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The goal of the night was to get drunk.
I had successfully drank two large long island iced teas at a bar some two miles from my apartment. It wasn’t a great night, but nothing up to that point had happened for it to qualify as a bad night either. Just something in between. Conversation with the group I was with had come to a halt, and the fact that I had work the next day deterred me from ordering a third long island iced tea. I could feel the hangover creeping up on me already.
My speech slurred and stomach empty, I called it at some point just after midnight. With my phone dead and no cabs anywhere in sight, the only option was to walk home. It was a brisk night but not one that was so cold that walking was completely out of the question.
I sang the melody to “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire. I talked to myself. “God, those were stiff drinks.” I even said hello to a group of strangers walking in the opposite direction of myself. I enjoy walking more than most. It’s a great activity that allows for self-reflection and analysis. I was drunk, though, and deep thought was not coming to me as easily as it would if I had decided to make this same walk on a nice Saturday or Sunday afternoon completely sober.
About a mile into my walk I had totally zoned out. I was in a sort of trance, thinking about everything while simultaneously nothing at all really.
Leaves crunched beneath my LL Bean duck boots, and I passed several houses with yards where ghosts, goblins, and monsters stood idle, casting shadows but not looking sinister. Halloween decorations have become more kid-friendly since my time as a precocious youth. I think back to my time as an eight-year-old when I’d fill up a pillow case with candy from people in my neighborhood. I think about how much I used to hate carving pumpkins because I didn’t like the smell or touching the slimy entrails with my bare hands.
I had just under one mile left in my walk back to the apartment that I currently call home. From a distance, I can hear someone panting. I look back from where I’ve just walked and see a blur of a man. He’s there and in an instant he’s gone. I don’t think twice about him. I can hear my keys jangling in my pocket. I check my phone only to remember that it ran out of battery nearly two hours ago. I don’t spook easily, and I quickly forget about the panting man as I try to remember whether or not I have a frozen pizza that I could eat in my freezer.
I hear panting again. I forget about the frozen pizza. The man behind me seems to be getting closer but I’m no longer looking back to see where he is.
I pick up my walking pace to something significantly faster but it’s not an all out jog yet. The footsteps behind me are getting closer and I’ve got a hand in my pocket. I put the longest key on my chain in between two of my fingers and then make a fist around it. The footsteps are close now. The panting has stopped, but I know someone is behind me because I can smell him. I know that sounds odd but there’s a stench to him that is undeniable.
I turn my walk into a jog. The footsteps behind me follow. I can see my front door. There are no lights on in the house and I’m almost positive my three roommates are all asleep already. I know that it’s going to take at least fifteen to twenty seconds to get the keys out of my pocket and into the locked door. There is no one outside save for me and the panting man. My heart rate increases, and for the first time in a long while I’m nervous.
I get to my front door and look behind me. The man does not follow me up the five step staircase to the door. He watches me unlock the deadbolt and I quickly let myself in before locking it behind me. From my bedroom I can see the staircase where I was just standing. The man is there just staring at my front door. Should I invite him in for a drink?.
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