Everyone knows Mr. Jacobs.
He’s lived in the neighbourhood for fifteen years, and he’s never smiled – not once. He’s never brought cupcakes to welcome new neighbours, or shovelled snow off some else’s drive.
When the girl scouts come round, he doesn’t buy any cookies. He tries them all though, as many times as they’ll let him, before deciding that he doesn’t want any.
Every time there’s a barbecue or a party on the street, he doesn’t go – even if he’s invited. He does call the police – Mr. Jacobs has filed more noise complaints than anyone else in the entire county.
Mr. Jacobs is head of the HOA. He knows all the rules, even the little ones that everyone else forgets. If you forget, he’ll remind you. Then the next day, he’ll fine you. And the day after that.
The HOA always has a lot of funds. Mr. Jacobs says it’s for a rainy day.
Everyone knows Mr. Jacobs. They see him everyday. He’s always out on his drive, shouting at children on bikes or skateboards. He’s always twitching his curtains and watching girls come home from dates.
He’s always there, always visible. So when he isn’t, suddenly, people notice.
They notice that no one calls the police when they have friends round. They notice that no one twitches curtains or calls the pound when a dog gets loose. They notice that everyone they pass is smiling.
They also notice the sounds coming from the old, disused well. Such strange sounds – scrabbling and rustling and shouting sounds. Not normal sounds for a well at all.
All the people in the neighbourhood are good people. Good people help other people in need. One by one, people go over to the well. They investigate the strange noises.
It almost sounds like someone is trapped down there. Perhaps someone slipped on fallen leaves, and fell? Perhaps, sneaking in the dark minding other peoples’ business, someone stepped where they shouldn’t have?
And think how they’d feel, this person trapped down a well. Think how they’d cry and wail and hope for rescue. Think of how scary it would be to be down there, all alone in the dark. Think of staying there, with no escape, slowly getting weaker and quieter and more hopeless.
All the people in the neighbourhood are good people, and good people help those in need. So, one by one, when they hear the noises, they all go and look down the well, to see if there’s anyone who needs help.
But they don’t find anyone to help.
They don’t find anyone at all.