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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Are You Home? - Part 2 by Azriel Johnson

    The man pulls into the driveway about a half hour later.
    He parks the car in the garage, pulls the garage door down and walks to the back door unlocking it and going inside.
    He’s greeted by the ringing of the phone.
    “Hey this is Ron.  Leave a message at the beep.”
    A young male voice, “Dad, this is Phalen.  Are you home?  Julie is crying now.  Why couldn’t you have just let her in and talked for a while.  It’s not like it would have killed you.”
    The man snickers.
    He goes upstairs.  He takes off all of his clothes except his briefs and walks into the bedroom.  He kicks a path through at least three loads worth of dirty clothes.
    The man lies in the bed and falls asleep.

* * *

    The phone rings.  A woman answers, “Hello?”
    “Aunt Becky,” asks Julia’s voice.
    “Yes.  How are you Julia?” Becky asks.
    “I’m worried about Dad.  I went by his house last night and he didn’t come to the door.  The TV was on.  But what was the strangest of all, the garage door was open, and the back door was locked.”
    “Your dad never does that.”
    “I know!”
    “I’ve been worried about him lately too.  Maybe we should all go over there.  Your dad has been pretty depressed since your mom died.  Maybe he hasn’t felt like company.”
    “Yeah,” Julia says softly.
    “Bring Phalen along too.  We’ll go over tomorrow.  I have a key so we’ll get in whether he wants us to or not.”
    “Okay Aunt Becky.  Thanks.”
    “No problem hun.  See you tomorrow.”

* * *

    The trash has piled up.  The man leaves it.  It’s not his concern.  He throws another bag on the pile in the basement.  He inhales and the putrid stench assaults his nostrils.
    The man shuts the door and walks to the bathroom.  He grabs air freshener and walks back to the basement door.  He opens the door and empties the freshener into the basement.
    He throws the empty canister down into the basement and shuts the door again.

* * *

    The next day, Becky arrives at Julia and Phalen’s apartment.  They exchange pleasantries then all get into Becky’s car to go to Ron’s place.
    They don’t call.  They want to make sure he’s there.
    They pull into the gravel driveway.  The garage door is closed.
    They get out of the car.  Phalen checks the garage.  Ron’s car is there.
    Becky and Julia are at the back door and joined by Phalen after he checks the garage.  Becky unlocks the door and the kids go in first.
    An eerie feeling hits them.  The scent of air freshener mingles with trash and another strong scent none of them can recognize.
    The television is on.  Phalen walks into the living room.
    “Who the hell are you!” he yells.
    The man is startled awake.
    He crouches as he falls off of the couch.
    “Julia, call the cops,” Phalen says as he is joined by his sister and aunt.
    The man jumps at them, pushing Phalen, knocking Becky out of the way and knocking Julia to the ground as he tears out of the house.

* * *

    The police investigation turns up little evidence of who the man was.  However, they explore the strange smell from the basement.
    Under the bags and bags of trash, they find the source.


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