In the event of fire, he would be first out.
 Each nearing ninety they hibernated, content in each other’s company.
 Permanently pyjamaed, slipshod to the shops she slopped. Needs must.
 Blind, his neighbour cooked his meals. She took no money.
 Receiving visitors at all hours, he questioned his neighbour’s virtue.
 For a reasonable fee she taught English to recent immigrants.
 Unaware that he was against regulations, her dog yapped incriminatingly.
 Television, her faithful companion, what would she do without it?
 Humane attempts to catch mice had failed. Torture would prevail.
 Concealing bruises she prepared to face the world. He lounged.
 Deaf she was spared her neighbour’s bloodcurdling arguments. Small mercy.
 Would tomorrow’s trudge to the bookies for once be rewarding?
 Hearing rumours she had warned her children. They told friends.
 Sensing the neighbourhood had gone downhill, she yearned to relocate.
 Uninvited men often called demanding payments; they were violently persuasive.
 Her husband now lived in sin on the seventh floor.
 When exactly would he alert others to his missing snake?
 She passed her days completing jigsaws. Evenings were less exhausting.
 Having fled genocide, her mornings were spent opening indecipherable post.
 Yesterday he saw loan sharks knocking on his neighbour’s door.
 Cowering silently, he ignored callers. He heard they broke fingers.
 Wet pain, the sign had said. Puzzled, he eventually twigged.
 She knitted gifts for her family; they hid the results.
 The inviting smells emanating from her flat proved unreplicated recipes.
 Since the lift broke, she had struggled with the stairs.
 Her daughter made enquiries. Had anybody seen her pet hamster?
 Coiled around a u-bend, an exotic intruder awaited its discoverer.
 Having missed the misspelt sign, he had ruined his jacket.
 She knew this much: he would not touch her children.
 In lieu of a garden, he maintained a window box.
 Inadvisably lycraed she jogged locally. Children pointed, weight dropped off.
 Since next door’s new arrival, he hadn’t slept a wink.
 They left the pram outside; space did not allow it.
 Her daughter’s birthday presents would vie with food for priority.
 We buy gold, said the leaflet. Good luck, he thought.
 Room enough for three, seven people lived in irritable intimacy.
 She regularly babysat neighbour’s children, wished they were her own.
 Single motherhood had annihilated her. Elsewhere the father slept soundly.
 Struggling to spell paedophile, he opted to spray nonce instead.
 She was unaware that her son had broken the lift.
 Doors were not closed but slammed, arguments became communal affairs.
 He hated neighbours who left bagged rubbish outside their door.
 Having bought his son a drum-kit, he awaited the repercussions.
 Cleaning houses for a living, she relaxed by living squalidly.
 Curious residents speculated whether she had always been a woman.
 Lovesick, he cared little whether she was born that way.
 Extortionate phone bills emphasised her distance from home, her isolation.
 Sat dead three days, decomposition would eventually alert the neighbours.
 Squatting, they were not altogether popular. They kept low profiles.
 Nervously storing stolen goods, he fortified his flat against burglars.
 Passing time he wrote poetry, sought rhymes for fetid stench.
 Never exactly welcome, the police visited frequently. They never forgot.
 At night he fantasised about crippling the little drummer boy.
 Parties could last until dawn. Neighbours were invited, though unwelcome.
 He prayed for new neighbours. His god proved otherwise engaged.
 Of the block’s seventeen different languages, hers was the rarest.
 He had urinated against the nonce’s front door. Others followed.
 He had heard the rumours, thought he looked the type.
 Soon, thank god, she would move into her own place.
 Same bed, third wife: how would he fuck this up?
 Third generation, neighbours still called him foreign. Grandchildren might assimilate.
 At his wife’s insistence, he smoked outside their front door.
 Impatiently awaiting her son’s return from war, she slept badly.
 From nappies to fatigues, she watched her neighbour’s son mature.
 Misunderstanding graffitied arabesques, he blamed the wall’s scrawls on immigrants.
 They had exchanged flats with friends. Their friends had won.
 A lottery win would solve all his problems. Fingers crossed.
 Their union jack doormat was desecrated nightly by work boots.
 Hangings too good for ‘em. He contemplated more barbaric options.
 Should he return to his wife? There were fewer stairs.
 Training his telescope on the heavens, he forgot the world.
 Cultivating aromatic plants by artificial light, he had many visitors.
 For purely medicinal reasons, he was often found next door.
 Born in this flat she would likely die in it.
 Were the rumours true? He had always harboured sneaking suspicions.
 He had watched his neighbour scrub nonce from his door.
 Through her peephole she had watched them pissing. Little animals.
 Recently he had physically assaulted his neighbour. Charges were dropped.
 Fearing vigilantes, he climbed onto his window-ledge, prepared to jump.
 If he moved would he miss the sound of sirens?
 Not entirely convinced, but dutiful, he sided with his son.
 Training his telescope on the adjacent block, he bloated tissues.
 Through thin walls she listened, alone, to endless orgiastic encounters.
 Nocturnal gymnastics had taken their toll, a new bed beckoned.
 Mobility reduced he relied on his daughter. She injected recreationally.
 Was their flat haunted? Things seemed to disappear: money, jewellery.
 How did mice get up here? Not in the lift.
 She enjoyed parading naked. From neighbouring blocks men watched aghast.
 Binoculared men told him what she did. He joined them.
 Outside, his car rusted whilst he saw out his ban.
 Tablets ensured sleep. The rest of her problems went unresolved.
 Eventually someone would buy his novel. Meanwhile, he ate cheaply.
 She volunteered for the Samaritans. Disembodied voices haunted her dreams.
 Nine flights up, anticipating breathless recrimination, he awaited his take-away.
 Uncertain what to believe he went with instinct: crucify him.
 Instigator of rumours, had he gone too far this time?
 His flat was a birdwatcher’s paradise. Alas, he hated birds.
 Slowly the stairs were killing him. He needed new knees.
 Broadcasting illegally through rooftop aerials, they rode the airwaves piratically.
 Empty it would soon be filled. A waiting list groaned.