Home > The Tibbs Reader > The Tibbs Reader: Rex Poffo, Neighbor

The Tibbs Reader: Rex Poffo, Neighbor

By Rex Poffo

It was about 1998 that Debbie and I bought the house in Almond Beach. It was our first house and it needed some work but it was all ours.

I had a job as a night watchman at the Twin Pines Double-Tiered Strip Mall and Debbie worked nights as an orderly at the Eastern Lankville Memorial Cheaper Hospital. On the weekends, we mostly worked on the garden and I did some painting and Debbie put fresh sheets on the bed and then she watched teevee for the rest of the day. It was nice.

Mr. Bunts lived across the street. He was the first one to come over and say hello. He was a big guy with a beard and he always wore a white three-piece suit.

“You going to church, Mr. Bunts?” I asked. It was Saturday but there were some of those people that go to Church on Saturday.

He looked confused. “OF COURSE NOT MR. POFFO! OF COURSE NOT! I HAVE NO SUCH ILLUSIONS OF A FROWNING DIVINE POWER WHO SWATS US WHEN WE ARRIVE INTO THE DARKNESS, AS THE POET SAID,” he noted in his booming voice.

He presented me with a cake in a box wrapped in a gold bow.

After that he began to bring us cakes pretty regular. One time, my car broke down in the next village and when I looked up, the next thing you know, Mr. Bunts is sitting right there in a big giant orange Neptune.

“WHY, MR. POFFO! IT APPEARS YOU COULD USE SOME ASSISTANCE!”

I was happy to see him but confused by his surprising appearance.

“OH, I’M EVERYWHERE MR. POFFO! EVERYWHERE.”

He removed a delicate looking porcelain box from the backseat. It appeared to have real diamonds all around the handle. Imagine my shock when he opened it to reveal a gold wrench.

“RELEASE THE HOOD MECHANISM, MR. POFFO,” he said.

I did and Mr. Bunts leaned in, made a few abrupt adjustments and then, the next thing I knew, the car fired right up on the first try.

“WHAT A DELIGHT!”

 

One morning, early, Mr. Bunts appeared on our stoop. He had a pearl-handled suitcase in his hand. I looked past him and saw another Neptune, this one a red perfectly-restored antique model, idling by the side of the road.

“MR. POFFO!” he boomed. “I WANTED TO APPRISE YOU AND YOUR MOST FETCHING BRIDE THAT I SHALL BE AWAY FOR TWO WEEKS TIME. I HAVE BUSINESS.”

I didn’t know what business he might have. I mostly just saw him driving around or hammering stakes into his yard or bringing back shopping bags full of inflatable balls. It was all he seemed to buy.

“COULD I IMPOSE UPON YOUR KINDNESS MR. POFFO TO, UPON OCCASION, GLANCE AT MY HOMESTEAD TO SEE THAT NO ONE HAS MOLESTED ANYTHING?”

“Sure,” I agreed.

His voice lowered suddenly.

Ferguson Bunts?

“While I don’t expect there to be any such pother, I would advise you that if you should observe anything untoward, please shoot to kill.”

“WHAT A DELIGHT!”

He turned on his heel with the pearl-handled suitcase and plopped into the driver’s seat. He laughed loudly the entire time. Then he sped off.

 

It seemed that he was gone for nearly a month. And then, one day, I noticed a brand new sports car in his driveway.

I walked over, took a look around (hesitatingly) and then knocked on the door.

Bunts appeared almost instantly as though he were waiting right there.

“MR. POFFO!  I AM MOST APOLOGETIC THAT I DID NOT BID YOU GREETINGS UPON MY RETURN. SADLY, I HAVE BEEN ILL.”

I noticed a large mass of something that seemed to jut out from his chest beneath the suit vest.

“That’s alright, Mr. Bunts. I just wanted to see if that was you and not somebody that might be…molesting your house.”

“OH, NO!  IT IS ME, MR. POFFO!  IT IS MOST DEFINITELY ME.”

He laughed loudly but I noticed he was holding his chest the entire time as though in pain.

 

That night, I brought the trash out. Bunts had already placed his at the curb.

It was then that I noticed something odd about the contents. I creeped up to the bag while keeping an eye on the house. It was eerily dark and silent.

There was a white suit visible inside. It was spattered with blood around the chest.

 

I didn’t tell Debbie. She was watching The Love Canoe on teevee anyway and wouldn’t have responded.

I went down to the basement to think.

 

The Tibbs Reader will continue in future issues.

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