Not the absurd or cool or coincidental kind of freaky, but the I-just-about-shit-my-pants kind of freaky.
I know I watch too much serial killer, sociopathic or just plain psychotic kind of TV and I have no
delusions that this did not lend itself to the situation on some level. Plus the fact that we were just warned by the police a few weeks ago to be on the lookout for a 5'3", blue hoody clad peeping Tom.
Peeping Tom, where did that term come from anyway? Was there some guy out there called Tom that kept peering in people's windows hoping to catch a glimpse of a little old lady's flabby thighs or saggy boobs? Cause that's all that's around here.
|peep·ing Tom (ppng) |
A person who gets pleasure, especially sexual pleasure, from secretly watching others; a voyeur.
[After the legendary Peeping Tom of Coventry, England, who was the only person to see the naked Lady Godiva.]
Word History: In an age when we can speak of peeping Tom cameras or electronic peeping Toms we have indeed come far from the time of the legendary peeping Tom. Godgifu (fl. 1040-1080), Lady Godiva to us, pledged her legendary ride as a means of persuading her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, to lower taxes. In the original version of the story she was observed by all the townspeople as she disrobed, but in a much later version of the story a tailor or butcher named Tom was the only person to observe her as she rode by, everyone else having shuttered their windows as they had been asked. Peeping Tom, first recorded around 1796, has become a term for a voyeur, not at all a pleasant fate for this legendary fellow. As W.H. Auden has said, "Peeping Toms/are never praised, like novelists or bird watchers,/for their keenness of observation."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. All rights reserved.
Okay, so as I said, this freaky, almost-shit-my-pants thing happened the other morning.
I have this tendency to stay up late. Later than most people. On this particular evening, or rather morning, because it was 2am, I decide to step out on the patio because it was really hot in the apartment and because we don't smoke in the house. This is not the first time I have done this. It's amazing what you can see at that time of the day, when the world is quiet. There was this one time, probably still winter, I was sitting outside and a deer comes walking up the middle of the parking lot. The streetlights making its eyes shimmer, its head and body so still you could have imagined it having looked into the eyes of Madusa. But then there came another deer, up behind first one, and then another. The first deer looks over its shoulder and then darts back the way it came. The next in line does the same thing and then the third. Like an odd game of leap frog. Finally they all reappear, but then there are more.
That night, almost a dozen deer paraded past, me being as quiet as possible so as not to interrupt them.
So just this other night, I did the same thing. I sat in the dark shadows of our patio, half waiting, half ignoring. And I hear footsteps. Certainly not the first time I've heard footsteps in the dark. It's usually a passing pedestrian, or an animal. Besides deer I've also seen dogs come out of nowhere.
Anyway, I hear footsteps, I look in the direction of the cut through between our buildings and see a silhouette of a person go past. Whatever. But. Almost as soon as the silhouette passed, the footsteps stopped. I froze. Listened. No footsteps. I'm sure I was holding my breath. Yellow light from the street lamps filtered through the trees and then, the silhouette reappeared. Stood there. Unmoving. Him watching me, me watching him.
This knowledge that someone I could not recognize, could never pick out of a lineup, was standing in the dark, watching me...well you can imagine...my heart was beating a little faster than normal. But I had to keep my wits about me.
I finally told myself, enough. And stood up. And almost as soon as I did, he took off at a fast walk across the parking lot, back the way he had initially come. I ran in the house and locked the door. Turned off all the lights, peeked out the window, saw nothing, got some water, although my body was screaming at me to intoxicate it with something much stronger.
And went to bed.
But even now, days later, I can't get that image of that silhouette, standing still, watching me...at 2 o'clock in the morning.