For days I watched closely, phone set to record, in case I saw him carrying wrapped up body parts to the trash. I saw nothing, and his trash remained the usual junk any young man living alone throws out—beer cans, pizza boxes, dirty mags. She must have still been in the house, maybe buried under the floorboards like Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart,” or probably stuck in a freezer in the basement. I’d have called the police but I couldn’t prove anything. Besides, I’d been warned about making “false accusations.”
An idea finally hit me, something to shake my neighbor up and make him crack so everyone could see his crazy. I still had mannequins around from my days in retail, and various clothing and wigs. I dressed a mannequin in a blonde wig, stockings, and heels. I didn’t have the short, white silk dress the girlfriend had been wearing on her last visit so I ordered one from Amazon. It arrived two days later and my plan was ready.
My neighbor worked. He kept his house locked up tight, with a security alarm set, but while he was out I snuck across and put the dressed-up mannequin on his porch by the door. Then I waited. I had a directional mike to record with at a distance so I set up a stakeout in my front room where I could look directly at his porch. He came home. Man, it was a surprise. But not the kind I expected.
“Leslie!” he shouted when he saw the mannequin. “Leslie! My God! I thought you’d left me. I thought I’d never see you again.” He took her in his arms, hugged her tight. “I’m so glad you’ve come home to me. You’ll never have to leave again.” He picked her up like a bride and carried her across the threshold into his house.
For the next few days, whenever my neighbor was gone, I’d see “Leslie” standing in the kitchen, or maybe reclining on the couch with a glass of wine nearby, or perhaps leaning hipshot next to the open blinds in the upstairs bedroom as she stared down toward my place. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t think of a thing to do. My neighbor was clearly insane, and I wasn’t feeling too good myself.
Two days later, my doorbell rang. I assumed it was Amazon delivering packages so I threw open the door. Leslie stood there in her white dress, which was uncomfortably stained by now. “What do you want?” I blurted, without thinking.
She answered. She answered! “I wanted to make an omelet for my hunny when he gets home but I only have one egg. Can I borrow a couple from you?”
My heart pounded. Something had to give in this insane situation. I strove to sound normal as I said, “Of course. Come on in the kitchen.”
She followed as I went, her feet clunking on the floor the way real human feet do not. I took a dozen eggs out of the fridge and opened them on the counter. “Take whatever you need.”
She smiled, and I grabbed a butcher knife from the block on the counter and stabbed her through the chest. She didn’t scream as she crumpled to the floor, only wheezed as if air were escaping her hollow form. I taped her up in two black trash bags and threw her out back by the garbage bins.
The next day she was gone, and I was more worried than ever. Because I’d left the knife in her chest when I threw her out. I don’t know where she’s at. And now she’s got a weapon.
∼ Charles Gramlich
© Copyright Charles Gramlich. All Rights Reserved.