I've developed a bad habit of staying up into the late, late hours of the night playing flash games online. When I have no reason to be anywhere or do anything, nothing gets done. My life becomes stagnant in flash games.
At about 4:40am, I was sitting in the arm chair in the living room watching I Shouldn't Be Alive when I heard the rusty gate between our house and Mrs. Creighton's house open and close. Our yards are outlined only by chainlink fences. This particular gate only leads into her yard. She keeps a tight schedule. I have a hard time imagining that it was her or her distant daughter.
I have said before that this isn't the best neighborhood. There are two creepy men that live in the house just beyond Mrs. Creighton's that stay up all night watching various action films. I once came home late just in time to witness one of them, the one that once threatened to slit my father's throat in front of a group of family friends, "practicing" with a katana. In my mind, these men are a mixture of Boo Radley and Buffalo Bill, amongst other things. Beyond them are various other renters. There are at least two homes within a block's radius of my house that contain drug dealers who are entertaining brief company all day and night, but mostly at night. There is an apartment complex up the street that one wouldn't want to be caught by when night fell. Things are routinely broken, stolen, and generally trashed. There is no feeling of being safe in this part of Fort Wayne. Moreso at night than during the day.
One of my deepest fears is someone breaking into my dwelling as I sleep. I kind of always feel vulnerable in this sense, but the plethora of windows in this place makes me feel especially vulnerable, and always has.
In hearing that gate, it wasn't a sense of physical intrusion that made me afraid. It was that whomever opened and closed this gate could clearly see me on my laptop through the window I was sitting next to. It was the fear of being watched and not knowing it or sensing it. I turned off the light as if it helped. I went to the front door and crept out and around my house, creeping along the path that runs alongside my neighbor's house.stopping just beyond the window that may or may not have betayed my privacy in the darkness. I stood and stared into the night, as if there was going to be some flash, some monster emerging and chasing me. But there was nothing. I turned and stared into the window of my house, disturbed by how much I could see. Then I briskly ran back into my house. Then faced a moment of horror movie consciousness. "This move was as bad as saying 'I'll be right back'...you went outside to check on a strange noise. The killer could be in the house."
I curled up on the loveseat, out of view with my laptop. I stared into the darkness of the entryways to the sides of the TV on the wall. I was beginning to expect a shadow to shift there in the blackness, aided by the changing light source the TV provided in the room.
But nothing happened. I'm just paranoid, as usual.