In the half-light of a wraparound porch, the man lounged feet-up on an idle swing. His eyes, like black holes, reeled in the fly-aways and the odd disproportions...of me. His Rottweiler sat untied near a U-Haul.
I might have waved neighbor-like, but the intensity of that man disarmed me. On the sidewalk, I fumbled for the mace. There had been three beatings and two rapes this week in Montrose–nothing new, nobody caught. I lifted each foot, pushed it forward and set it down: only four blocks to the safety of a crowd.
Along Kipling Street, 40's bungalows and a few, once-proud Queen Annes told of families who didn't live here anymore. Flash! Past my face two squirrels soared from oak to pecan. Otherwise, nobody lingered outside without reason.
I glared at the man and his dark eyes turned away fast. Through porch rails, I couldn't make out...he was holding something in his hand.
Two years had passed since I last stepped out for Friday night, but tonight was important, my best friend achieving his dream; I wouldn't be turning around. The man on the porch stood up, again staring. Advancing to the steps, he held something at his hip. I swerved to cross the street, wondering what he--
* * *
The beeps and rasps of the machines woke me. Bright lights pounded at my lids and I had to open my eyes slowly to avoid even more pain. I was in the hospital. And so was he. Sitting on a chair next to my bed, leaning forward, staring at me with that same monobrowed intensity that had so unnerved me before.
I wanted to ask him "Why?" But my tongue stuck to my mouth.
"Relax," he said, like that was an option, him sitting there and all. "You had quite a bump." I couldn't even remember what he did to me. "You need to look both ways before you step into the road. You're lucky that Chevy was going slow. Here. I was trying to give you this. The postman left it with me."
I tried to reach out but my arms were too heavy. He smiled and tore open the Amazon package. It was the book I'd ordered: Paranoid Much? How to get fear out of your life in 5 easy steps.
Opening: Lucie.....Continuation: anon.