Flickering orange light and the roar of a train pulled her from her slumber. Sitting up, she gaped at the eerie glow dancing over her walls and sprung to her feet. She stared, watching in horror as flames engulfed the neighbor’s house. Flames crept through windows to crawl up the siding as Tim’s terrified face appeared in an upstairs window.

Grabbing the phone, she pushed 9 and 1, her fingers freezing before pressing the second 1. Her stomach turned as she remembered stumbling upon young Tim in the woods, years earlier. He hadn’t heard her approach and she hid behind a tree meaning to scare him. Instead, she watched in horror as he doused a puppy with lighter fluid and set him ablaze. The next summer he cornered her in the park, asking if she had “ever seen a match burn twice.” He ignited a match, blew it out held the hot tip on her arm. He did it twice more before she wiggled free and ran home. Her parents passed it off as kids being kids and warned her not to play with him again.

Over the years she had seen him hurt school mates and pets. His parents offered explanations for the untimely deaths of his pets and life went on. In the spring of 1998 his prom date ended up in the hospital. She claimed she was beaten, raped and left for dead on the tennis court. When questioned, by the police, Tim passed with flying colors. His date either didn’t remember, or was too afraid to name him. She moved away after graduation and never returned. He went out late at night, she had seen him, always dressed in black. The next day he could be found in his drive, detailing his car.

As she watched the house burn, her mind returned to 2001. It was a warm spring night when she saw Tim and a date arrive at his house. When  the girl hesitated he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her into the garage, where her screaming stopped. She called 911, but a quick search of the house didn’t turn up a girl or anything else out-of-place. The police treated her like a nosy neighbor. She realized Tim had abandoned humanity, feelings. love, right and wrong years ago.

He was an animal, a predator who found joy in inflicting pain. How many died? How many more would die?  Turning her back to the flames, she returned the phone to the charger, letting the flames make the final judgement.

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Comments
  1. billgncs says:

    wow – wasn’t expecting that.

    • Val Kirwan says:

      Jane, you never cease to amaze me! What a talent you have!! Love this story…and I have to admit I was cheering inside when she didn’t dial that second “1”.

  2. Sarah Ann says:

    Great description of a nasty piece of work, which makes me think the neighbour did the right thing putting the receiver down.

  3. Just went browsing for something to read and found this. I think you captured very well the helplessness of someone who witnesses the kind of actions you describe. Moral dilemmas are always good fodder for gut wrenching stories.

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