Friday, April 22, 2016

The Neighbor

Explosive thunder like Thor’s hammer coming down on the roof shook the walls and Renee’s bones as she sat up in bed, holding her knees against her chest like she did when she was a child.  She had lived in small town Minnesota her entire life and should have been used to the violent storms that march across the Midwest every spring, but they always put her on edge and, of course, sleep was impossible.

The noise that made her jump this time was her phone. It was after midnight, but the number was local so she answered it.


“Hi Renee, it’s Ken from next door.”

“Hey, Ken. So I’m not the only one who can’t sleep through all this racket.”

“Janet could sleep through a nuclear attack, but I jump up if a floorboard creaks. But say, I’m actually calling for a reason. I’m not the snoopy type, but I get up a couple of times a night for the usual reasons, and so I’m up tonight and I see that your basement light is on. It’s never on this late at night, so I thought I’d just double check with you about it.”

“Ah. Well that is a bit unusual, but I did do laundry today.  I probably flipped on the switch and forgot to turn off the lights.”

“I’m sure it’s something simple like that.”

“I’m going to go down and turn off the light.  I hope this doesn’t sound weird, but would you stay on the line until I do that?

“Of course. You go ahead.”

“Thanks. I’ll give you the all clear.”

Renee threw on her bathrobe and padded downstairs and through the kitchen with her phone in hand. There was a thin line of yellow light at the bottom of the basement door, and Renee opened it cautiously.  She crouched and looked around the room, but everything appeared in order. Wanting to be sure, she descended the stairs and took a quick scan of the large room, then put the phone to her ear.

“Ken? Yeah, everything is fine.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Ken, in her other ear.

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