In every sleepy suburban town, there is, every so often, that vacant and desolate house beside your very own home. It lies there, isolated and lonely, waiting to be occupied. It has a spooky and untouchable aura around it. When you walk up close, the breeze seems to halt, and all of a sudden, the surrounding air is exceptionally still.You shiver all over, and the skin on your arm begins to prickle. Amidst the overgrown shrubs and the unkempt pavement, you sense the mystery of this despondent house, and even more, that of its residents.Before they came along, there were signs. We saw estate agents warily bring in prospective tenants. We saw a big red slash painted over the scruffy " For Sale" sign that hung limp at the front door. Then, there were the furniture movers who drove in with oversized Victorian furniture. This was all a prelude for what was to come. Then they drove in one day, our new neighbors. They were strange people whom kept to themselves. My mom, upon seeing their arrival, had invited them over for a refreshing batch of cookies and lemonade. They promptly refused. They were a family of four, a couple, husband and wife and their two children, a girl and a boy. The girl was in her mid-teens. The boy, a little older than me. All four were pale and pasty looking. They dressed rather conservatively and there was almost never a smile on each face, nor was there ever any sign of satisfaction in their eyes.I looked forward to seeing them at school, I thought, maybe we could become friends and then walk to school together. But, when school started late that August, they weren't there the first day; they weren't there the second day, or the third. My mom told me that they must have been home schooled. There were nights when that once empty house, seemed to take on a life of its own. The lights would go on at 3am in the morning. There would be the clanking and clattering of pots and pans, along with some orchestral display of violent screams, sad cries, furious shouting and crashing furniture. What went on in there, we could only speculate. It gradually came upon us that our new neighbors were a troubled family. They almost never left the house, and by the sound of it. There seemed to be some issues that caused intense conflict. The noise would drone on incessantly, till my dad would put on a bathrobe walk over and complain, "We're trying to sleep here, so if you please lower the voices and stop the racket...maybe we can get some sleep... my little girl has school tomorrow and I have work..." Then the noises would hush down, but still persist. My room was adjacently facing that of our neighbor's son. On nights like this, I would hear his silent whimpers, muffled and reduced to a bare sob. If I listened really carefully, I could make out and even feel his quivering.My mom had a good mind to report their case to the social welfare department. But my dad opposed this idea. He thought that, after all, family matters were personal and should be sorted out in its own time. We'd be meddling into a potentially dangerous situation and to interfere, well, that's just not appropriate. In the end, we put that idea aside.There was this one last time where the noise begun again, this time,a bit after midnight. It was worse then ever. The lights were on in several rooms. The screams were high-pitched and macabre. The shouting was harsh and angry. What we did hear was crude and explicit. What we didn't hear night have been worse. We heard furniture collapse and crash into pieces, we heard the rushed movement of footsteps. But it ended soon enough, my mom's tolerance had run out and she was about to file a report to the local police. But then again, it stopped. And we heard nothing.Still, I couldn't sleep. I drew the curtains, and opened the windows. I sat against the windowsill, quietly enjoying the constant chuckle of crickets in the background, the rustling of leaves in our backyard. Everything was almost dark, illuminated warmly by the faint glow of the moon. I gazed away, and then looked straight ahead. To my surprise, I was being watched. Initially, I wasn't scared; I was too shocked to be intimidated. The neighbor's boy stood upright and looked straight into my eye, I don't know how long he had been there, just staring at me. There was absolutely no expression in his face. It was so serene, but in a disturbing way. Then he smiled at me warmly. For someone whom usually maintains a cardboard-like demeanor, a smile was just plain scary. I think, I'm not sure but I saw something trickling down the side of his mouth. I bolted. I got scared, frightened, whatever. I drew up the curtains, crept under my duvet cover, and nuzzled my nose face down into the pillow. I couldn't sleep. How could I? With the knowledge that someone outside was closely monitoring my every move. I lay still. The last time I looked, he still stood there, still smiling...I didn't tell my parents about it, I couldn't come to terms with it. For two whole weeks, there was no sign of any movement from our neighbor's house. There were no more midnight fights, nothing at all. I was expecting something to go on, but nothing did. Something must have been wrong. The midnight fighting wasn't good, but none of it was even worse. Sometimes, unfamiliarity is the key to being scared; Predictability on the other hand, may be dull but safe. Then, the faint stench of rotting food started drifting into our backyard. My dad must have stood on their porch, ringing the doorbell for what seemed like an eternity. But no one answered. We called the police. This action was, by now, long overdue.They came and a big spectacle was made. There must have been at least five patrol cars parked outside. There was all this blue and white "Stay clear" tape within a Twenty-meter radius of the house. The ambulance came, there were paramedics rushing in with an armful of medical gear. By nightfall, they left wearily. They dragged out these seven feet long black rubber bags. Being a little girl, I ran back and forth and nobody really paid much attention to me. I saw one of the big black bags. Inquisitively, I pulled down the zipper that ran down the middle. It was the boy. His face was pale and clammy, drained of blood. There was a strip of red running down his mouth to the side of his chin. I gasped. I traced this with my finger, the bloodstainWas cold and dry. His eyes were shut, and there seemed to be a big blow to his forehead. Out of respect, I zipped it up. I think, I knew all along what had happened, somewhere within the depths of my mind. Now, my presentiment was confirmed.The next few days, news started rolling out. There were reporters all over town, trying to uncover the mystery behind this family. My parents and I sat down in front of the news to. Kurt Anderson, that was the name of the father. He'd been living with us for three months now, and we never knew his name. His wife, Angela and his kids, Sheryl and Dylan. He had lost his job at a marketing company, and the family was struggling financially. His daughter was born spastic, and both parents had a hard time coping with a retarded daughter. His wife was prone to violent fits of rage and laughter as a result. The last push was when his son, Dylan told his dad he needed to go to school. Kurt Anderson went mad. He went on a killing spree, first for his daughter then for his wife. His son hid in his room. But time had caught up with him, and he struggled and put up a strong fight till his father's strength had overpowered him completely. The only remotely humane person in that house was that boy whom spent so many nights sleeping in the room across mine.Now, I know. I'm not sure if the image of him that night was really human form or his spirit watching over me. I think, the latter. And, now I know. I shouldn't have been scared in any case. Everyday, I am reminded of his presence just by gazing out my window and into his. When I walk past his home on the way to school, I envision him there, scrambling over with a backpack and a sandwich breakfast and we'd walk to school together. I say a silent prayer in memory of him. Rest his soul, my dear neighbor and the friend that I never knew.