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Close the curtains and lock the doors, for you are being watched. Somewhere nearby, he’s watching, getting closer and closer. Soon, he’ll be right behind you (if he isn’t already) I will tell this tale from the beginning, but before I begin, double check the windows and doors. For Tom is watching!
It was 1996 in the town of Wahoo, Nebraska and little Tommie Mitchell was six years old. On the third day of first grade Tommie’s teacher Mrs. Lornhold gave the class an assignment. Now, Mrs. Lornhold was the typical elderly teacher with firm beliefs on how things should be taught. She never hesitated to hit a student and always expected her class to have the intelligence of adults. She made life a living he** for her students. On that particular day Lornhold told her students to go out and observe the world. She wanted them to see the lives of other people and then give an oral report on what they saw.
On the day the assignment was due Tommie sat nervous in his seat, he feared that he had not successfully completed the assignment. "Thomas Mitchell! Why don't you tell us what you found?" Mrs. Lornhold asked. So Tommie stood up and said "I looked around my house, and found some little mouses and they stole our cheese" Before Tommie could finish his report Mrs. Lornhold hit him on the head, and then again, and then a third time. On the third hit she delivered Tommie fell to the ground hitting his head on her desk along the way.
Mrs. Lornhold was fired and poor little Tommie was traumatized. Tommie's brain never fully developed after that incident and soon he became obsessed with Mrs. Lornhold’s assignment, "Look at the lives of the people around you and tell me what you see” Five years after Mrs. Lornhold moved "away" and Tommie realized that he would finally be getting new neighbors, he knew this was his chance to do the assignment right!
Three days after Lornhold left, a new couple moved in. Young and passionate newlyweds, who showed the most affectionate love for one another. Steve was an aspiring painter and Katie was a first grade teacher. Tommie watched them move in through a hole in his spider man curtains. He watched closely as they moved box after box into their new suburban home.
The following day Tommie was playing with his rusted old Tonka trucks in his front yard, crashing them through piles of "presents" from his dog Sparky (as he called it). Katie saw him from across the street and walked over to him. "Hi, I'm Mrs. Vaughn from across the street, but you can call me Katie. I could sure use some help unpacking these boxes if you would like to make a buck or two“She said. Tommie and Katie walked across the street and soon, Tommie had seen the entire house and was helping Katie to unpack the boxes when all of a sudden, the doorbell rang.
And in rushed Tommie’s mother Jane sobbing, "Oh my God, I found you! I'm so glad you're okay! You need to tell mommy if you're leaving the house okay Tommie? Okay?" Immediately Katie began apologizing and explaining. Before long the three were in Tommie's kitchen talking. It seemed as though Tommie’s mother was apologizing more than Mrs. Vaughn. Tommie's mom had to explain to Katie what had happened to him. “I’m sorry, it’s just ever since Tommie’s incident at school, and I just haven’t been able to control him. He’s constantly wandering off and, and it’s just so hard!” she said as she began to sob. Then Jane asked Katie what she did for a living and Tommie had an attack of pure fear when she told them. Then, Katie paid Tommie and kissed him on the forehead and went home to Mr. Vaughn
That night Katie told Steve all about the neighbor boy, while Tommie had nightmares about Mrs. Vaughn. He pictured her hitting him repeatedly and cried himself to sleep. He woke up at 3 o'clock in the morning with a crazy idea, he would watch Mrs. Vaughn, and then the teacher wouldn't hit him again! He was so pleased with his new idea he woke his mother up and wouldn't leave her alone until she gave him a gold sticker.
After lunch Tommie went to his room and stared out his window at the Vaughn house. He refused to leave his room for several hours. Every day for about a week Tommie kept up his pattern, blankly staring at the Vaughn’s home for hours on end. Then, one night Tommie decided to get a closer look at the Vaughn’s. He went out into his front yard and watched them and then a week later, Tommie was standing on the sidewalk just feet from the Vaughn house. He stood perfectly still watching as the couple enjoyed their anniversary. They watched "Sleepless in Seattle" together and at the end of the night, Steve and Katie began to kiss, just as Steve told Katie how much he loved her, Katie screamed! She saw Tom staring in at them just inches from their window, "He's watching us!" Katie exclaimed and right when Steve looks up, there was nothing there.
For two more weeks Tom began to watch and move closer and closer to the Vaughn’s. Then, they were gone. The Vaughn’s had finally taken their honeymoon to Hawaii and would be gone for 10 days. The night they left Tom sat on their front doorstep all night. The next morning his mom had to promise him that they'd be back just to get him to come home. The next night Tom got closer. He went into the Vaughn house! First he sat on their couch. Then he ate a bowl of Katie's cereal. He changed into some pajamas that he found in Steve's closet. He spent that night in their bed sleeping in the same position as he'd seen Katie sleep. When he woke up he brushed his teeth using Katie’s tooth brush and took a shower using her soaps and shampoos, then he covered himself in her perfume.
Tommie’s mom had caught the flu and could not chase after him, she had no idea what he was doing but was terrified. A search party was formed and people looked all over for Tommie. No one knew it but Tommie continued to live in the Vaughn house, sitting on the couch with his hand in his pants (like he'd seen Steve do) and drinking chocolate milk with cherries (like he'd seen Katie do) he mimicked every aspect of their lives. He spent hours listening to Katie’s favorite song, "Every Breath You Take" by Sting, and he sat in the corner drawing pictures of Mrs. Vaughn. Then, the Vaughn’s returned. Tommie was nowhere to be found. They had no clue what had taken place in their home while they were gone, but the moment they walked in the door, Katie had a sense of gut wrenching terror, something just felt really wrong to her.
It was late, so the Vaughn’s got into their pajamas, brushed their teeth, and went to bed. It was roughly 4 o'clock in the morning when Katie woke up, she was going to go to the bathroom, then have her usual midnight snack. She rolled over to kiss Steve, but it was not her husband’s face she saw. She let out a blood curdling scream as she saw Tom, dressed in Steve’s pajamas and wearing Katie’s make-up.
Steve jumped up from the other side of the bed and began to shout while Katie sobbed, terrified. Tom grew fearful and as Steve tried to hit him, Tom grabbed a lamp and smashed it into Steve’s face. Katie screamed in agony as a shard of glass from the lamp pierced Steve’s throat. Tom screamed in fear and hit Katie with another lamp; he hit her until she stopped screaming. He hit her until, she was dead. Tom was screaming and crying and as flashbacks of being hit by Mrs. Lornhold went through his mind, he disappeared into the night, never to be seen again.
Tommie was gone, but he is still out there, desperate to please his teacher so she won't hurt him. He could be anywhere now, from Syracuse, Nebraska to Syracuse, New York and far beyond. He's growing closer and closer into the lives of another person out there, looking through their windows, or maybe even in their house. Who knows he could be in your house right now, wearing your clothes and eating your food, singing aloud as he waits for you to arrive "Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I'll be watching you. I’ll be watching you."