“Always knew they were some weird ones,” Garrett finds himself grumbling to Janet; a phrase that’s been said more often than not in the past week or so. “Knew it the day they moved in.”
Subjected to her husband’s complaints, Janet shakes her head in annoyance and gives Garrett a good slap on the arm. “They’re fine boys, sweetheart. Leave them be,” she replies. A pitiful glance and a sigh follows, and Garrett feels a sharp pinch of annoyance. The wrinkles on Janet’s face deepen. “Some poor boys too. Poor, poor boys. Wonder if they’d like some cherry pie? Do you think they would, honey? Or chocolate chip cookies?”
Garrett gives a weary sigh and doesn’t bother replying. Ever since the two men had moved in next doors, Janet had been contemplating whether or not they would enjoy her various baked goods and dishes. Although Janet never explicitly explains it, he’s been with her for too many decades to be ignorant of her soft spot regarding things like this. Abandoned kittens, a puppy lost in the rain, or a man with a scar crippling his face and another who seems unable to communicate in the most basic ways. Just those things.
Janet starts to talk about how it’d be just fantastic if she could invite ‘those sweet boys’ over for dinner. As she goes over the various menus that she’s capable of cooking up, Garrett scowls silently at the two men who are the topic of their discussion - and who are, apparently, planting flowers in their garden. The new neighbors, Steve and Riley. The more bitter part of him grumbles that those probably aren’t even their real names. The two men are so secretive and withdrawn that the only reason Garrett remembers their faces is because of how crazy they are. Or at least he thinks. They’re halfway insane at the very least.
Steve -the tall redhead with an ugly scar- is crouched down on the grass, carefully placing a flower pot into the hole that he has just dug. As he fills the hole back up, Riley, sitting stiffly next to him, pays no attention and stares off into nothing. In the blond man’s hand is a glass of water, untouched and unmoving. Earlier, Garrett had seen Steve fold Riley’s fingers around the cup. The movements, too gentle to be seen as a simple gesture of kindness, had sprouted a strange, slimy feeling inside the old man.
As Garrett watches in scorn, Steve finishes up with filling up the hole, in which now resides a blue flower plant that sways softly in the warm summer air. Steve points at the flower and says something to Riley. The other man gives no response -at least none that Garrett can see- but Steve keeps talking. Crazy, as I said, Garrett mumbles sourly to himself.
“Just look at that flower,” Janet exclaims next to him, and Garrett starts, forcibly broken out of his thoughts. “Beautiful color, isn’t it? What a wonderful taste!”
“It’s an ugly blue,” Garrett grumbles back, but Janet either doesn’t hear or completely ignores him. Shaking his head, Garrett turns his attention back to the house next to his. He had planned to spend the afternoon in a lazy way with Janet, lounging in the comfortable chairs on the front porch and talking about nothing. But those ‘sweet, poor boys’ had to decide to plant some stupid flowers in their front lawn, ruining his whole plan. Now he knows that Janet will just keep on talking, as she has done for the past few days whenever she had a good view of the new neighbors.
Steve begins to dig another hole. While Garrett watches in boredom -after all, there is nothing else to entertain him other than some squirrels and lawnmowers- Riley gets up slowly. Frowning, Garrett watches him shuffle towards the only tree in the lawn, admittedly shocked at the first movement that the blond man has shown while unguided by his companion. Janet grows quiet next to him, and he knows that she’s cocking her head in curiosity and watching.
In slow but sure steps, Riley approaches the tree. Steve apparently has just noticed Riley’s absence, and turns his head. He stands up, dropping the trowel in his hand. Simultaneously, Riley begins to steadily thump his head against the tree.
Janet puts a hand against her mouth and whispers something that sounds like How horrible.
His scowl even deeper than before, Garrett crosses his arms over his chest and glares at Steve as he rushes over to Riley and gently pulls him away from the tree. Even from far away, Garrett can see the blood dripping from the cuts on Riley’s forehead. With an arm around Riley’s shoulders, Steve guides him back inside.
“Always knew they were some weird ones,” Garrett announces for what seems to be the hundredth time, breaking the heavy silence on his porch.
He almost misses the way that Steve’s body jerks violently then falls still.