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The Man in the Window

By Hunter Marquis All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Mystery

A New Beginning

Deep down James knew it was a step in the right direction. After all, how could he get over the death of his mother living in a house that harbored so many memories? Let alone expect any different from his father. A man James once viewed as strong and indestructible reduced to nothing more than a quivering shadow of his former self. Putting first the well-being of his father, James agreed to move. James and his father decided to leave the water front of the Chesapeake Bay, for the seclusion of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Paul, James’s father, found a house for rent on the outskirts of a town called Staunton; A quaint historic town on the shoulder of the Blue Ridge. It was a change James welcomed, given the contrast to what he was used to back home. After packing up what remained of their belongings, James and his father began their drive toward Staunton.

The drive from the old house to the new one was long, and by the time James and his father had reached Staunton, a storm that had been approaching from the south was now overhead.

“There it is” said Paul, as the house came into view.

“Bout time, my back is killing me” James replied, sitting up straight.

The house was situated on the corner of a quiet intersection. It was an old blue and white Victorian, accented by beautifully ornate craftsmanship.

They don’t build houses like they used to…

James always had a fascination with architecture, proof that he was indeed his mother’s son. She used to talk of a few college courses she took on the subject in her youth, a subject she grew tired of perusing due to the egotism that surrounded that field of work; and just like that, James found himself thinking about her again. Nostalgia, longing for the days passed. James knew no matter where he went she would always be with him. Paul coughed, pulling James back to the present.

“Rents low, so it’s a good place for us to start. I heard the high school here is supposed to be pretty good too.” Paul said, turning  into the driveway.

“Sweet” James sighed.

“I was hoping this rain would stop by the time we got here but I guess not.” Paul said looking through the windshield up at the gray sky.

“It’s a good thing you got that bed cover before we started moving, we would’ve been screwed.”

“Yeah, would have sucked if all our shit got all wet” Paul laughed.

They sat quietly, engulfed by the subtle ambiance of the rain.

“We should just finish all this up tomorrow, after you get back from work.” 

“I guess… I’m beat from the drive anyway” Paul agreed, with a heavy sigh.

They stayed in the truck a few more minutes, waiting for the right moment to retreat inside.

The next day, when Paul returned home from work, they began unpacking as planned. James brought in the boxes while Paul unpacked in the living room. With only a few boxes remaining in the bed of the truck, James climbed in from the wheel well and started pushing them forward toward the tail gate. Standing in the bed of the truck, a strange feeling come over James. He climbed down, someone was watching him. James glanced over at the house directly across the street. It was similar to the house he was residing in, but instead of wood siding, it was constructed almost entirely of dark red brick. All of the foliage surrounding the base of the house was overgrown, even the grass in the yard. That’s when James saw him; what appeared to be an old man. The curtains were parted and the old man had his eyes locked on James. James waved to be polite, and the man walked out of view. James shrugged it off and continued unpacking. He grabbed what remained of the boxes and went in the house.

“Have you talked to our neighbor across the street yet?” James asked Paul, walking into the living room.

“No, did you?”

“I didn’t talk to him per-say, he was sort of staring at me from his window.”

“That’s odd” Paul replied, taking a box from James.

"Just sit the other ones over there" Paul added, gesturing at the coffee table.

“Alright...”

"You mind getting started outside? It’s could use some love.”

“Sure...”

“You should ask your friend next door if he needs help with his lawn, it's in rougher shape then ours.”

"Really?" 

"Yes, wouldn't hurt for us to make a few friends around here." 

"I guess you're right."

"Just be careful, he seems a little off."

James nodded and headed back outside. He walked behind the house and retrieved the lawn mower from a small shed in the backyard. James added gas after finishing up their lawn then proceeded to walk next door. He decided to leave the mower behind being unsure rather or not the old man would what his help at all.

James watched the windows as he crossed the street, He didn’t see the old man this time. He reached the sidewalk, following it up to the front porch. James approached the front door and knocked. 

No answer... Figures, I'll just come back later.... 

A car door closed behind James, catching him off guard. It was a woman.

“Did you know my father?” She asked.

“No Ma’am, I was gonna ask if he wanted me to cut his grass for him since I was in the process of doing mine" James explained nervously. 

I wasn’t sure if he needed some help or not, it doesn’t look like it’s been done for a while” James added, nodding toward the yard.

“Well that’s very nice of you, but my father passed away a few weeks ago” The women said, pain evident in her face as soon as the words left her lips.

“Oh, I’m sorry for your loss” James said, stepping down off the porch.

“Nonetheless, it would be much appreciated!” The woman said with a smile, trying to lighten the mood.

“Sure thing, I’ll be right back, gotta go grab the mower” he said, walking past the woman.

What the hell... he thought, trying to shake his head free from the grips of confusion, trying to make sense of the situation. 

How could I have possibly seen that old man in the window if he died weeks ago?

The thought haunted James, disturbing him deeply. His eyes, were they playing tricks on him? James wasn't sure. For the rest of his time residing in the house on the corner, the man in the window will stay a mystery. 

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