We used to live opposite a rather run-down old house. Every now and then, a middle aged man in his singlet and shorts would appear from within. With a beer in one hand and a lawnmower in the other, he'd wander backwards and forwards over his grass until his bottle was empty. That's all we ever saw of him. We didn't know anything else about him.

But my husband Andy likes making up stories...

“I bet the man across the road is a drug dealer,” said Andy, lowering his voice. 

“Drugs? Why would you think that?”

“All kinds of strange people go into his house at odd times of the day.”

"Do they? I hadn’t noticed," I said. “But if they do, they’re probably buying marijuana.” I can pretend too.

“Yes!" agreed Andy, "The man grows it, under lamps, in that lower room where the blinds are always closed."

“Could be. It looks kind of damp in there, the walls all green and mouldy.”

“The drug capital of Australia." Andy opened his eyes wide. “We have a dangerous neighbour.”

I laughed loudly. “The only thing dangerous is the man's dog. It just lies there in the road, too lazy to get up. One day I'm going to reverse the car right over the top of him.”

But Andy wasn't listening to me. He was still thinking about his story. "He could have guns,” he continued. “Yes! He's an illegal gun trader, as well as a drug dealer.”

“You might be right. I’ve heard shots in the night,” I admitted. “But then again that could have been a car backfiring. They sound very similar.”

“Definitely guns,” said Andy.

I nodded my head slowly.

For months we lived quietly opposite that old run-down house. The owner continued to keep a low profile, only ever appearing to mow his lawn and drink his beer. People continued to come and go (according to Andy). The dog continued to lie in the road. The house turned greener and greener. Then one day…

I returned home from town to find a police car parked outside our house. With my heart racing, I ran inside to find out what was wrong.

“The police didn't come to see us,” reassured Andy. “They went into the house opposite." He added with relish, “I bet there's a drug bust going on.”

“No! The police are probably just delivering some bad news."

"Yes, definitely bad news: You're busted!" Andy drawled, in his best TV detective voice. "I'm arresting you for drug dealing."

Hours later, two policemen reappeared, got into their car and disappeared. A few mornings later, we bought a copy of the local newspaper.

"Hey, Sue! Listen to this." Andy was practically jumping up and down. "Police arrested a 47 year old man in W St on Saturday morning after information leading to a drug bust...That's the house across the road! The police found a number of marijuana plants growing in a downstairs room... That's the room with the closed blinds, I'm sure!" 

Then he shouted, "A number of illegal guns were discovered hidden in the walls of the house. I told you! I was right! We live opposite a drug dealer and a gun trader!"

And I’d just thought our neighbour was an introverted beer-loving man with a lazy dog. Detective Andy knew better.

"So what was it like living opposite a busted drug dealer?" I hear you ask. "Was it dangerous?"

Not in the slightest. He was the best neighbour we ever had. For a long time he disappeared. In prison, perhaps? Then he was quiet and orderly. You wouldn't know he existed... except when the grass needed cutting. I guess he didn't want to call attention to himself. Model citizen and all that. Seems he could pretend too.

I wonder if our neighbours ever make up stories about us. Drug dealing? Guns ? Nah! We're much more shocking than that. If only they knew...

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  1. Wow! Now, I'm going to be looking at all of our neighbours suspiciously. Nah, we're the only poor ones in our street!

    Isn't it sad to see people enslaved by drugs? I wonder how our lives might have been if we were born into one of these cultures. I was reading about a wonderful prison conversion, last week, which made me think about how God reaches out to us all.

    I love your funny stories, Sue - they're very entertaining!

    God bless:-)

    1. Vicky,

      You never know what your neighbours might be up to! There's some strange people in the world, including us!

      Yes, our lives would have been so different if we hadn't been born into our particular family. Some people certainly have disadvantaged starts to their lives. I don't think this man would have envied us though. We must have seemed weird to him. Different values for different people.

      Thank you for laughing at my stories. No funny story tomorrow. Something serious for a change.

      God bless!

  2. Wow, your husband's imagination is dangerous! What if he'd imagined the guy was doing illegal cloning experiments in there? Or building nuclear weapons?

    1. Kellie,

      What if the neighbour was cloning himself and then building nuclear weapons? I shall have to keep an eye on Andy's imagination. You're right: it's dangerous! I don't think I'll let him speculate about anything again!

  3. When I first arrived in NZ, I heard people talking about "tinny/tinnie houses" a few times. I thought they were talking about houses being built from tin and whilst possibly not the strongest material to weather a big storm I didn't see what all the fuss and danger was about and said as much. It turns out that a tinny house is where you buy tinnies (not sure if I have the street talk exactly right) which is marijuana rolled in little packs of "tin" foil. They did have a good laugh at my expense.

    1. Lisa,

      Oh my! We lived opposite a tinny! I've never heard of that term before. You made me smile with your story. I don't think I'd like to live in a tin house or a tinny. I am getting quite an education!

  4. Sounds like fun. I'll have to start making up stories about my neighbours too.

    1. Mama J,

      Thank you for visiting my blog! Perhaps you can let your imagination go wild and include your neighbours in one of your fictional stories!

      Lovely to 'meet' you.

  5. We had two similar true stories about seemingly good introverted neighbors. Both happened about 3 years of each other and both households kept to themselves. One was kiddie corner from our house and one morning we woke up to Homeland Security breaking into their house. Papers reported that it was a terrorist cell. No weapons but computers with data on how to destroy America. Lovely, huh? The other house is a few houses down and we'd heard from their immediate neighbor that the man was found naked, covered in blood running down the street. He claimed their were intruders inside his home who cut him. Turned out he was high and had a meth lab in his basement. His hallucinations made him think he had bugs crawling over him and he was using a razor to scrape them off. Sad really.

    All of them are still in prison. You never do know what's happening in someone's house. They both took good care of their lawns and houses. Very deceptive.

    1. Noreen,

      What frightening and sad stories! It makes me wonder how people get themselves into such situations. The influence of their families? Poverty? Lack of education? We are certainly blessed in comparison.

      It seems even funny stories have a serious side. I guess we are all living separate lives inside our own houses. Anything could be happening within each home.

      God bless!

  6. Sue Elvis. Andy sounds just lik my husband he also invents stories about neigbours and places, we paas. Does Andy also give people names to suit the stories?

    1. Uglemor,

      I think I'd like your husband very much! He sounds as interesting as Andy. Andy does name everyone in his stories. It's much easier to tell stories when the characters have suitable names!

  7. Wow, Andy is very perceptive! Haha! This story made me laugh; not because drugs are a laughing matter, but because it reminded me of the first place Stephen and I lived in. Across the road, there was a little brick house which seemed to constantly have people coming and going. I was new in NZ and didn't have many friends... the cars would stop, often in front of our house, I'd hear the gate clang (Which sounded exactly like ours) and look out the window, hoping for a surprise visitor! But it was always for whoever was across the road. But we never saw the mysterious inhabitant. Well, after several months of this, we began to get rather suspicious... why did the mystery owner never came out? Why did he/she seem to have a constant stream of people dropping by? We also began to speculate that the owner was a drug dealer. I hate to say it but we also speculated that perhaps it was a worker of a certain kind of industry that shouldn't exist.... anyway!! One day Stephen bumped into the lady who lived next door to the mystery house. She had seen me pottering round the garden with my big pregnant tummy and so inquired how I was going. Stephen, answered, and then couldn't resist his curiousity, so he asked who lived in the house next to her. She told us it was an elderly man, not in the best of health, who had recently lost his wife of many years- the regular visitors were his concerned family and friends! Poor man, but thank goodness he had good people looking after him. Now we have a running joke about the "drug dealers" in our area. Your story made me laugh and I had to tell Stephen about it- he had a good laugh too!

    Btw, I have been reading all of your posts and I really love them all. I just don't often comment because I either don't have time or don't have anything of significance to say (other than that I love what you are saying!)

    1. Jacinta,

      I love your story. Thank you for sharing it! I am so glad to hear there was nothing illegal going on in the mystery house. It must be so sad when a spouse dies. I hope my family will visit me as often as the old man's family does, if Andy dies first. I know it is a serious topic really but we sometimes joke about who will die first. Andy insists it will be him as women usually live longer. I think he just wants to make sure he leaves me behind to pray for his soul!

      Jacinta, it is always so lovely to chat with you here on my blog but I do understand how busy you are. I am so happy you read my posts. Thank you! I was thinking everyone must be getting fed up, being bombarded with so many stories in such a short space of time, but everyone has been very kind with their comments. Aren't I blessed?

      God bless you!

    2. I know what you mean, we joke about it a little too...hopefully, God willing, that day doesn't come for a long time for either of us as I simply can't stand the thought of not having Stephen by my side!

      Oh no, I think myself and many others are thoroughly enjoying every single one. I was just thinking the other day that you simply must write a book about your family. I know you've probably been recommended too many times, but I think you really should do it one of these days... and you can always add a little dramatic flair to some stories if they need a little spicing up, but I think most stories would be great on their own. I reckon it could sell as easily as other lovely big family books, like "Please Don't Drink the Holy Water", "Cheaper by the Dozen", "Who Gets the Drumstick?" and "Seven Little Australians".

      It is truly a blessing to have good friends who take the time to read what we write. I feel the same when people like or comment on the things I post or write on facebook.

      God Bless you too and have a lovely Wednesday!

    3. Jacinta,

      You have treated me to another comment. Thank you!

      It sounds like you have been greatly blessed in your marriage with Stephen. Yes, I also hope you have many happy years together. Andy and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in June. That seems rather remarkable!

      You are so kind suggesting a book on our family! Actually, I have written a chapter for a soon-to-be-released book by Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas. You might have heard of Patti's series of books which include "Grace for Mothers". Patti and Theresa are wonderful Catholic authors who have befriended me. Their new book "Big Hearted" contains a collection of family stories. Here's a few details:

      "Big Hearted gives you an inside look into the triumphs, struggles, joys and sorrows of ordinary families with generous hearts. It invites you to witness extraordinary love in ordinary moments like the simple cooking of a meal or the hug between a teenaged brother and his baby sister. Just like your family, these families experience pain, setbacks, and challenges. And just like your family, they also experience love and immeasurable blessing through their commitment and care for each other."

      I am guessing the book will be available to buy within the month. I know I will feel so embarrassed when I read my own contribution. It's been so long since I wrote my chapter. Will I be brave enough to read it?

      God bless you too!


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