Shady Grove Ch. 1
The sun had set as Marty crossed a grassy courtyard surrounded by four of the eight red brick buildings that made up the Shady Grove apartment complex. He was walking his dog, Penny, as he did every evening, but tonight he had another purpose: to see the complex’s newly installed, old-fashioned, faux-iron lamp posts flicker on automatically for the first time. As president of the Shady Grove Tenants’ & Apartment Association (known as “T&A” for short) Marty had worked stubbornly for three years to raise nearly fifty thousand dollars for the lighting project. It was his highest priority as president, and now, once he saw them shine, he could resign and fully enjoy his retirement.
At one minute before 8 p.m., according to Marty’s wrist watch, he bent over with a plastic bag on his hand. While searching the grass for Penny’s warm deposit, he heard a faint click followed by a whirring sound. With his hand hovering over his dog’s pile, a brilliant, warm light spread across the lawn. Marty rose as if witnessing a miracle.
The courtyard lit by the new decorative lamp posts was so glorious that Marty nearly cried. As a recent widower, Marty now had only Penny to share his joy. “Isn’t it just beautiful?” he whispered to his dog. “Oh, how I wish Margie were here to see this.”
And then Marty heard another sound that turned his head. He wasn’t sure if he heard a grunt or a groan, but it sounded like someone lifting something heavy, or maybe stubbing their toe. It sounded like it was nearby, but Marty scanned the courtyard and found himself alone. He heard it a second time, but this time his head spun in the opposite direction. That the noise—a voice—sounded female worried him. Each time he heard it, Marty took steps in one direction, only to walk in another, eventually realizing he was chasing an echo.
Marty may have been a sixty-seven-year old widower, but it wasn’t as though his more virile years were entirely forgotten. As he felt his cheeks sizzle, he knew what caused sounds like these. As they grew louder, and as the time in between each grunt and groan shortened, Marty quickened his pace from one corner of the courtyard to another, pulling his very confused dog along behind him.
Finally, the grunts and groans stitched themselves together into a long, wavering song. If that song had a name, it would’ve been “Ohhh, yes!…Oh-oh-oh…yesss!”
When silhouetted shapes appeared in several apartment windows, peeking through parted curtains, Marty knew others had heard it too. While no one would think the noises were coming from him, Marty was embarrassed being the focus of their gaze. He picked up Penny and fled quickly to the entrance of Shady Grove, Building 1, Apt 2C, where he had lived for the past ten years.