“How peculiar,” Marsha said to her husband. “Did you just see that?”
“Mm-hmm,” he answered.
She and John had volunteered to invite their new neighbor down, while the others finished getting the food ready. They stood on the sidewalk, looking up the three dozen stairs to the door with trepidation, both knowing that he was looking back down at them.
“I don’t know John,” she suddenly blurted. “You don’t think we rushed into this, do you?”
He looked into his wife’s eyes lovingly and smiled. “No dear,” he laughed, “it’s the right thing to do.” He took her left hand into his right, squeezed it gently and then looked thoughtfully toward the bench that he and his friends had commissioned for Sam.
“Remember when we first moved here,” he reminisced.
“We didn’t know anyone,” she whispered.
“…and being used to big city life, we were afraid.”
She looked into his eyes, fully aware that another set of eyes continued to watch them from behind the lowered blinds above.
“It’s what ‘he’ would do, isn’t it,” she asked in the direction of the bench, and then, “I miss him.”
John nodded as he drew her close for a one-armed hug. They stood there for a few moments, relishing in each other’s comfort, as well as the memory of their friend, before finally climbing the steps before them.
“I…I don’t know,” she breathed fearfully.
“Shh,” he countered. “They’re all waiting on us.”
The front of the house looked as it always had, with Sam’s favorite rocking chair sitting off to the side. They could almost feel his presence there, as if he were waiting to greet them. Just off to the right, and on the small Lazy Susan-styled bench, were a small knife and the various instruments used during the woodcarving process.
“It’s like he never left.”
No sooner had John spoke, than had they heard the first spoken words of the man inside. His voice slithered around the cracks of the doors so gently that if they hadn’t been listening, they might have missed them altogether.
“You can turn on around now, the both of you. You’re not welcome here.”
Marsha looked to her husband for support, brow furrowed in worry, ready to bolt at a moment’s notice. There was the hint of worry in his eyes, but he only nodded reassuringly for her to continue.
“We…we would like to interest you in joining us for some good food,” she stammered, “that we have the chance to get to know one another?”
“I have no interest in such things,” he answered coldly. “Nor do I want to get to know you or any of your nosy friends. Now you can turn yourselves around and go back the way you came…”
He didn’t need to finish his thoughts, they both picked up on the subtle threat glaring at them from between the lines. He spoke softly, and the cold apathy that carried his words drove a stake into their hearts.
“Won’t you reconsider?”
John spoke for his wife, who had retreated to the edge of the porch.
“You’re trespassing on my property,” the man fired in return.
“Well, if you ever do,” John answered cautiously, “we’re good people.”
“Get off my PORCH,” the voice screeched. It was so sudden, so shrill, that both jumped as if bitten by a snake. Marsha yelped, and fled back to the safety of their small gathering, while John made a much slower retreat.
Halfway down the stairs, he paused to throw one final glance at the house behind him.