Due to the positive feedback and interest I’ve received on Episode 1, I’ve decided to rush out Episode 2 for your enjoyment.
In this episode the protagonist Billy Thomas gets his first glimpse of the man next door.
The Man Next Door – Episode 2
Billy Thomas sighed in exasperation and set down the heavy box he had been carrying on the floor.
“I’m bushed,” he declared simply, sprawling out on the carpet.
“C’mon, champ. There are only a few more,” said Mr. Thomas with a wink.
“Geez. I never knew we had so much stuff before we moved.”
“C’mon sport. We’ll get these last few then break for some Big Macs. What do you say?”
“Great!” exclaimed Billy, his eyes sparkling up at his dad as he bounded up and down with excitement.
They walked out together to the truck.
“Damn!” exclaimed Sharon Thomas, bending down in her loose work jeans to pick up the broken pieces of china that littered the driveway.
“Relax, honey,” said Mr. Thomas as he ambled down the walk, “It’s nothing some crazy glue won’t fix.”
“Charles Thomas! How can you say such a thing! Don’t you know that this set came from my mother?”
“All the more reason not to worry about it,” said Mr. Thomas throwing Billy a wink.
Billy covered his mouth to hold in the giggles that threatened to spill out of it.
“Honestly, Charles, that’s a truly horrible thing to say! Especially in front of Billy!”
“All right, all right, I apologize. It was just a joke. You knew I was only kidding, didn’t you Bill?”
Billy nodded and covered his mouth again to stifle another eruption of giggles.
Soon they were all laughing, and then guffawing wildly, their heads spinning with heat and exhaustion.
Charles Thomas was the first to sober up. “Okay, okay, party’s over. Let’s finish this up so we can eat.”
They all moved around to the back of the truck where five or six boxes rested on the driveway.
Charles Thomas bent down and picked up a box that had been crudely labeled BILLY’S PLAYSTATION.
“Okay, Bill, this is your Playstation. Think you can handle it?”
“Yeah!” said Billy enthusiastically, wrapping his arms affectionately around the box as if it were a family pet.
Billy stepped up the slope of the front lawn toward the sidewalk. Once inside the house he set down the box on the floor of the living room with the others. His scrawny, twelve-year old arms were aching from the labor and he didn’t want to move any more boxes, so he walked out to the lawn to look for bugs. He bent down and spied a caterpillar winding its way up a lean blade of grass.
Billy felt something on his back. At first he thought that he had been stung, but then he realized that the sensation was primarily one of coldness, as if he had been struck by an ice cube shot from a wrist rocket. Instinctively he whipped his head around.
Over the hedge that separated their lawn and the house next door, a face peered down at him from a second story window. The face seemed incredibly old to Billy, even older than his grandfather’s face had looked just before he had passed away. There was something about the eyes; they were of such an intense green, a solid green with no pupil, and they were looking directly at him. It gave Billy the creeps.
Then a long, contorted thing (Billy figured it had to be an arm) reached out in front of the face and drew down the shades.
Billy stood completely still for several moments.
Then he rushed down to his parents.
“Mom! Dad! Did you see it?” he yelled.
Charles Thomas looked up in alarm and tripped over his own feet. He and the box he had been carrying spilled to the ground and several issues of Playboy slid out on to the grass.
“Gosh!” said Billy in amazement.
Two hands immediately closed down over his eyes.
“Charles, you pick those up immediately! I hardly think the neighbors will consider your nudy magazines proper lawn decorations!”
“Yes, dear,” grumbled Charles quickly stuffing the magazines back into the box.
Billy’s mother removed her hands from his eyes and spun him around.
“Now what is it that has got you so excited?”
“The old man next door,” stammered Billy, “he was looking at me. It was creepy!”
“Listen, Billy, that man next door is our neighbor and I don’t think he’d appreciate being called old, even if it’s true.”
“Your mother’s right, Bill,” said Mr. Thomas sternly, “remember how me and your mother had to work to get into this neighborhood.”
“No buts, champ. Understood?”
“Yeah,” said Billy glumly.
“Good. Then let’s eat. The rest of the stuff can wait.”
They piled into their Dodge Caravan that they had driven down to the house the day before. Soon the talk turned to fries, hamburgers and milkshakes, but Billy couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched.
Finally he turned around to look at the old man’s house as they turned the corner but only the house stared back at him, shuttered tightly from the outside.