Mark and Andrea live next to Doris, an eighty year old hoodlum.
"She's off again."
"Eh?" I looked up from my counted cross stitch nursery sampler. Mark gestured with his head at the open window.
"Can't you hear her? Silly old moo!" He walked to the window and looked out. "Shut it!" he shouted. "We've kids here, trying to sleep, you inconsiderate trollop!"
I sighed, tucked my needle into the Aida cloth and put my embroidery hoop down on top of the sewing basket. "What's she up to this time?"
A stream of expletives floated through the window and into my ears, and I cringed. Mark was at the door in two strides. "Right. That's it. I've had enough of this, night after bloody night," he said, as he threw the door open and all but leaped into the hall.
"Wait, Mark," I said, following him and putting my hand over his on the front door handle. "Don't get involved. Again. Remember last time."
He lifted my hand from his, but didn't open the door. "This can't go on, Andy. She's woken Amy every night this week."
"Well, what can we do? If we call the police, they don't do anything. I'm sure they think we're making it up, how bad she is. Then when they've gone she just starts again."
Outside, the language, and the volume, was increasing. Mark opened the door. And went out.
Two doors down, Doris Hobson, our octogenarian neighbour, was shouting up at the windows of her neighbours the other side.
"You been puttin' all your bleepin' empties in my effin' wheelie bin again, intcha?" She had two empty Stella Artois cans in her scrawny little fists and was banging them against the Wallaces' front window.
"What's she talking about?" I whispered to Mark. "The Wallaces don't even drink."
"She, on the other hand," Mark said, "has her twenty-eight cans of Stella delivered weekly. I dunno how she can afford it, on her pension. They're your empties, you silly old bat, not his!" he shouted, making his way over to the old woman. Just then, George Wallace opened his front door.
"Mrs Hobson," he said, with his hands on his hips. "What is all this noise? You are disturbing our Bible Study."
She pushed one of the lager cans under his nose. "Stop putting these in my bin. It's MY bin, not yours,"
George looked at the can as if it were the Antichrist, and said, stiffly. "I can assure you, Mrs Hobson, that neither myself, nor Martha, partake of any stimulant substances. We are not guilty of the crime of which you accuse us." He turned to go back in to his house.
Doris followed him, "Don't give me that, pretendin' to be all 'olier-than-thou. I've 'eard ya, singin' yer 'ead orf all night. Prob'ly 'orf yer 'ead on ale!" She looked pleased at her unintentional pun.
"Hymns, Mrs Hobson." said George, with an air of dignified calm. "Martha and I sing hymns. We were practising for the church choir." He looked over at Mark and me. "We're singing at a festival next weekend," he said to us, as if we needed an explanation for his late night choral activities. To be honest, I didn't care. It didn't ever disturb us. Unlike Doris.
From behind me, I heard Amy crying, and went back into our house. Upstairs, I picked Amy up. "What are we going to do about Doris, sweetie?" I said, as she drifted back off to sleep. "It's her or us, I reckon."