after i turned four, we moved to portland, oregon. grandma sold the old house with its evil clown, its flowers that lined the driveway that were all taller than me, and it irrigation system for watering the yard. we hired movers, who loaded our belongings on their van, and all set out together for the long drive.

i don’t recall much of the house buying process. i do remember getting aquatinted with a few of the neighbors. to the left of us was a family with a girl my age. across the street were two elderly residents, a couple and a very tiny, wrinkly old widow who would let us play in her foyer where she kept many toys, or on her back porch where she kept a sand box on a table.

to the right was a woman whose grown son lived with her. his name was gene, and i had been told he was in a mental hospital for a time. but we didn’t treat him or his mother any differently that anyone else. until they gave us cause to. my mother’s sister had a son who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and i was his favorite cousin. so we were cool with gene and his mother. grandma even gave him a canary. i guess he liked birds like she did.

my mother had recently moved all my toys into the bedroom we shared on the side of the house that was away from gene’s house, and moved her things into my former play den, thus giving us each our own room. the den, now her bedroom, was on the side of the house that faced his house. it was great having my own room at last.

one night changed everything.

it was late. i was asleep. grandma was asleep. mom was the only one still up, sitting in bed reading before she went to sleep, as she did most nights. but her story was interrupted by the sounds of rocks hitting the side of the house below the window.

she slipped out of bed, careful not to let her shadow fall on the curtained window, and tiptoed into the bathroom right next to her room. she slid the window open just a crack, and watched from the dark room. just then gene came out from behind some bushes in his yard, and began tossing rocks at the house again, and calling my name.

my mother transformed into mama bear. she flung the window the rest of the way open, yelling ‘gene! what the hell are you doing!’ 

she scared the shite out of him,  and he started stammering something about throwing rocks at a cat. we didn’t have any cats with my name.

she came into my room the next morning and told me what had happened. she didn’t want me to be afraid, but she did want me to know about it. sadly, i was scared every night after that, that some one was lurking at my bedroom window trying to watch me. i would lay in my bed frozen and unable to move, thinking this made me invisible to who ever was out there looking in. it was awful.

gene never did anything else like that with us.  since there was only a chain link fence between our yards, i would see him when ever he was out in his back yard. i don’t remember seeing him after that.

i guess they sent him away again.