A loud crash came from downstairs yesterday as I was getting ready for work. In a panic, I raced down the steps only to discover it was just the fan, which had tumbled from the front windowsill. As I was replacing it, I noticed an elderly man in a chambray shirt straight shambling toward my house from across the street. He was carrying something in his hand, maybe papers, I don’t know, because at that moment, we made legit eye contact. I screamed, like anyone else would do having just made a basic connection with another human being, and then threw myself flush against the wall. (I watch lots of CIA dramas. Mostly just “Covert Affairs,” but it teaches me a lot. Like how to run in heels and have very little personality but still have a new love interest in every episode. And also, how to stay flush against a wall.)
Craning my neck, I risked a peek out the window and saw that he was on my neighbor’s porch.
I started to walk away from the window, when I noticed that the dial of the fan had snapped off from the fall and was laying on the floor. When I walked back to the window to put it back on the fan, the stranger was now shambling across the yard to my sidewalk, at which point he TURNED AND LOOKED RIGHT AT ME.
More eye contact! I’ve really done it now, I thought, as I raced to the front door, slammed it shut and flipped over the dead bolt. He had just begun knocking by the time I reached the steps and clambered up them, hurtling over Marcy and diving onto my bedroom floor, which is where I stayed for the next several minutes with my hands covering my ears and my eyes squinted shut. I was convinced he was a zombie and was probably by now using his rotted wile to rip the screen off my front window. MY OPEN FRONT WINDOW.
Meanwhile, Marcy was perched at the top of the steps, growling. She hates visitors and suspected zombies, too.
I got up from the floor and turned the volume down on the bedroom radio, maintaining my hunched-over, in-hiding stature, until I determined that the knocking finally ceased. To be sure, I did my best war-zone shuffle over to the bedroom window and looked out just in time to see him standing in my yard, looking up at the house, one hand above his eyes like a visor.
“Hello!” he shouted. An actual English word, and not a strangulated, “UUUUnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg” was how I determined that he was not actually a zombie, but perhaps a zombie choreographer.
I sprinted into the bathroom, where I paced in front of the sink, muttering words of strength and courage to myself, and then, just to see what would happen, I recited “Jonny Craig” three times into the mirror.
(Nothing happened, in case you were wondering. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing in here right now, I would be too busy hanging off his jock and begging him to sing “Thug City” JUST ONE MORE TIME PLEASE OMG.)
Since I was in there, I finished my eye makeup.
After another ten minutes of jumping at the sight of my shadow, I determined that it was safe to come out from under the proverbial covers, so I went downstairs and poked around on the front porch. He left no trace, not even Jesus papers, pizza shop menu, or a shut off notice.
I called Henry and frantically reported the events to him.
That’s all he said: “OK.”
And then, “I have work to do. I’ll call you back.”
Now that I think about it, it was probably a bag of candy in that man’s hand. I WAS ALMOST ABDUCTED BY THE OLDEST MAN IN WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA. Nice of Henry to care. I wish I would have let him take me. Then the book “Deranged” would have to be reprinted with an epilogue about how the ghost of Albert Fish kidnapped some broad no one cared about in Brookline and then feasted upon her ample body for weeks.
(New weight loss tactic: lose all of the weight so as not to entice local cannibals. LOSE ALL OF IT NOW.)
When Henry came home from work, I jumped in small circles around him all the way to the kitchen, explaining in auctioneer-speed every last detail of what happened.
“Why didn’t you just answer the door, you idiot? What if he was here to give you a check for a million dollars?” Henry laughed at the absurdity of this, because everyone knows us Schleprocks don’t win things.
“Um, hello. Did you forget my aversion to opening the door for strangers?” I quickly recounted all the reasons: belligerent gas men, pushy Mormons, neighbors asking to borrow flashlights, THE STATE CONSTABLE*. I even run from the PIZZA GUY now, that’s how Pavlovian my response is to door-knocking.
(* This one is my favorite. Although, it wasn’t at the time.)
“Did he go anywhere else?” Henry quizzed me.
“I don’t know, Henry! I couldn’t see from my prostrate post on the bedroom floor without my periscope,” I whined.
“Was he here to shut something off?” Henry mused, knowing full well that we’ve been out of THAT hole for quite some time now.
“No, he wasn’t wearing a costume,” I said seriously.
“Yeah, you know. A work costume.”
“It’s called a uniform, retard.”
Before bed last night, Henry came out of the bathroom holding the dial for the fan.
“I was looking for this all day, and I just found it on the sink. How the hell did it get in the bathroom?” he said mostly to himself, sticking it back onto the fan which he had just brought up to our room.
I couldn’t help it: I started to laugh uncontrollably. “Well….when that guy was knocking—” I started to blurt out.
Henry just sighed and shook his head. “And I was going to blame Chooch,” he mumbled. “I should have known better.”