Fred and Chuck
Once upon a time there was a guy named Fred. One night Fred was having trouble sleeping, and went to the kitchen for a snack. Before turning on the light, he happened to glance out the window, and see some movement in his neighbor’s garage. As he watched, Chuck, another of his neighbors–not the owner of that house– walked out carrying some garden tools. Fred glanced at the clock, which said 2:15 a.m. Fred grabbed his camcorder, which happened to have night vision, and kept watching and filming as Chuck crept from one house to another, sneaking into any open garages, and carrying off various items.
Though he couldn’t imagine an innocent explanation, the next day Fred decided to confront Chuck, as politely as possible, about what he had seen, before mentioning it to the neighbors. So he strolled over to Chuck’s house and knocked on his door. Chuck opened the door, wearing his usual friendly smile. “Um, I don’t quite know how to say this,” began Fred awkwardly, “but I saw you last night, taking stuff out of other peoples houses. I didn’t want to say anything before talking to you about–.” His words were cut short by a rather vigorous punch in the nose.
“You’d better shut up if you know what’s good for you,” said Chuck, and slammed the door, leaving Fred standing there, dazed and with a bloody nose.
Several hours later, after his nose had stopped bleeding, and had returned more or less to its normal size, Fred decided he had to speak to his neighbors about what had happened.
The first neighbor Fred went to just responded with, “That’s impossible. Chuck is a great guy. He would never do that. And if he were doing something like that, someone would have noticed by now. I don’t believe you. Go away.” The neighbor shut the door in Fred’s face, before Fred could even mention the videotape.
As soon as the second neighbor opened the door, he said “Chuck warned us that you’re telling lies about him. He says the accusation is ridiculous, absurd! So go away.” Again the door slammed before Fred could mention the videotape of Chuck’s dirty deeds.
The third neighbor also started talking as soon as he opened the door. “Chuck says you’re the crook, Fred, that you steal stuff, and that you gossip about all of us. I want nothing to do with you.” The door was again slammed in Fred’s face.
The fourth neighbor, though seeming suspicious and less than friendly, let Fred say a bit, just enough to mention the videotape. Somewhat begrudgingly, the neighbor watched the video. At the end, however, all he would say was, “Well, when you brought it up, you got a punch in your nose. So who cares whether what you say is true or not?”
Fred almost went home then, but decided to try the last house he had seen Chuck take stuff from. The fifth neighbor answered the door, and Fred quickly summarized the situation, hoping to get it all out before being punched or having the door slammed in his face. This time, however, the neighbor listened quietly and intently, and then asked to see the videotape, which he watched quietly and intently. After a few more moments of silence, the neighbor said, “Thank you for letting me know. I’ll have to think about what to do about it, if anything, but I appreciate you letting me know.”
Walking home, Fred felt content. The problem hadn’t been solved, and most of his neighbors had been thick-headed dunces, but at least one person wanted the truth and got it. And, for the moment at least, that was good enough for Fred.
[I know this feeling well. -CL]
Mood: disappointed in my fellow citizenry
Music: Marilyn Manson – Down In The Park