When boredom meets insanity somewhere in the middle...
|No One Home
Well, I celebrated. I had a bottle of wine and celebrated having the apartment all to myself. I yelled and sang out loud. Like a streak, blazing madly around the living room while the TV blared, I made my statement for freedom of living space.
The spaghetti sauce boiled over on the stove. I didn't clean it up. I let my dishes stink in the sink until the last possible hour. As I stood on my head on the couch, belching the theme tune to Family Guy, the phone interrupted my inane amusement.
The ringing sensation loudened in my ears. Fortunately, the answering machine was guarding me from any stupid calls like, "Is Stan there? Could you tell me when he'll be back? Did he say where he was going? Are you his servant? Do you iron his clothes? Do you chauffeur him to his job? Is the maid there? Does she know where Stan is?"
I laughed in demented, cynical contempt as my monotone friend cut in and reported no one was home. I realized Stan had left the phone to leave messages at his voice mail. 'Leave a message after the beep,' and the machine blared contemptuously in the intruder's ear. Nothing but a dial tone. Oh, well.
I decided to go on a safari for my cat, Alexander. Alex is a 20-pound tabby that hates having his sleep interrupted, but loves playtime before he's fed. I grabbed my weapons: a ball of pink yarn, a squeaky toy, rubber band, and a hand full of milk rings. Positioning myself over the banister, I screeched my patented jungle calls and waited for the decoy to lure my prey. That’s when a knock at the door startled me.
Embarrassed, I thought my weak 'King of the Jungle' imitation might have alerted the person to my presence while they walked up. I stood still, feeling my shadow tense on the wall. The knock came again, a little louder. My heart froze up tight, so as not to beat a single rhythm. Just before I thought I was about to have a seizure, the sound of feet scrapping the rickety floor boards echoed from the outdoor porch, slithered a bit, sidestepped, and then hopped down the three steps to the cement path.
The wind howled and rattled the loose window behind me. I jumped up the stairs and looked down from the dark, thinking momentarily the caller had come to the window to get my attention. No one was there. I wondered if I should turn out the lights while I sat at the top step, staring intently at the unveiled window for the next 10 minutes.
Alex was now in my lap, asleep. I decided to relax. No one was going to spoil my one night alone. I decided not to pull the shades down until after 11. I left the lights on and returned to my unattended living room friend. With my trusty remote I kept the television's volume low. That’s when the phone signaled for my attention again. I groaned. Alex yawned and stretched, nicking my skin with a claw.
"Ow! Damn phone, stop ringing!" I held my reddening laceration as I walked over to switch to my voice mail. The answering machine snapped and I jumped back. "Geez! Scare the living crap out me, why don't you."
"You have reached Tom and Stan's hideout. If you want to invite us to a party, that's okay. We have the aphrodisiacs, if you have the ladies in waiting. We’ll review your call to see if it merits a reply. What’s that? Oh, the answering machine has asked that you leave a message after it is deafens your hearing. BEEEEEP!"
"I know you're there. Why didn't you come to the door? Let me in. I-I forgot my key and I'm at a pay booth down the street --"
"BEEEEP!" The machine shut off prematurely like it had on other occasions. I stood there in disbelief. It couldn't be Stan -- not on my one night alone in the house. I didn't quite sound like his voice. I had a decision to make. I grabbed Alex, shut off the lights and the multi-pixel, icon blaster to scurry upstairs and entrench myself in my room.
"No way! He said he'd been gone all weekend. This person is obviously an impostor. Come on, Alex. Help me watch." I trembled as it grew cold by my frosty window. The shadowy sweater haunted me from where it hung just across the room. I wasn't about to leave my post, as I wiped away the ice to peek out the bottom right corner of my portal. The street lights brightened the intersection but no one appeared. The air was becoming stiff cold. I put Alex down and got up. I slid the sweater over my head quickly, while walking back.
"Where is he? I know it wasn't him. He's not coming, whoever this person is who’s trying to fool me. Who would try to trick me? Who would know I'm home alone and try to pull a stunt?" My mind raced. Alex got tired of the wait and fell asleep again. He never takes his turn on a stakeout. I rubbed his belly for awhile to keep my hand warm. The drafty apartment sent chills through the unprotected regions of my body.
Something caught my drowsing attention. "The -- the window," I whispered. My teeth nearly chattered to think Stan might have entered the apartment by the window we never locked. And what if it was an intruder who found a way in? But the normally loose floor boards did not warn of any other life. I decided to peer over the banister to look below. I had a scary thought, imagining a pair of grim eyes staring silently back at me. The floor was black with a cross-marked, rectangular, eerie white cut out. Would someone jump out? I pulled my head back and decided not to look any longer. Who knows, someone could have been sighting a rifle at my head.
The clock downstairs chimed 10 o'clock. "Damn, I'm going to miss that late movie," restraining my vocal cords to prevent the killer from locating me.
Maybe I could get to the other extension and call for help. I slowly got up, placing each foot as near to the other as possible, checking for noisy beams. I made it to my bed and slowly settled in. I peered around the room for a moment, wondering if the intruder could have been waiting in the room for me all along. No, not possible. My window was painted shut this summer.
I grabbed my Garfield phone and was about to dial, but there was no tone. It struck my throat and tightened the cords like a noose. I couldn't speak. I tapped 0. "Who's there," jumped in my ear and through my body, sending a shock wave to all my limbs. I still couldn't speak. "I know your there. You're up in your room aren't you?"
I quietly hung up the receiver. I got under the covers. Then, I got up, grabbed the snoozing fat feline and got back under the covers. Alex crawled down at the end of the bed near my feet, tickling my toes with his whiskers. "Al----" I stopped. Clasping a hand over my gaping mouth, my eyes bulged wide. Would my blunder be the end of me. I couldn’t decide if I should lay on my belly so I couldn’t see it coming. Or maybe, I should lay on my back so I could see it coming. Do I want to stare death in the eye. I laid on my side, back against the wall contemplating my choices.
I don't know what happened after that. The house was so silent and my body was so stiff; I guess I passed out from fear, or fell asleep. The next thing I knew, Alex was licking his belly next to my ear. He had crawled out and slept next to my head. I got up quickly and then slowed. It was a misty, creepy Saturday morning. A day when I would normally rise early to catch the first morning movie, likely some classic film noir flickering its black-and-white truth through the dusty screen into my placid eyes.
I wondered if I should be piling up on cereal, crossword puzzles and also a few toys to keep Alex interested long enough to watch with me. Now that it was light, the fear was not as great. I decided to secure the area for a classic animated episode of Johnny Quest.
The stairs did not creek, as I lowered myself to the living room. The ancient house was filled with specked rays of sunlight severed by the blinds. The front door was still locked. I peered around the corner into Stan's room. The door hung wide open just as it did before. A pile of crummy clothes remained heaped atop the small mattress on the floor.
"Well, then, I'm alone. I've got the place to myself. Let's party!" I was about to call out Alex's name when something clutched my neck with elongated fingers that nearly wrapped around my trachea. I couldn't move as the daylight turned to night.
I struggled in the black, but the monster snarled and bared it's teeth. Somehow, I could see it's gruesome face, uglier than any baboon. It's saliva was like green mucus, drooling on its sweaty fur. It reached back with one gigantic paw, extending its claws that looked as large as elephant tusks, and --
Ah, just kidding. It was just a dream. Can you blame me if I'm bored?