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The Friendly Stranger, or So I Thought
It was 7 a.m. and I left for work like every other day. I got in my car and headed down town towards the freeway as I do every day. I was at the second street stop sign when I decided to look to the left at the bus stop. There was some one there, which is odd because there is never anyone there at this hour. I looked at the man and he seemed so…different. He didn’t look homeless but he seemed as if he had no where to go.
He seemed so sad. I didn’t realized I was staring until he looked back at me and gave me a gentle smile. I suddenly felt bad for this man even though I had no reason to. I didn’t know him. Maybe he was fine and I was just over reacting. I decided to roll down my window anyway and ask him if he needed a ride.
“Hello sir, my name is Henry, do you need some help? A ride perhaps?” he just looked at me with curious eyes as if I shouldn’t be able to see him. Though he shook his head yes, as he stood up and said, “Thank you sir, that is awfully kind of you, my name is Johnny.”
He got in the car and I asked him were he was headed. “So pal were are you headed? Maybe I could get you close?”
“I’m headed were ever you are willing to take me.” He said with a big grin on his face.
“Well I’m just headed a few miles out of town to the factory I work at. Do you need a job I think we are hiring?” he didn’t answer, he just looked at me with his eyebrow turned in with worry. “What?”
“How is this possible? How can you see me, I mean notice me like you did? Why are you so nice?”
It took me a moment to think of a response. “Well I’m not sure what you mean but it’s not like your invisible.” I chuckled a bit. Though he didn’t laugh, he just stared at me with wary eyes. “I’m just trying to be a good citizen, if you don’t want a ride that’s fine you could have said no. You just looked like you need a little help. I’m sorry if I was mistaken.”
“No sir, that’s not what I meant, well never mind thank you for the ride.” Now we were at my work and he was out thanked me again and when I turned to look at him, he was gone.
It was the strangest thing. He was a friendly stranger though, just a little weird. The next day I got up and did the same thing as always. When I cam to the second street stop sign he was there again. He smiled at me but didn’t say a thing. I asked him again if he wanted a ride and he took it.
This went on for around two weeks. He told me about his hobbies and his family, and I told him the same. Occasionally he would mumble to himself that he didn’t know why it was possible for me to see him. I just ignored him and got use to his peculiar behavior after a few days. On Monday of the third week, I asked him where he lived and he very quickly said “5412 Almond Rd.” I just nodded and wondered why he was never at his house with the family he always spoke of.
I suppose he guessed my suspicions because he suddenly murmured, “I love my wife and two girls it’s just gotten a little complicated lately. I can’t explain further.
“Well what happened? Is your family angry with you?” he was very furious now and shouted at me with a voice so angry I got scared.
“Dam it I said I couldn’t explain further. Mind your business now you understand!?” I just nodded obediently.
“Well I’m sure they miss you” I mumbled under my breath to try to make him feel better. I stopped the car in front of the factory and cut the engine. Before I could look at him, he was gone. I knew it wasn’t normal for him to disappear but I was too shocked by his behavior to question it.
The next day he wasn’t at the bus stop. Therefore, I figured that he was mad and he would cool down and come back tomorrow. When I got there in the morning, he wasn’t there again. His absence went on for another week and I got curious. I decided to go to the address he mentioned on Monday after work.
On my way there, strange things started to happen. My car wouldn’t start. Then when it finally did, it was very cold inside. The heat wouldn’t go on and the radio was acting like it had a mind of its own. Suddenly I heard Johnny’s voice come from the radio, “Don’t disturb them with this stupid nonsense!” I didn’t quite understand what he meant. Didn’t he get that I cared about his well-being?
I ignored the voice and kept driving until I found the house on Almond Rd. I got out of the car and walked to the front door with a strange pull on me to stay away. Once again, I ignored it and rang the doorbell.
A beautiful women answered the door. “Hello, can I help you?”
“Yes ma’am, is there a Johnny at this residence? I’m sorry I don’t have a last name.” she looked at me with worry for a moment and then motioned me to step back so she could come out and close the door behind her.
“Well Johnny Bailey was my husband.” She still looked worried. “What do you mean by was?”
She paused for a moment and then continued “you see sir, Johnny past away in a bus collision a month ago.” I was shocked how that could be if we are talking about the same Johnny.
“Ma’am may I see a picture of him please, just to make sure we are speaking of the same man?” she looked a little wary though she pulled a wallet sized photo of him and her together, from her back right pocket. I only looked at the photo for a second and I knew that it was in fact the same exact man. “Sir, did you have some business with my husband and was unaware of his death?”
“No that can’t be possible; I have given a ride to him every day for three weeks now.” I reassured her. “I’m sorry you must be mistaken my husband is gone and I’d appreciate it if you would leave so you don’t upset my daughters,” She said, firmly.
I took that as a fair warning and stepped away back into my car. So I decided to go back to the bus stop, maybe he would be there? He wasn’t there. I didn’t see him for another several days and I was in shock. I decided to go back to his wife’s house.
I knocked and she came out just as she did before. Though this time she wasn’t worried, she was angry. “I’m sorry to bother you again, but were you and your husband having any issues before he past away?”
She pushed me back even further until we were out of site from the window. “Okay I’m only telling you this because you seem like some one I can trust. I loved Johnny at first, but after our two girls were born, he started drinking and getting very violent. One day we were at the bus stop of Second Street and he was very drunk and angry. He was yelling at me and coming towards me. I acted on reflex and shoved him away as hard as I could and he wasn’t very balanced because of the alcohol. He stumbled into the street. In addition, well, the bus didn’t see him and that was the bus accident I told you about. I feel horrible even though he was a bastard and beat me and my children.”
WOW, I can’t believe Johnny was like that. He seemed like he really loved his family and he seemed very nice and friendly. “I’m so sorry that happened to all of you I just feel terrible bugging you all this time.” She looked calm again and a smile came across her face.
“I’m sorry if I frightened you with the truth. Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee?”
“Yes ma’am that is so nice of you.” I walked in to her house. It was strangely neat; it didn’t look like she had kids. She brought me coffee in the living room and we both sat down. “So how old are your kids?”
“They are 6 and 8. Why do you ask?” she was still smiling. After being so angry it was a little strange, how happy she looked. “They just seem to be very quite and neat for kids.”
She was still smiling but it was more like a possessed smile now. I was starting to think that her husband wasn’t the drunk and didn’t come at her to hurt her. To stop her sounded more appropriate, but from doing what. “Well they are very well behaved, they are hanging around here some where,” she laughed to herself like I was missing an inside joke, “May I take your coffee if you are finished?” she asked. “Yes thank you” I said with a cautious tone I tried to hide.
She left to the kitchen and I got up as quickly as possible to get my coat she took from me and hung in a closet around the corner. I opened the closet and I was shocked at what I saw. Two young girls’ bodies hung by the neck and dripping with blood. At there feet was another, the deformed body of Johnny Bailey. I finally got a hold of reality understanding that it was her. I was ready to run like a shot out of there.
I turned around and there she was standing over me with a white apron, white gloves, and white mask, and a butcher knife in her hand. “You shouldn’t have looked in the closet now should you? You have been a bad guest and now you must be punished.” I heard these last words as she plunged forward to kill me.