Knock. Knock. Knock.

knock knock knockThree solid, slow, confident raps penetrated the cocoon of white noise created by the air conditioning and the dense foam of my earplugs. I sat up. The front door? 

Looking at the clock–12:30am–I shook my head and started to settle my head back down. But my mind didn’t stop. What if it was someone trying to get in touch with me about my elderly father? What if I had missed a phone call and he needed me?

I pulled out my earplugs and swung my legs over the side of the bed. After putting on my glasses, I walked to the door–expecting a repeat of the three knocks. Nothing.

The cats were nonplussed–seemingly undisturbed by my atypical nocturnal wanderings or a rap on the door. Honestly, they were nowhere to be seen.

At the front door I stood on my tiptoes–peaking through the high window like I do when trying to evaluate overzealous solicitors. Nothing. Sidestepping to the bigger kitchen windows I looked again. Nothing. A lot of still, lifelessness woefully under-illuminated by the flickering and anemic streetlight. Emptiness.

I padded across the cool terrazzo to the catio door. The screened lanai was empty–bathed in the dim glow of white nightlights. From my office window I could look at most of the back yard without disturbing my wife. So again I walked quietly through the house and peeked through the blinds. Nothing.

Satisfied, I went back to bed and pulled up the covers. Earplugs in hand I listened–mostly to the elevated thumping of my heart. Eventually my pulse settled enough to allow the white noise back into my head. Calmer. I replaced my earplugs and slowly nodded off.

My wife woke before me and was out the door to workout and work before my alarm sounded. I pulled the covers over my face. Something about the confidence of those knocks stuck with me. Solid. Perfectly timed. Three. With those thoughts repeating I languished in half-sleep.

“There’s this girl that’s been on my mind
All the time, Su-Su-Sussudio oh oh…”

I couldn’t whack the clock radio fast or hard enough. Ears aching and heart racing, my mind was distracted–ruminating over why Phil Collins solidly held the top two slots on my list of Worst Songs to Wake Up To. It was enough of an inner dialogue (with Phil repeatedly singing the background music) to temporarily forget about the three knocks and get on with my day.

* **

That evening as I sat in bed reading, I thought about the knocks again–and about mentioning them to my wife. But I didn’t.

Typically,  after she closes her book and her eyes, I’ll put in my earplugs and keep reading. But, this evening I wanted to be more aware–I left my earplugs in my eyeglass case on the nightstand and tried to focus on my book.

My sleep was fitful and when my wife arose early to head to the gym, I again stayed in bed. She closed the bedroom door and I eventually dozed off into a deeper sleep.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

I didn’t bolt upright. I couldn’t–stuck in a slumbering mind-fog. But, I heard the knocks–hadn’t I? I wiped the drool from my mouth, propped myself up and listened–nothing. Had my previous night’s obsession manifested itself in a dream?

Looking at the clock–5:05 a.m.–and realizing I’d managed to get another good hour of sleep, I dragged my body out of bed and started to make the rounds. It was still dark, but there was just enough pre-dawn glow for me to see nothing unusual in the backyard.

At the front door, I again raised up on my tiptoes to peer through the window. White, pupil-less eyes set in a snaggle-whiskered, ashen face stared back. Bearded face edited (2)

I didn’t shout or scream. I stumbled backwards, raced for my phone and the old baseball bat I kept under the bed. On the way back to the front door I noticed the cats were nowhere to be seen. Odd. They must be out on the screened in lanai again–their only real exposure to the outside and a typical refuge from unusual activity.

Again, I looked through the high door window. Nothing. No blank eyes. No ashen face. Deep breath.

I flipped on the front light and turned the deadbolt. After looking behind for the cats–still missing–I opened the door. Before stepping out, I looked down–two, huge muddy footprints were centered on the welcome mat. Avoiding that evidence, I stepped outside–a trail of muddy prints lead down the driveway to the right. But, they ended before the street in the middle of the concrete–no trace of mud anywhere else. Nothing in the grass. In the brightening light, I looked up and down Bayview Drive–no people, cars, bikes. No early morning rabbits or birds. Quiet. Too quiet?

Turning back towards the house…where were the footprints? Gone?

I hustled to the door and looked down at the worn, but now clean, welcome mat. Was I still asleep? Dreaming?

Closing the door and locking it behind me, I stood still–letting my eyes adjust to the dimness.

Meow. Meow. Meow.

My ears led my eyes to the kitchen. A trail of muddy paw prints ended at Chekov. Sitting on his haunches, next to an empty food dish, our scraggly, grey cat glared at me with blank, white eyes.

Meow. Meow. Meow.

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~ by kipwkoelsch on September 17, 2019.

2 Responses to “Knock. Knock. Knock.”

  1. Hello,

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