Nigel, The International Man of Mystery Next Door

I don’t think I’ve ever told you about our International Man of Mystery Next Door, so I’ll tell you about him now. Lucky, lucky you! So, yes, we have an International Man of Mystery Next Door. We call him Nigel, because, well, that’s his name, and it’s a good name for Man of Mystery, don’t you think? The “next door” part of his title is actually a bit of a misnomer, though, because although Nigel owns the house next door to us, he doesn’t actually live there – hence the mystery. Actually, we haven’t seen Nigel for, ooooh, about eight months now. Maybe he is dead and bricked up inside the wall?

In that time, the house has remained empty, the grass has grown to shoulder height, the neighbourhood kids have had a fine old time “exploring” and I have entertained fantasies in which Terry and I knock through the wall between our houses, and make ourselves a four bedroom detached home for the price of our two bedroom semi. Seriously, no one would ever know, least of all Nigel, because Nigel? Is missing. He used to come to the house every few months, always arriving under cover of darkness, and leaving a few minutes later. Now Nigel doesn’t come to the house no more, but men who look like they’re maybe from the underworld come asking for him from time to time, and one time? The police came.

“Do you know where he is?” they asked Terry. “No, said Terry, “I don’t, sorry.” “Don’t you worry son,” said the police man. “We’ll find him all right.” They actually said “son”. They actually said, “We’ll find him,” as if we were all in a daytime soap and Nigel was On The Run. It was brilliant. Since then, though? Nothing. Haven’t seen hide nor hair of him, and I’ve just realised that you’re probably thinking I was building up to some dramatic revelation like, “Then this morning Rubin went out for a pee and totally dug up Nigel’s body!” or something, but I’m not. Sorry.

Why was I telling you this, again? Oh yes, the fence! The brown picket fence! Do you think it would be an overreaction for me to go round knocking on people’s doors, looking grim-faced and asking if they have themselves an alibi?