Don't Look Too Closely

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Don't look too closely. You'll never know what you'll find.

Submitted: June 05, 2019

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Submitted: June 05, 2019

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Flashbacks.  They say that before you die your life flashes before your eyes.  They’re wrong. Nothing matters except the present. Nothing matters but the sound of metal slamming into the dry ground, and the noise it makes as the heavy load of dirt plops on top of your grave.  You’re not worried about past regrets as a handful of loose dirt seeps through the cracks in the wood with each dump. Each shovelful burying you another inch deeper into the ground. Another inch deeper away from the world.  From life. So no, I didn’t give a flip about my past memories like all the cliches say.

It all started with my neighbor.  If I had just held my curiosity at bay, maybe none of this would have come to pass.  Then again, maybe it would have. All I know is that it began with the old man next door and looking too closely.

***

I lived in a small town city.  A dead end of a place really, but it was quiet and peaceful in its own way.  All I ever wanted was to be left alone in my odd little life. I was an observer, a people watcher really.  Which I guess you could say was the beginning of my undoing.

Every day I drove home from my crappy office job in my boring old Buick.  Every day I waved dutifully at the old couples rocking on their patios in the neighborhood.  Every day I parked in the same exact spot in my driveway. This same routine was dull but comforting. Everything was predictable and safe.  That is, except for my old man next door.

At first I thought nothing of it.  Driving up my cracked driveway one evening, I see the old man washing his car in the fading sunlight.  Nothing odd about that. I give him a quick wave and he smiles a toothless grin back at me.

On the way to work a few mornings later, I see the old man out again washing his ancient Tacoma.  It was a cool foggy morning, and few dared to step out of their warm homes. Except for the old man that is.  Again, I didn’t think too much on this.

Two nights later, as I’m passing my kitchen window on the way to bed, I can see a small glimpse into my neighbor’s driveway.  Out there at 10 p.m. is the old man washing his car,again, but this time in the drizziling rain. Initially I brushed the erratic washings as some weird O.C.D. of the old coot.  That is, until something caught my eyes.

With the help of the security lights above his garage door, I noticed an unusual color running down the driveway in the soapy water.  With my hands pressing on the lip of the sink, I slowly ease forward to peer closer through the window. Burgundy suds float gently down the driveway until it disappears into the lawn.  For a few minutes, all I do is stare with wide eyes at the eerie color. Logic tries to tell me that it’s just old mud. Nothing unusual. Just old clay mud. My mind tries to tell me not to be so paranoid, but the sight just wouldn’t leave my mind.

As my mind tumbles these thoughts around like a rock being grinded down, a tickle starts at the base of my neck.  Without any explanation, my heart begins to pound and my hands become slick on the metal sink. That’s when I realize what’s wrong.  Through the shadows cast by the lights stands the old man. The water hose hangs limply from his hands, forgotten, as he stares, no, glares at me from his yard.  An involuntary gasp slips from my lips and I shove forcefully away from the window.

“It’s just mud.  It’s just mud. It’s just mud.”  I whisper fiercely to myself as I continue to back away from the accosting sight.  Suddenly the doorbell rings. It’s high pitch peels through the hallway and sends my heart into a painful rhythm.  I can’t move. I wouldn’t even if I could have. Then, the front door shakes as a heavy fist pounds against it.

“Jimmy?”  Says the voice of the old man on the other side.  My head whips around urgently as I search for a weapon of some sort in my sparse living room.  Nothing helpful, like a fire poker, turns up. Leaning abandoned against the closet door halfway down the hallway is my umbrella.  Grudgingly, I tip toe closer to the angry voice on shaky legs. Just as my hand reaches to grab the handle of the umbrella, the door shakes violently with another volley of pounding.  “Jimmy!” yells the old man irritably.

“Ju-just a m-minute please.” I reply in a wavering voice.  With my newly equipped weapon held high above my head, like a batter up to the plate , I reluctantly approach the door.  The door is made of cheap wood with no window or peep hole to look through. Mustering up as much courage as I can, I try to force confidence through my voice, “Can I hel-help you, Mr. Randle?” I say in a rather squeaky voice.  

I can just barely hear the sound of shoes shuffling forward to stand closer to the door.  “Jimmy, I just want to talk. Can I come in?”, says my neighbor in just a slightly nicer tone.  My mind races as I try to think of a quick response. “Uh, it’s uh, a bit late sir. I have work tomorrow.  Maybe another time?” I give myself a mental pat at my mostly normal response. “Now Jimmy, you wouldn’t deny an old man the pleasure of a brief chat would you?  My knees are a bit tired from standing. Could I come in and sit for a spell? I promise not to bore you for long.” Randle says in a reasonable voice.

Oh how I wished at that moment for my door to have peephole.  Sensing that he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and feeling rather silly for hiding from an old man, I agree to let him in, but just for a bit.  Just as the lock snicks open, the door slams hard against my chest. The force behind it startles me and sends me reeling backward. A soft whoosh of wind barely has time to register in my ears when a shovel arcs down towards my head.  I manage to turn my head to avoid the lethal blow, but not entirely.

The shovel comes into full contact with my right shoulder, and with a loud pop, my arm droops painfully at an awkward angle.  I scream in agony as a starburst of fireworks explodes in my vison. Hot bile rushes up my throat as I fight off the waves of pain.  With the umbrella discarded on the wooden floor I’m left weaponless against the old man. His swings come hard and fast, faster than I would have thought possible for someone his age.  

There’s nowhere for me to go but back towards the kitchen, back towards that dreadful window.  With no exits left for me to exploit I aim for the window above the sink. A heavy brass chicken statue, that was given to me as a housewarming gift from my mother, sits on the corner of the counter.  I grab it with clumsy fingers with my left hand, whisper an apology to my Mother, and let it fly. I brace myself for the shards of glass to go flying like they do in the movies, but nothing happens. The statue bounces off the widow and settles into the base of the sink.  “No…” I whisper with a sinking heart.

That’s all I have time to say before Randle’s shovel connects with the side of my head.  The sounds of metal rings in my head like a bee trapped inside my skull. The world turns black as my body falls, as if boneless, to the laminate floor.  

As darkness slowly eats away at my vision, I can see the old man’s loafers step up to my face.  I can hear his knees pop and grind as he bends down to my level. He shakes his head as he clucks at me, “Stupid fool.  You just couldn’t let things alone could ya? It’s sad really. I was just beginning to like you Jimmy.” He says with a sad wistful voice. Then, nothing.

***

If you were to look at the local newspaper, you would see an ad from a desperate mother requesting for help locating a twenty-eight year old man.  If you were to go for a drive, you might stumble across a house, tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, being sold by the bank. If you were to look closely at this particular house, you would notice an odd crack located in the middle of the kitchen window.  If you were to go into the house, you would notice amongst the dirty counter that there’s one oddly clean spot right at the edge of the counter. If you were to leave said house, and drive past the house next door, you might see an old man washing his car with a battered looking chicken statue sitting sentinel near the front door.  But if you were to ask me for advice, not that I’m around to give it anymore, I would say one thing: don’t look closely.


© Copyright 2019 Little Meeper. All rights reserved.

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