Their house was asleep. Amanda was snoring quietly. Peaches was snoring not so quietly. The whole block was probably asleep except for Alex. Alex never slept at least that was what Amanda joked. He’d tried melatonin and NyQuil and even acupuncture. Alex found only one thing that worked, peeping. Each night he went to bed curled against Amanda’s warmness. He would breathe in her baby powder and lavender scent and listen to her breath deepen. Once his wife was fast asleep, Alex was alive. On cat’s feet he got a double single malt Scotch, a sleeve of Ritz, and his binoculars. Peaches, a plump ginger, surveyed Alex’s movements each night before taking his place in their bed.
Alex watched. Their house was a faded three-storied Victorian. Tucked under the dormers, Alex had the perfect perch. He watched the late night dog walkers and the stray cats. Once he saw the Watkins girl shimmy down her trellis to slip away into her boyfriend’s waiting car. For a while he watched the Martins, a lot of the Martins, until they bought curtains. Mostly Alex watched everything and nothing. When they lived in Center City the night was a carnival. In the ‘burbs, the night was a warm bath. He would watch until his lids grew heavy and his bed called him to sleep.
Lately Alex focused on the Mosely Bees. Amanda liked to give all their neighbors nicknames. The amorous Martins were called the Bunnies, Old Man Gibbs was named Grubinger for his trash can treasure hunting, the McClouds who snipped at each other were known as the McBickersons. The Bees had the monstrosity on the corner lot. In a town of stately painted ladies, the Mosely Bees lived in a simple A frame/shack. Mr. Mosely Bee was a junkman, a junkman who bought a lot of junk home. Bits and bobs, washers and sewing machines, the Mosely Bees’ yard was a hodgepodge of appliances. Quick to smile and quick to anger, the junkman never liked to let anything go. Amanda called them the Hot Messy Bees.
Tonight it was 3:33. That’s the witching hour, Alex thought with a yawn. He looked at Peaches, tucked into a C of sleep. Her gold rimmed eyes flicked open. A crisp crunch sound, the sound of a shovel cutting into soil floated up to Alex’s ears. Alex returned to his binoculars.
Mr. Hot Messy Bee was digging by lantern light. He was digging a hole, deep and body-sized. Alex watched. Guilt trickled under his bedroom and sluiced around his ankles. Alex flipped through his memories of the nights before. The night was his chessboard and knew every piece’s movements. Quiet as a church mouse, Mrs. Hot Messy Bee rarely left the hobbit hole of a house and always with the Mister. Alex could picture her fragile face in the passenger side of the husband’s truck. He remembered when she left a mason jar of wildly beautiful wildflowers on their porch in the middle of the night when his mother passed. He remembered her waving from the slit in her front window each morning as he drove to work. Behind a thin lace curtain, she watched the street during the day. With a flush of gooseflesh Alex remembered he had not seen Mrs. Mosely Bee in over a week. He saw the junkman drag what looked like a mannequin into his hole.
Alex dialed 911.
“What’s going on?” Amanda asked sleep confused.
“Everything, Mandy, everything.”

Photo by Eneida Nieves on

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