Friday, August 20, 2010


Albert scratched his rounded belly through his te-shirt as he sucked a beer. His narrowed eyes darting from one screen to another, the images and light reflecting and dancing on his pallid face.
“Why would they get a brand new extended driveway and not park on it?  and look!” he slapped the screen, “Some people - no idea - leaving their old cars out on the street when they have a garage and a driveway to put it.”
His toxic barrage was interrupted by a distant barking dog.
Chapped hands frantically grasped a timer and he pushed the button to record the sound, watching it intently as his grin grew.
“Ha! Thats the one. Final council notification here we go.”  Albert stuck his tongue out as he pecked with two fingers on the keyboard. “ Dog barks on 2nd of August at these recorded times and for well in excess of the regulation time.  “They are gone. Dog gone.. Instant removal and destruction of hound. Boom!” He shot a hand triumphantly up in the air. “I’ll be able to sleep now. No more barking dog.”
A loud crack echoed the small room, “Oh, me back.” Alberts joyous face contorted with pain.  “Linda wheres me meds?”
The sound of a drawer opening and shutting with slippered feet echoing up the hallway produced a tall harassed looking washed out blond. She poked her straggly hair behind her ear and handed him a glass of water and some pills.  “Well don’t move around so quickly.  You’ll do yourself a real injury.”
He grabbed the tablets from her hand. “You need to get a hair cut.”
Linda flushed and bit her lip. Tears she refused to let him see, welled in her eyes as she quickly turned about.
Albert frowned as he flicked his fingers over stack of rewritable DVDs. “Better do a back up of my surveillance while nothings happening.”
“I’ll put lunch on then shall I?”
“Get me some more blank DVDs when you’re at the shops will you? I’ve run out again.  And I need another packet of fags while you’re at it.”
“Wouldn't be asking otherwise.”
“I’ll be off then.”
Albert ran the back up program and began reviewing yesterdays capture.  He grunted as his eyes flickered over the images in fast motion.
The inner garage door closed and he watched her back the car out of the driveway and leave on one the screens. He tapped away scanning at the multitude of small cameras he had hooked at various levels around his property. A quick movement caught his eye on one of the screens. With dextrous manipulation of the keyboard, he zoomed in. “Come on Mrs Forster.  Open your blinds. You’ve had them closed for weeks now.”  He lent closer as a thin hand reached around the blind to open the window for ventilation. “I wonder if she is still in her nightie?”  He ruffled his hair and grinned. 
“Linda, another beer!” Then cursed as he remembered she had left on an errand.
The muscled bare torso of one of the neighbours caught Alberts attention as he carried out two small bags of refuse onto the street and opened his wheelie bin up. The rubbish trucks groans and whines could be heard up the street as it crushed and collected its treasures, but had not yet arrived at his end of the street. Marco attempted to push the second bag into his bin - but it was so tightly packed, the lid would not close.  He shrugged and sauntered toward Alberts footpath.
Albert jolted upward as he realised Marcos intent. “Not bloody likely mate. Not on my watch.”
Struggling and flapping He managed to get out of his chair and ambled out to the locked screen door. “Oi! Not in my bin you don’t”
Marco squinted from the footpath trying to make out the shadowy figure and pointed at the approaching rubbish truck. “He’ll be here in a tick mate. My bins full.”
“Well, your rubbish will have to wait till next week then won’t it?”
Albert grinned and slammed his front door for extra effect. Rushing back to his screens, he watched Marco stalk back into his house, one rubbish bag still in tow.
“That man needs to mow his lawn as well. Makes the place look like its colonised by renters.”
Shuffling back to his comfortable seat and overflowing desk,Albert put on his glasses, and peered into the backyard security screen and zoomed in on the playground equipment beyond his hedge. He fumbled for a blank DVD, slid it into place, pressed ‘record’ and zoomed in to the little girls shrieking with laughter on the swings. Delicate legs dipped high in the sky whilst light skirts fluttered and floated about their thighs.
Teenagers pushed themselves onto the scene, tripping over one another, obviously sharing a joke as their arms flailed around. Small rounded shapes appeared in the sky, dropped and disappeared from the shot. Alberts camera lense became hazy. He spat on his handkerchief and rubbed the screen squinting to clarify what was happening.
“Damned birds. I need to write to the council to complain about thier unhygienic waste matter being dumped willy nilly.. Now, what the hell are those kids doing in the park? Why aren’t they at school?”
Albert watched them as they disappeared around the pathway leading on to his street. “Thats it you lay-abouts. Get to school or you’ll hear it from me again!”  He set about completing his backups, occasionally checking the screens.
 Loud giggles from the front of his house startled Albert, disturbing him from his work. A dozen eggs pelted their way onto his roof and front porch. A sound of scurrying feet on bitumen punctuated by more giggles. He checked another cameras angle which revealed splattered eggs over his lawn and back wall.  
“Bloody kids. But I got you on camera this time you little bastards. Ha! Your parents will be footing my cleaning bill and then who will be laughing?”
He waved a newly ejected disc to the empty room and slipped it into a pre-addressed envelope to the local police and patted it comfortingly.
A discrete tingle sounded. He flicked the phone up to see it was Linda. “Yeah? You get lost?”
“Umm, just wondered if you could check if we had enough milk till tomorrow.  since I am still at the shops, though I’d save the trouble of going again.”
“Sppose I can check.”  He groaned with the effort of getting out of his chair.
“Sorry to get you out of your chair and away from your screens. Umm. I’ve got you more DVDs.”
Albert grunted and scratched his groin. “I’m going into kitchen now.”
Before leaving his room he habitually  checked the screens for any further movement. Lindas car was parked in Marco Torrisis  driveway. She was standing with her phone to her ear looking towards their house. Although he couldn’t seen her face, he knew she was biting her lip.
Carefully Albert reassured her as he stared at her image on his surveillance screens. “Yeah. I’m at the fridge now. We got milk.”
“Thanks” Lindas unusually breathless voice whispered.
“I’m going for a lie down now. I’ll probably be in bed when you get home.”
“Alright then.” She cleared her throat.  “I’ll go to the check outs now. See you in a bit.”
Albert watched his wife walk to the end of the new driveway and tape a note to Marcos front door.
She quickly turned and rushed back to her car and drove down the street and out of shot.
Albert stood over his camera controls and tweaked some settings. A light breeze had picked up and played with the note on the door. As he focused onto the note, the message revealed itself as it opened up. “See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar.”
Albert pushed his glassed back from his nose, pulled the remaining disc from the empty spindle and copied the episode to it. He then reached for a marker pen and recorded the date and time on the shiny surface.
He grunted and unlatched a hidden drawer. After shuffling through some thin files he found what he was searching for and popped the short taped episode into Marco Torrisis dossier.
He tapped it thoughtfully. “Probably about time Mrs Torrisi discovered some of his extra curricular activities, though might wait and see how deep this thing with Linda goes before playing that card.”
The note taped to the door said: See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar.


Story inspired by the [Fiction Friday] prompt at Write Anything and submitted to JM Strother’s #FridayFlash  via Twitter - as well as to  Writing Adventure Group.

Prompt - The note taped to the door said: See you at Wild Notes Karaoke Bar.


Laura Rachel Fox said...

What a great character. He's so miserable and he's made it his job to make everyone else miserable. I think most people can relate to having one of these types in their neighborhood.

You were able to take the character much deeper than just the typical sort of interloper. The exchange between Albert and Linda worked well to shape their relationship. I was a little surprised at his reaction to seeing Linda across the street. It was as if he was treating her as callously as the rest of his projects.

Anonymous said...

In an appropriate use of the word, "What a bastard." This guy is the pits and seems to have no redeeming features, which is why we keep reading on to see how far down he goes. Loved it, Annie.
Adam B

Jason Coggins said...

Methinks you were working some spleen out with this guy! Such a lavish set up to make us dislike Albert and kudos to you for not giving us the easy 'and-then-he-gets-his-just-deserts' ending. As much as I would like to see Albert get some kind of punishment the manner in which he lives his life and his pathetic existence probably is justice in itself.

Benjamin Solah said...

Wow, such a great character, you really got out how sad and pathetic he was.

Unknown said...

Hi folks.. If you REALLY don't like Albert.. then why not go and kill him? Its Sept 4ths Friday Fiction prompt... so go and have fun..

Rebecca Emin said...

What a horrible man! Very well written, he came across as being easy to dislike. I hope his wife manages to escape from him before too long!

Terry Haferkamp said...

He's quite a character. I've met people like him but not as extreme. They find pleasure sticking their noses into everyone elses business and finding fault. You did an excellent job on creating such a colorful character even if he is a creep.

Laura Rachel Fox said...

I just killed Albert. I thought you should know.

A Writer's Vein said...

Albert is likely just doing the best he can with the emotional and social resources he has. Ask the average OCD sufferer or person with any number of disabilities that has become socially isolated. What does the partner get from the relationship? Hmm wouldn't want to be his neighbour though, and would likely stage several odd incidents for him to record - you know, really give him something to get excited about - probably give him a coronary! Very creepy dude.