My Neighbor Carries His Dog

This is a short story, written in the first person. I did not actually witness my neighbor doing what is suggested in this story. I wrote it for a forum on Reddit – No Sleep where the rules require the reader to suspend belief, and the author must maintain character even in comments underneath. It’s a lot of fun.

The neighbor I wrote this about has since moved out, and a wonderful college age woman has moved in. I kinda miss the creepy guy. Anyway, please enjoy this story.

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My Neighbor Carries His Dog

dog

My name is A.K., and I’m a full-time author who works from home. Previously that home was outside of Tampa, now it’s Orlando. We moved here just under a year ago for my husband’s job.

We found a lovely apartment on the third floor of a Luxury Living complex. It’s one of the nicer places we’ve lived, and my excitement knew no bounds. My husband works a 9-5 job, and my hours vary depending on how the inspiration flows. It’s common for me to be roaming the city at all hours, finding coffee shops that are open, meeting new and strange people, and sticking my nose into places it doesn’t belong.

We tend to keep to ourselves, but of course we’re going to be friendly with our neighbors. When I first moved in I delivered cookies and a heartfelt hello letter to each apartment on our floor. Pleasant introductions smooth the way when I start asking awkward questions for “research”.

The gentleman that lives on our floor and is kitty corner to us never picked up the cookies I had left. At first I thought he was out of town, or somehow hadn’t seen the colorful tin sitting on his doormat. After two weeks it disappeared, and I thought that was that.

Later that day I found it sitting next to the dumpster, unopened letter still attached.

Well, okay then, I thought to myself, he’s the kind of neighbor I wave to and keep my distance from. Check.

Some time went by – it’s all a bit of a blur now – and I saw him out walking his dog. It’s a small, white dog, with curly hair. I think it’s a bichon, but please don’t hold me to that. He was walking his dog around the fenced square that is the community dog park instead of taking him inside. That’s normal enough as I don’t take our dog in there either. Our dachshund doesn’t play, merely eats the grass and then throws up all over the living room carpet, so I get it.

Not too long after that, I saw him exiting his apartment. Sticking to my plan, I waved and then made my way down the front steps. In our building there are two sets – the front where the cars are parked, and the back stairs that lead to a yard and sidewalk. The back set are generally inconvenient and not many people use them.

I turned back to make sure I locked the door and saw him swoop down and pick up the dog. Not a big deal, I thought, and the dog doesn’t seem to mind. He turned toward the front stairs, saw me, and instantly turned around. He carried the pooch down the back stairs and set it down so it could do its business.

I added anti-social to my neighbor descriptors, and started taking mental notes. This guy twanged my strings in a discordant fashion, and I was curious where it would lead.

A month or so went by and I realized this guy was on the same weird schedule I was following. We often left or stepped outside at the same time. Our dogs would lunge toward each other, wanting to say hello, and he would always pick up his pooch and scurry in the opposite direction.

I mean, I get it, you’re a dick, but you don’t have to make your dog be one, too, right?

As mentioned, I’m an author. We’re a curious sort. Unanswered questions can often drive us nuts, to where we’ll fill in the answers. I found myself doing that as I ruminated on our neighbor – a man who’s name I’ve never known.

One night I was making a run to the store for smokes and munchies. It was midway between midnight and the butt crack of dawn so the roads should have been empty. The complex was quiet, just the way I like it, and as I got into my car I saw the neighbor coming down the front stairs with his dog. Of course he was carrying it.

This time was different. He didn’t put the dog down to do its business. Instead he went to his car – a Volkswagon of some kind – and put it in the passenger seat. When he opened his door there was no interior light, which for me, being the reader of mysteries and the writer of adventure, struck as nefarious.

The neighbor got into his car and drove out of the complex. He turned in the same direction as the convenience store so I followed him out. Impulsively I decided to see where this guy went. I killed my headlights and stayed back a good distance.

Thirty minutes of driving had us in a suburb of Orlando that I had not visited before. It was cute, and I kept it in mind if we wanted to move again when our lease was up. The small roads were a pain in the ass for tailing someone, and I lost him after the third turn.

Not wanting to draw attention to myself, I turned my headlights back on and drove through the subdivision as though I belonged there. I found his black car after the third turn. He was parked on the street, facing the end of a cul de sac. I came up from behind and saw his elbows out at a weird angle.

He was using binoculars.

I found a place to park and watched him watch something I couldn’t see.

I stayed put for an hour before my husband sent me a text, saying he’d woken up, couldn’t find me, was I okay?

I responded that I was, and would be home shortly. I gave it five more minutes before I went home. I forgot to pick up the smokes and munchies, but that’s okay. I had something new to think about.

I didn’t see the guy again for a few weeks. I don’t know if he went out of town or if he buys groceries in bulk so he doesn’t have to leave. At one point I was worried he knew someone had followed him, and was changing his routine. But no, this was part of it. Since we had moved in six months ago there were often streaks like this.

Another late night. My husband was in need of beer. I offered to run to the store. As I was leaving our apartment I saw the neighbor with dog in hand. As was his habit, when he saw me he turned and used the back stairs. I almost shrugged it off until I noticed an oddly shaped bag over his shoulder. It looked like a chef’s bag, one that holds their knives, but it was over-sized.

I’ve seen Dexter. I’ve read books. I knew this could lead to nothing good. I darted down to my car and hurried to the exit of the complex. I waited and, sure enough, this guy drives by me and makes that same turn. I followed him, but this time I used my GPS map app to get to the neighborhood before he could.

In place, I watched as he parked his car in the same spot as before. He didn’t sit and watch this time. No, he exited the driver’s side and went around the car to retrieve his dog.

I tried to tell myself he was on a date or something, that he’d brought knives to cook a professional meal for someone, anything. I didn’t know this guy’s profession after all, though he struck me as the type who’d be an engineer. There was just something about his body language, and I’ve known many an engineer.

A professional chef wouldn’t have been creeping through backyards, however. They’d go to the front door and ring the bell like any person who was expected should. Right?

I couldn’t resist. I waited another moment and exited my car. I was dressed in dark clothing already, though I had three bright white stripes down the side of my running pants. There weren’t any streetlights, and most of the houses were dark, so I was able to follow his trail quite stealthily.

I watched as he pried open a sliding door, as he slipped inside and closed that door. As he set his dog down and began opening drawers in the kitchen.

A man appeared in the doorway. He was wearing pajama pants, and looked like he had been woken up, or was on his way to bed, I couldn’t tell. Whatever it was, he obviously wasn’t expecting to see someone in his house.

My neighbor reacted quickly and before I could make a sound of warning, had already slit the man’s throat.

I puked. Instantly. There was so much blood coming from the man’s throat, and I’d never seen so much in real life.

When I looked back my neighbor’s dog was rolling in the blood pooling on the floor.

I puked again, sure that my stomach was going to come out of my mouth.

I reached into the front pouch of my sweatshirt for my phone. I had to call 911 and I had to do it right then. The phone wasn’t there. I must have left it in the car.

I could have gone back to get it, but I didn’t have the address, and I didn’t know if they could track my GPS. Not to mention the fact that my feet felt glued to the ground. I was paralyzed with fear, and in shock, I know this now.

My neighbor disappeared while I was vomiting, but his dog … The dog stayed in the kitchen and I can only describe it as frolicked through the spilt blood.

I don’t know how long I crouched behind those bushes with the smell of my own puke wafting around me. I know it began to rain, and then stopped.

The sun had begun to rise – I could see the beams over the horizon – when my neighbor left the olive green house the same way he had entered, through the slider door. He carried his dog, of course, and I was startled to see that neither of them were covered in the viscous fluids released by his sharp knives.

I waited for about ten minutes I think, though my concept of time was long gone. I crept to the slider door and, using my sleeve over my hand, pushed it open.

The man’s body lay where my neighbor had left it. All of the paw prints had been smeared or wiped up. I stepped around and gingerly made my way around the body to check the rest of the house.

The man’s wife’s body was in the master bedroom, splayed across the floor. This room was carpeted, and blood had soaked through. I didn’t mean to, but I stepped in it and tracked the blood through the rest of the house.

In a panic, I called 911 from the home phone in the living room. “There are dead people. Come quick. They’ve been murdered.” When the operator asked for a name, I hung up and left as quickly as I could.

I didn’t leave my apartment for three days. I scanned the local news and never saw mention of the home invasion in a small town. In fear for my life, I attached a wi-fi camera to the outside of my door. I wanted to know when my neighbor and his dog were leaving, and I especially wanted to know if they were coming to my door.

I was so scared that he had seen me, and was waiting until I let my guard down before he came to get rid of the witness.

When my doorbell finally rang, it was the police. There were at least 5 officers standing there, wearing bulletproof vests and armed to the teeth.

They arrested me on two charges of first degree murder. They say my prints were on a knife in the kitchen, and on the home phone, that they could follow my car through the street cameras as I drove across town. I had been finger printed for a criminal background check so I could volunteer with the preemie babies at the local hospital. Those prints had popped, and now here we sit.

I have no alibi obviously, as I was at the crime scene.

My lawyer isn’t hopeful, but my husband paid her retainer, and we’ll see how it goes. The trial starts in two weeks. Pray for me, my friends, and keep this tale as a warning. If your neighbor isn’t friendly, if they carry their dog, just wave and let them go on their way.

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