Misty's Box

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A hot new neighbor moves in next door to Jeff and there's more to her than he knows...

Submitted: July 17, 2008

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Submitted: July 17, 2008

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Misty’s Box

by Garrison Locke


Jeff sat down in his high-backed leather executive chair and heaved a deep sigh as he looked at the clock. 3:17 AM. He hadn’t been sleeping well since Laura left and not seeing other people very frequently didn’t help his loneliness. Jeff worked from home as an advertising writer, and his home office was not providing any brilliant ideas. He looked around for any kind of inspiration. The fading yellow and green striped wallpaper was beginning to peel at the edges. The originally white carpet, now stained and threadbare from years of spills and relentless pacing, reminded him of his life. He tried to remember how he had arrived where he was today.

Jeff’s wife of five years had announced to him one Saturday morning that she was a lesbian and wanted a divorce as soon as possible. Jeff loved Laura very much, but in the year or so before finding out about her love for all things sapphic, they had become distant. It did not help that she left him for his slut ex-girlfriend, Michelle, either. In spite of all the pain the two women had caused him, he couldn’t help but occasionally fantasize about them being together. That was one of the reasons he kept Laura’s pictures up. His otherwise drab office did have one redeeming quality though; sitting behind his some-assembly-required Office Depot desk, warped in ringworm-like circles from years of coaster abstinence, he had a perfect view of Misty Jenkins’ house across the street.

Misty was a stunning twenty-something blonde who had moved in not long before Laura had moved out. Jeff had been transfixed by Misty from the first time they met.

It had been a Tuesday afternoon in late August, a few weeks before Laura moved out, and he was at home working when there was a knock at the door. Misty was standing in the doorway in hot-pink, skin tight bicycle shorts and a matching sports bra that screamed, LOOK AT MY BOOBS!

Jeff realized he was gawking and picked his jaw up off the floor. “Hey –”

“Hey, I’m Misty!”

“I’m Jeff, it’s nice to meet you, Misty,” he said, offering his hand.

“I was just about to go for a jog and saw your car in the driveway; I thought you might be interested in tagging along.”

“I’m married...” he stammered.

“That’s alright, we’re neighbors, and it’s just that I don’t like to jog alone if I can help it. I got mugged once and I feel safer if I’m with someone else.”

He was having writer’s block and Laura had practically moved in with Michelle, so he had accepted. Besides, they weren’t on speaking terms at that point.

“Well, sure, let me just grab my jacket and tennis shoes,” he said.

They jogged down Sunbury Avenue in the cool autumn, passing row after row of fiery ash and maple trees, until they found themselves at the local coffee shop a couple of miles away where they got to know one another over lattes. Misty moved to the area because she had always loved the Northeast and when she had been given an opportunity to move, she jumped on it. He told her about his job as an ad writer and how it wasn’t as fulfilling as he would like it to be. Then he had asked the question that abruptly ended what he was starting to think of as a date.

“So what do you do for a living that allows you to hang out at home and go jogging in the middle of the day?”

She seemed to become agitated and immediately distant at the question and gave him the answer of “sales.” Then, with an abrupt, “Oh shit, I have to feed my gerbil,” she sprung up and ran out, leaving him sitting alone in a stupor, wondering what he had said that was so wrong, because he was fairly certain that the gerbil would be fine for a while by itself. That was the first and only time he had spoken with the mysterious Misty Jenkins.

After Laura moved out, Jeff avoided depression by finding ways to keep himself busy and getting into a routine. He started going on a walk every morning to get coffee. This helped not only keep him in better shape, but also offered the opportunity to maybe run into Misty again and find out why she had fled the coffee shop.

He also discovered more about the denizens of his neighborhood. Working from home the majority of the time allowed Jeff to witness many of the day-to-day goings on of his neighbors. He didn’t normally spy on people or have tendencies towards snooping, but everyone seemed to have their all too obvious “secrets.” The postal carrier would remain parked in Mrs. Erwin’s driveway, across the street from Jeff’s, for several hours every Tuesday afternoon. On multiple occasions he had seen two, three, and four scantily clad girls simultaneously leaving Chuck Warner’s place on his early morning walks to the coffee shop. And he had most recently noticed a suspiciously large number of packages delivered by FedEx to Misty’s.

He had become increasingly infatuated and caught himself fantasizing about her more frequently than he thought was appropriate. He liked that she was an enigma, not to mention gorgeous. Jeff would often look out at her large two-story Cape Cod, poring over the questions he had considered dozens of times. Who was Misty Jenkins? Was she single? Why would she live in that huge house by herself? What does she do for a living? Would she go out with him? Something about Misty seemed peculiar, and he needed to know what.

Jeff snapped back to the present. He was trying to come up with a new slogan for one of his clients. How ironic, he thought, that he was up at 3:30 in the damn morning trying to come up with a slogan for a prescription sleep-aid. He stood up and began pacing around the room along the same flattened path in the carpet he always took when he was stuck. He was on the verge of something brilliant when he heard a small bang followed by the faint shattering of glass – like a far away car accident without the pre-crash screech of tires. He stood up and went to his window. Through the now broken window of Misty’s garage, the orange and red glow of a small fire danced in the blackness. Before he had time to fully ingest what he was seeing, he saw the powdery white cloud of a discharging fire extinguisher float through the blown out window. Who would be up this late creating small explosions, he wondered. The questions about Misty that he never answered came back in a flash. He put it in the back of his mind and went back to his pacing. He decided to figure out what she was up to.

Jeff started watching Misty more closely after the explosion that night. He realized, after four days of closely “observing” her, that he still had no clue what she did all day. She never seemed to be gone regularly, and when she did go out it was rarely for more than a few hours at a time.

On the next morning, Misty pulled out of her driveway as Jeff was crossing the street to acquire his daily latte fix. She waved to him and smiled as she sped off in her black Range Rover to do who knows what. He smiled back and gave a friendly wave.

An hour later, fully caffeinated, Jeff was approaching his house and saw that FedEx had been by Misty’s again and left four large boxes on her front porch. This was the third delivery he had seen this week. Misty’s car was will gone. Glancing around, as inconspicuously as he could, he walked briskly up the driveway and turned left down the path to the front porch. The front door was original and had not taken the harsh northeastern winters well. The dark stained wood had dried out and was starting to splinter in places. Oddly, Misty had installed three Medeco deadbolts, each lock more menacing than the one below. Why the hell would anyone need three deadbolts, thought Jeff. She had said that she was afraid to jog alone. He would ponder it later. He moved to the packages.

The return address on all four boxes was www.chemsupply.com. He didn’t think Misty was a chemist, but at least this could partly explain the explosion. He would have to look up the website to see what exactly they sold. Satisfied for the moment with this new discovery and fearful of being spotted, Jeff hurried back down the driveway and across the street to his house.

He bounded up the stairs, two at a time, to his office and sat down at his computer. He impatiently shook the mouse, imploring his computer to come back from its suspended state. When it finally came to, he punched in www.chemsupply.com to find out what Misty could be buying. Browsing the site, he saw listings for various chemistry supplies. He recognized many of the items from his high school chemistry lab: Bunsen burners, beakers, graduated cylinders, funnels, test tubes, safety goggles, thermometers, plastic tubing, lab coats, scales, and some chemicals he didn’t recognize, but nothing really strange. Besides, he figured, if they sell it online, it’s most likely legal. He got up and started pacing again, puzzled over what could be in the boxes on Misty’s porch.

That night after supper, Jeff couldn’t stop thinking about the first time he met Misty on the porch and then how she had run away at the coffee shop. It was like she was bipolar or something. Maybe she would be home now and he could see what she was up to. He suspected that her back yard would be the best place to get a look inside, while still being somewhat inconspicuous. He turned off all the lights in his house before leaving so that no one could see him creeping around. He went to the back of Misty’s property and hopped over the fence into her yard. His plan was to sneak up slowly. Jeff surveyed the yard. It was neatly landscaped with a small garden in the corner opposite his position and a two person swing was situated underneath a large oak tree in the center. Scattered around the lawn were metallic looking sculptures in various shapes. There was one that looked like a giraffe, another was an elephant, there was an oversized sunflower, and one that appeared to be a unicorn jumping over a rainbow. Jeff edged closer until he was at the kitchen window. He could see into the living room through the kitchen. Misty walked into the room wearing a towel and sat down on the couch. She was just teasing him, he thought. The boxes from chemsupply.com were stacked by the couch. Misty turned on the TV and grabbed one of the boxes. Finally, he would get to see what she was doing. She opened the box and pulled out packing peanuts. Suddenly, she jumped up, turned toward him, and headed towards the kitchen. Shit, he thought. He dove to the ground and lay as flat as he could manage, hoping she hadn’t seen him. From his supine position on the ground he could see very little inside other than the kitchen ceiling. He slowly sat up hoping to get a glimpse of Misty’s location. He peered over the window sill and saw her standing back to him facing her refrigerator. She was on the phone to someone. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. Her long slender legs seemed to go on forever into the towel wrapped around her, and her blonde hair, still wet from what he guessed was a shower, glistened in the light. He wished he was in the house with her and not sitting on the ground spying. He peeled his eyes away and decided to leave before he really did get caught. He crept back to his house, being careful to stay in the shadows.

Jeff lay down in his bed and made a decision to confront Misty the next day and ask her out on a date. Maybe he could find out what she seemed to be hiding as well. The surreptitiousness was driving him insane. He went to sleep excited about the prospect of going out with Misty.

The next afternoon, Jeff saw Misty’s car in the driveway, so he marched over, resolved to be direct, and ask her out on a date. His heart raced as he knocked on the door. After a brief delay, she opened it.

“Hey Jeff, what’s up?”

“Are you a terrorist?” he blurted.

“What?!”

He couldn’t help himself. “All those chemsupply boxes, the reclusive tendencies, all the locks...the explosion!”

She chuckled. Jeff was dumfounded. Clearly she was a terrorist. All the signs were there.

“I think you’ve misinterpreted a lot,” she said, still laughing.

Jeff was confused. “So, you’re not a terrorist then?”

“Of course not!”

“It would be a rather brilliant idea though, for the terrorists to recruit beautiful women to take down America. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would follow a gorgeous blonde anywhere, even to their demise.”

“I suppose that’s true,” she said.

Relieved, Jeff said, “So, if you’re not a terrorist, then what’s with all the chemsupply boxes?”

“I’m the accountant and billing person for them. They only operate online, so I can work from anywhere. They ship me all their tax documents, purchase orders, invoices, and stuff so I can process it. We do quite a lot of business, so I’m pretty busy most of the time. I don’t have much time to leave the house,” she said.

“Well, that makes sense I suppose...but what about the locks and the explosion?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” she said.

“Well, the other week, I was up late and heard a bang and saw what looked like a fire in your garage. Then the next day, I went by your house,” he stammered, “to see if you were all right, but you weren’t there.”

“Remember when we first met, and I told you I didn’t like to go jogging alone?” Misty said. “I used to live in a bad neighborhood in Atlanta and got broken into multiple times. The paranoia got to me, so I started putting extra deadbolts on all my doors. It’s just a habit that I couldn’t break. As for the explosion, that was just a little welding accident. In my spare time, which is usually late at night, I like to weld lawn art. It’s kind of a weird hobby of mine. My dad used to be a welder and he taught me how to weld when I was growing up. I had the gas turned on too long before I lit the torch and it flared and broke the window.”

Jeff suddenly felt ashamed of himself. He could feel his cheeks reddening to the color of ripe tomatoes as he stood there wondering how stupid she must think he is. “Well, I’m glad that you’re not a terrorist,” he said laughing. “I was kind of concerned that I might need to call Homeland Security.”

“Nope, no terrorism going on here,” she said.

“That’s good to know. I actually had another reason for coming by too. You know that day we went jogging–”

Jeff heard an unusually familiar voice yell from inside, “Hey baby, who’re you talking to?”

“Jeff, I want you to meet someone,” said Misty. “This is my girlfriend Michelle.”

Jeff stood there with his mouth hanging open, just staring at Michelle.

“Oh, do you guys know each other?” Misty asked.


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