Two weeks, on a Sunday, Janna and I were walking back to my house from the Hollywood Theater in Dormont, having just seen Jojo Rabbit. (Have you seen this yet? It’s brilliant, and I rarely use that word to describe movies.) We were a block away from my house when two people were about to walk past us. I moved over to the right to give them room and noticed in my periphery that one of the people was looking at me and waving.
I glanced long enough to see that it was a young girl, maybe in her early teens? But again–just a very quick glance.
I waved back and then kept trudging along.
“Did you know her? She was really waving at you,” Janna said once we were a safe distance away.
“I have no idea who that was,” I admitted, and Janna said, “Well, she sure seemed to know you!”
I brushed it off, thinking possibly she was someone who knows Chooch, maybe someone from the teen center, and she just recognized me as “Chooch’s Mom.” That used to happen to Henry all the time when Blake was a teenager, because he was so popular.
It wasn’t even worth mentioning to Henry and Chooch when I got home that day; besides, I was too busy gushing about Jojo Rabbit to even give the waver a second thought.
One night last week, Henry left the house to go to “the store,” his favorite place ever. “The store” could mean: Aldis, Giant Eagle, Kuhn’s, Fresh Thyme, Shop N Save—I’m pretty sure Henry has a frequent shopper card for all Pittsburgh-area supermarkets. Just as we was about to get into the car, which we always park across the street from our house in the church parking lot, he said that a young girl approached him and asked for a ride to the Potomac trolley station. Henry, who unlike me, is adverse to giving rides to strangers, so he told her that he wasn’t going that direction, which I guess was true but who knows with Henry; he’s a habitual liar.
(He isn’t. I don’t think Henry has the balls to lie, actually. Or the imagination.)
So Henry embarked on his journey to The Store, passenger seat remaining empty.
While Henry was out, Hot Naybor Chris called him and apologized. Turns out, the transportation beggar targeted HNC first, but he had just gotten home so he sent her over to ask Henry instead, having spotted him in the parking lot. After Henry said no, she went back over to HNC and said, “He said he’s not going that way” so for some reason HNC was like, “Fine, I’ll drive you to Potomac Station.”
But, like all people who ask for handouts on the street, she continued asking for things. First, it was $2 for coffee. HNC said he didn’t have any money.
Then it was, “Can I use your phone?”
HNC said he didn’t have it on him, and then prayed that his wife wouldn’t call him, wondering why he had pulled into the parking lot and then immediately left again.
Anyway, I guess he got her to Potomac Station without her shanking him and digging out his kidneys, so that’s good. He told Henry that when he asked her where she lived, she said, “With Phil and my mom” like we know who that is. Turns out, she lives in the house on our block where the girl just died of an overdose two weeks ago, and Phil is that dead girl’s boyfriend. WTF.
When Henry came home and told me all of this, he described the girl and I was like, “Wait a minute…” and then he said, “I’ve seen her several times walking down the street and actually mistook her for one of Chooch’s friends, but she’s probably between 18 and 20” and that was when I realized that he had perfectly described the girl who waved me last weekend. Ew! So she must recognize me as a neighbor, yet that was the first time I had ever seen her.
Henry said that he was telling Blake this because at this point, knowing what house she lives in and how she has a mooching tendency, Blake shared his OWN encounter with her, which was that she knocked on his door recently and asked him if he has his license. When he said no, she walked away.
FURTHERMORE: Potomac Station is only a five-minute walk! Use your legs, lazy ass!
Sometime early Monday morning, I woke up to urgent knocking on my front door. I rolled over and noticed Henry had already left for work. It was 3:45am. Maybe he forgot his keys…and also his phone….and was trying to get my attention?
I texted him.
“Is that you knocking?”
“No…?” he answered immediately. He was already at work.
Another series of urgent knocks and now I’m sitting straight up in bed with the comforter around me like a shield.
More knocks, angrier now. I was straight-up shaking in bed.
Without turning on the lights, I scooted over to the foot of the bed and peeked out through the blinds just in time to see a man quickly retreating down my sidewalk and then continuing on down the street. It was a chilling sight, but at the same time, it also looked like MAYBE it could have been Blake. The build of the man checked out, he was wearing a backpack, a coat, and a beanie in the style of one Blake Robbins.
“Maybe Blake starts work at 4am today and was going to ask me for a ride,” Henry texted, but our car clearly wasn’t out there so it didn’t seem to fit. Henry texted him, but didn’t hear back for several hours, because, you know, Blake was home next door and asleep like most normal people at that hour.
I was fucking shook. I mean, I don’t need to be a seasoned horror aficionado to know NOT TO OPEN THAT DOOR. And even if it was in broad daylight, I still wouldn’t have answered it. For god’s sake, my friend Tommy still makes fun of me for the time he and Jessy were over our house 10 years ago and I screamed and hid on the steps when the pizza man knocked on the door, AND I KNEW IT WAS THE PIZZA MAN.
So imagine me at 4am, shaking in my flesh boots, definitely not wanting to go back to sleep.
I kept texting Henry.
“What if he comes back?!”
“Why would he come back?”
“I dunno, to bring back up!?”
Meanwhile, after Blake texted Henry back later that morning, he went on to that the weird girl up the street has come back to his house several times since the first time, and that she looks strung out and half-dead each time. The last time, he called the police and the cops told Blake to call them again immediately if she shows up again.
And now we’re wondering if the knocker was this supposed PHIL, boyfriend of the dead girl?! It checks out—these people obviously live in a drug house and think it’s OK to just go around knocking on random people’s doors at all hours of the night, because what’s 3:45am to a druggie!? So now I’m on high alert in case either of these weirdos come back. I HATE THE COPS BUT I WILL NOT HESITATE TO CALL THEM IF ANY STRANGE FISTS TOUCH MY GODDAMN DOOR AGAIN.