Little glances at first. A parting of the curtains, a light on in the office far later than I felt it should have been on, but it wasn’t until I saw him walking from his car one day that I really started to become suspicious. He was an older man with no wife or kids and he seemed to work from home like myself; but every time I saw him…he was looking at Calvin. The most concerning thing was that he was relatively new to the area, neighbours that I had ended up becoming close with knew nothing of him and most of them didn’t even know his name and yet I always caught him staring at our house.
During the summer months we would play outside, I would usually read on the porch while Calvin would dig holes in the lawn or run through the sprinkler – we lived in a small quiet street just outside the city so playing outside was always a safe and viable option. On this day Calvin was on the lawn while I sat on the porch reading something by Michael Crichton and after a paragraph or so I glanced up at Cal to see the man from across the street had come walking by with his dog and was letting Cal pet it. Quickly I stood up and briskly jogged over to them at the curb side, absentmindedly losing my spot in the novel as I did.
His name was Gavin; a disheveled looking, light skinned man who was far too smiley for my liking. He was everything a new parent feared in a neighbour and adding to the fact that he had moved in just a few weeks ago left an uneasy feeling in my stomach.
I can’t explain how or why I didn’t trust Gavin; I like to think of it as a primal instinct, something that just feels off about someone when you meet them for the first time like our body’s way of telling us to shut up and listen for once because something isn’t right. It didn’t help that he seemed to be staring at the house even more frequently after that afternoon and over time my suspicions towards him only grew. Nearly every time Cal and I were out in the front yard he’d walk by with his dog and make small talk with Cal in a soothing childish way as if he were talking to his own child. It grew to the point where I decided that we should stay inside most sunny days or play in the backyard and overtime the uneasiness I felt subsided. Though I never completely let my guard down, I did breathe easier as my nightly surveillance of his house showed that he was no longer keeping his lights on after hours.
For a long time nothing stuck, we both saw less and less of Gavin and by the time Winter came I had almost stopped checking his house entirely until one evening after school when I was picking Cal up from Kindergarten and I noticed that Gavin was standing there at the school gate. As if acting purely on instinct I exited my car and walked straight towards him, slowing my pace as I approached him forcibly changing my demeanor from anger to friendly but curious. I called his name from a few feet away and with a sharp turn he spun around. He started acting squirrely the minute he saw me and almost instinctively began to leave until I called his name again, this time loud enough for the other parents waiting around to hear.
As I stood before him I saw the cracks in his lips, the white hairs in his peppered mustache, the lines in his face and every inch of me seethed. I could feel a heat inside me growing as he stood before me keeping one of his hands in his pocket the entire time….was he touching himself? Was this sick fuck touching himself while watching the kids in the schoolyard? As my eyes darted from his hidden hand back to his face he smiled coyly, and with the faintest wetness in his eyes he made some excuse about looking for his dog that had somehow gotten out and quickly excused himself. I watched him leave as I clenched my hands into fists, unaware at how tense I had become. From the school yard I heard the bell ring and moments later Cal came out holding the hand of his teacher Mrs. Henley, who came over to me mentioned how great Cal had been doing, it’s always a proud moment for a parent when a teacher remarks at how great their child is.
That night after I tucked Calvin into bed I went to my office to get some work done, the office is understanding of my situation and allows me to log on and off at my leisure so long as I get the work done and I always get it done. I had just sat down as Calvin called out to me, slowly I climbed the stairs to find Calvin in tears from having just had a nightmare. A climbed into bed next to him and with a soft touch I stroked his hair as he told me of the man in his room. Softly I told him that everything was fine, no one was here and that he should go back to sleep. Just as he was nodding off he slowly sat back up pushing off my chest and asked where his stuffed alligator Jake was. After a begrudging sigh I spent the next little while poking around but couldn’t find him and told Calvin that we’d look for him first thing tomorrow.
With Calvin asleep I slowly walked back down the stairs to my office just as a quiet knock came from the front door. I turned with a puzzled look and listened again, thinking I had imagined it. Once more, a quiet knock came from the front door and I unlocked the door and threw it open to see Gavin standing there. The colour drained from my face and my mind raced as he stood there inches from the inside of my house, steps from the front hall and a short jog from my sleeping child. After a moment I slowly moved my foot behind the door and tensed my body. Gavin looked at me with his large glasses and smiled an eerily grin, the metal from his cavities twinkled in the porch light as he apologized for disturbing me. Curtly I asked what he needed and as if taken aback he quickly and quietly apologized for running off so abruptly earlier today at the schoolyard.
Through his dark eyes I saw a fire burn deep, something sinister hid behind his gaze and at that moment I knew that Gavin was not a good man by any means – and in that moment I just wanted him gone. After a long pause he held out a thin cold hand. Hesitantly I took it but when I shook his hand goodbye, I noticed for the first time that for an older man he had a number of tattoos – my eyes gave me away and when he noticed me looking at them he quickly pulled his thin sweater sleeve down and mentioned that it was actually from when he had spent some time in prison. As the words left his mouth his eyes darted nervously and the lump in my throat sank to my stomach. He smiled weakly and spun around leaving a shadow on the porch as he did, slowly I closed the door and locked it tight. Standing with my back to the front door a chill ran up my spine as I drifted my gaze up towards Calvin’s room.