It was February 1977 and even in Florida the air blew cold. He strolled down the sidewalk slowly, but with a purpose. The long black jacket hung almost to his ankles, and the wind caused one side to flap open. His worn bell bottom jeans were frayed from catching under the heel of his cowboy boots. His hair was dark and dull with thick wavy bangs that fell over the top of his aviator styled sunglasses. In his hand he carried a large, black cassette recorder.
The knock upon the door was abrupt, and when Dave opened it he was surprised.
“Hey, Joey, what ya’ up to? Is John with you?”
“No man, it’s just me.”
“Oh, okay, you want to come in?”
When Joey stepped into the tiny apartment, he looked around, and smiled. Goose bumps rose on Amy’s arms, and she sensed it wasn’t due to the cold draft. She said a quick hello before excusing herself. She had only seen John’s younger brother once, and she had not liked him.
Little was said between the two men. Joey sat forward on the sofa with his long arms resting upon his knees. The tape recorder positioned next to him.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked Dave.
“Oh, well we were just getting ready to go to dinner with Mark and Jan.”
“Okay,” and with that Joey got up to leave. Before exiting, he took one more look around the small dwelling.
That was weird, the young couple thought as they headed to the pizza place. They had only been married a few months, and other than the couple they were meeting, they had not gotten around to sharing their new address.
That night, when they got into bed Amy began to feel anxious. She sensed a dark presence in the room with them and she worried that something terrible were about to happen. She made Dave promise to wake her early so that she could take him to work. She wanted the car because she was frightened to remain in the house alone. But, by six the next morning she told Dave it was probably just raging hormones due to the pregnancy. Reassured, he bent down and gave her a kiss before saying goodbye.
When she felt the bed sink behind her and then his hands rest against her back, her adrenalin soared with the need to take flight. She fought to remain frozen. Her breath caught in her throat and she was afraid to open her eyes. How did he get into the apartment, she asked herself, knowing it was a male presence. Amy could feel his breath against her left cheek, and then he was gone. She was listening carefully for any sound, but except for the heartbeat pounding in her ears, all was silent. She forced her eyes open, fearing he would be standing there looking at her. She saw no one, only the wall a few feet away. She carefully began to look around the room, nothing. I was not dreaming, she told herself. Someone is in here, and she lay there wanting to run but too terrified to move. From her location, she was able to observe a portion of the bathroom and the kitchen, but she could not see into the shower area or the place where the sofa was positioned.
With bare feet, she crossed the cold terrazzo flooring and when she got to the opening, she took a deep breath before peering around. Nothing. She then made her way to the bath and again while holding her breath, she looked into the shower. Relief poured over her.
Oh, my gosh what the heck is wrong with me, she thought. “I know I was not dreaming,” she exclaimed to the walls.
Still feeling uneasy, she decided to get dressed and walk to the library where she planned to spend the rest of the day, surrounded by people.
When Dave arrived home later that afternoon, he found her sitting on the cold front stoop.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Something in the house makes me feel eerie. I don’t think I like our place anymore.”
“Well, we signed a lease, so we can’t afford to move for six more months. If you still don’t like it then, we’ll find a new place.”
That night and the next morning, Amy felt great. It must have been related to the pregnancy, she thought. As always, Dave had left early for work, she had slept in and then gotten up and made herself breakfast, finished reading a book, and dozed for a bit on the sofa. It was after ten when she went into the bathroom, closed and locked the door, and stepped into the hot shower. There was always a chill in the little apartment and the warm water felt good as it ran down her back and over her rounding belly. She ran her hands across her abdomen wondering if she carried a boy or a girl.
Her hair was fully lathered when the fist slammed onto the door. She jumped, startled. In silence she stood with the water still running down her back, her hands still positioned upon her head. As if the shower curtain could protect her, she timidly peaked around it, and the door vibrated as it was pounded again.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God,” she whispered.
It was then she saw the door knob turn one way and then the other. Tears filled her eyes. She needed to escape, but the bathroom window was too small for even her slight frame to pass through. She tried to slow her breathing, afraid she would soon hyperventilate. Her hearing heightened, she listened and heard nothing but the now cool water as it fell upon the tile. She hurriedly rinsed away the soap, exited the shower, and toweled her wet skin and dripping hair. When she finally turned off the water, she stood by the door noting any sounds. Silence. A half hour must have passed before she made her way into the bedroom, dressed, and then exited the front door, library bound.
As Dave approached the front of their place, she stood and declared, “Something is haunting this apartment. I’m not imagining it. This time, I was fully awake and in the shower when he visited.”
Dave put his arm around her waist and ushered her inside. “Okay, I believe you,” but he wondered if the pregnancy was making her crazy.
On Friday night, Amy and Dave visited her parents. They did not mention the events that had taken place earlier in the week, but Amy asked her mom if she could borrow some religious items. Once they returned home, she hung the picture of the blessed mother holding baby Jesus on a bedroom wall. On the dresser, she placed a crucifix.
While a mild uneasy feeling lingered within, the weekend passed without incidence.
During the week, Amy began rising early with Dave, getting dressed, driving him to work and then spending the day at the library until it was time to pick him back up. When they returned home one afternoon, Amy started dinner and Dave went to take a shower. When he noted the click, click, clicking sound he thought Amy had entered the space, but when he heard her loud cry from the bedroom he knew he was mistaken. Coming out of the shower, he observed the toilet paper unspooling onto the floor. His breath caught. When he opened the bathroom door he saw the picture of Jesus lay face down in the middle of the floor, fragments of glass scattered. He stood silent, stunned.
“I told you this place was haunted,” Amy cried.
It was then, the crucifix flipped face down upon the dresser. They both jumped. The air felt heavy and angry. At times they noted a shadow dancing across the walls. Images from The Exorcist kept popping into Dave’s mind. He heard the pot on the stove boiling over just before Amy ran to turn off the burner.
She came back into the room filled with a sense of calm and relief, this was not just happening to her. “Now do you believe me? I thought I was going insane.”
“Yeah, I believe you,” he didn’t bother to tell her he considered her sanity was in question at times, too.
“We have to move. For some reason, this thing is pissed at us.”
The tone in the room had stilled, the anger and tension had lifted, and the shadows no longer lingered. He got dressed and then got a broom and began to clean up the glass. Amy placed what was left of the frame and picture against the dresser mirror and repositioned the cross.
“I’ll call the landlord tomorrow and see if they will allow us to break our lease,” she said. “They’re an old couple and very nice. They don’t allow children so maybe if I tell them I’m pregnant they’ll let us out without penalty.”
“Yeah, okay. Regardless, we have to move,” he said.
“You know none of this started until Joey came to visit. I loved this place until then. I was even planning to talk the owners into letting us stay here with a baby.”
“I know. There’s something strange about him. Always has been.”
“This thing won’t follow us, will it?”
Dave shook his head in the negative, and thought to himself, I’ll kill that son of a bitch if he brings this shit to my house again.
Amy’s dad brought his truck over that Saturday and helped Dave and Mark with the move. Jan and Amy thoroughly cleaned each room as their limited furnishings were being loaded. Amy stood on the grass in front of the place waiting for Dave to lock up.
She looked down the street and saw him coming, his black coat flapping in the afternoon breeze and sunglasses shading his eyes. In his right hand he held the bulky black recorder.
“Dave, look, he’s coming down the street,” she said with panic in her voice. “Don’t tell him where we’re going. Don’t let anyone tell him where we’re going.”
Dave headed out to the street to cut him off.
“What do you want, Joey?” he harshly asked.
“Yeah, looks that way.”
“None of your business.”
“Where you moving to?”
“Again, none of your damned business.”
Joey smiled, turned, and headed back down the street, the coat fluttering after him.