My boyfriend is in a band. Cool to say when you’re 20, not so cool when you’re over 30. But it’s relevant to the story, so don’t judge too hard.
We started dating over a year ago and everything has been great. We laugh together, explore the world together, and drink delicious beer together—all hallmarks of an excellent relationship. Thus far, there’s only been one bump on the road of partnership harmony. Well, more like a mountain than a bump.
The weird stuff started happening early one morning. I wake before he does, because of work. As quietly as I can, I get dressed and ready for my fun-filled days of monotonous deskwork. The only noisy part of my exit is when I disengage the alarm. That beep send its waves through the entire house, bouncing off the wood floors, and seemingly landing right in any occupant’s ear.
But not Andrew. He sleeps through my entire morning routine. I think his hearing got messed up from all those cymbal crashes. Or the beer may have a little to do with the depth of his slumber.
Anyways, after I got to work one Tuesday morning, I got a text from Andrew.
ANDY: You still here?
I know his perception of time can get thrown off by the cavernous darkness of his room. But he was looking at a phone which conveniently displayed both hours and minutes. I knew he must be aware that I should already be at my desk. I replied while rolling my eyes.
JENNA: I’m at work babe. Didn’t you hear me leave?
ANDY: I heard some noises. Coming from the drum room. Thought maybe you skipped work today but it’s probably the cats
JENNA: I wish I woulda skipped! But alas I’m trapped inside a cubicle for the next 8 hours. Tell your kitties to be quieter. They need to respect your beauty rest
A minute passed by before the next text came through.
ANDY: Jen it’s not them.
JENNA: What do you mean?
ANDY: I just reached over and they’re both in bed with me.
I didn’t know what to make of that. His house creaks a little, so maybe the sounds he had heard were just the groaning of the foundation settling. But he never woke when I left his place, and my noises were way louder than the symphony of his casa.
JENNA: Do you still hear anything?
I held my breath while I waited for his reply.
ANDY: It was closer this time
ANDY: the cats just ran under the bed
A sharp exhale of breath punctuate my texting.
JENNA: Close your bedroom door
ANDY: I’m going to go check it out
That was not the response I was hoping for.
JENNA: Babe don’t do that!
JENNA: Are you okay? Talk to me
I pictured the bat next to Andrew’s bed. I imagined him reaching down for it and clutching the weapon close. I saw him slowly peeking his head into the hallway . . . and being confronted by a masked intruder.
I picked up my phone and dialed his number. Panic erupted when my call went straight to voicemail. I tried a few more times before I gave up and dialed 9-1-1. I hurriedly recapped my conversation with Andrew to the operator. They agreed to dispatch a car for a welfare check.
I told my boss I had an emergency and I raced to my boyfriend’s house, visualizing horrifying scenarios during the entire drive. Flashing lights greeted my arrival. Not just from police vehicles but from an ambulance too.
As I approached the front door, it swung open and two paramedics pushing a gurney emerged. Andrew had been hurt! I rushed closer, asking questions as I walked.
“What happened? Is he going to be okay? Can I ride with him to the hospital?”
The words died in my throat as the gurney got closer. I could make out the features of the person on top, and they didn’t belong to anyone that I knew. They weren’t pushing Andrew. They were pushing a stranger. The stranger who must have been making the noises this morning.
I ran into the house, past officers who tried to stop me. I pushed my way forward until I made it into Andrew’s room.
A body was lying on the floor, sprawled out and covered in red. A broken baseball bat peeked out from under the prone form.
“Andrew! Oh god! Is he okay?”
I looked at the faces of the officers in the room. While their expressions were grim, they didn’t seem to carry the weight of death.
My attention reverted to my boyfriend when I heard a raspy whisper.
“Jenn . . . it’s okay.”
Tears of relief rolled down my cheeks.
Andrew was lifted onto a gurney and taken to the closest emergency room. His only injuries were minor scrapes and bruises, so we left the hospital that same night.
After a solid 8 hours of sleep, Andrew told me what had happened.
“Jenn, that was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. The noises, well they sounded like scraping or sliding. Like something was being dragged around the house. At first I could pretend that they were just normal household noises, but when they kept getting closer, I knew something was wrong. It took me a while to gather up enough courage to check them out, but I knew I couldn’t just lie there.”
“You must have been freaked out.”
“I was. But I tried to be smart, too. As soon as I texted you that I was going to check out the noises, I called 9-1-1 and left the phone on. That way, if anything did go wrong, the operator would hear and send for help.”
“That’s why I couldn’t get through to you. But I’m glad you did it. The police got there so quick.”
And while I knew he was still scared, his face filled with pride.
“I did beat the shit out of that guy! He wasn’t going anywhere after a few swings of my bat.”
I giggled despite the awfulness of the situation.
“Calm down there, Mr. Homerun.”
He laughed and raised his eyebrows.
“I knew you only liked me for my killer swing.”
Even though we joked, we still wanted to know why someone had broken into Andrew’s house. Was it strictly for robbery or was there some other motive?
After the officers concluded their investigation, we found out the details of what happened.
The gentleman who Andrew had smashed with his bat wasn’t a stranger. He had actually lived next door for the last three months. Now that I’d had time to process his face, I vaguely remembered him from a couple of times I had glimpsed him doing yardwork.
Tommy hadn’t been rude or troublesome. He hadn’t been friendly or helpful either. He was just someone who had surreptitiously moved in with his uncle. An uncle who happened to be neighbors with Andrew. An uncle who happened to have the key to my boyfriend’s house.
Prior to dating me, Andrew had relied on Tommy’s uncle, Bob, for cat care. When Andrew was on the road, Bob would stop over two or three times a week to check on the girls and make sure everything was okay in their kitty cat world. The arrangement had worked out well for a few years.
When I came along, I took over the cat care duties. It was an easy transition that myself and the girls enjoyed.
The problem was, that Andrew forgot to gather his key from Bob. At first this wasn’t an issue. Bob had no interest in entering the house when he wasn’t supposed to. It only became a problem when Tommy moved in.
It was just Andrew’s luck that Tommy was a huge fan and had recognized him the instant he had seen him. It was also Andrew’s luck that Tommy had a history of violence, unemployment, and substance abuse.
Tommy studied Andrew. Learned his patterns and his schedules, and it wasn’t long before he noticed that I turned off the alarm whenever I left for work. He must have had his head pressed against a window to discover that tidbit, but I wouldn’t put it past him. The key had been easy to steal, but he may have raised red flags if he would have asked his uncle for the alarm code. So my early morning exits were the solution to this problem.
Every morning I left, Tommy eased his way into the house, staying for an hour or two, leaving before Andrew woke. His favorite place was the practice room. He’d sit on the drum throne, pretending to be Andrew.
The morning he’d been discovered had been the morning he meant to finally *become* Andrew. That entailed flaying my boyfriend and wearing his flesh. Seems that while he admired Andrew for his musical talent, he had admired Ed Gein for his decorating choices.
Luckily he had been heard. Luckily Andrew had a killer swing.
Unluckily, he had escaped police custody.
Until Tommy is recaptured, Andrew is living in an undisclosed location. I miss my boyfriend, but it’s probably better that he’s in a safe place.
During his absence, I check on his house every few days. And if I’m really missing him I can go to the drum room and sit on Andrew’s chair. I can rub my fingers along the tick marks that had been crudely carved into room’s window sill, knowing that they almost represented success.
im watching you IIIII IIIII IIIII
15 marks. I had told Tommy that he was free to dispose of Andrew after 15 days. He’d been patient, but in the end, it hadn’t mattered. He’d been spotted and detained.
But me, I was trusted and would be a lot harder to see.
Good luck, Andrew. I’m coming for you. I’m your biggest fan.