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The Annoying Neighbour

This week's prompt, what with Spring and all, was about rain. Too much rain. Crops washed away, swollen rivers, flooding. I wrote about a flood from long ago. Limit was 1000 words, I have 995.

The Annoying Neighbour

"But Doris, it stinks," he said.

She patted his arm. "Now Fred, we’ve moved out in the country, nothing against a neighbour keeping a few animals."

"A few?" he said. "I peeked through the trees, it’s a zoo. And all that construction, day and night, hammering, sawing, creaking of winches – what’s he up to?"

"Why don’t you ask him? Here. I baked a couple of nice fruit pies. Take them over, say I made you go."

While her husband was away, Doris took the opportunity to unpack more boxes. She was already running out of room, even with Fred’s woodworking shed out back. With both kids married, it had been their chance to nudge them out of the nest, then downsize and move up the valley. She opened another box—toys. Just in case there were some grand-kids.

It was getting dark by the time Fred returned.

"How was your visit, dear," she asked. "You were gone a long time."

"Well, there was a lot to see," he said. "Noah, our neighbour, is building a boat. A huge boat. 300 cubits long."

"300? Don’t you mean 30, like the fishing boat you built?"

"No dear, I mean 300. I saw the keel. Nice guy, but he must be looney. Not sure how the rest of the family put up with him."

"He’s married, then?"

"Yes, nice woman," said Fred. "Naamah I think was her name. And three big sons, to help on the boat, plus their wives. Pretty big family. And there’s all the animals. I’m going to complain, get the bylaw officers over there."

"Slow down hun," she said. "Let me talk to his wife, get her perspective."

Naamah was very nice. Apparently her husband woke up one day saying his god had appeared in a dream with a command to build this boat, and then to collect pairs of every animal and load them on. Before some flood happened. As his wife, she wanted to be supportive. Plus, it kept him busy and out of the house.

Doris could sympathize, as Fred, newly retired, was already starting to get in her hair, moping around the house about all the rain.

When she passed on her latest neighbour news to Fred, he wasn’t that happy. Until she mentioned that Noah was new to boat building.

"Naamah said he was given the dimensions in a dream, then that was it. He’s having problems with the sheer size of it. He really could use your help. And did I mention he brews his own beer too?"

Her plan was a success. Fred spent most his days with Noah, helping with the design and finer construction points. Noah’s boys did all the grunt work, leaving the two men free to break off mid-afternoon, to sketch and plan and sip beer on the covered porch, out of the rain. Fred and Doris even had dinner a few times over at his new friend’s place, crammed in with the rest of the family at the long table. Dinner was chaos, but Doris missed the big dinners at their old place. Hopefully, her kids would visit once they’d settled in.

She soon got her wish. After weeks of steady rain, both her boys showed up, with their families and two overfilled carts. The bottom of the valley was flooding, and they’d had to abandon their place.

"Are your neighbours okay?" she said.

Her eldest nodded. "I think so. They all headed up the other side of the valley. It’s just for a few weeks mom, until the rain stops."

Fred had to give up his workshop, but they managed. Her boys had grown up helping their father, so joined him at Noah’s.

But still it continued to rain.

"Naamath, do we even remember the sun?" Fred and Noah had their beer, and she and Naamath had their pot of tea. Doris chuckled. "If this keeps up, you just might need that boat. And we’ll be looking for a ride too."

Naamath frowned, leaned forward, and put her hand over Doris’s. "Oh, my friend. I’m sorry. We appreciate all the help you’ve been, thanks to you our Ark is almost ready. But our God, Yahweh, would not allow you to join us. He desires to rid the world of wickedness with a great flood. Not you specifically of course, you are lovely people, but he is a very firm God, and I dare not anger him."

Doris didn’t know what to say. This rain was bound to stop soon, but what if it didn’t?

When she confided her news to Fred that night, he was livid.

"All that help I have given that shit, designing his whole boat because his magical god left out any details. listening to him go on about salvation and how he talks to angels, and this is their thanks? I’m heading over tonight to fix his boat for good—a few well-placed supports knocked out, and it’s done for."

Once again, Doris managed to calm Fred down enough to let her talk to her friend, Naamath. And she managed to come home with good news.

"I’m not sure we’ll even need it, but she said there is another boat, one that Noah built before this one. Smaller though, as he was practising. She thought about 100 cubits long. It will need some work probably, and they aren’t allowed to help you with it, but it’s ours if we want. Room for our whole family, and even some animals."

"I saw that boat before," he said, "in behind the barns. It has some design problems, but we could probably fix that up in a few days."

He paused. "Noah’s plan is to wait the flood out, then come right back down here."

Doris frowned. "But maybe . . ."

"Don’t say it," he said. "I’d add some sails, as I think we’re better off to find our own place. Maybe to the north."



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Joyce Juzwik

Having been raised Catholic, I am very familiar with the story of Noah and his Ark. With all the complexity of that whole experience (building the ark, gathering the animals, his family, etc.), the subject of his neighbors, and their perception, never occurred to me. It is that perspective that makes your story the gem that it is.

What could his neighbors possibly be thinking when he started to build his massive ship in his 'back yard'? He gathered two of each kind of animal? I would imagine that might cause some anguish within the community (lol). Then, the attitude of Noah and his wife. They know they'll be spared, but their neighbors are on their own? The end? Not wanting to return right back being a next door neighbor to Noah and his wife? Can you blame them?

This one made me laugh out loud, Mike. Poor Doris and Fred, and their annoying neighbor. Annoying neighbor indeed! Hopefully, up North, they moved next door to an old lady who brought them tea and cookies!

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