“Oh my God!”
It was my neighbor that lived next door, Michelle. She was wearing a robe and holding a huge umbrella. Michelle was a rather large woman who knew everything about everyone.
“John, stop!” she said screaming as she ran to the car. “Don’t you feel that?”
John whipped his head around to see the commotion when he saw his neighbor flailing her arms in the air and screaming. John was slightly confused. It was hard to hear what she was saying, because of all the rain and the mix of the radio. However, this woman was loud, so he definitely could hear her screaming. The arguments between her and her husband could be heard all over the neighborhood. At least that was John’s perspective.
“John, please stop driving. You are running over Shelly!”
John stopped the car, unaware of what he did.
Michelle ran to the back of the car. Since the rain was still falling, John franticly looked for an umbrella. In his rush to drive the open highway, he left it by the front door. Realizing that she wasn’t going to come back to save him from the rain, John stepped out and was immediately soaked.
“What’s wrong Michelle?” “What did I do?” By now John was drinking his words. Michelle looked up at him as John reached the back of the car. Blood was being washed down the street by the rain. His heart sank into his stomach. It was Shelly, another neighbor’s dog. She lived with a nice family, who rescued Shelly from the humane society years ago. Shelly was always letting herself in and out of the house, through her dog door.
“You ran over Shelly, John. You killed her.”
“I swear I didn’t see her!” Michelle wouldn’t stop staring at John as if she needed an answer before she went back inside. The rain had washed the blood from her hands after she was done checking on Shelly. The umbrella that was keeping her dry was now making crescent moon shapes in John’s driveway.
“How could you not feel it? Are you completely unaware?” It was a medium sized dog so it was possible he could have not felt it from inside the car.
“What are you going to do, John.” John hated how she emphasized his name as if it were all his fault.
“This is all your fault, John.”
“My fault? How is this my fault? It was an accident, Michelle.” John inflicted the same amount of emphasis on her name, as well.
“So what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.. Leave them a note or something?” John nearly laughed at the thought. Leaving a note was a horrible thing to do. He knew he should wait until they were home to break the bad news, but he was already running late for work. John had to think fast.
“A note, John? A note!”
“Yeah. What’s wrong with a note? I have to go to work, Michelle. I can’t be bothered with this right now.”
“You can’t be bothered with this! Michelle’s eyes widened at the thought. “I’m not sure I understand. How can you be so selfish?”
Annoyed with her insolent yelling, John hoped what he said next would shut her up. “I’ll put her in my garage, John stated. “I’ll talk to them when I get back home.”
“Are you going to leave a note? I suppose since you can’t be bothered to wait or call, you should leave a note.”
John shook his head, water falling into his eyes and mouth.
“I will leave a note, Michelle Just as I stated.” John new he had to appease her or they would be standing out in the rain all day until she found an answer she liked, and John certainly didn’t need a lecture from her. A lady that sits at home all day eating chocolate and watching TV. He despised here sloth like behavior.
Michelle looked at the tangled mess in his driveway and then back at John with a look of disgust. It was clear she didn’t want to be too involved. Plus, John was certain she was missing one of her shows.
“That’s fine, John” She emphasized his name once again. “I don’t want to spend another moment out here anyway.”
With that, she grabbed her umbrella and scurried back into her house.
John stayed out in the rain a few moments longer, staring at this dog in his driveway. “Great, he thought. This is all I need. A dead dog, a nosy neighbor, and the fact I will be late for work all because this dog thought it was a good idea to take a pee break in the rain.” After a while, he scooped her up and walked inside his garage, blood now soaking his clothes.
“I look like I murdered someone. Oh wait…” Quickly, John realized this wasn’t the time for jokes or misplaced sarcasm, but he couldn’t help it. His humor during fucked up situations really showed his sort of psychotic side.
To contain the mess, John grabbed a lawn trash bag and shoved Shelly inside. John could feel the neighborhood watching him. With Michelle making all sorts of noise to grab John’s attention, curtains were being tucked under delicate fingers to watch the carnage.
John went inside and crafted a note.
It is with deep regret and ultimate sorrow, that I must give you this awful news. I, John Maxwell, your neighbor, accidentally ran over your dog. It happened this morning. Shelly is in my garage and I will be home around six. Again, I am VERY sorry.
John was certain he had written the perfect letter, so he walked over to Patricia’s house and slipped the note through the mail slot in the door.
John went back inside to change his clothes and this time, he grabbed his umbrella. He braved the rain once more and got back inside his car. The clock on the dash seemed to blare at him - reminding him how late he was for work. He eased out of his drive, watching Michelle peak out of her window one last time. John made his way into town and decided to call his work while he was driving and hoped he wouldn’t get fired over a dog. He dug out his cell phone from his pocket. As he was driving above the speed limit to make up for lost time, he started to dial the numbers to his job. Suddenly, John rear ended a truck. John slammed forward as the airbag softened his blow from the steering wheel. Time seemed to slow down as John tried to rouse himself from being slightly unconscious. He woke from his slumber and tried to push the airbag away from his face.
Bang! Bang! Bang! The sound of a fist pounding on his driver-side window gave John the shock of his life. He was positive he had a mini heart attack from the noise. John looked to his left to see a burly man standing over his car. He must of weighed a good 250 pounds and stood well above 6ft. tall. He had tattoos all over his body, including his face. He had a large beard and a shaved head.
“Hey Jackass! Get out of you car!” He pounded on the window again. John was once again startled despite staring at this man the entire time.
“Look what you did to my truck!” John’s air bag was nearly deflated and John saw his crumpled hood and smoke billowing from the engine. The rain and the cool air made the smoke thicker and it looked like a fog rolling in. John tried to see the damage he did, but he could only see his cars damage, and besides, who cares about his truck when clearly his car took all the impact. Surely the only thing wrong were a few scratches and a ding or two.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Once again John jumped out of his seat, forcing him to lock all of the doors. The man started pounding the windshield like an angry gorilla. The rain covered his skin and you could see the veins pulsing in his body. John frantically searched for his cell phone. Once he found it, he showed it to the large man still pounding his windshield. The man stopped when he saw the phone. John mimicked the word ‘cops’ and the man froze, then looked at John as if he were a mad man. The man stared at John to the point where it was uncomfortable, but John could do nothing but stare back. He wanted to let this guy know he meant business too. John started to dial 911 when the man slammed both fist into John’s windshield. This made John flinch again and he dropped his phone. Once more, they locked eyes and John found himself frozen. The man started for his truck.
“What is this man doing, thought John. Is he getting a baseball bat? Is he leaving the scene?”
John searched for his phone once again as he heard a door slam in the distance. It was then, John started to fear for his life. He was sure the burly man was out to get him. John’s body temperature flashed in waves of heat. His hands started to feel clammy and sweaty. It became more difficult to grab the phone. John was too scared to look up out of his window, certain the man was standing there with a bat or worse, a gun. John slowly turned his head when he heard the screeching of tires on the asphalt. He couldn’t believe the man actually took off. “Why would someone drive away like that?” John thought. “Maybe he had warrants or something.” John felt confused, scared, and a little pissed off because of how the man acted and because he drove away. Finally, John was able to dial for the police.
After the police, ambulance, and tow truck driver made their rounds, John stayed focused on the angry man. His stature, the crazy looks, and the way he left. It wasn’t right and the whole situation made John feel uneasy and paranoid. Being a small town, John knew he would be easy to find. He was certain he was being followed as the tow truck driver took him to the local body shop. Then he thought he was being ridiculous. The man would never do such a thing. John talked as if he really knew this man and what he was capable of.
John sat in the body shop for hours waiting on an estimate, constantly scanning his surroundings. Even though he knew he was being paranoid for no reason.
John was sure he was seeing things. ‘Great, just add this to the list of things happening to me today’. John looked again. Sure enough, it was the psycho, staring John down from across the street.
“Sir, your paper work is ready.” It was the young girl behind the counter. The man was parked across the street, standing outside of his truck. ‘Did he really follow me over here? What was going on? Maybe it was just my imagination.’ John closed his eyes tightly and a vision of him flashed before his eyes. When he opened them, he was gone. Where did he go? Was he even there?
“Sir, your paper work is ready.” Her voice was a bit sterner this time and as John looked around the lobby and saw that people were staring at him.
“Sorry, I just thought I saw someone.” Did I see someone? Looking over his shoulder again, he wasn’t there. ‘This is something I had to snap out of. No one is following me’. A headache started piercing his eyeballs.
“Sir, are you okay?” The look on her face was genuine, but you could tell she really wanted to get to the next customer. “Your car won’t be ready for a few days. The radiator is busted and we have to order the part.” “Do you have a rental car?”
John almost couldn’t answer her simple question. Driving again was out of the question.
“My insurance isn’t that great and I’m not sure I want to drive anymore.” Seeing that some people in line were getting a little impatient, he moved over to the side and signed all the appropriate pages. “I think I’ll take the bus”.
After he finished his business at the garage, John found himself outside, in the rain, holding his unopened umbrella and become drenched, once again. He swore he saw the man, he just knew he was standing there, staring at him while he was in the garage. He knew it couldn’t have been his imagination. What was this man’s plan? Did he want to scare me, fight me, or kill me?, John thought to himself as he entered the bus to go home. He took a seat toward the back. That’s when he saw the crazy man across the street, sitting in his truck. When the bus pulled out to leave, so did the man. John started to panic. He searched for his cell phone so he could call the police, but he couldn’t find it. It dawned on him - he left it in the car. John started getting desperate and began asking all the passengers if he could borrow their phone. No one responded. They turned their backs on him as if he were a beggar in the streets.
John’s thoughts were racing. “Why was this happening to me? What was I going to do? What is it he did wrong? Was the Universe punishing him for running over the dog and not caring about it?”
One thing John knew he couldn’t do was ride the bus forever. Finally, he had a thought - he could ask the bus driver to take him to the police station.
One thing that went right in John’s day, was the bus driver agreeing to take John to the cops.
He stepped off the bus looking over his shoulders to see if he could see the man, and sure enough, he was parked across the street. John entered the building and turned to look at the man one last time, hoping he would stay there so he could show the cops his proof, but the man was gone.
“Please believe me. There is a man following me all over town. I am certain he will follow me to my house and seek revenge for what I did to him today. Look at the accident report. He fled the scene. At least you could get him for that.”
The police shook their heads. “I’m sorry, sir, but without proof or him actually doing anything to you, we can’t do anything about it.”
“Can a cop drive me home? To make sure he doesn’t follow me to my house?”
“Sir, we have bigger things to worry about.”
“Sir, calm down.”
“I can’t keep calm! A mad man is stalking me!” John was full of rage and tears. They flowed down his cheeks in steady streams. The cop handed him a tissue.
“Look, sir. We will have an officer take you home if you please remain calm.”
“Oh my god, thank you.” John tried to muster a sense of calm while speaking, but his voice was still in yelling mode and the words came out louder than he would have liked. “Sorry, officer. I am calm.” John took a deep breath. Maybe if the man saw him in a cop car, he would leave him alone. John prayed this would work. The entire trip, John was looking over his shoulders to watch for the man, but he saw no sign of him. “Thank goodness”, John thought.
The officer reached his house. It was still raining outside. John looked to his porch and saw Patricia waiting. “Oh god”, John thought. “I forgot about the dog.”
John thanked the officer and made his way to the porch as the cop drove away.
Patricia slapped John across the face. The sting from the slap mixed with water made the pain more intense. John rubbed his face.
“I guess I deserved that.”
“I want my dog, John.” She emphasized his name with a sense of anger and sadness.
“Yes. She is in my garage. Come inside, and I will get her for you.”
John let Patricia in the house and as he was turning to shut the door behind him, he saw the men waiting in his truck. John slammed his door and looked out of the peephole. The man was gone. “What was this man doing? If his plan was to scare me, it worked. Why can’t he just leave me alone?” John contemplated. John slumped to the floor and started to cry, complete forgetting Patricia was waiting on him.
“John! I want my dog. What are you doing?” Patricia walked over to him when three loud bangs filled the air. Patricia jumped. John screamed.
“What’s going on John!”
It was then John stopped thinking about himself and started thinking about the safety of others. It was a strange feeling.
“Go to the garage. Do not come out for anything. No matter what you hear. If you have your phone on you, call 911.”
Three more loud bangs shook the door where John was still slumped. John’s heart sank to his stomach.
Patricia took no time to hesitate and ran toward the garage hiding behind the riding lawn mower and some boxes.
John picked himself off of the floor. He slowly made his way to the peephole in the door. Sure enough, the man was standing there and to John’s surprise, he was holding a gun.
“Oh my god!” John screamed inside his head. “I only smashed the back of his truck and there was hardly any damage unlike my car.”
The man banged on the door again. John jumped and Patricia nearly screamed, realizing she couldn’t give away her position, she cupped her hand over her mouth. Her eyes big with fear.
It was then, John realized he forgot to lock the door. The man jiggled the door knob. The door cracked open. The door began to slowly open. John stepped back from the door too scared to think straight. He just kept walking backward, his eyes squared on the door. He saw the man enter the house. John froze. Urine stained the front of his pants.
The man walked toward john holding the gun toward John’s chest.
“You messed up my truck today,” he said in a calm manner. “Then you tried to call the cops at the scene. Then, you actually went to the police. His voice rising in volume. “I don't like snitches.”
John tried to protest when he felt the bullet hit his chest. He fell to the floor. In the garage, Patricia heard everything. She started crying. She couldn’t call the police because she left her phone at home. She sat frozen in her spot, hearing another gunshot explode through the air. Then, Patricia heard the door slam shut.
The man ran out of the house, tires screeching as he left the scene for the second time today.
Michelle, who saw the man arrive and then leave, ran out of her house screaming to the police on the phone. She ran straight towards John’s house and through the front door.
Patricia heard the man leave and she found the courage to go back inside. She met Michelle who was already sitting at John’s side. Patricia screamed while watching the blood pool on the floor.
“OH MY GOD!” Patricia screamed. She feel to her knees, sobbing. “Is he alive?” She finally mustered the words through her tears.
Michelle turned her head toward Patricia, confused as to why she would be in John’s home when she quickly remembered Shelly, the dead dog. Poor Patricia.
“He is barely alive.” Michelle said.
“Did you call 911?” Michelle asked.
“I couldn’t. My phone is at home. Just when you think you won’t need such a thing.” Patricia sighed feeling a pang of guilt hit her chest.
“That’s okay. I did call the police. I called when I saw the crazy man walk out of his truck with a gun. I knew something was wrong”
Of course something was wrong, thought John. But it was the one time when John was happy for his nosy neighbor. He coughed up blood pooling in his mouth. He started to mouth some words.
Michelle saw John trying to speak. John knew he was dying. He motioned for Michelle to listen. She put her ear by John’s mouth. “What is it John. What are you trying to say?”
“Tell Patricia I’m sorry” He thought of how she must had been frozen with fear inside the garage when all she wanted was her dead dog. It was another attempt to think of others before himself. John thought he could get used to such a thing if he were to live, but old habits die hard.
“Patricia, John says he is sorry.” Patricia started sobbing even more. Her sob became a wail.
“What’s taking them so long?” Michelle screamed. She picked up John in her arms, hoping he would stay. To her, John wasn’t all that bad - just a tad narcissistic.
Barely holding on, John thought about his life and how selfish he was toward people. He never had friends and now he realized why. His funeral played out in his head and he saw empty chairs. Not even his parents would show. He stopped talking to his dad years ago. Too prideful to admit he was wrong. His mother remained silent and followed her husbands actions. He thought of his terrible day and thought of one last, almost selfish thought - he should of taken the bus.
John makes a simple decision which changes the course of his life forever. Read along to follow John on his very bad day.
He was lean. A type of man that would eat an entire turkey dinner, plus dessert, but have the stature of someone who hadn’t eaten for weeks. Youth had left him some time ago. Gray hairs sprouted on any part of his body that allowed it. Despite a single thread of hair on his head, his beard grew long. Each silver string of hair tangled into a nest that swung to his sunken chest. He wore the same tattered jeans. His once white shirt now a faded yellow, reeked of old sweat. His face gave the appearance of someone who fought a thousand wars. Hollow gray eyes met deep, dark circles, followed by sunken, sagging cheeks. His mouth was thin, and the few teeth that filled his head were stained and full of holes.
Many believed he was cooking meth inside his overly priced, overly large steel building. It would explain his skeleton look, rotten teeth, and why he would be inside his building at all hours of the night.
He kept to himself. He mowed his lawn. He paid his taxes. He was just odd. Something was off about him. While he was mostly quiet, many times heavy bangs coming from his building would excite the neighbors, enticing a few to call the police. Small threats, and empty promises kept the neighbors slightly satisfied and slightly displeased. He continued and we all just breathed a sigh of exhaustion. There were some neighbors you should just leave alone.
That was rather difficult for some and perhaps insufferable for one neighbor.
“I can’t listen to the awful banging anymore!”, her hair tickled her nose as it fell from the mess of a mop on her head. She brushed it aside and continued to gripe. That neighbor scared my Peaches into a barking frenzy last night. She nearly wet the bed!”
She was the type of neighbor who knew of everyone’s business. If there was anything you wanted to know, she was your gal. While the information was always skewed, the entertainment value was worth the inquiry. She was a petite, but stout woman, in her 40’s. Widowed, she lived with her small poodle, Peaches, in a simple two-bedroom ranch sitting on a few wooded acres.
She looked at me for an answer. I shrugged my shoulders. There wasn’t a thing we could do about the noise. We could call the cops, let them threaten the old man, and let the cops tell us he would be more cautious. Blah, blah, blah… It was all the same song and dance.
“I don’t know what you think we should do, Abigail. We have notified the police before and nothing gets done. Perhaps if it bothers you so much, you should tell him to stop yourself.”
She turned on her toes at the very word. Her dog yapped at the abrupt movement of her petite, stout body. She scooped Peaches off the ground and offered the poodle words of condolence. She looked at me sternly, and for a moment, I was back in reform school getting punished by the dean.
“Perhaps, my indifferent neighbor,” she scolded,” I will.”
She marched her little legs down the dirt road, and she wondered if her indifferent neighbor would ever see her and her yapping poodle again.
Abigail’s feet met the top of the hill. Despite her small frame, she managed to make the trip quickly. There was a sick feeling bubbling in her guts when she saw him inside the building. The sun sunk over the roof, and darkness started to ooze over the trees behind her. Swallowing her fear, she stepped toward the building, dog in tow. Sensing something its owner wasn’t privy to, the dog started to growl. Abigail continued, brushing off her dog’s warning. She stroked its black, wiry fur, speaking in comforting tones. The dog continued to growl, followed by shaking. Abigail leaned her head near the poodle’s face to ease its fears. Peaches, scared of its own shadow, abruptly turned its snarling jaws and latched its perfectly sharp teeth into Abigail’s cheek. She screamed in agony, dropping her beloved pooch. Peaches ran away from the scene, yelping.
Abigail grabbed her cheek. Blood flowed down her face, onto her neck, and seeped into her freshly pressed clothes. Shocked, she fell to her knees, flinging her body from the pain. Not one for knowing how to compose herself, she wept. Dirt clung to her skin and latched itself on loose strands of hair.
“What is going on here?” The voice was low and garbled. Years of smoking left a thick film of mucus lining his esophagus. He tried to clear his throat.
“What are you doing curled up on the ground? Get up!” He grabbed her by the arm and swung her to her feet.
The pain left her and fear encased her. She stood frozen, shocked a man of his size could lift her stout body with one arm. She stumbled as she regained her bearings. He caught her arm. She violently retrieved. His eyes made their way to her blood-soaked cheek.
“You better get that fixed. I can see some tendons.” His gray eyes, met hers and she shuddered before frantically feeling her open wound. She nearly lost her composure when she felt the sticky tendons dangling from her face.
“Come inside. I can fix you right up.” He reached for her arm. Abigail withdrew. He gazed at her, almost confused by her sudden disagreement. “You need a bandage. I have some supplies in the house.”
Abigail turned up her nose. She was in a great deal of pain, but her instant disgust of even entering such a place wouldn’t stop her from being rude. “You want me to enter your building and let you touch me! I would rather get an infection. I can manage my own body, at my own house.”
He stared at her face, watching the wound seep blood into her mouth as she spoke. Each flex of her muscle made the tendons twitch. It was rather amazing, as he wondered how she was managing to speak.
Noticing how he was rather engaged at her misery, she stepped back. “Stop making all that racket. I would never have come here, but you keep managing to disrupt the entire neighborhood. Now I have this terrible issue, and my poor Peaches has run off. I ought to sue you!” She squared her eyes with his and waited for a rebuttal. Instead, he remained mute. She scoffed at his silence and turned on her heels, making her way back home.
Abigail clenched at her cheek, trying to stop the flow of tears. Her stomach was in knots and her body trembled. Nearing the top of the hill, she started to call for her beloved poodle, but the pain in her cheek intensified, and she sobbed from her sudden mix of emotions. Feeling weak with exhaustion and deciding she was a good distance away from her recent trauma, Abigail started to take a seat on the side of the dirt road, but the swift end of a 2x4 against the back of her small rounded head helped her take the rest she was looking for. He drug her to his building.
He laid her on his work bench layered with blood soaked rags. Blood leaked from her cracked skull. Her eyeballs started forcing their way out of their sockets as the blood pooled behind them. He looked closer and saw bits of her brain making its way onto the dirt floor. He stepped back to fully take in his work and felt a sense of pride. He was disgusted by her. She was rude.
A scream came from a room inside his building. He left his possession rotting on the wooden slab.
She was cold and hungry. But they all were. The chains were old, but strong. Each were attached to each other, chained by the hands and feet, while the main attachment roped its way through a small opening in the metal frame.
He stripped them naked and often dressed their wounds. They were always dirty; filthy from the dirt floor and their lack of facilities. The flies swarmed their bucket in the corner of the dark room. One of the girls crawled into the adjacent corner; left to decompose. The maggots had set in. It wouldn’t be long until the hunger pangs were larger than their need to never feed on human flesh, no matter how old.
She screamed. Her voice echoed against the steel walls. He would come. He would be angry. It was her arm that pained her. A fresh wound that grew infected. She sulked over the injury. It was purple and the blood was dark. It was the bone scraping the top of her skin, begging to be free from its confinement, that left her in agony. She kept screaming.
He flung open the door and they scrambled to the walls, hiding in the shadows. He went for her and yanked her off the dirt floor. She fell limp; weak from lack of water and food. Her tears soaked the earth.
Her arm snapped. She let out an intense yell and they all watched as her bone broke through the skin. Blood dripped from her fingers. In immense shock, the fragile girl lay silent at his feet. He kicked her in the face, the top of his steel toed boot meeting her thin jaw. It snapped and hung sideways, exposing the inside of her mouth. The girls shuttered and gasped, finding their bodies closer to the cold steel, hoping to disappear into the metal.
He left. The door slammed behind him and the girl in the corner was now a fresh meal with a broken arm.
His fresh victim twitched on the bench. He walked over to the door, and poked his head out for the chance of any new visitors. Satisfied he would be left alone to do his bidding, he bolted the door and returned to the twitching, arrogant, insufferable neighbor on the slab of wood.
Peaches scraped the bottom of the neighbor’s door leading to her safety. She whined and pleaded, barking insistently. The noise took her from the TV and to the front door. Peaches sat there crying and shaking. “What are you doing over here?” She could see Abigail's front door from her porch, making her neighborly interactions much more retched. She despised the lady. Seeing Peaches wanting to crawl out of her skin delighted her in a strange way, but she also enjoyed silence.
She scooped up Peaches and made her way across the lawn, over the road, and onto Abigail’s porch. She knocked on the door. Surely Abigail was done cussing out the old man by now. There wasn’t an answer. She twisted the door knob, it crept open. Peaches rushed in at the mere sound of the door swinging on its hinges. She flung herself onto her bed, shaking.
The indifferent neighbor wasn’t the one to go prying in the night. She had more sense than that. Instead, she was the type to fix things in the day light, or not at all.
She left and returned to the comfort of her home, stopping at her porch, watching the TV flicker in the dark. She didn’t care if she saw the snotty winch at all. She secretly hoped the old man found a use for her like he had found a use for the others.
Her heart fluttered. It was the old man again. Her heart skipped a beat and a smile slithered across her face. She turned to look in the direction of the noise. A small glow could be seen over the top of the hill. It nestled above the trees like a looming fire. She returned to the dancing of the TV and turned up the volume. It helps muffle out the screams.
Read along as we journey through a neighborhood full of secrets.