She had fallen asleep while looking into the green yard next door, noticing how beautiful it was. But the next morning, she was woken up by her new neighbor noisily drilling multiple holes in the ground.
Despite it not being her property, she was uncomfortable with what she saw. However, she couldn’t help but observe the strange happenings.
Jill Thompson stood at her bedroom window scratching her head as more holes appeared in her neighbor’s yard. What was he doing? Did he have an infestation problem?
She was tempted to find out what he was up to, but when she saw him digging dirt out of the ground with his bare hands, she was too scared to even ask.
Jill hadn’t met him personally yet, although she had waved to him from across the street when she saw him moving in. But the holes he was drilling in the ground of his yard made her feel suspicious.
For some reason, something didn’t sit right with her about him. And the sporadic digging in his yard didn’t help his case.
Usually, when new neighbors move into the neighborhood, it would be customary for them to introduce themselves to their neighbors, least of all their next-door neighbor.
But he never came to Jill’s door. In fact, now that she thought of it, he was quite a private man who almost seemed secretive. It had only been two weeks, but already, she got bad vibes – and for good reason.
When Jill finally got the chance to talk to him, he seemed completely disinterested in befriending her. She asked him how he was finding everything; the move, the neighborhood, and his house.
He replied with “fine” and mentioned nothing of his strange renovations to the garden. Now, she was almost certain he was hiding something.
A week later, an old, rusty truck backed up to the man’s property. Jill and a few other curious residents watched as long parcels were unloaded from the vehicle. What was he doing over there?
This was obviously a much bigger operation than Jill thought. Yet, he didn’t warn any of the neighbors.
The Plot Thickens
A few days later, Jill realized that the delivery had been several wooden posts. Was he building something?
The large wooden planks lay on the side of his yard. The man continued to dig the holes deeper and deeper. He worked mostly after sundown when the dark shadows of the night provided cover from prying eyes. Or so he thought.
A New Addition
Jill strained her eyes to see, but when her vision came into focus, she was more confused than ever.
The posts protruded out of the holes in an odd formation like some kind of druid monument, which puzzled Jill and the other onlookers. Then they noticed a new addition to the construction team that caught their eye.
As the diligent man continued to work on the strange project, a young boy emerged from the house and came over to join him.
“That must be his son,” said Jill to the other neighbors. But none of the neighbors knew he had a son, and he never mentioned it to Jill when they spoke. In fact, he didn’t tell her anything about him at all.
The appearance of the young boy came as a surprise to everyone. Jill wondered how she didn’t see him before. She never saw him playing outside or heard him making noise as young kids do.
The mystery surrounding this new neighbor grew bigger and bigger: what was he up to?
The neighbors were now all fascinated by what was going on in the strange man’s backyard. They watched as the young boy fetched materials and tools for the man – the kid was certainly eager to help get the project done.
His tiny hands were put to work, picking out weeds and carrying big stones. It was a cute sight to watch if it were under normal circumstances.
Pile of Rocks
At this point, taking a guess at what they were building became a hot topic in the neighborhood as well as trying to spot another family member.
They wondered if he was a single father, taking care of his only son. Speculations and gossip spread through the neighborhood. But Jill took a different approach and knocked on his door.
She brought baked goods and, again, unleashed a string of questions. He confirmed he had a son but had to suddenly leave before getting a chance to answer the rest.
Jill left aggravated with no choice but to continue to watch from afar. With the wooden posts now all upright, a huge pile of gravel that appeared in the man’s yard further confused the curious residents. But they started to get a clearer idea of what was going on.
It appeared that the man and his son had been working on the foundations for some kind of structure.
Not a lot happened in their sleepy suburban street, which meant Jill enjoyed concocting theories as to what was being built a little too much. And she was ready to start a war if it was going to ruin the aesthetics of the well-kept neighborhood.
Before long, more lumber and construction materials arrived at the house, and it became clearer that the man was building something ambitious.
Jill wondered if he got planning permission for this. Perhaps that’s why he was being so quiet and odd about the whole thing. She waited until she could gather more proof. But she had no idea who she was dealing with.
Jill watched as nails, screws, hooks, and mounting brackets arrived at the property in their hundreds, but that wasn’t all that showed up.
There were some new faces turning up too. But who were they, and why did he need so much help?
Jill and her neighbors heard a lot of commotion coming from the yard as more laborers piled in. Before long, the structure seemed at least halfway completed. They were desperate to find out what it was.
Now the project was really taking shape, and Jill could see some very specific features that gave clues as to what the final result was going to be.
More recognizable elements of the structure started to emerge. She could identify a wooden floor and a set of stairs.
More hints fell into place, and the puzzle became more complete. Was it a small storage hut? It became apparent that this structure was some kind of holding space, but for what? For who?
Autumn had arrived. Kids were getting ready to go back to school, and the leaves were changing from green to beautiful shades of brown and red.
The project still wasn’t finished. However, enough of it had been completed that Jill could just about make sense of what it was. No wonder this was something he didn’t want to share…
It was all beginning to make sense now. He must not have wanted word to get out. If he was a private man, the last thing he’d want would be for his neighbors to find out about what he was doing to his backyard.
It certainly was an improvement that warranted attention. Heck! Some people would even pay to experience it…
Winter Closing In
Just when Jill and her neighbors thought the project was finally about to be revealed, the man had put away his tools and materials and covered it all up.
Since the weather was getting colder and construction was getting harder, it looked like he would have to wait until next spring to complete his many months of work.
Months later, the man had finally started things up again. He peeled back the weathered tarps, got out his tools, and pulled out the rest of the wood that had been in storage.
Jill and other neighbors soon started peering over the fence again. The area took on the familiar sounds of banging, drilling, and sawing. By summer, they would finally get to see what all the secrecy was about.
Since moving in, the quiet man who was now established to have a wife and son had enjoyed an above-ground pool for a while, but getting in and out with the flimsy ladder wasn’t just awkward. It was dangerous, especially for their son.
He was the only one in the neighborhood who had a pool. It was one of the selling points that made them want to purchase the home. But there was a catch.
The man knew how small neighborhoods were. He didn’t want people coming over to use their pool all the time. In fact, he wasn’t much of a people person.
So he decided he’d get rid of the danger quietly so as to not draw attention to his big pool that would surely become the envy of the neighborhood. But despite his best efforts, his secretive approach only made it worse.
A New Deck
The man needed to make accessing the pool safer. He decided enough was enough and that they needed a new deck for easier access.
But not just any ole deck. He wanted the deck to be a place of leisure. Somewhere to relax and look over the pool while basking beneath the sizzling sun. So, how did his DIY skills work out?
The end result was something stunning – a professional contractor couldn’t have done a better job. A year of wondering what they were looking at had come to an end – Jill and her neighbors were really very impressed.
Sturdy beams held the floor in place, seams were met perfectly, angles were carefully measured, and all edges were beveled for decoration. As if that wasn’t enough, the family added a few finishing touches to turn it into something out of a magazine.
A coat of sealant was added to protect it from adverse weather and keep it pristine for years to come.
They also added a set of grey and brown deck chairs and tables so they could lounge in the sun after a cool swim. Jill took some notes. She’d learned a thing or two from watching this DIY project in action.
Truth About DIY
A project like this isn’t something to take on lightly. A lot of people think they can nail a few boards together and knock up something like this in a few months.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth – you need time. It also takes a lot of know-how and practice, as well as learning from mistakes. But there is some good news for budding DIY-ers.
Doing your own construction, even small fixes around the house can save you a ton of money.
For example, a plumber costs hundreds but replacing your own toilet pump can come in at under $50. Painting your own walls is another cheap project you can do on your own that gets big results. But there’s more to DIY than just saving money.
It’s no secret that there’s a large amount of pride attached to accomplishing something yourself – especially when you get to gaze upon your creation every day.
Start with small things and slowly move to bigger endeavors. There is an enormous amount of information out there for free. With time, you could be building your own luxury deck – even your own pool!
A few weeks passed, and Jill enjoyed watching all of the new additions that her neighbor had been adding to his backyard. She’d sit by her window and occasionally check up on his progress.
She loved being neighborly and slept a bit sounder, knowing that her neighbors were good people. But her perspective would change soon.
Things Would Change
But Jill should have been a bit more apprehensive about her neighbor. One day, while sitting by the window sipping coffee, she noticed something peculiar. She watched as her neighbor started pouring a bucket of something into the ground.
She had no idea what to make of the silver liquid until she did a little more digging.
Jill was fascinated by this new hobby of his. She decided to sit and watch him more intently. After seeing him pour the mystery liquid into the ground a few more times, she managed to get a glimpse of writing on a bag.
The words read “aluminium.” He must have been melting it down into a liquid and then pouring it into the ground. But why was he doing this?
Learning The Truth
The more Jill watched the man, the more she understood the context of everything. She watched the process. He’d melt down some aluminum into a liquid, and then he’d carefully pour it into the ground.
But when Jill learned what he was pouring it into, she was appalled. There was no going back from this.
It took her a while to finally figure out what he was pouring the liquid into, but when she found out, she couldn’t believe what was happening. Her lovely neighbor was pouring the liquid into anthills.
She couldn’t understand why someone would do something like this. She felt bad for the ants and needed to know the truth.
Couldn’t Sit Around
After a lot of thought, Jill decided that she couldn’t watch any longer. It didn’t sit right with her, and she thought she’d at least express that to her neighbor. She mentally prepared herself for the confrontation and walked on over.
She thought about what she’d say to him as she approached the fence.
Giving Him A Piece Of Her Mind
Jill approached the fence and waved her neighbor over. He had a smile on his face until he saw that she clearly wasn’t impressed. Jill was ready to give him a piece of her mind.
She told him that it wasn’t right what he was doing. But her neighbor looked more confused than ashamed. What was going on?
Her neighbor explained that what he was doing was “art.” This made Jill even madder. How could he justify killing ants? But before she could think of a retort, he walked back to the anthill and cracked it open.
Jill felt melancholic at the sight of a destroyed ant nest. But things weren’t as they appeared.
Her neighbor began deconstructing the ant hill on his property. This was a step she’d never seen before. What was he about to do to prove he was right? All she saw was him destroying an ecosystem.
But Jill would have to admit she was wrong with what he showed her next. It was beautiful.
It Really Was Art
Jill had to admit that it really was art when the neighbor pulled out the cooled aluminum from the soil. It was kind of like a 3D model of the passages the ants had created. But she still hated the idea of what it cost.
The poor ants. She started her argument back up, but he quickly put it to rest.
Her neighbor put all of her worries to rest as soon as he explained that the anthills he did this to were always uninhabited. He made sure beforehand, and only then would start his new hobby.
He explained that he and his son were working on a science project for his school. That softened Jill’s heart.
A Good Reason
What kind of maniacal man would do this though? That’s when he decided to give her even more insight into his life that she didn’t ask for.
He’d go all out to prove his innocence. It would involve his son and the lengths he would go to for him. It would be something Jill couldn’t scrutinize.
All For His Son
He further explained that his son needed some kind of model that showed how ants lived. It was for his junior science class, and the clever dad thought of an easy way to show exactly how their tunnels worked.
Jill could never stay mad at someone who did what they did for the sake of their children, especially if nothing was hurt in the process.
Chalking It Up To A Misunderstanding
Jill felt embarrassed that she had walked over to shout at the father. He’d done nothing wrong the entire time, and now she felt like the fool.
But her neighbor reassured her that he’d want someone to put him in his place if he were doing something inhumane. The two had a laugh about it.
Becoming Good Neighbors
In her embarrassment, Jill invited her neighbor to lunch sometime. He smiled and accepted the offer. The two hit it off and became good neighbors. There were no more misunderstandings now that they knew each other.
Jill slept well, knowing that she had a good friend and neighbor.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.