Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » April 2017 » “Neighbor Boy” by Carol Murphy

“Neighbor Boy” by Carol Murphy

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, Carol Murphy intuits the inner-darkness of an innocent neighborhood boy. 

Neighbor Boy
by Carol Murphy
La Selva Beach, CA

When I got the call from the detective telling me my brother Paul was found dead, tied to his chair, his mouth gagged, his hands tied behind his back in his own kitchen, I knew it was Jackson, the kid across the street. I always knew the kid was going to kill somebody, but no one believed me, especially my brother.

“Look at this neighborhood Karen,” my brother had laughed. “Why the houses are so close together, someone would see Jackson doing it.”

“Everyone closes their curtains and there are no street lights. And when the fog rolls in through the pines, everything is black except for a few dim lights inside the houses. Paul, listen to me. Nothing would stop Jackson anyway. There’s something sinister about him.”

“Karen, stop that. He’s a good kid. Just needs a buddy. Look at all the chores he offers to do. And he’s a great artist. Look what he drew for me.” Paul held up a detailed chalk drawing of a dead grey rabbit, its lifeless head twisted.

“Paul, you pay him and that’s not a normal drawing for a fifteen-year old.”

“Stop already. I like the kid. Give him a break.”

But Jackson was heartless and reckless. He was a conniver too, stopping by the corner gas station and stealing small things, then smiling when he was caught. His parents alternately tried counseling and punishment, even enlisting the high school for help.

Jackson got worse.

One neighbor had their dog poisoned while another neighbor spotted Jackson in her backyard with a pair of binoculars looking into her house.  Still another found a book of sketches on her patio table. It was filled with pictures of all kinds of dead animals and people. It didn’t have his name written on it, but we all knew who it belonged to.

I’m also sure Jackson knew my brother liked him. That’s what made this so horrible.

The detective patted me on the shoulder. “I know this is hard for you, especially living just down the street. Did you see anything?”

“I was at work. Was there a note or anything?”

“No, but we found this pad with sketches.” He handed me a notebook, the same kind that had been found on the neighbor’s patio table.

The drawings were of ungodly things. Paul thought they were thought provoking. I’d say they were evil.

The fog was coming in small slivers now, slipping in through the pine branches and meandering over the road towards where we stood outside Paul’s small bungalow. It had probably been there when the neighbor’s dog was poisoned, surrounded Jackson as he peered into the other neighbor’s house and was there when Paul was killed. Maybe Jackson was somewhere where there wasn’t any fog.

“Jackson did it,” I said to the detective, “the neighbor boy.”


Carol Murphy has an MA in Speech-Language Pathology and lives in Santa Cruz, CA where she started a business that specialized in pediatric speech-language disorders. She served for eight years on the CA State Speech-Language Pathology Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board. Today she is a writer and consultant who lives with her husband, two cats and a horse. She is also the publisher of the newsletter, Learning Express. You can learn more about Carol via her website: www.carolmurphy.org.


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Apr 17, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , ,