Seeking Our Neighbor John at Lake Ridge Apartments – originally published in Maudlin House (CW)

A person holding up a traffic cone.

[CW: potential aggression]

Hey buddy, nice loafers. Listen. Do you know our neighbor, John?

Battered-brown-Toyota-Camry John? V-neck-T-shirts John? Wouldn’t-pick-him-for-our-basketball-team-if-you-know-what-I-mean John? Ha-ha. 

This John. This smiled-at-me-once-in-the-parking-lot John. Said-Hi Michael-instead-of-Mike-saying-it-real-slow, like Mi-ch-ael, and-every-single-hair-on-my-forearms-prickled-up John. 

Made my jaw freeze, this John. 

This leaving-his-coconut-almond-milk-shower-gel-or-whatever-scent, no, smell, this-cloying-disgusting-smell-in-my-nostrils-as-he-swept-past John. 

I did him good that night. Picked the lock of his dented car door and slumped inside, sinking into his baby blue, plush driver’s seat, breathing in this stink. So strong, this smell, this coconut-almond-John-smell I could almost eat it all up. Next to me, a ballpoint pen stuck out from his cup holder. Midnight Motel, it said in red. I fingered out a 7/11 receipt from my jeans pocket and scribbled Mike not Michael from 112 on it and folded the paper on top if his steering wheel. 

Can’t get a hold of him ever since. 

This John. 

This trimmed-chin John. This mixing-up-his-shifts-at-the-CVS-down-Minnieville Road-so-he-could-avoid-me John. This pretending-to-not-know-me-anymore-because-now I-bet-he-thinks-I’ll-find-him-at-the-Midnight Motel-and-teach-him-to-say-my-name-right John. 

But I just want to give his pen back, see? To our neighbor, John. 

You know him? 

Originally published in Maudlin House.

Photo by Neil Daftary on Unsplash

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