The Doctors at the Comfort House told me I was cured. At least my urges to spy through people’s windows were gone. That was until I saw the woman who moved in next store a few weeks later. That’s when those urges and feelings that I spent hundreds of hours trying to work through and eliminate returned.
Dusk came and the sun bade farewell to the world surely as if it had been slain in one glorious black swallow of darkness that left it’s remains to dry themselves on the earth. Shadows lengthened and devoured the rapidly fading light. The humdrum of the city blending with the suburban crickets played like background music to a metropolitan theme. People entered in and out of this fresh realm of darkness, absorbing and being absorbed by the night. The streetlamps flickered to life casting an unearthly orange glow on the sidewalks. Sighs of relief from every corner joined the first evening breeze at the dawning of this false day. I carefully parted the curtains and looked across the street at my neighbor’s house. I had to scratch my nose when it accidentally touched the dirty window screen and got an itch.
“Yes, she’s awake,” I whispered with excitement.
The great bay window opened into a large room. Exquisite period furniture adorned with draped lace and satin. This was unmistakably a woman’s boudoir. A svelte, young lady sat before an ancient oak wood mirror applying the finishing touches to her makeup. She wore a black dress and her long jet-black hair floated about her, dancing in the remaining light.
“Always got that black dress…” I mused under my breath.
I shifted my stance a little further back from the windows so I could use my binoculars. I had seen her up close only once, almost a year ago from today. It was October 31st, Halloween night. I had dressed up as a vampire, being less the full stature of average man, I could get away with disguising myself as a husky child, and that I have a penchant for role playing as well. I ventured out trick or treating among the neighborhood children. Monsters of all colors, shapes and sizes had roamed the streets. It was the first time I had seen her up close. I had already passed two houses, each one gave me a fine treat. I had to use a very fake sounding young man’s voice, but after all it was Halloween and people expect the strange and unusual. As long as it isn’t oddly strange and unusual. That’s when I’d felt the tiny hairs on my nape of my neck stand on end. Whatever had caused this sensation had forced me to turn quickly. I felt myself frozen when I saw a disembodied head hovering above a lighted candle on a porch. Or so things seemed at first. As I let my eyes grew accustomed to the dim light, I had been relieved to see that the head had a body. She was sitting in a patio chair, on a porch with a small candle placed several inches in front of her on a table. She wore a black evening dress that concealed her body. Beside her lie a tray with various bottles of liquor. She’d smiled and invited me to come nearer with a graceful twist of her hand. I studied her and was immediately awestruck. Deep-set pale blue eyes stared out at me, glowing with tempered sensuality. Her lips the color of old rose; her skin almost translucent and her hair, a luxurious ebony mane, breathed a life of its own. I felt my cheeks grow hot. Something in her eyes had frightened me, and at the same time I was feeling aroused. Afraid that my semi erect penis would be noticed, I raised my bag of treats to cover it. She looked at me quizzically at first, then let out a lusty laugh.
“You forgot to say trick or treat.” she had said slowly in a low voice. “How can you expect me to know you Americans if you do not know their ways? Do you know the cost of your haste?” Her smile had widened revealing a mouth of pearl white teeth. I’d taken two steps backward and dropped my bag, revealing my hard on and spilling my treats on the ground.”In time, I will show you the darkness. That I promise,” she said rising from her seat. She went toward my spilled bag and picked it up. “Let us see if I can entice you with something better than these. Will you come inside my house?” I was about to accept. I was eager to accept whatever this woman would give me. She could see that I was.
“Trick or treat!?”, screamed from out of the night.
I was surprised that I didn’t notice the children when they approached. They just seemed to appear behind my back. I didn’t know why, but I just felt that my moment with her was lost, ruined by these children. I turned and fled almost knocking several kids down in my flight.
I spied on her from the safety of my own bedroom window every night after that for almost a year. I noted that she went through the same ritual every time without fail. Shortly after sunset and already wearing a black dress, she would rise from bed to primp before a mirror. All done, she would then turn off her lamp, the only light I ever saw in the house. Just a few moments later, she would reappear on her balcony and thrust her arms above her head as though to commune with the darkness. Then, she was gone, as if swallowed by the night. I’d never seen her actually leave the house. Her comings and goings must be done covertly. Must she have a back door? I thought. Funny though, I do not remember seeing one on any other side of the house.
The night before Halloween came around once again. I was at my window. I was beginning to feel the first pang of hunger for her closeness. I will resolve this tomorrow, on Halloween, I promised myself before going outdoors. I wore my vampire costume again on that night. I was going trick or treating again, but only to her house. I crossed the front yard and walked towards the street. Still several yards away, I could see that she was not at the porch. She’ll come out any moment now, I thought to myself reassuringly. I waited for an hour standing in the shadows across the street. Another hour and a half passed before I realized that she might have had other plans. Undaunted, I boldly approached her porch and rang the doorbell. I had to know for sure. Moments later, she was at the door, “Oh, it’s you, the window watcher, come in,” she said teasingly. I grimaced, ashamed at having been found out. How long had she known?
I noticed something different about her. She had none of the darkness, nothing of the preternatural strangeness that she possessed last year and on the many other nights she was under my watch. She sat there at her living room in a blue tee shirt and tights. I stood there still and silent to afraid and excited to speak.
“I must have startled you many times..”, she said in a foreign accent, “the way I looked and stood on my balcony at night. You see, I’m a writer. I write horror stories about ghosts and vampires and all that stuff. I even act and dress the part. It’s just my way of getting in the mood, to get, as they say, the ‘creative juices’ flowing. I then lock myself away in the den, alone with my laptop until dawn, in the hope of getting down something in print, capable of making the next guy’s skin crawl or better still, to lose his dinner. I just submitted my latest novel to the publisher early this morning. I hope he likes it.” she stopped and looked at me inquisitively. “Is something wrong?” she asked.
I felt nauseous, maybe because of the things she just said or perhaps because I still hadn’t eaten that night. I managed to excuse myself politely, but it all still sounding lame before darting outside. The cool evening air relieved me. It was getting late and all the children had long since gone home. With my black cape unfurled, I slowly went past the darkened windows of the house I called home. I felt my skin grow tight. I started to run. The windows of the other houses along the road revealed people indulging in their evening rituals: in one dining room, a family of three was having a late supper; a television program was being viewed in the next house; and an internet cafe at the corner mini mall down the block. Even an old-fashioned bedtime story was in progress for the little girl in the white bungalow at the corner. I covered my eyes with my hands and cried aloud, the hunger getting the best of me. I increased my pace. If there were any pedestrians, I did not see them and they could not have seen me, for I was going very fast. When the moon broke through the clouds, I gazed at it and I willed myself forward. Despite my inner turmoil, I walked on aimlessly. The frigid October air battered my body and nipped at my face and hands. I did not feel a thing. I screamed at the moon in terrible agony. I was wrong! How could I have not seen through her makeup, the dress, the illusion? I’ve been lonely for so long. Who said that an unfeeling heart cannot love?
Resignedly, I watched as the moon, the lone and silent witness to my nocturnal meandering, hid behind the clouds. I bowed my head in self-pity. Slowly, but with steady steps headed straight to her house. I knew that she was fast asleep when I softly alighted on her balcony. I sensed that my clouded delusion of love had dissipated. With every beat of her robust heart, the large vein in her neck bulged with rich, untainted blood.
I've always been a jack of all trades. I've been a poet, author, social commentator, comedian, online gamer, pod cast host, and Youtuber. I've had a class A license to drive semi truck over the road. I've worked as a chef, manager and all kitchen positions in hundreds of restaurants over the years. I've traveled in Mexico, Canada and through 37 of the 50 states. I've been a volunteer firefighter in Florida, where I grew up. I've fished the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and saw the far distant coast line of Cuba before its recent opening to the west. I've married, had 4 kids, divorced, got CKD stage 6 (end stage renal failure) Survived a stroke, mild heart attack, MRSA, blood clots and now chronic heart failure. Fully disabled and home bound, the internet is my social outlet, and window on the world. I go to dialysis three times a week, I watch movies, play video games and chat with people on social media. Writing is my catharsis for a life that is now spent measuring the time I have left, less the tomorrows that may never be.