The scream in the dead of night woke Vickery, his introduction to the neighbors. It was dark with a half moon as he got up and cautiously went into the living room, creeping to the sliding glass doors that looked out on his entry patio.
To his surprise, the outside patio door was open. Had he locked it? Usually he came in through the garage, rarely using the door to the patio. The trees rustled as a night wind swept through the development.
Vickery slipped through the sliding glass doors, went to the ajar patio entry and stepped outside into the complex’s cul-de-sac. He was startled to see his neighbor standing in her drive across from him. She had introduced herself as Annabelle when he had moved it a few days ago. Staring at him, she called softly, “Must be the wind.”
Vickery wondered if his neighbor meant the scream or the opening of his patio door. He was about to ask when he saw movement to his right and a tall, slender man appeared and called to Annabelle, saying: “There are leftovers if you’re hungry.”
But Annabelle waved her hand back and forth indicating she was not interested in a snack. Vickery recalled it was almost three when he got out of bed. Was it a late night party and the noise just a shrill laugh at hilarity, someone dancing with a lampshade on his head? He raised a hand to Annabelle and nodded at the man to his right, then went to bed curious about his neighbors.
The next evening Vickery again awoke at three in the morning, still not adjusted to the time change of three hours from the east coast. He was determined to go back to sleep when he heard something and sat up. It was low murmuring, like the soft buzz of a cocktail party.
Getting out of bed, Vickery went into the living room and slowly drew the curtains on the sliding door. He stepped back with his mouth open as he saw his patio was full of people, maybe twenty bodies jammed into the small space. With their hands to the glass were Annabelle and the man from next door.
The hairs on Vickory’s arms stood up and he wanted to draw back, but a magnetism pulled him forward and he slowly opened the glass door, and then stepped out into the milling crowed.
Vickery’s screams bounced off the patio walls and into the night.
Melba Rae, a tall, professional southern blonde, scanned the lease, tuning out the manager who was droning on: “…convenient, great location. You can even walk to Flo’s Chinese and AJ’s Market.”
Melba held up her hand, cutting off the spiel as she looked around at the adobe, red-tiled roofed units with a Mediterranean flare. The complex was only 10 minutes from the Tucson Aeropark where she was the new public relations person. “And the other tenants?” She asked the hovering man.
He bobbed his head. “Professionals, upscale, very quiet. Trust me,” he added with smarmy smile, “you’ll love the neighbors.”