37: The Dead Body

37: The Dead Body

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

The Dead Body

Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.

~Sophia Loren

I never thought I would make a new friend by finding a body on the porch. But one day I happened to look outside our spare bedroom window, which faces directly onto our next-door neighbors’ back door and porch area. I was surprised to see an older woman I did not recognize and had never even seen around our street. She was sitting peacefully with a small plastic Tupperware box on her lap containing what looked like candy.

Her body was slightly slumped, head tilted back with a small bathroom towel wrapped around her hair. I thought she was asleep.

So I went about my day and later returned to the window again. I noticed the woman had not moved at all. As I looked more closely at her face, I thought her skin looked abnormally pale. At this point I thought she was dead but was not one hundred percent certain. There was no movement of her chest or stomach, or any sign of breathing from what I could see.

My first thought was that maybe I should go to my neighbors’ door and let them know. I wondered how long she had been there; my guess would be a matter of hours. I waited a short time, and just as I was about to leave, the back door of my neighbors’ house opened and my next-door neighbor stepped out onto the porch. She walked straight past the body, almost as if she did not even see it. My neighbor went straight down the stairs carrying a laundry basket in her hands. She was down the stairs and out of sight for at least ten minutes.

Then the neighbor came back up the stairs, mopping each step from the bottom to the very top. At this point I thought that surely my neighbor would notice that this woman was dead. It was very strange. To me, it was obvious that there was a dead woman on my neighbors’ porch, but she proceeded to clean around the chair where the body was without batting an eyelash. I was really starting to wonder what was going on, so I decided to take a photo of the woman.

I mentioned to my husband that I was going to go around to our neighbors’ door to see if they realized there might be a deceased person on their porch. Of course, I understood that this was a very sensitive issue. I was only going to mention that there might be a woman on their porch… and maybe they should check to see if she was okay.

My overactive imagination couldn’t be contained. I started to wonder, “What if the woman on the chair was murdered? Maybe they sat her outside on the porch because of the smell, or maybe she had been hit on the head and the bathroom towel’s purpose was to cover the obvious wound!” I was being crazy, I thought. Or was I?

So my husband stayed at the window while I went next door to speak to my neighbor. He was waiting to see if anything happened to the body while I was next door. Off I went, nervously, with my cell phone in my pocket.

I rang the doorbell of my neighbors’ house and waited patiently behind the iron gate. Through the glass door, I could see my neighbor approaching with a huge friendly looking smile on her face. She opened the door and asked, “Would you like to come in?” I felt a bit apprehensive but accepted her invitation.

Once inside, I blurted it out. “I’m really concerned about the woman on the porch.” I had barely finished my sentence when she burst out laughing. Her husband looked at me over the top of his glasses and smiled. She took me out onto the porch and her husband followed.

They went straight to the body, picked her up, and started flopping her around. I was shocked. It turned out she was a dummy!

My neighbor explained, “Our house was recently burgled, and somebody gave us this dummy to give the impression there are people in the house whenever we’re away. We just left it on the chair for now because we were going to give it a good clean before using it.”

A little embarrassed, I laughed. “From our window, it certainly looks real, all dressed in tracksuit bottoms, sweatshirt, and a pair of running shoes.” My neighbors certainly saw the funny side. I don’t know who was the biggest dummy here but I sure felt like one, and of course every time we see each other now we can’t help but laugh. It’s probably something I will never live down. As neighbors we never really had the opportunity to be introduced or know each other at any great length. The dummy on the porch was a great icebreaker for us. Sometimes the craziest situations lead to making a wonderful new friend.

~Karen E. Lewis

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