Guilliean reads her short story of the same name, based on the true story of her overhearing a neighbor complaining to their HOA about the existence of such a domicile in their family-friendly neighborhood. Stream it and read along with the text!
The fried chicken clucked in Mr. Jackson’s stomach as he strode away from his forever home. He got five doors down before the day’s heat shot through his ragged trainers. His mind tumbled towards one of his favorite memories: his military career. His last duty station was Nellis. He and Mrs. Jackson decided to remain in Vegas, and it hadn’t been too bad except for the House.
It had been almost eleven years to the day of his retirement from the Air Force. They could have a buffet every day of the week. Mrs. Jackson went enough with him to have a spirited opinion about the best one in town. She doesn’t play favorites, but the dining comps from Red Rock tell a different story. Mr. Jackson choked on the impoverished, desert air. It’s 6:49 at night. Why the hell was it still gross outside? He asked himself that question every spring as the temperature ramped up. Same as it ever was.
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Their shabby gated neighborhood boasted drooping Mexican palms and squat rosemary hedges. Crumbling cement blocks held up much better than the wood fencing back East in this unforgiving environment. It was home. He passed by an Asian with pigtails, walking a curly black lap dog. The dog sniffed as he walked past. Filipina, Thai? Neither neighbor acknowledged the other. Mr. Jackson tried to remember when her family moved in. A couple of years ago? Yesterday? Five weeks back?
The city’s transient nature taught him never to get too close to a neighbor. It wasn’t worth it to know them. His heart skipped a beat. He was coming up to the House now. It w as a cathouse. He was sure of it. He glared up at the facade of biscuit-colored, HOA-approved paint with its dark red accents. What a loud color, he thought. The House had no blooming flowers out front; no one else did either. The Nevada bedrock was plentiful and unyielding.
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There were two luxury cars in the driveway: one silver BMW and one white Lexus. Both California plates. Mr. Jackson was confident those weren’t the same cars as yesterday or the day before, or the day before that. He had every intention to stop and take a picture for evidence. A tall, white man in sunglasses and a Golden State Warriors hat strode out of the pecan-brown front door. Mr. Jackson’s heart launched into the harsh evening sky.
His frivolous smartphone burned in his pocket. Yet he forgot everything his grandson Nick had told him. Mr. Jackson kept his pace and strode around the corner. He got his exercise for the day; he already heard the delight in Dr. Patel’s voice. If only the procurement of evidence could prove that this man was a John. He’d lived here for eleven years, and he’d be damned if it hadn’t been a den for iniquity since. Not on his watch.
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