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Posted on Fri 01 October 2004 in Dispatches • 2 min read

I came home from a trip. I can’t even remember where I had been. It must have seemed important at the time. As I climbed the steps outside of my apartment complex, I saw a small figure dash into my apartment. I stopped, my blood pounding in my ears, my stomach sinking. Then rage overcame the metal band squeezing the air from my chest and I stormed to my door opening it.

My apartment was filthy. Stinking dishes in the sink, with who knows what growing on them, dirt ground into the cream carpet and there in the center of the room, cowering in fear, was a young boy wearing a bicycle helmet.

Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in here??!!”

I’m sorry! I didn’t know you were coming!” The boy couldn’t have been older than thirteen and he was close to tears. “They said it was all right!”

Who?”

The boy told me he had needed a place to stay and my landlord (always so professional and distant before) had offered him the key saying my rent was paid up, but I was away on business for a few weeks. As he whimpered, I became aware of writing all over my walls, in pencil, marker, pen, crayon all the writing implements in my home arsenal. None of it was higher than four feet from the ground. The writing was gibberish, a collection of random words and thoughts. I clenched my fist and looked at the boy who backed up against the wall. Realizing he could move no further backwards, he yelped in fear.

I grit my teeth and intoned my landlord’s name. “Let’s go find Mary Ann.” There was the unfamiliar tone of murder in my voice, and I stormed out of my apartment. As I crossed the threshold, I heard my name being called.

I jerked awake screaming and looked around in confusion. I was in a strange bed in a strange house. Slowly, it dawned on me that I had been dreaming and that I was housesitting.

I showered off the fear and confusion of the night before and packed up my things to go to work. As I locked up the house I found myself looking around the yard wondering, “Where the hell is that kid’s bike?”