It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night. I was awake and while I tried, I could not go back to sleep. Five minutes ago I was snoozing away, blissfully unaware of the noises coming from the neighbor’s garage. Now those constant noises were all I could think of, hear. They pound and bang right through the walls, the feathers, the blankets. What is he DOING? I got up and walk the familiar path to the kitchen in the dark. Water from the faucet and peer out the window, trying to catch a glimpse of, nothing to see but the dirty yellow of his window with the naked bulb letting light but little else through the stained and bug splattered window.
Where is his wife and kids? It had been a few days since I last saw them. How can they sleep? She was a quiet, big-eyed little thing and the two little boys with spindly legs and clothes that didn’t fit. I felt sorry for them. We spoke occasionally, chance meeting at the curb, dropping off trash. We met at the mailbox the other day and she looked sadder than usual. He had lost his job, she said. Budget cuts come home to roost, no bacon coming home with this one for awhile.
He was a big guy with one eyebrow that always seemed about to land on his nose that looked like it might have been broken more than once. He stepped out of the house and she clamped her mouth shut and walked away, but not before I saw the fear that made her eyes even bigger for just a moment, then she was gone, me standing there with my mouth open.
Now he was banging and hammering and it was three in the morning. “Sorry you lost your job mister but some of us still have to work in the morning!” I thought as I stepped out onto the porch, hugging my arms around myself because of the damp chill. Should I go look? I was barefoot but I knew there was nothing but grass between me and the window. Maybe I could just knock and explain that the sound was carrying. He would apologize and stop for the night and we could all go back to sleep, thank you very much.
I quietly stepped off the porch, onto the wet grass and made my way to the garage. I was watching the ground to try to avoid stepping on something sharp when a shadow seemed to pass before me. I looked up and his face was in the window. He was holding a large hammer and his stare, at first annoyed turned into a grin. Not your friendly hello there, lets have coffee grin. No this was your turn and run you idiot kind of smile but my feet were locked into place and my knees while shaking, were not planning on walking anytime soon. Only my mind took in the details of the tableau behind him and screamed silent, as terror took my voice. At least I knew where his family was.