling and I fought down irritation.
“Um, your neighbours are concerned that you might be, um, harbouring illegal immigrants here. In, um, your loft.”
“My loft? The meter tall space that you inspected for rats last week?”
“The loft you examined because they thought I’d had an illegal loft conversion?”
“If I could just…”
He sidled past me. Behind the fence I caught a flash of scraggy black hair, the tang of fag smoke, the excited gasps of stifled, malicious glee.
Sharon and Anthony Dicks had been friendly at first, then sniffy when my flowers turned out prettier than theirs and finally, after I asked them to turn down their music at one in the morning on a weekday, they had become downright unbearable. Their awful son was away at boarding school, and, with nothing to occupy them, they focused on me.
They had taken to reporting me to the council weekly for myriad imaginary infractions and had once called the fire brigade out at three am because they ‘thought my log burner was a fire hazard.”
Enough was enough, I decided, and began to hatch a plan.
That night I called some friends and, between us, we gathered the worst kind of crap you can imagine. Bits of old cars, huge jagged panes of broken glass, biscuit packets, even an old toilet seat. Alice kept chickens and supplied a bucket of fresh droppings and Karen brought a bag of dirty nappies. The smell was indescribable.
We bundled it all up into two big rubble sacks and, after dark, drove one of them to the rec, right near the rugby pitch and dumped it, just beneath a sign that warned against fly tipping on penalty of a £1000 fine.
At the last moment I carefully slipped in an old catalogue with next door’s address on, that had been delivered to me by mistake.
The other sack I stashed in my back garden.
I stayed home all the next day curtain twitching like the rest of the street. When I saw the balding man striding up their path I opened the door and waved. He shot me a thin lipped smile.
“Are you here about the smell?”
He looked startled and shook his head.
“It’s awful - out the back garden. Thought someone might have called. Maybe you can check it out while you’re here.”
I closed the door and listened. He rang the bell, I heard their confused voices, their footsteps on the laminate hallway, the click of the door edging open...
I dashed out into the garden, hurled the rubble sack over their wall, scattering shit and glass and foul smelling debris across their lawn, ran back inside to press my ear against the wall and wait with all the malicious glee I could muster.