A Friendly Neighbor

I knew the idea of moving in next to a golf course wasn’t the brightest. I mean, think of the amount of windows I would need to replace during my time there. Not only was that a stressor, but so was the fact that I would be dealing with strangers on a daily basis traipsing through my backyard. However, my realtor knew I was on a tight budget and needed to get out of my current living situation as soon as possible. It was a cheap house on a high traffic road next to a golf course; not paradise, but better than the abuse I was leaving 2,000 miles behind me.

Thankfully moving in was a piece of cake. I was alone and only had the backpack I’d frantically packed the night I decided to leave. The house was small, it could have been mistaken for one of those tiny houses you see on TV. The golf course was the entirety of my back and side yard. It wrapped around it to the right in an L shape and was shielded from the busy road by a row of tall pine trees. The house was two stories. Wide rectangular windows on every wall let in plenty of natural light, several on the right side were already shattered. The exterior was a pastel shade of indigo and the shutters were a classic white, though two were obviously missing. A small covered porch jutted out from it’s first level with only enough room for a small table and a couple of chairs; it was just what I needed.

As the realtor handed me the house keys and drove off, I stared up at my new house, my second chance, and released all of the tension I had been holding in my shoulders. If only I had known that the trials I would experience here would be worse than what I had just left, I never would have stepped foot in that house.

 

The first few months were fine. Nothing worth mentioning occured and I was starting to feel comfortable.The small rooms were now filled with furniture and the walls adorned with photos and memories I’d been sent by friends and family. It was starting to feel like a home. I hadn’t needed to replace any new windows yet and the golfers all seemed friendly. One of my favorite hobbies was to sit on the porch with my morning coffee and politely clap for them as they sunk their putts. I would wave and smile at the old men and women dressed in polos and khakis; their visors shielding their faces from the unyielding sunshine. They’d smile and wave back, sometimes approaching my porch and introducing themselves. After all, there was no gate to keep them from doing so.

I’m not going to lie, that facet of living here made me incredibly uncomfortable at first, but once I realized they were all pretty much grandparents it became less creepy. The golf course was attached to a country club called Meadowbrook Pines so a lot of the faces I saw were familiar. One woman, Mrs. Evans even brought me a tin of cookies one afternoon. I was a loner living on disability and rarely made it out of the house save for a trip to the grocery store. I kept myself social thanks to these kind folks.

 

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that not all of these grandparents were kind and sweet. One day I was engaging in my usual morning routine with a podcast playing from my phone and a large cup of freshly brewed coffee sitting on the wrought iron mesh table before me. It was a sunny day somewhere in the 70’s with a nice breeze that kicked up at a perfect pace. It was a beautiful day for golfing and I knew the green would be busy.

A few of the regulars passed by before I noticed a shoddy looking man readying his shot. He was dressed in dark tattered clothes that mimicked the pleated pants and shiny shoes worn by the other golfers, but something was off. His shirt was a deep black on which you could see dirt stains. His pants were a navy blue, again striped with dirt. The color match of the contrasting dark colors would cause any club member to scoff. His hair was shoulder length, brown, and wiry. He had a bumpy pointed nose that touched the brim of his grey newsboy cap. Beady eyes with an unnatural shine peeked out through the brim towards the 5th hole. Something perplexed me about this man aside from his uniform; he didn’t have a golf bag with him. He was also using a driver to line up his shot. Something felt utterly wrong about this man, unnatural even. It scared me so much I picked up my things and went inside. As I entered my house and turned to close the door, he looked directly at me, a yellow-toothed smile plastered across his face. I locked the door and was thrown into a panic attack almost immediately.

 

It took a few weeks before I could even muster the courage to look out of the course-facing windows, let alone sit outside or even leave the house. I sat on the couch in my living room, curtains drawn, every day. I heard, through the thin walls, some of my regular golfing friends asking about where I’d gone, concerned for my safety and sanity. Most assumed I had gone on vacation, one even thought I’d killed myself, thanks Mr. Gustafson. I worried that I would sink back into my anxious thought spirals, letting them get the best of me. My rational brain told me it was a fluke stranger and he was some drifter that would never come back. But that nagging feeling told me he knew where I lived and that smile, that evil smile had ill intent. It haunted my dreams and grew wider with every iteration.

The time came that thinking about the man became more of a dream than a memory. His face had shifted in my mind to something demonic and unbelievable. I decided to push past it one day and resume life as normal, attempting to be stronger than those around me. I was, after all, trying to rebuild my life and who I was. I had changed my name and everything in hopes my abusive ex husband couldn’t track me down. I wanted to prove to myself I could do this and not be weak and cowardly.

 

As I poured a cup of coffee and made sure my phone was charged, I took a deep breath and opened the door. My deep breath was quickly sucked from my lungs as the inner door swung open to reveal the man, in the same dark tattered clothes, sitting in the chair opposite my usual one. He was staring up at me, smiling with his crooked yellow teeth. I was frozen, the hand that held my coffee shaking slightly. My eyes widened and once the initial shock had worn off, I got angry.

“Who the hell do you think you are? Get off of my property right now. I’ll call the cops.”

“That would only fly if this was private property, sweetheart” the last word slipped from his lips slower than the rest of his sentence. I grabbed my phone from my pocket anyway and dialed. The screen door was all that kept me from accidentally spilling my coffee all over his stupid face.

“Yes, Hi. There’s a strange man sitting on my porch and I would like him to leave” I spoke into the receiver. “No, I don’t know him and of course I’ve asked him to leave” I said in reply to the operators inane questions. The man continued to smile at me, seemingly unblinking. “The cops are on their way,” I said, the phone pressed up to my ear, holding as I’d been instructed to by the operator.

With a fluid movement, the man was up on his feet. He moved with an unnatural grace, almost like an anime character, the kind you see wearing gloves and a top hat. My cup of coffee in one hand and cellphone in the other made me feel vulnerable. The thin screen was my last resort for protection.

“Darling, this is just the start of our whirlwind romance” he said, smoothly. His voice was calm and measured, it didn’t seem to match his appearance. He reached a finger up to the screen, stroking it slightly with his fingertip, then digging in his long, sharp nail to rip a hole through it. I stood my ground but shuddered inside. I did my best to remain silent so the operator on the phone could hear what he’d been saying.

The distant sound of sirens could be heard, but neither of us turned to look. Instead, he slowly reached for his pocket and pulled out a golf ball. Pinching it between his index finger and thumb, he splayed out the other fingers on that hand, presenting the ball to me or something. He turned on his heels and bounced the ball on the concrete of my patio and caught it as he continued to stroll towards the empty green. He rolled the ball lightly towards hole 5 and grabbed his driver that had been resting against my house. He lined up his shot and drove it across the green. Before he walked off after it, he turned to me and tipped his hat with that classic smile of his. I swear it was wider this time.

“The police are at your location, ma’am” the operator droned into my ear. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath or that my coffee was slowly dripping from my mug. I hung up the phone and watched as an officer exited his car and walked up the sidewalk to my front door. When I explained what happened, he said there was nothing he could do if the man was gone, so he returned to his car, after shooting my puddle of coffee a nasty look, and drove off. And that was just the first time this happened.


Last Week’s Story: Unfortunate Part 2

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3 thoughts on “A Friendly Neighbor

  1. Darnell Cureton says:

    Loved a friendly neighbor. The guy is very creepy. I’m thinking her ex. put the man up to the creepiness, ‘gas-lighting’ her in the eyes of the cop. I don’t like that she is far away from family, who could support. I do praise her for getting out of the original situation. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

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