Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Thirteen

The two policemen who were investigating Tracy’s suicide arrived at The River Thames where she died. It was the exact same spot where Steve Owen and Sophie Daniels had died also. What’s more, their deaths had also been ruled as suicide.

‘At time I find myself wondering if this particular area is cursed,’ Tom, the first policeman said. ‘First Steve Owen, then Sophie Daniels – now Tracy Preston. What in hell’s name is up with these young people taking their own lives at this same spot?’

His police officer partner Tony looked at him sadly. ‘Maybe it was them and their families that were cursed, not this river. Nobody knows for certain.’

 

I received a visit from Matthew. Even though I wasn’t in the mood to see anybody, I let him in anyway, as I needed comfort.

‘Just to let you know, Heather,’ he said to me. ‘We’re both in the same boat when it comes to grieving for Tracy. We were both close to her.

‘What I don’t get is why someone with their whole life in front of them and with a hint of hope would want to end it all in such a horrible way. Apart from severe depression, of course.’

‘It’s what Paul said after the wake that really took the biscuit. Talking about vandalising her cremation grave,’ I added, the rage I still felt beginning to boil over. ‘As if she hadn’t already suffered enough when she was alive.

‘There are some days when I find myself wondering if Tracy is better off dead after all. At least this way she’s safe from the many nasty enemies she had. If I had the sort of tortured life she had I would want to die as well. So I don’t blame her for committing suicide – as selfish as it was of her.’

 

Michael was packing his clothes, personal items and everything else that belonged to him, but decided to cling onto the few items that belonged to Tracy, so that he would still have her close to him.

He was planning to leave town, and everything behind along with it. But the knock on his door snapped him out of his thoughts.

The chapel vicar stood outside with an urn locket, in which the rest of Tracy’s cremated ashes were stored. ‘May I come in?’ he asked politely.

Mike looked at him with tired stressed out eyes. ‘No,’ he replied irritably.

The vicar tried to understand. ‘I know this is not easy for you, neither is it for anybody else.’ He handed the urn locket over to Mike, placing it firmly in his hand. ‘Seeing as it is all you have left of her, continue to hold onto her.’

Mike accepted the gift, and gazed at it for a long time. ‘You can go now.’ He felt the tears welling up again.

 

After having confided in Matthew and gotten everything off my chest, I decided to get to the bottom of the voicemail message Tracy had left just before she killed herself. It had been forwarded to our other contacts, but I wasn’t sure if they had heard it yet.

I felt my hand shaking slightly. I was not at all prepared for what I was about to listen to.

When I pressed the ‘play’ button, the painful sound of Tracy’s voice from beyond the grave sent an unpleasant chill down my spine. A chill I wanted to immediately be rid of.

The contents of the disturbing audio message played out. ‘This is to Katherine’s family and friends, letting you know how sorry I am for what I did to her. And also to my own family and friends, I never meant for my own death to bring you such heartache and pain. Even though you’re bound to feel extreme anger towards me and see me as selfish and cowardly for taking the easy way out, I hope you one day understand why it has ended like this.

‘After I’d been released from prison, Joan and Enid both confronted me about what happened to Katherine. You should have heard what they said. “Kill yourself and get it over with. Do the bloody fucking rest of us a favour so that you’re not a danger to society anymore” – those were Enid’s exact words to me.’  Tracy burst into tears and broke down halfway.

Bile began to build up in my mouth as I let the disturbing message continue. ‘And then to add even more insult to injury, Sharon also attacked me, branding me a murderer. She was extremely angry and full of hatred towards me when she said I should get out of Birmingham and then disappear off the surface of the earth by topping myself afterwards. She said that nobody wanted me around anymore and that I would be better off dead. Maybe committing suicide is what I should have done a long time ago.’ Tracy was sobbing uncontrollable by then as her final message ended.

Now I felt sick to my stomach and thought I was about to vomit. How could they? How dared they?!

My head was spinning with nausea and I felt numb, having found out that Tracy’s blood was on Sharon’s, Joan’s AND Enid’s hands – meaning that they indirectly killed her!

 

I immediately phoned someone from my support group and told her everything. ‘Emma,’ I said, distraught. ‘We need to inform the investigators about this. Asap.’

I was determined that those people would be brought to justice. For Tracy’s sake.

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Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Twelve

‘How was Tracy the last time you saw her?’ Kate asked Eileen, Anna, and myself. ‘What was her state of mind like?’

‘We’d had an argument over the phone,’ Eileen admitted. ‘I screamed at her that she was throwing her whole life away, then she screamed at me back. And now I’ve regretted it ever since.’ She was obviously unable to accept the fact that her only daughter was dead by suicide, and to be honest I couldn’t blame her.

‘She seemed at her lowest, but assured me she was fine,’ I said. ‘The last time we spoke was when she’d quit at the bookstore because of Paul giving her a tough time over Katherine.’ We all still had yet to find out the actual truth about the knife attack in which Tracy had killed Katherine. Not to mention the fact that the stabbing had been instigated by Katherine herself after she had committed the arson. Eileen was already going through hell, and once she eventually found out about the horrific incident it would only rip her apart even more!

‘She was staying with me and Matt at the time,’ Anna informed Kate. ‘Because her house had been burnt down. She was in tears over it, but never showed any signs of feeling suicidal.’ She began to quiver slightly and was snivelling. ‘She actually mentioned something about getting her life back together. This was after we’d helped her come off the prescription drugs she’d been taking.’

Tracy was also still attending her weekly support group, meaning that she was actually determined to overcome her demons. Which was why none of us could understand how she went from that to being a missing person – to being dead! I started to wonder if she had secretly planned her suicide in advance, but that everyone was too blind to see it.

 

 

Tracy’s bookstore partners and I gathered in the local pub. They had all decided that the workshop would not be opened today. Also, I would not show up at the supermarket for my usual daily work shift. Not with the state I was in.

Rebecca was also present with us. ‘Tiffany’s covering for me, so I don’t have to worry about the antique store today,’ she said. ‘I told her I needed some time to grieve.’

‘It doesn’t feel right for any of us to just carry on as normal,’ Nigel suggested. He sipped some of his lager, but couldn’t bring himself to drink it. It tasted rather bitter in his mouth, much to his disgust.

‘Let’s just face it,’ I said, feeling withdrawn. ‘Nothing feels right anymore.’

Each of us raised our glasses in honour of Tracy. But suddenly, Paul came in unannounced. He too had heard about what had happened, but didn’t seem at all affected by the apparant tragic suicide of one of his former colleagues. None of us were pleased to see him.

‘Just so you know, I haven’t come here to join any of you lot,’ he said acidly. ‘I just need space and time alone to grieve for my wife.’ He moodily sat down in one corner, as my friends and I glared at him. ‘Don’t you care at all that one of our closest friends is dead?’ I hit out.

‘Why the fuck should I care?’ he spat. ‘Even in death, she’s a hateful loathsome unhinged arsehole as far as I’m concerned. Now that Tracy’s dead and gone at least the mentally unstable bitch can’t hurt or kill anybody else. Good fucking riddance, if you ask me. Her suicide should be seen as a blessing’

‘You what?!’ Anna cried angrily. ‘What the fuck did you say?’

Matthew stood up. ‘He’s not worth it, Anna,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother wasting your time with him.’

Paul shot Matt an evil look. ‘I never fucking was worth it, was I?!’ he snarled. ‘And I suppose Tracy was? Well you know what, if it wasn’t for her then Katherine would still be alive.’

The fact that Tracy had fatally stabbed Katherine during a serious catfight didn’t give Paul the right to be making spiteful comments about her. Did he not have any respect at all for the dead?

‘You always were a fucking nasty piece of work,’ Matthew spat back. ‘And in case you didn’t know, your has been of a wife is the reason Tracy ended up killing herself in the first place. Katherine killed Tracy, not the other way round.’

Paul slammed his pint glass hard on the table, threw his chair back aggressively, then stormed out.

I doubted he would be at Tracy’s funeral. Or the wake. Not that any of us wanted him there, anyway.

‘When the right time comes,’ Vanessa said, facing us all. ‘Then we’ll break the news to everyone else as soon after we’ve reopened.’

That was when it suddenly hit me – Natasha was one of the few who hadn’t yet heard about what had happened to Tracy! What would it do to Natasha once she finally found out through Kelly, her special needs supervisor? It would destroy her just as much as it had destroyed me and Anna. Especially seeing that her connection with Tracy was the closest and most irreplaceable of all.

 

The day before Tracy’s funeral, her father Roy was giving away her belongings and possessions to charity, all whilst clearing out and emptying her apartment with the help of Gavin, a close mate of his and one of his neighbours.

‘If there’s anything else you need help with.’ Gavin looked at Roy sympathetically, wishing there was something he could do to make him feel better.

‘That will do for now.’ Roy didn’t look back at Gavin; he just wanted to get today over and done with. As he threw the black bags containing Tracy’s items in the back of his lorry, he felt as though he were being forced to dispose of his dead daughter’s existence.

‘If only I’d been a proper father to her,’ he thought angrily to himself, hot tears running down his face as he turned to walk away.

Eileen was on her way to visit Tracy at the chapel of rest. My friends and I had wanted to accompany her along with some of our family members and relatives, but she insisted doing this on her own.

‘Maybe we should give her some time alone to soak it all in properly,’ my sister Shirley suggested. ‘It’s only fair that she should be allowed to say goodbye to her.’

‘Shirley’s right, love,’ our own mother Audrey agreed. ‘After all, Tracy is Eileen’s daughter. Or more like she was. The poor girl.’ Even hearing her being mentioned in the past tense was beyond painful.

Understandably, Eileen had reason to not be thinking clearly. But that didn’t mean she was entitled to push us all away. Yes she had lost her daughter, but Tracy was also one of my friends. The rest of us were hurting just as much as Eileen was.

We were all seated around the kitchen table of my house; me, Mum, and Shirley. ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to face the crematorium,’ I lamented.

Mum put her hand on top of mine. ‘That’s okay, love,’ she said comfortingly. ‘Nobody would force you to attend. And nobody would blame you.’

The day we all dreaded finally arrived. As we entered the Lancashire Funeral Chapel, everyone made way for the pallbearers of Tracy’s coffin, Christopher and Matthew being amongst them. I looked around and saw that whilst most of the congregation members were sorrowful and tearful, others were extremely angry. I could tell that their anger was aimed at Tracy for taking her own life. But not as much as my own anger was aimed at them for rebuking and judging her.

‘I tell you now, it’s her friends and family I feel sorry for,’ someone said quietly to another attendee seated next to them. ‘Seriously, how selfish can anyone be to do that to the people they’re supposed to love best?’

Vanessa turned around, horrified. ‘Please don’t tell me they actually said that! How dare they?!’

Christopher looked up from his eulogy speech, and tears ran down his face. ‘Look at how many people loved you, sis,’ he said to Tracy’s invisible spirit.

We saw one more person entering the chapel. It was Michael – much to the shock and fury of the Preston family. In a fit of rage, Roy confronted Mike. ‘Why are you here?’ he demanded angrily.

‘My own family persuaded me to come and pay my respects.’ Mike was adamant that nobody would intimidate him or keep him away. ‘Tracy meant just as much to me as she did to you. I loved her.’

‘Don’t you dare mention her name!’ Roy was seething and he clenched his teeth. ‘You have no right to mention my daughter’s name.’

The vicar sternly approached the two men to break up the fight. ‘Enough now, the pair of you. This is not about either of you. Otherwise, if you’re going to continue arguing then I suggest you both leave the funeral service.’

After I, Tracy’s other friends, and her family members had finished reading out our eulogies to her, some of us stayed behind while the other mourners made their way to the crematorium. Niether Anna nor Vanessa were able to face being there any more than I could.

‘Why did they say that Tracy was selfish for taking her own life?’ Anna asked.

‘Out of ignorance, I suppose.’ I dabbed away my tears with my handkerchief. ‘If anything, those who don’t know what it’s like to have severe depression have no right to rebuke or judge.’

Kelly approached us from one of the back rows. ‘The wake will start in just a few minutes. We should head over there now.’

The wake was an even more emotional and heartbreaking time for us all. None of us were in the mood for any refreshments. Or anything else for that matter. Rather, we chose the occasion to discuss about raising awareness on depression and starting suicide prevention campaigns in order to prevent any more people from taking their own lives.

‘I can’t help being extremely angry at Tracy,’ Kelly said. ‘I’ll never understand why she didn’t speak to any of us about how depressed she was feeling. Unless someone pushed her over the edge, which they probably did.’

‘Well then you should be angry at them,’ I suggested. ‘Not Tracy.’

The local vicar approached us and another family friend. ‘Maybe we should let Michael and his family keep some of Tracy’s ashes,’ he decided.  

Matthew was livid. ‘Why the fuck should Mike be allowed to hang onto Tracy? After what he did to her?! He was never there for her when she needed him the most.’

It was time for Eileen to give her speech before laying Tracy’s ashes to rest at the Garden of Remembrance. ‘The pain of losing a child is the worst ever thing that could happen to anybody.’ She tried her hardest to control herself, but just couldn’t fight back the tears, much to our own heartache. ‘Especially if your daughter or son was a suicide victim, like Tracy was.’

Nobody else spoke. We all simply sat in silence as we let her continue. The memorial photos of Tracy in the background haunted me at the back of my mind.

‘My daughter’s ashes are all I have left of Tracy, and now you all want me to release her and have her vanish into thin air.’ Eileen was by now sobbing uncontrollably. ‘I don’t want to be reminded that she’s gone. I just want my little girl back.’

Christopher quickly ran to his mother’s aid as he began shedding his own tears. The rest of us, including Roy, helplessly looked on. Carol was seated next to my mum. ‘That poor woman,’ Carol said sadly. ‘No mother should have to go through the pain of losing her daughter.’

It didn’t take long for one of the other women to speak up and voice her opinions, even though she should have kept them to herself as it wasn’t the right time. ‘To be honest, I didn’t like Tracy at all. Neither did a lot of other people, as I gather. She most certainly was no angel. But I would never wish suicide on anybody, not even the most unlikeable neighbour.’

‘Shut the fuck up if you only have nasty negative things to say!’ Matthew hit out angrily. ‘Tracy was one of Anna’s closest friends. And Anna happens to be my partner.’

As I witnessed the commotion, Nigel came up to me. ‘How are you coping?’ he asked me.

‘I’m not,’ was my disconsolate response. ‘If anything, I’m the one who should be asking you. Seeing that she was your business partner.’

Not that it made any difference. After all, everyone – myself and Natasha most especially – was affected by Tracy’s tragic suicide. There was only one particular cunt who wasn’t. And he also happened to be absent.

 

 

After the wake, we all gathered around the cremation plot that would be Tracy’s resting place. Matthew held the urn containing her ashes.

Tabitha Adams arrived. ‘I just thought I’d join you lot in paying our last respects,’ she offered sincerely. She looked at the urn. ‘Is that Tracy?’

Anna and I both nodded tearfully.

‘I’m so sorry.’ There were only so many condolences Tabitha was able to offer.

Then Paul turned up out of nowhere. Unsurprisingly, none of us had seen him at the wake or the memorial service, as he had been busy burying Katherine.

‘Glad you could come at last,’ Matthew said. ‘Did you have anything to say?’

‘No.’ Paul’s response was very brusque, even though this was supposed to be a time of mourning. ‘But I’ll tell you this. The only one time I’ll be visiting Tracy will be to spit out phlegm on those fucking flowers everyone left for her. Or even better still, leave poo on top of them and her ashes. Thank fucking God the murdering bitch was burnt to dust.’ I could not believe the indescribable hatred in his tone of voice. Neither could anybody else. ‘Excuse me?!’ My own voice was hard and angry, whilst Tabitha was appalled and disgusted.

In retaliation, Anna slapped Paul across the face with the back of her hand. She then appeared to spit in his face. ‘Yet people wonder why she killed herself,’ she said icily. ‘Maybe it was to get away from spiteful vile bastards like you.’

Matthew quickly handed the urn over to Nigel and held Anna back in order to calm her down. ‘Maybe you should leave,’ he said to Paul. ‘Get out of our faces before I end up doing something I might regret.’

‘And don’t bother coming back to the bookshop,’ Nigel added. ‘Because none of us want you there anymore.’

I knelt down beside Tracy’s urn after it had been interred in its cremation plot. ‘You’re safe from him now, Trace,’ I said to her, even though she couldn’t hear me. ‘He can’t hurt you any more. And neither can that evil cow, now that she’s burning in hell.’

 

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Eleven

I had my equally devastated friends over at my place. Anna and I were comforting each other, whilst Vanessa and Rebecca were both at a loss. We all took the time to remember Tracy, and also tried to understand why she thought suicide was the only way out. ‘I know I shouldn’t be angry at her,’ I sobbed. ‘And I’m not. If anything, I’m angry at those  who turned on her after she had killed Katherine. When they told her to top herself, I never thought she’d take the hint and actually go through with it. The fact that nobody tried to talk her out of it is what gets to me the most.’ I cried my eyes out as I said this. Anna was sobbing just as much. ‘Tracy was the last person any of us expected to commit suicide, as depressed and troubled as she was,’ she commented tearfully. ‘The day she went missing, I just assumed she felt the need to clear her head before seeking professional help somewhere.’ More tears were flooding, and Anna was unable to hold them back. ‘I keep thinking she’s going to walk through that front door and explain to us where she has been all along.’

‘I still just can’t believe Tracy is dead,’ Rebecca added in a lamenting tone. ‘I remember the first time I met her. She actually seemed quite happy.’

‘Only because she was hiding her sadness,’ I pointed out to Bex. ‘Those who haven’t experienced depression beforehand are unable to understand the pain and torture sufferers go through.’ Which was a fact. None of us had any idea what depression truly felt like, even though we tried to put ourselves in Tracy’s shoes. After all, if it hadn’t been for the many demons in her life – not to mention the people that had let her down when she needed help the most – then she wouldn’t have killed herself.

‘This is Sophie’s death all over again,’ Bex said sadly. ‘And Steve’s before that.’

I went to Steve’s funeral and paid my many countless condolences to his loved ones when I heard that he had killed himself. ‘That was the first time Bex and I met,’ I recalled. ‘The second time we met was at the Faces of Suicide Foundation. That was when I supported Bex through Sophie’s death also.’

I never thought I’d lose one of my own friends to suicide. Neither did I think my other friends and close neighbours would find themselves rallying around me, offering me endless comfort and support.

Anna had by now gained her composure, but her eyes were red-rimmed. ‘We have the funeral coming up in less than a week’s time. But until then, I don’t know how we’re going to break the news to our other colleagues and business partners.’

 

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Ten

The support group members listened with sympathy as I told my heartbreaking story. ‘Only recently, I lost a friend, who was also my next door neighbour, to suicide, I began emotionally. ‘Just before she killed herself, she had been involved in someone else’s death, even though it was an accident.’ Halfway through the devastating speech, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. ‘Her name was Tracy Preston, and she has now become one of the Faces of Suicide.’

 

At the Langton-Preston household, Tracy’s parents and brother spent all day grieving, unable to come to terms with what had happened to her. Roy was the one taking it the hardest of all. He had a bottle of vodka beside him, and every few minutes he would knock some of it back.

‘Roy, put the bottle down for Christ sake, will you!’ Eileen cried. ‘No matter how much of that you put in your system, it won’t bring her back.’

‘Mum’s right,’ Christopher added. ‘After all, you’re not the only one who wishes she was still here with us. She was my sister as well, not just your daughter. How do you think it makes me feel?’

‘Just leave me alone,’ Roy shot back, his speech slurring slightly as a result of the alcohol.

‘Dad, please!’ Chris implored.

‘I said LEAVE ME ALONE!’ Roy yelled. ‘Are you deaf or something?’

‘Not deaf, just completely fucking fed up,’ Eileen replied angrily. ‘Fed up with your ‘Poor Me’ attitude, your constant drinking, with everything to do with you, Roy!

‘You don’t see me or Christopher hitting the bottle in order to try and cope, and this is affecting us both twice as much as it’s affecting you. Which means those tears you’re shedding are not for Tracy – they’re for yourself only.’

Roy slammed down the vodka bottle on the table with great force. ‘Then why did the selfish little cow decide to take her own life?’ he growled. ‘If she didn’t want her death to rip us all apart! Now if you lot want to go ahead and organize the funeral, and the cremation afterwards, then go ahead and do so without me. Because I can’t forgive her for what she’s done.’

 

Christopher decided he had no choice but to get out of the house because he couldn’t bear to be under the same roof as his father any longer. Two men were on the opposite end of the road, and one of them had an open newspaper article that showed the page detailing Tracy’s suicide.

‘Here, mate. Have you heard the news about that girl who died at the River Thames?’ the man with the newspaper called out to Christopher.

‘The moment they pulled her body out the river they knew instantly that there wasn’t a single Trace of life left in her.’ The other man burst out laughing at his own sick joke. ‘Not a single Trace of life left in her. Get it? Because her name happened to be Tracy.’

Christopher got offended and extremely angry at them. ‘I’m glad you see the funny side of it, because that’s my dead sister you’re joking about, you sick fucking bastard!’

The two men were taken aback by Christopher’s anger. ‘Oi! Just calm down, mate,’ one of them said. ‘There’s no need to get all wound up. We weren’t to know the dead girl was actually your sister.’

If there was one thing Christopher hated being called by anybody, it was their ‘mate’. He noticed some bypassers looking at him sadly. ‘Poor bloke,’ someone said to another local.

 

Michael’s world had since been turned completely upside down the moment he had been informed that Tracy had died by suicide. The whole time he had been unaware of the fact that she been planning to end her own life; he was also unaware that it was because she had been ordered to do so by Joan and the other equally spiteful bunch of hateful vixens. He learned that Katherine was dead too, but he didn’t care about her. He couldn’t have cared less about the woman who had driven his one and only girlfriend to kill herself. He hated Katherine, and her family and relatives. During her final days, Tracy had become a shadow of the woman she once was, and it was all down to them.

Mike heard a sudden knock on the door. ‘Whoever it is, just go away,’ he barked, struggling to hold it together. I wish everyone would leave me the fuck alone and let me grieve in peace, he thought.

‘Mike, it’s me,’ his sister Tabitha called through the letterbox. ‘Please, open up. I’m worried about you.’

Mike answered the door and sombrely let her in. she could tell by the state he was in that he wasn’t in the mood to see anybody, but at the moment Tabitha was one of the only few people he was able to turn to. ‘I just thought I’d let you know,’ she said. ‘I heard about Tracy. I’m really sorry, Mike. I know how much you loved and cared about her.’

Mike looked at her through teary eyes. ‘Well, nobody else seemed to care about her when she was alive,’ he said bitterly. ‘Part of me is angry at Tracy for killing herself regardless of why she did so. The other part of me is even angrier at the people who drove her to suicide in the first place.

‘I’m also angry at myself for not doing anything to prevent it all from happening. I feel that it’s all my fault, but I tell you what else. I blame Katherine even more than I blame myself. Because she is the sole reason Tracy is dead!’

‘Mike, please, you need to stop torturing yourself,’ Tabitha implored him.

‘Why when it’s the truth?’ he continued. ‘If it wasn’t for that spiteful vicious cow and that equally spiteful vicious husband of hers. Turning everyone else against Tracy and making her out to be the villain, when her life was already going downhill.’ He was by now shedding tears of anger. ‘Tracy didn’t kill Katherine. It was Katherine that killed Tracy, not the other way round.’

And he couldn’t have been more right about that. The way Katherine had made my best friend’s life a living hell, it might as well have ended that way, with Katherine murdering Tracy and then killing herself afterwards.

‘Listen, we both already know Tracy wasn’t the villain she was made out to be, that she was a tortured soul,’ Tabitha reassured him. ‘If anything, Katherine was the actual real villain. She provoked Tracy into going down that route.’

Mike buried his face in his hands and was crying hard by then, but managed to control himself. He gained his composure, but was still shaking slightly. ‘I won’t be going to Tracy’s funeral, not because I choose not to, but because none of her family members want me there. Especially not her parents.’ There was pure resentment in his tone of voice. ‘They’ve made it clear that I’m not welcome at the wake either. As far as her family and friends are concerned, I fucking tipped her over the edge and caused her to take her own life.’

 

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Nine

Whilst my other neighbours were extremely angry at Tracy for ‘murdering’ Katherine, Tracy’s family members were twice as angry at Mike. Her parents and brother constantly blamed Mike for her severely depressed state, which had ultimately led to her disappearance. Which I felt wasn’t very fair on Mike, as he himself happened to be  severely depressed.

When Mike went over to the Preston household to try and put aside their differences, Roy and Eileen made it clear that he wasn’t wanted in any of their lives anymore after having messed up Tracy’s life.

 

At Anna’s place, her younger sister Imogen had come over to offer moral support. She was trying to comfort and console Anna after having heard about what happened to Tracy. But there was nothing Imogen could say that would make Anna feel any better.

‘He shouldn’t have gone anywhere near her in the first place,’ Anna wailed whilst sobbing.

‘Don’t make yourself ill, Anna,’ Imogen said, trying to sound calm herself. ‘Maybe Michael isn’t the reason Tracy took off. Maybe something else made her need to go in hiding to get away for a while. The search party group will find her eventually.’

Anna’s anger was directly aimed at Michael, but at the same time she felt that she had let Tracy down when she was supposed to have been there for her. In a way, I felt that I’d let her down too.

 

I came across an incredibly guilt-ridden Mike, but felt that he wasn’t to blame for any of this. Since Tracy was his girlfriend and she obviously meant the world to him, I needed his help in filing a Missing Person profile.

‘I know you’re the last person I would be expected to turn to,’ I said to him. ‘But I don’t know of anybody else who was as close to her as I was. Apart from her family members of course.’

‘They seem to blame me for what happened to Tracy,’ he said sorrowfully. ‘Even though it was the Jacobs – Katherine most especially – that made her life a living hell.’

I couldn’t have agreed more on what Mike said about Katherine. Katherine and Paul’s ilk, and the evil cow herself, had all played a part in reducing my dearest mate to a complete wreck and bringing her down to her lowest. And I would never forgive any one of them – especially if anything horrific had become of her.

‘We’re organizing a search party with the other Merseyside locals,’ I said as I felt tears welling up in my eyes, but I was determined not to cry my eyes out. ‘I’d appreciate it if you joined us, Mike.’

Mike broke down himself. ‘I don’t know if I can,’ he sobbed.

 

According to myself and a few others who had last seen her alive, Tracy had been wearing her favourite Debenhams crop top with navy blue denim jeans and knee-length black leather boots. I had included her description on the UK Missing Persons poster along with her photo profile. As I put up copies of the poster where they could be seen, the only thing I could do was hope and pray that she had survived a failed suicide attempt, that some Good Samaritan had found her and taken her to hospital, and that she was recuperating.

A young man came up to me and offered his support. ‘Horrible and extremely sad, isn’t it?’ he said to me. ‘Whenever we hear about people with depression going missing, we don’t think it will happen to one of our close friends.’

I certainly didn’t think it would happen to one of my friends. ‘I just hope she hasn’t gone ahead and killed herself,’ I said. ‘After all, it wouldn’t have been the first time she thought about suicide.’

The young man looked at me sadly. ‘I’m really sorry to hear about her,’ he offered his condolences. ‘She seemed like a very kind-hearted but troubled person.’

I was so glad that not all of the locals were nasty as to wish suicide on anybody. We carried out the Merseyside search party as planned.

Eight months later:

 

A London resident was walking his dog across the River Thames bridge when he accidentally came across an abandoned car floating in the river. The car was Tracy’s. The horrified Londoner immediately alerted the police, who came to the scene in an instant.

‘Get the car out,’ one of the local policemen yelled to the other policemen and the fire crew. ‘Hurry!’

 

The woman’s body had been taken to the Merseyside Coroner’s office after having been pulled out of the river where her car had also been found. The forensic examiners were carrying out an autopsy whilst one of the policemen was scanning through her driver’s licence. ‘Oh my fucking God!’ he blurted out, the moment he came across the woman’s name next to her attached ID photo and then looked back at her body. Her eyes were wide open but there was no life inside them; they simply stared blankly into space, the pupils dilated.

‘We’ll need to inform this girl’s family and friends asap!’

 

I heard someone banging on the door of my sister Shirley’s house where I was currently staying for the weekend. ‘Who the bloody hell is that at this time of the day?’ Shirley wondered.

When I answered the door, it was Terry Barlow, one of my fellow support group members who had participated in the local search party. His face was as white as a sheet. ‘Have you heard the news?’ he asked me.

‘The news?’ I responded, feeling perturbed. ‘What news?’

‘They’ve just found the body of a young girl matching Tracy’s description.

‘No, that’s not right,’ I quivered. ‘It can’t be Tracy. Please tell me it’s not her.’

I almost passed out as everything faded into the background.

‘What the fuck happened to her?’ Matthew cried when he was being informed by the detectives that had found the girl’s body. ‘How did she die?’

‘We have reason to believe the woman’s death was an apparent suicide,’ one of the detectives said. ‘Her car was disposed of in the river. We retrieved her ID.’

Matthew viewed the dead woman’s ID. ‘Fucking shit!’ he gasped.

That was when the identity of the deceased was finally confirmed; the dead body turned out to be someone we knew clearly well!

 

Eileen and I held each other’s hands as we went to the mortuary together. Neither of us could bear it. I was shaking like a leaf, and my head was spinning.

The morgue attendant met us outside. ‘We’ve carried out the autopsy,’ he informed us. ‘I’m really sorry. If you want to enter the room one at a time to identify the body, then it’s entirely up to you.’

I thought that Eileen should go first, seeing that she was Tracy’s mother. I stayed right behind her, because I was too terrified to see the body.

We’d heard about cases of mistaken identity all the time, so when the body had been found we were all praying it wasn’t Tracy’s. But of course it was, sadly. When Eileen screamed at the top of her lungs and then collapsed, breaking down, that prompted me to open up my eyes. I stared at the dead body in disbelief – my best friend Tracy’s body!

I burst into tears and sobbed my heart out as her lifeless eyes stared back at me. ‘Why did you do it, Trace? Why’d you kill yourself?’

Michael was staying with his sister Tabitha when one of his friends unexpectedly turned up. ‘Listen, mate, we need to see you outside for one sec,’ Mike’s friend Ian informed him. ‘I’m afraid it’s not good news.’

Mike stepped outside the front door of the squat with trepidation. His workmates were also waiting for him. ‘Have they found Tracy?’ he asked.

Ian braced himself to break the news. ‘Yes they have, but…’

‘But what? Is she okay?’

Ian shook his head. ‘Sorry, but no she’s not. She’s dead. She killed herself.’

Mike became dizzy and almost fell to his knees. Tabitha had her hand over her mouth in disbelief, unable to take it all in.

Matthew rushed over to the Brown household to find Anna. Imogen opened the door to him.

‘Imogen.’ A single tear ran down the side of his face as he said her name. ‘Is Anna here?’

Imogen was completely lost for words as she let him in. She had been comforting a hysterically torn up Anna, who was sobbing in her parents’ bedroom.

Matthew went to her side. ‘Anna, I’m so sorry,’ he said tearfully.

Anna continued to sob her heart out. ‘She’s dead, Matthew!’ she wailed. ‘Tracy is actually dead! She committed suicide whilst having gone missing!’

There was nothing at all Matt or anybody else could do or say to offer Anna or myself any consolation. As for Tracy’s family members, my heart ached for them as nobody would be able to comfort them either.

 

The Depression and Suicide Awareness Foundation was taking place elsewhere. Rebecca Owen was a regular member and one of the advocates whose cousin Steve Owen and closest neighbour Sophie Daniels had also become suicide victims. They had both killed themselves at the River Thames – where Tracy had also died – using the exact same suicide method.

The next time I attended the campaign it wouldn’t be to offer anybody a shoulder to cry on, but to seek one from the other members. Whilst there, I learned more about Steve and Sophie. Like Tracy, they had both been struggling with drug problems as a result of suffering from depression and other accompanying mental health problems at the time of their deaths. What’s more, they had both been driven to suicide by spiteful enemies living next door to them, just as Tracy had. Disturbingly enough, it was almost as though all three of the suicide victims had a connection.

 

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Eight

But before Katherine could do away with Tracy, the latter quickly pulled out her penknife which she’d always kept on her for protection. Acting in self-defence, she stabbed the witch right in the abdomen.

Katherine felt the sharp blade go deep inside her and she fell back, screaming at the top of her lungs. ‘I’ve been stabbed!’

Tracy was by now sobbing her heart out, and was still shaking as she got back on her feet.

A few neighbours had been alerted by the horrific incident. ‘I’ve called an ambulance,’ a female witness shouted frantically. ‘They’re on their way.’

Then Katherine’s sister Joan arrived, along with the local police officers. ‘The crazy bitch fucking stabbed me,’ Katherine choked.

A policewoman handcuffed Tracy just as the ambulance arrived.  ‘I didn’t mean to do it!’ Tracy sobbed as she was taken away by the police.

Katherine had bled to death by then. At the hospital, she was declared dead on arrival.

 

Kerry and I heard the news that Tracy was being held in Merseyside’s correctional facility after having been charged with manslaughter. When our local vicar saw her, she was in such a state. ‘Heather and Kerry told me everything,’ he informed her. ‘I understand that you didn’t mean to kill Katherine and that it was self-defence.’

She just looked at me under red-rimmed eyes. ‘She came at me with a brick,’ she said, distraught. ‘Katherine tried to beat me to death because I’d accidentally killed her dog. And even before she attacked me, she told me to kill myself otherwise she would kill me. She told me that nobody wanted me around anymore. That I wasn’t fit to be on this earth.’

My other friends and I had felt enraged that Katherine had been spiteful enough to say something like that, according to what the vicar had told us.

‘I know all of her relatives – especially  Paul – are going to turn everyone against me,’ Tracy continued, her eyes filled with tears. ‘Soon, everyone will make me out to be a murdering scumbag as well as an unhinged mad woman.’

‘Don’t ever think that,’ the vicar’s wife tried to assure her. ‘Heather has told me that she’ll help you prove your innocence. We’re going to get you out of here.’

 

Local police detectives interviewed and took statements from each of the witnesses. One young woman recalled hearing Katherine and Tracy screaming at each other. ‘According to what I saw, the redhead was trying to apologize to the partially bald one for accidentally killing her dog. That was when she rebuffed her apology and tried to strangle her.’

The policewoman taking down the notes raised one eyebrow in bemusement. ‘Who tried to strangle who?’

The female witness became annoyed and frustrated. ‘The baldy tried to strangle the redhead.’

‘And then she grabbed a brick and tried to bludgeon the redhead to death,’ another female witness hinted.

Hopefully these statements would be enough to clear Tracy’s name. But even so, what future did she have anymore? She would still be required to serve a minimum of four to eight years in prison, and when she got out she would be made an outcast. Nobody – not even her closest loved ones – would want anything more to do with her.

 

It was a couple of months later when Tracy was finally released on bail. None of the locals acknowledged or took any notice of her; the only few who did acknowledge her did nothing but shout all sorts of hateful abuse at her, calling her all the spiteful names under the sun. Either that or they went to to make all sorts of hurtful remarks behind her back – which was even worse!

Joan Sibley glared at her from outside of her flat, but Tracy tried her hardest to ignore her dirty looks and quickly walked past her, terrified and shaking.

‘Why the fuck are you out of prison already?’ Joan yelled angrily at Tracy. ‘You’re not fit to be allowed back into society after what you’ve done.’

‘Them lot in charge of the Justice System ought to be ashamed,’ the woman with Joan snarled. She was another relative of Katherine’s. ‘For letting this mad cow out in the first place. What if she should go on to kill another innocent victim?’

Katherine was anything but ‘innocent’, as her family members and relatives had described her. In reality, she was nothing but a malicious vindictive cow who got what was coming to her in the end. If anything, she was the real villain – not Tracy.

‘Katherine was the crazy one, not me!’ Tracy cried. ‘She tried to beat me to death! I was acting in self-defence!’

‘Don’t fucking talk to me,’ Joan said icily. ‘I don’t want to hear it. Katherine was right about one thing. You should’ve killed yourself a long time ago.’

‘You heard her,’ Enid spat. ‘Kill yourself and get your suicide over with. Do the bloody rest of us a favour. That way, at least you won’t be a danger to society anymore.’

Tracy turned away and ran off in tears. But before she could escape to safety, another angry woman’s voice yelled after her. ‘Tracy! Come here!’

It was Sharon from across the road. ‘I heard about what you did to Katherine,’ she said, her voice filled with venom and rancour. ‘And all the other things you had done to her before you killed her. While you’re at it, get out of Birmingham. The sooner you’re out of everyone’s lives the better. You’re not welcome here anymore. Go on! Get out!’

Tracy could not believe the stone cold words that had just come from Sharon. She felt as though her heart had just been ripped out of her chest and then torn in half. This was the last thing she needed after the animosity Enid and Joan had already shown towards her.

 

Tracy didn’t arrive at the bookstore club; neither did she show up to any of her support group meetings. None of us had seen or heard from her. The rest of us met up at Vanessa’s place. Our friends and myself discussed about her and all hoped and prayed she was okay. But it was when she didn’t get in contact with any of us – and none of us were able to reach her mobile – that we all started to get worried.

‘One of us should go and check up on her,’ Vanessa suggested.

‘Maybe she’s looking to check herself into rehab, like her family suggested she should,’ Anna guessed. ‘Or perhaps she’s at her psychiatrist’s. But I still reckon it’s unlike Tracy to not call any of us.’

Could it be that Tracy needed space and needed to get away from everyone and everything?

Everyone gave it a couple of weeks, hoping she would turn up. But she didn’t.

Later, I went over to Tracy’s new apartment. Her belongings were there, but she wasn’t.

That was when I received a phone call from Eileen, Tracy’s mother. ‘I can’t get through to Tracy,’ she sounded distraught. ‘I can’t seem to reach her. And nobody has seen her for weeks.’

What? Her family members were also unable to reach her?

My heard dropped at the news of Tracy’s disappearance – as well as the tremble in Eileen’s voice!

She can’t be missing, I thought. Not Tracy. She can’t have disappeared.

I got on the phone to the Merseyside Police Bureau. ‘My name is Heather Trott. I need to report a close friend of mine missing.’

 

Christopher Preston was at a mate’s house playing a video game on their computer console, when his mobile phone rang. ‘I bet it’s my parents, as usual,’ he complained. ‘Why do they always feel the need to check up on me?’

When he answered, it was Roy Preston, his and Tracy’s father. He blurted out those four dreaded words. ‘Your sister’s gone missing.’  

 

 

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Seven

When Mike came back to his new flat, the first thing he spotted on the table was Tracy’s letter addressed to him. But he wasn’t prepared for the contents inside it.

The letter simply read: ‘I’m sorry, Mike, but I didn’t have a choice. My people have been putting a lot of pressure on me, so I think we need some space away from each other’ – Tracy.

Is this a wind up?, he thought angrily. And she didn’t have the guts to end it with me face to face?

He read the letter a couple more times before phoning Tracy and leaving her a voicemail message. ‘Tracy, if you can’t bear to be under the same roof as me any longer, then the least you could do is say so. In the meantime, I’m moving to London where I’ll be staying for a while.’

 

The local pub was the last place Tracy was expected to be. Unfortunately, she didn’t go there to have a good time, but to drown her sorrows. She just wanted to forget everything that had happened to her, all that she had been through. Having to put up with Katherine as well as being humiliated by her bastard husband right in front of her mates. Her parents’ low opinion of Mike, which ultimately destroyed their relationship. I didn’t want to walk out on him, she thought sadly. They forced me to. They made me call it quits with the one man I loved, and I can’t forgive them for that.

A good-looking young man came up to her and wolf-whistled at her with fascination, but she wasn’t in the mood to be chatted up. ‘Piss off, will you!’ she snapped at him. ‘Just leave me alone.’

‘No need to bite my head off,’ the man crooned. ‘I was just taking a bit of fancy to you, that’s all.’

The barmaid showed major concern about Tracy. ‘Are you alright, love?’ she asked.

Tracy shook her head miserably.

 

Certain that she’d self-medicated for long enough, Tracy managed to make her way to her car. Despite having had a few glasses of vodka and tonic, she still sober enough to drive herself home.

It was quite dark, so she had to turn on the headlights. She had always been a careful driver. Or so she often told herself.

She was a few minutes away from her flat when… thud! Something went straight under the wheels of her car. She was terrified, afraid that she might have accidentally killed a small animal.

Her head spinning, she stepped out of the car. Her worst fears were confirmed – lying dead before her was Katherine’s dog Charlie! ‘Shit!’ she gasped. ‘What the fuck have I done?’

What she didn’t know was that she had also hit someone and injured them. A devastated and enraged Katherine got back up. ‘No! You stupid fucking drunken bitch!’ she screamed angrily. ‘Look at what you’ve done! You’ve just murdered my dog!’

‘It was an accident!’ Tracy wailed. ‘I didn’t even see him.’

To be fair, it was Katherine’s own fault. She shouldn’t have been so careless whilst jogging as to neglect Charlie and let him loose in such dangerous places where he was likely to get killed.

‘I didn’t mean for it to happen,’ Tracy cried. ‘Honestly, I’m really sorry.’

Katherine’s blood began to boil over. ‘Your apologies mean fuck all,’ she said, her voice filled with ice cold venom. ‘I would rather you killed yourself than kill someone who meant the whole world to me. In fact the sooner you kill yourself now the better. Either that or I will kill you myself. I wipe you out with my bare hands.’

This would be the final time the two women got into a fight with each other. According to what I had been informed by a neighbour who was one of the witnesses, Katherine reached for the nearest brick. ‘You’re not fit to be alive!’

Tracy screamed in terror as her nemesis prepared to beat her to death. ‘Someone help me!’

Katherine held her hand around Tracy’s neck. ‘Shut your fucking mouth!’ she yelled. ‘Nobody is going to help you! Nobody wants you around anymore, you hear me?’ Then the brick came crashing down.

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Six

Anna came to me and told me about Tracy threatening to walk out on the Liverpool Bookstore Club after her unpleasant confrontation with Paul. ‘She doesn’t mean it, Anna,’ I suggested. ‘Maybe she just said it out of anger.’

‘People say stupid things out of anger all the time,’ Anna fretted. ‘But this was different, and Tracy was way beyond angry and upset at the same time. She was almost sincerely adamant, and I could tell she’d had enough.’

Meanwhile, Tracy was at her new flat and on the phone to Eileen Langton-Preston, who was her mother. But it wasn’t a happy family reunion. ‘You need to stop interfering in my life,’ she protested. ‘And stop trying to take over it also.’

Eileen was exasperated. ‘For Christ’s sake, Tracy, nobody is trying to overtake your life or interfer with it,’ she argued back. ‘Why can’t you try to be reasonable just this once?’

Roy Preston was listening in from the background lounge, and he wasn’t at all pleased about what he had to hear. He had the telly on and it was showing the Manchester v Newcastle football match, but he couldn’t seem to concentrate on it. Either he was no longer interested, or he was becoming agitated. ‘Seriously, someone needs to knock some senses into that girl,’ he muttered.

‘If anything, I blame that good for nothing boyfriend of yours, Tracy,’ Eileen continued. ‘Ever since you moved in with him after dating him, you’ve become almost a stranger to us.’

Neither of her parents had liked Michael since day one, due to his low reputation.

‘You didn’t approve of any of my other previous relationships either,’ Tracy grunted. ‘Even though they weren’t drug addicts or criminals.’

‘Look, I’m not getting into this any further,’ Eileen shot back. ‘And I’m not about to argue. You need to get away from that scumbag and check into rehab asap.’

This was the last thing Tracy needed – or wanted – to hear. She tried hard not to show how livid she was, but couldn’t control her temper any more. ‘I really could do without any of your dictations or lectures,’ she said rather angrily. ‘So I’d appreciate it if you just fucked off and left me alone, okay?!’ she hung up before her mother could say anything more.

‘What the hell has gotten into her lately?’ Eileen asked Roy.

 

Natasha was feeling overwhelmed and needed some time to herself. Not to mention some fresh air. When she entered the campus garden, she surprised to see Tracy sitting by herself on the bench.

Tash immediately knew something wasn’t right. She sat beside Tracy. ‘I’ve completely fucked up everything,’ Tracy said sorrowfully. ‘They’ve pretty much helped ruin everything as well. Katherine and Paul. All they’ve done is try to turn everyone against me. My other neighbours don’t want anything to do with me because of those two cunts.

‘Nobody understands me. Not even Anna and she’s supposed to be my other confidant apart from you. Natasha, you’re just about the only person I can trust now.’ She burst into tears and began sobbing her heart out. All Natasha could do was comfort her.

 

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Five

For me, it was another day, yet another tedious shift having being rounded up. All I could do was continue to hope and pray that I would be granted the opportunity of a new promotion elsewhere.

I arrived home and spotted a little young black girl drawing something in chalk on the pavement near the front my house. My guess was that she was trying to create a hopscotch so that she could play on it.

Her mother came out to scold her. ‘Kimberley, we talked about this the other day,’ she said to her young daughter. ‘You’re not allowed to draw or colour any pictures on other people’s premises.’

I chuckled. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ I said. ‘She ain’t doing any harm. After all, I had that habit all the time when I was her age.’

Kimberley’s mother smiled back at me. It was great to still have tons of tolerable residents in Birmingham.

 

‘What the fuck are you doing, more like?’ Anna interrogated Tracy as she held up the contents in front of her. ‘Do you want to tell me where you got these from?  Why have you started taking drugs lately?

‘We’ve known each other for years, Trace, and I cannot believe you would stoop so low. Ever since you got with Mike it’s almost as if I don’t know who you are anymore.’

Tracy was incensed beyond belief. ‘What give you the right to drag Mike into this? How dare you!’

Anna was shocked and horrified by the icy tone in Tracy’s voice. She tried to be reasonable. ‘Please, Tracy,’ she impored. ‘I don’t want us to fall out over this.’

‘Well we’re already about to,’ Tracy replied stiffly. And all thanks to Mike, as far as Anna was concerned.

‘What has happened to you?’ Anna asked quietly.

Tears began to run down Tracy’s face. ‘Too many things have happened to me, Anna,’ she confessed. ‘Our friendship has been affected, not by you but by me.’ It sucked that she blamed herself for the potential ruin of their friendship.

Matthew entered the house. He was not yet aware of Tracy’s secret drug problem until Anna confided in him. ‘What’s going on?’ he asked Anna. ‘Is she okay?’

Anna didn’t know how to tell him, and she was trying to rack her brains about what to say.

‘Trace?’ Matt asked, concerned. ‘Are you alright?’

Tracy nodded, but still appeared tearful as she wiped her face.

‘Matt, we need to talk,’ Anna finally said. ‘In private.’

 

Together, Matt and Anna discussed about how they would have no choice but to inform Tracy’s family members about Mike being a negative influence on her by getting her into drugs. Which meant Tracy would have to leave Mike sooner rather than later.

 

The next day, Tracy prepared to meet up with her bookstore partners at their usual spot. She definitely wasn’t looking at all forward to the fact that Paul would be there, and was hoping she wouldn’t bump into him. But unfortunately those hopes were instantly dashed.

There he was, leaning against the entrance door, glowering at her menacingly with his arms folded. She was petrified, as she felt an icy cold shiver running down her spine, but she tried not to show how terrified she was. There was no way he was about to intimidate her. ‘Nice to see you too, bitch,’ he snarked.

Tracy ignored Paul’s spiteful remark and walked past him, trying to get inside. But he simply blocked her path and pushed her back. ‘What the fuck do you want, Paul?’ she demanded.

‘Just so you know, I know what happened,’ he replied icily. ‘Katherine told me everything. About how you attacked her.’

Was this for real? ‘That is not what happened at all,’ Tracy protested. ‘So either you’re completely blind, or you and her are both imagining things. It was her that attacked me – not the other way round.’

Matthew witness the altercation as he saw Paul grab Tracy’s wrist aggressively and clench it. He decided to confront him. ‘What are you doing to her?’ he demanded to Paul. ‘Why don’t you just leave her alone and back off? Stop giving her a tough time.’

‘Of course, I forgot,’ Paul said acidly. ‘Because she’s Snow White, isn’t she?’

‘No, because you’re being a dickhead towards her. And there’s no need for any of this.’

Paul shot Matt a nasty look. ‘You would stick up for this mad cow, wouldn’t you?’

Vanessa O’Hara approached the scene, along with Anna and Nigel. ‘What’s going on here?’ Nigel asked.

‘Listen, I’d appreciate it if you lot didn’t stick your noses in where they’re not wanted,’ Paul replied rudely. ‘And none of you are wanted either.’

Nigel stood his ground. ‘I think you’re the one not wanted here. Now I suggest you leave.’

Paul ignored them, but turned on the whole group. ‘Who wants to be working at this shithole with you fuckheaded twats anyway?’ he spat as he made his way out. Once again, he glared at Tracy. ‘You’re too weak and feeble to fight your own battles, so the three fucking musketeers are having to protect your corner.’

‘That’s enough,’ Vanessa ordered him. ‘Just get out, will you?’

Without uttering another word, Paul stormed out of the bookstore.

My close neighbour’s allies gathered around her, offering her support and sympathy. But despite this, Tracy had already made her decision. She was tearful and close to a mental breakdown. ‘The only way I won’t have to face him anymore,’ she announced stiffly, ‘is if I quit.’

 

Nightmare Neighbour Next Door: Chapter Four

Matthew was standing in front of WoolWorth’s, gazing at the beautiful priceless gifts in the shop window. He was planning to get something for Anna. The manager noticed Matt taking an interest in the presents. ‘Is someone’s birthday coming up then?’ he asked curiously.

‘Not exactly,’ Matt hinted. ‘It’s getting closer to Valentine’s Day, and I’m looking to buy some flowers and a box of Cadbury Roses.’

 

Anna was at her place watching a romantic comedy and enjoying a glass of red wine when she heard a knock on the door. She took extra precaution by peeping through the letter box before answering. When she discovered it was Tracy, she hurriedly let her in.

Tracy was sobbing uncontrollably and Anna was trying to calm her down. ‘What’s happened?’ Anna asked, frantic with concern.

‘It was Katherine,’ Tracy cried. ‘She attacked me in the middle of the street. ‘To add even more insult to injury, she confessed to burning my house down.’

As she comforted Tracy, Anna was starting to get angry. Katherine had gone way too far.

 

‘One of these days, Katherine is going to eventually drive me to suicide,’ Tracy wailed tearfully. ‘I can already see it happening.’

‘Don’t say that, Trace,’ Anna said as she came back with two mugs of tea. ‘You mustn’t let her win.’

Tracy accepted one of the cups of tea, but didn’t feel like drinking hers. She left it to cool down.

‘Where’s Mike?’ Anna asked.

‘He’s having to stay at the squat,’ Tracy informed her. ‘As for me, I don’t know where I’m going to live seeing that I no longer have any roof over my head.’ She laughed sardonically at her own comment. ‘I may have to move in with Mum. Or stay over at Christopher’s, until I sort myself out.’

‘We’ve got a spare room here,’ Anna offered kindly. ‘You can stay here for a couple of nights. I’ll let Matt know you’re sleeping over.’

‘Thanks,’ Tracy said, sounding grateful but tired at the same time. ‘I’ll go get my belongings.’

As she picked up her handbag and made her way to the spare bedroom, Anna noticed one or two personal items fall out. She inspected them carefully. One was a packet of Silk Cut cigarettes. Okay, so the fact that Tracy smoked wasn’t such a big deal. But then the other item was a ziplock bag that contained cannabis, barbiturates, and ecstasy!

Anna was shocked and in utter disbelief. What the hell was this? Since when did Tracy become a heavy drug addict?

As Tracy was in the shower, washing all the troubles out of her wavy auburn chestnut hair and the rest of her body from top to bottom, Anna began digging inside her handbag to see if Tracy had any more drugs stashed away. Believe it or not – she found the cocaine tablets Michael had lent to her!

Tracy came out of the shower all dried up, her damp hair wrapped in a towel, and caught her best mate at it. ‘Anna, what the fuck are you doing?’ she cried angrily.