And so we come upon the curious little tale of a lonely fellow who grew up just as he died—forsaken and exhausted of life. In life he was the exact same as in death—cold, cynical, unfeeling, alone. He went by the name of Allister McLean. Despite his actual young age, they say he was older than dirt and he had the wrinkles to prove it. Ironically, I only met him the day he died and he looked no older than twenty-two. His days, I am told, were spent first at his job in the meat packing plant and then later cooped up in his house where the neighborhood could only assume he was secretly plotting a special heart-to-heart with his shotgun. He had no children, or a wife for he never loved anyone but his cat, Lugosi. He lived a quiet, dismal and loathing life from the time he could comprehend until the time his eyes closed permanently.

I'd never really bothered with asking anyone why Mr. McLean's age was grounds for an argument. Surely he was one age and looked it—maybe a few years off. But going out of my way and inquiring to numerous sources wasn't something I had to do. On the day I met him—the day he died—I saw years of frustration and toil etched into his prematurely aged features. What I saw was a young man, who had obviously endured so many hardships and atrocities in life that the only thing he had to prove it were some wrinkles that burdened his face and his mind every time he looked into the mirror.

But more peculiar than how he lived was how he died. Since I was little my mother always taught me that revenge was useless and would essentially keep me in the same place until I moved on. This was apparently not so. Mr. McLean was a curious character who reveled in the thought of vengeance and, not unknown to everyone, he wished death upon a certain mischievous teenager who had repeatedly desecrated his home—or so he claimed.

The first incident was when the said person took two apples from the tree in his front yard and in doing so stepped on his precious flowers. He immediately had a fence put in, a white one to be exact. The assailant assaulted the new fence with black spray paint. Mr. McLean's course of action was to call the local police and charge the young man with destruction of property. As a final act of vandalism, the unruly teen snatched up Lugosi while he was outside one day and fed the cat to his Doberman. This, of course, drove Mr. McLean over the edge.

These events took place a week ago, so you can imagine how quickly this little story unfolded, because Mr. McLean is now dead and so is the culprit of the vandalism on his house. I remember the entire final episode clearly because it was exactly yesterday and played itself out just below my second-story kitchen window as if it were made for the silver screen.

It was one of those cold, rainy days that makes you curl up in your bed in a tight ball and call in sick to work. The way the wind plastered leaves onto my bedroom window told me to venture outside today was the most stupid atrocity I could commit this entire week. Which, in reality, the very leaves plastered to my window were the proverbial tea leaves at the bottom of a fortune teller's cup. After all, I had witnessed the talk of the town.

I wrapped myself in my robe and strolled downstairs, started some coffee and called my boss to tell him I was sick and wouldn't be coming in today. Of course he didn't believe me, but this event would promise front page of the paper, a promising payday for me, and perhaps a promotion. I could hear my boss' congratulations already, that I had risked my very career in the name of a good story. It didn't take long to persuade him that his leniency would pay off and he relented; I hung up and I walked outside to get my morning paper.

That was when I saw Mr. McLean traipsing around his backyard in the rain before unlocking his shed and going inside. I waited by my mailbox a moment to see if he was alright, and he soon came out again, this time holding a large ax. This was my cue to go back inside and forget all I'd seen. Hurriedly, I found my way back into my kitchen and peered out of my bay window, keeping a perfectly curious—and horribly nosy—eye on Mr. McLean.

My coffee finished brewing and I sat at my table—in full view of the window overlooking Mr. McLean's house—and read the paper whilst sipping on my coffee. I was in the middle of an article on a car crash when I heard my doorbell elicit a delicious, chiming ring. It was Mr. McLean. Taking a quick sip of my coffee, I headed down the stairs with such a wicked smile plastered across my face, my eyes veritably twinkling with anticipation.

"Yes, Mr. McLean? Can I help you with anything?" Oh, I knew I could. As sure as his hands jittered with the promise of murder, I could help him.

"Yea... Where does Russel Hampton live?" His face was bejeweled with drops of rain and his white hair was a mess on his head. He was oddly focused, and very direct—no meaningless banter or smalltalk. His beret was gripped tightly in his vice-like grip as I imagined he squeezed his anxiety into every fiber.

I frowned ruefully and touched Mr. McLean on his scarred hands, gently conveying my sympathy. "I heard what he did to poor Lugosi, and I think it's good of you to want to talk to him. Feelings need to be spoken aloud to the person who needs to hear them. What is it you need?" Perhaps I had no business instigating murder, but I was tight for cash. Plus, nothing good ever happens here and this affair warranted particular amusement for me.

"Maybe so, which I why I'm very interested in letting him know exactly how I feel. Do you know where he lives?" His eyes were pulsing with impatience and a psychosis of which I wasn't willing to test the limits.

I smiled, "Of course. He's my neighbor." I jabbed my thumb to the left of us and then Mr. McLean excused himself and I bid him farewell to lock my front door and race up to the kitchen. Once again, I snuggled up to the window with my coffee and watched as Mr. McLean approached Russel's house and rang the doorbell, ax in hand.

Russel's parents had left for work and he was obviously skipping school as the bus had left two hours ago, without him. Poor little Russel Hampton, no one was home at all to help him. Mr. McLean picked the prefect day.

The door went unanswered so Mr. McLean simply hacked it down and proceeded inside with his muddy footprints and dripping wet person. I watched through the Hampton's windows as he looked around on the first floor and then ventured upstairs where I could longer see him. No matter, because I could see right into Russel's bedroom and see that he sat on his bed, the music in his headphones blaring away as he faced away from the door, flipping through an adult magazine. I smiled ruefully, poor, poor kid.

As expected, Mr. McLean hacked through Russel's bedroom door and then tapped Russel on the shoulder. When he turned around and saw the ax raised above Mr. McLean's head, Russel ripped his headphones off and screamed loudly, before falling over the bed against the window. What happened next is obvious. After all, what can a seventeen year old boy do to an old man with an ax? Exactly.

The events which transpired next I'm not sure of, but Mr. McLean left Russel's room one minute and the next he was dead. There he was, lying at the bottom of the stairs at the front door with blood pooling beneath him from his stomach outward; I then realized he had fallen down the stairs and right onto the blade of his ax. I laughed a little, Mr. McLean could always get so carried away. I picked up the phone and dialed 911, relayed what happened and sat in wait of the ambulances.

Silly Mr. McLean. Red and blue lights lit up my kitchen and bounced off of the walls. "And I want to thank you, kind sir, for the swift advancement of office I will receive tomorrow—perhaps even today—at work," I mused as the sound of my doorbell promised police questioning and my chance to perfect my acting skills. What a beautiful day.

~x~