I forget things. I’m a forgetful kind of guy. Sunglasses, wallets, hats, you name it, I’ve lost it. This habit is exacerbated if I have a little too much to drink; which I did last night.
After turning around once to go back home and grab my wallet out of the jeans I wore the day before, I drove to my buddy Benny’s party. Benny was the kind of overgrown frat boy you could always count on for a raging party guaranteed to help you blow off steam. This party was no different. Grain alcohol poured freely into a variety of multicolored punch concoctions. Each punch had its own kitschy yet adolescent feeling names such as The Thrust (beer, lemonade, grain liquor), or Panty Dropper Punch (beer, pink lemonade, grain liquor), and the list went on and on for two or three recipes more than necessary.
The other quality of a Benny party is the girl to guy ratio. I don’t know how he does it. I’m no stud myself but Benny of all people shouldn’t be able to pull this kind of talent. The place was crawling with chicks, mind you none of then 9’s or 10’s, and only a few high 7’s low 8’s, but with 2:1 odds, I was feeling lucky. I shouldn’t have, though.
I got to the party early and started off a little too strong. After four solo cups full of pure corn liquor and red dye number 5, I spent the remainder of the evening puking up everything I had eaten this entire semester. When I finally came to the party was all but dead. I pulled myself up off the floor next to the toilet and climbed the pedestal up to the sink. Gazing cock-eyed into the mirror I realized I looked like total shit. Pale face, chapped lips, puke on my cheek, I was NOT getting lucky.
I scrubbed the vomit off my face with a washcloth someone had dropped on the floor then I put my head to the faucet and swished water around in my mouth. God the taste of stomach bile is putrid. After a few more gargles from the tap I turned and headed for the hallway. The world spun. I was still pretty drunk regardless of the amount of fluid my body had just expelled.
Out in the hall, the scene was pretty much what I expected. Unconscious co-eds draped across the crusty carpet creating a trail to the living room where four or five bodies collapsed on a futon and muffled moans came from the closed door just to the right of the exit. For a moment I looked scoped the area for a place to crash but this had apparently been quite the party, a party I pretty much totally missed. There was no room in the inn.
No big deal, I thought. I am a student at a university in Atlanta and I live in the Midtown neighborhood. Excuse me, The Historic Midtown Garden District. The rich homeowners, unlike people like me who rent, really like their titles. Either way, though it is fairly safe around here even the best neighborhoods can be dicey at four am. While the neighborhood is mostly affluent, white families and students we are still close to downtown and after dark our streets are no stranger to the random mugger, crackhead, or tranny prostitute.
I staggered down the front steps of Benny’s place and after staring at my key ring for a minute straight with one eye closed so I could focus the double vision of two car keys into one, I thought it best to walk. The house was only eight blocks from my apartment so it was no big deal. Had it not been raining when the party started I would have walked to begin with.
Out on the street, I noticed immediately that it was really quiet. A crisp breeze followed me down the road as I walked toward my place. It was overcast and since it was just the beginning of autumn the trees hadn’t lost their leaves and the street lights were obstructed adding to the darkness. I shivered, it was cooler than normal.
Even this time of year there is still normally a humidity that hangs oppressively in the air well into the night, right up until the dew breaks the heat and settles in the morning light; only to be evaporated by the steamy sun and turned back into more godforsaken humidity. Tonight wasn’t like that, it felt more like late October.
I staggered forward, three blocks behind me already; five more to go. I picked up my pace as an uneasy feeling settled in my stomach. Penn Ave. is up ahead, that’s the half way point, I tell myself trying to soothe my anxiety.
Maybe I watch too many scary movies but the whole autumn vibe on a dark night wandering the streets alone in the shadows was starting to mess with my head. For a second I thought I heard someone behind me; it was the echo of my footsteps. Then, I swore there was someone crouched down just off the sidewalk ahead of me. I almost shit my pants. Turns out, it was just a small bush.
By the time I passed the scary bush I was only a block from my house. You’ve got this, I told myself over and over, relaxing as I saw my apartment’s driveway come into view.
Suddenly, from close behind me, I heard a crack. Like the sound of wood popping when it’s stepped on. For all I know it was a possum about to raid a trash can but I didn’t stick around to find out. I took off in a mad sprint to the end of the street, down my driveway and to my door.
My hand grabbed the doorknob and turned. Locked. Of course, it was locked. In a near panic, I grabbed my key ring. No, it’s not there. Of course, it’s not there.
You see, everything in my life is pretty much in walking distance from my place so I keep my apartment keep separate from my car keys and the rest of my keyring so I don’t have to walk around with the extra bulk.
Oh no, tell me I didn’t forget my house key, I pleaded with myself. Back left pocket, back right pocket, left front pocket, right front…SUCCESS. There it was. I didn’t forget it. Convinced that Michael Myers himself was behind me, I shoved the key in the lock, threw the deadbolt, swung the door open and all but dived inside.
I quickly shoved the door closed and threw the lock on the door knob, the dead bolt, and the chain lock. After a moment, when my breathing settled and I backed away from the door, I sighed and chuckled to myself. Once I was back in my normal environment with no creepy outside stuff going on it didn’t long to relax. I turned off the lights and put on a DVD of Strangers with Candy, I figured I could use the laugh. The booze that was left in me had other ideas though and within ten minutes I was out cold.
That brings me to why I am writing this. Like I said earlier, I am a forgetful guy. It seems that when I unlocked the door to let myself in I forgot to take out the key, successfully leaving it outside. How do I know this? About five minutes ago I woke up to the sound of something rattling.
My eyes took a minute to adjust, the TV had turned itself off someone and the room was darker than I remembered. My brain finally put it together that the sound of the rattling was the chain lock on the door. I looked over and saw, to my horror, a pale, thin arm stretched through the door holding my key and reaching towards me.
I moved all the way to the side of my couch furthest away from the door opening and curled into a ball. I couldn’t see the face of whoever it was out there but the arm almost looked….inhuman. I groped my pockets once again for my cellphone to call for help. Shit! I left it in my car at Benny’s.
Now my only hope is that someone reads this and sends help.
The room is so much darker than it should be. It’s so much quieter too. So much quieter except for the sickly sweet, sing-song way the thing keeps melodically calling to me to open the door.
What does it want, moreover, how does it know my name?