A Neighbor of Mine
Before my parents had my other two younger brothers, we used to live in a rented small house. It was near an alleyway and the distance between houses in this complex was almost nonexistent, so if I put my ear close enough to the wall adjacent to their wall, I could make an accurate assumption of the TV program they were watching — mostly, they were watching the flying dragon TV channel. In my case, I rarely watched TV.
TV wasn’t as interesting as looking for others’ validation. At that time, when I had to grow up with a leg condition, approval from classmates mattered the most, so I spent most of my childhood trying to fit into their standards — ugh. If I had to summarize my daily pre-teenager routine, I would say that my day was filled with countless hours of chasing the so-called friends and begging them to accept me, school, home, and then my grandma’s house.
To get to her house, I had to pass this alleyway unless I decided to go around the block. Of course, I took the alley. As you entered, you’d see that there were two houses along the path and their doors were facing the pathway. The second door was his dwelling. The person, the man himself, of whom I want to put in the spotlight.
He was a grown, adult man who had a speech impairment. He knew that kids were afraid of him, so whenever a group of clueless children walked past his house, he’d spook them. He’d come out of nowhere and pretend to want to chase them down the alleyway. Over the years, I had learned that it was just one of his tricks, so I wasn’t as frightened as the others. The weirdest thing was his other behaviors to a girl my age, or so I thought? When he pretended to chase me, he’d make gestures that I should’ve considered over-the-line because I was just around 10 to 11 years old. He gave me presumptuous gestures such as hugging and kissing gestures.
The hugging, he folded his arms in front of him as if he was hugging an imaginary person. Meanwhile, the kissing, he folded his arms showing the hugging gesture, and then he pouted his lips at the same time as he scurried over to me. From these nightmares, I always escaped. Yet, there were some moments when he caught me passing by his house or he met me at the end of the road that he would just slightly touch my arm which gave a more flirtatious feel than a casual pat in the back sort of thing — and I hated that.
So, I always tried to avoid meeting him. Luckily, some years later we moved out. We stayed with grandma because her house was bigger, but sometimes I still saw him because his house was exactly at the end of the alley, across the street. Then, some years after that, we moved to our own house. I thought I had escaped the horror until I realized something.
I figure out that to this day when I see him somewhere, my first automatic response is to pretend that I don’t know who he is and to just completely ignore his existence. At times, I think that he might have changed as he grows older, but the fright, the horror, and the uneasiness of that childhood memory I have about him are driving me insane. It’s an internal conflict that has been going on for so long whether he was purely screwing around or he was, in a very bad way, different.