He was getting too old for this. That was his thought as he heaved himself over the fence and landed with a painful thump that swiftly took the breath out of his lungs. He lay there, gazing at the starless night sky wheezing like an asthmatic. He really was getting too old for this. In his prime he would have leaped over the fence and landed catlike, lurking through the shadows. But now.. Well now his joints creaked when he sneezed. Granted he wasn’t that old but his lifestyle wasn’t exactly known to have youthful side effects. Neither did his vices. At first he felt like he was back in high school but once the high wore off, he felt as if he should be attending his fiftieth high school reunion and that was thirty some years away. His vices did not come cheap and his neck cramped from continuously looking over his shoulder so he decided that he would quit the game and begin earning an honest living. He even found a job as a waiter in some rundown, boot-leg KFC restaurant. That lasted about a week and he was back to his old ways; paying off valets and rummaging through limousines owned by men who would kill you if they found a fly in their soup let alone find you digging through their car. This is why it would be difficult to say if he was completely surprised when he was flung out of bed and thrown to the floor whilst in the midst of a deep slumber. As soon as his head hit the polished wood floor, he was awoken from a dream that involved a woodcutter and his ex wife. With a groan he sat up and silently cursed himself for not checking if the windows were closed. Then again he had been too intoxicated from all the drinks he had had thanks to his stolen limousine loot so it couldn’t have been helped.
“Do you know who I am?” At first he thought he was still dreaming but then he realised the hoarse, foreign voice had come from the darkness that shrouded his living room.
“Well maybe if I saw your face I’d have a better chance at guessing” he mumbled. This was followed by a swift kick to the ribs and whilst he cough out his lungs, light bestowed his living room.
“Better?” He squinted in the blaring light, finding it difficult to focus on the four shapes that had formed a semi circle around him, “Well?” It took him a while longer to realise that the voice was not coming from the four shapes. He turned his head and realised that a fifth figure hung in the darkness that was his kitchen,
“Come into the light and I’ll show you better” Okay. Maybe he deserved that punch to his head but if the shadowy figure wanted honesty.
“Funny. I heard you were funny. This isn’t a bad place. I mean it’s shitty in general but not bad. Not bad for a petty thief who makes R1500 a month wiping tables. But then again if you lived in a shittier place that vixen of an ex wouldn’t let you see your ladybug would she?” The ringing in his head suddenly stopped, “Sara right? That’s her name? Big brown eyes and that gap-toothed smile. Does she still carry that raggedy red blanket everywhere she goes? Kids eh?” It was one of the hottest nights of the year but you’d think the room had been plunged into a long June night, “Did he fall back to sleep or something? Wake him up” The leg barely made it off the ground before it was pulled unceremoniously and the body it was attached to landed with a painful thump. More would have been done if the other three figures hadn’t pulled out their guns so eagerly “So you are awake. Good to know. Now where was I?”
“If you lay a hand on my daughter..”
“You’re one to talk about mismanagement of property. Those drinks you had last night certainly weren’t paid for by you picking up chicken bones. I don’t like people messing with my shit James” He wasn’t sure if he masked his surprise as well as he was trying to, “Oh? You didn’t think I knew your name did you? That is one of the many reasons as to why I’m not to be fucked with”
“You’re the Boogeyman aren’t you” Although he couldn’t see his face, he knew the man smiled, “Yeah. I’ve heard of you”
“Good. Now that introductions are over, I’m going to need you to do something for me”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then me hiding under your daughter’s bed will be the least of your worries”
Return the ring.
That’s all he had to do. No, he didn’t have to steal anything. He just had to return what he had taken but to a different location. For some reason The Boogeyman had been certain that James hand’t pawned the ruby encrusted ring he had picked up from the limousine floor and he had been right. James had no desire to let go of the ring just yet and well now, he had to. According to The Boogeyman, the ring had been stolen by him before James had decided to take it for himself. All James had to do was return it to the original owner before they discovered it was missing. It wasn’t uncommon for James to go breaking into people’s homes but usually he went with the intent of taking something away and not leaving anything behind. Of course he didn’t express these views to the men in his apartment especially after one of them produced his daughter’s raggedy red blanket. The window was open. Just as The Boogeyman said it would be. James was getting old but his skills weren’t completely lost on him. The house was quite and dark. The owners wouldn’t be back for two more weeks so he had nothing to worry about. At the same time the last thing James wanted to do was attract unwanted attention. The third door on the right. The door creaked open and James poked his head through. The curtains danced with the wind, the open window allowing for the moonlight to shine its’ light on the empty bed. James made his way to the boudoir and looked around for the jewellery box. He spotted it and as he reached for it, hastily recoiled in horror. Yes it was small but it was a spider nonetheless. The creatures had frightened him ever since his Standard 6 class had taken a trip to the zoo where they had watched a tarantula devour a small bird. It had given him nightmares for months and he despised all things Spiderman. He waited for the spider to scurry off before opening the jewellery box and softly placing the ring in its appropriate pouch. There. Done. He walked out of the boudoir and headed for the bedroom door. That was by far the easiest job..
“Leaving so soon?” He spun on his heel and almost crashed into the hallway. She hadn’t been there before. He was certain that when he walked into the bedroom that the bed had been empty. Granted maybe he had been wrong but he’s sure he would have noticed her. Her eyes seemed more interested in the martini glass she was sipping from and her pink bodice left little to the imagination. He wasn’t sure if it was lingerie or sleepwear. Either way her brown tassels were tied up in a loose bun and her chocolate face was clear of make up. Although if he was being honest, her skin looked more auburn than chocolate but that could just be the moonlight playing tricks on him, “You just gonna stand there and gawk or do you have something to say?”
“Uhm.. I.. I didn’t take anything. I was just leaving”
“Well if you didn’t take anything what are you doing here?” Her skin looked so soft. He wondered how it would feel against his fingertips. Of the worst of his vices, women cost the most. That’s why he had stopped paying for them. Granted that’s no excuse for his actions but after Sara’s birth he promised that he’d stop. Of course he didn’t stop but he didn’t do it as much either. He only did it to the ones who were asking for it. Like this one. Lying on the bed with her legs out. She was definitely asking for it.
“I was returning something” The way she sipped her drink showed that she didn’t believe him but she was definitely interested in what he had to say, “You’re welcome” Her smile was more beautiful than inviting but he’d seen that smile before. She wanted it.
“Well if I had known you were coming I would have made proper arrangements”
“You’re enough” He usually wasn’t this straightforward but if she was dishing it out, he was prepared to do the same.
“Take off your jacket” He didn’t have to be asked twice and he was soon at the foot of her bed, his belt unbuckled. He was usually the one who took command by this point. He’d have to. The women would try to back out but he’d convince them that they were doing the right thing. And if they still disagreed.. That didn’t matter. She didn’t look like the type of woman who changed her mind.
“Michael huh?” James nodded. Fake names had become second nature to him, “Nice to meet you. Would you like to know my name?” Usually he didn’t. It was easier that way. If he didn’t know their names, he didn’t have to be constantly reminded of what he had done to them.
“There’s no need for that” Yes, she wanted it to but he was still an intruder. Best to keep it as impersonal as possible. He felt something on his foot but shook it off, so immersed in the black pits that were her eyes.
“Michael. Always the constant professional aren’t we” His other foot. He shook it off. He didn’t want to look away from what was sure going to be a glorious night. She had finished her drink and placed the empty glass on the night stand, “Does that ring look familiar to you?” Ring? Why was she talking about the stupid ring when all he wanted to do was, “No? Of course it wouldn’t. You weren’t paying attention to her hands. Just her ass right?” What?
“I..” James cringed as he scratched at his neck. He wondered if the tree he had used to climb onto the fence was filled with Poison Ivy.
“Her beautiful petite ass. Tell me; did you prefer it from the front or.. well, you know?” This time as he flicked his foot he looked down and almost fell over in terror when he realised that small spiders had been crawling all over his feet. He jumped onto the bed, stripping himself of both his shoes and socks, goosebumps coating his pale feet. Something was wrong. Something was definitely wrong. He looked over at her and realised that she seemed unfazed by his panic attack, “Do you know why they call him the Boogeyman? Because he knows about all your nightmares. Every single one of them”
Spiders. There were spiders on the wall. He couldn’t move. The last time this had happened he was sixteen and he had almost drowned because the surfboard had had a small spider on it and he couldn’t grab on to it. The lifeguard had to swim out and save him. Yet now, he got the feeling that no one was coming out to save him.
“Let me give you a piece of advice James.. May I call you James?” He didn’t have a chance to respond before he felt a sharp stab at the side of his neck. He didn’t know enough about spiders but he didn’t think their bites caused instant paralysis. Regardless of how long it would take for his paralyzing fear to wear off, this new form of paralysis seemed infinite “Firstly; don’t fuck with the Boogeyman’s stuff. Secondly, don’t fuck with his daughter”
He was definitely too old for this.