“Sort out your own fucking shit before you tell me to sort out mine.” The slamming of the door echoed around the estate, reverberating amongst the hushed chatter of televisions. David took a drag on his roll up and watched the young man stride across the communal garden and disappear into the street. The memory of himself as a boy, a spectre that refused to stop haunting his mind, made him shake his head. He should have known better, just like this kid. Stubbing his rollie out in the designated flower pot, he stepped back inside his flat, slipped on his flip flops and headed out into the balmy evening. He’d only met Sam a couple of times and, although she had been quite closed, she had responded with polite smiles when he had attempted to steer their conversation beyond his initial welcome. The fact that he found her more than a little attractive had perhaps made him more persistent than he would have been otherwise – okay, so perhaps her dark roots were a little unbecoming, but her tall stature and ample chest couldn’t help but draw his attention. And now he could be of use to her. He knocked at the door and cleared his throat. He listened carefully, his head bowed with concentration. The silent response became confusing – he hadn’t seen her leave, but had definitely heard her voice before that son of hers had left so abruptly. She had sounded upset, angry even, not an attractive emotion for a women to express but, from what he had witnessed from the boys’ behaviour around the estate, it was perhaps understandable. He was about to knock again when he heard a clatter of hollow tin, followed by a jangle of keys and heeled footsteps walking towards him. “Oh.” The response was surprised, although not pleased. David stared at her dumbly for a moment. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes bloodshot, revealing recently shed tears heavy makeup failed to disguise. He looked at the plastic bag full of empty Fosters cans in her hand. “Recycling.” Her tone was dry and delivered with the sweet stench of alcohol. David looked back up at her face, devoid of anything except perhaps bored irritation. “Yes! Of course. And very good too. For the environment, I mean.” His chuckle did little to elicit a more favourable reaction. He cleared his throat again. “Sorry, Sam, I just couldn’t help but hear your little, well, argument.” Her empty stare was starting to feel uncomfortable. “Sorry about the noise. It won’t happen again.” She stepped forward, forcing David to shuffle back. He watched her hands as they struggled to fit her key into the lock. “No, no, don’t apologise. I know what young boys can be like.” He offered a knowing laugh. “I just wanted to check you were okay, that’s all. It sounded quite unpleasant.” His sympathetic frown was met with a snort. “Yeah, well, that was nothing.” She looked at David sharply. “But I’m fine.” She offered a quick smile before looking pointedly at her bag and squeezing past, her chest almost brushing his. “Okay, good. But if you wanted a shoulder to cry…” Sam’s expression when she turned back to him brought David’s words to an abrupt halt. He hesitated. “Well, if you need someone to talk to…” “I hear you’re quite good at talking, Dave.” He couldn’t help but wince at the shortening of his name. He’d asked his mum and Lindsey to stop calling him that years ago and no-one had done so since – other than Lindsey in the run up to their separation. It had been quite a deliberate ploy, a reminder of who he used to be, what he used to do… things that she had known he wanted to forget. The venom in Sam’s voice was reminiscent of her tone, too. David took a deep breath. “Sorry - pardon?” “II don’t want my shit spreading all over the place – and certainly not being used against me.” David laughed incredulously as his mind raced back to seeing Sam talking to some of their less co-operative neighbours outside the newsagents. He knew now what their laughter had been about. Sam laughed cruelly at his reddening face. “That’s right – I know all about your tactics to get rid of anyone who doesn’t want to kiss you and your committee’s arse.” “You know, you shouldn’t believe everything you hear about people. Especially those who have no respect for anyone trying to make life better for…” “The greater good?” She snorted a laugh as she took an unsteady step backwards. “Quite honestly, I don’t give a fuck. I have enough shit to deal with without worrying about upsetting anyone else.” David pounced on the hint of vulnerability. “Which is why I want to help.” Sam stared at him. He held her gaze, his confidence growing in the short silence. “I don’t want your help. In fact I don’t want anything to do with you.” David watched her as she sauntered over to the bin shed, her bag swinging with attitude. “Sam…” “Just piss off.” David’s face burned as she dumped the bag on the floor and made her way to the gate her son had passed through maybe ten minutes earlier. As she disappeared from sight, he buried his disappointment and shame underneath his indignant anger. With a sigh he shook his head and walked back to the stairs up to his flat. “What was that all about?” David looked up at George’s window. His elderly friend was silhouetted against the glow of his television, but he could hear the anxiety in his voice. David sighed again. “Nothing for you to worry about, my friend.” He nodded his goodbye, then hesitated. “Just one to keep an eye on, I suspect.” He heard George suck on his teeth. “Another wrong’un?” David paused, his foot on the bottom step and his hand on his thigh as he pretended to consider the question. He bowed his head before he shook it. “I worry so, George. I worry so.” With deliberate weariness he climbed the stairs, and smiled to himself as he listened to the alarm in George’s voice as he reported the verdict back to his wife. Back in his flat, he contentedly rolled himself another cigarette. With a few well timed reports to the authorities, his new neighbour could be off the estate within three years. She had disrespected the wrong man.