The Stranger in the Night
Part One: Kohl's
I remember the first time I saw this man. I was 18 and working as a cashier at Kohl’s. I worked at a register that was next to the men’s clothing. I was also next to one of those huge, mirrored poles that go all the way up to the ceiling. There were times people thought my register was closed because that pole hid my short self.
Anyway, this guy would come into the store and stand behind clothing racks. He would just stare at me. He caused such an unpleasant feeling of fear from the first moment our eyes locked. I notified the management team after the second time this man visited.
When he walked into the store a third time, he had a small, brown paper bag. I immediately called the manager on duty to come to my register. My manager came up to “visit”, but when he saw the man, he went over to make conversation. The next thing I knew, my manager was walking him out of the store. He came back to me and let me know the man was saying that I shouldn’t walk to my car alone after work.
That was the last time I saw the stranger. Until about a year later.
From my dancing years! (7 years ago)
Part Two: The Dancers' Studio
My mom owned a dance studio on the north side of the square in my hometown and you can bet I spent my entire life there. I would dance 9-10 hours a day, six days a week. Until I had to get a real job, of course. Then I was at the studio after work (sometimes at night). I would lock myself in, and just dance the stress away.
This was a hot night in July. I was supposed to swing by my friends work on my way to the studio to give her a ride, but her boyfriend picked her up instead. So, I got to the studio around 9:30. I had my miniature Chihuahua, Queso, with me. I had to pee so bad that I didn’t lock the door when I got inside. I walked over to the stereo to set my dance shoes and my phone down. Then I walked across the dance floor that’s about half the length of a football field. On one side room, the wall was lined with a ballet barre. The wall opposite was decorated with full length mirrors that went from the floor to the ceiling.
The bathroom is in the back half of the building. Meaning, once you get across the studio floor, you must walk through a curtain that covers a hole in the wall where a double door belongs. After I went, I was holding Queso and walking back across the dance floor. I was planning on locking the door and shutting the curtains.
When I was about halfway across the floor, a man walked by the window. Just staring. My heart jumped in my chest as I recognized this man from Kohl’s. I ducked out of sight and pretended to tie my shoe. After a few seconds, I thought I was safe. I stood up, grabbed Queso, and continued walking. He walked by again. Just staring. This time, I turned and walked towards the bathroom.
I remember standing behind the curtain for what felt like an eternity, wishing I had my phone so I could call my friend to see where she was! After about five minutes of not hearing the front door open, I cautiously headed towards the front again.
I could feel him watching me. I immediately stopped in the middle of the dance floor and started looking. I saw him almost right away. I couldn’t see him if I looked straight out the window, but if I looked in the mirror, he was standing just outside of view. Watching.
He walked through the door and I ran. I ran through the back of the building and out into the alley. The police station is about three blocks away, and I know how quick of a runner I am. I know I made it there in record time. Naturally, they were closed.
I stood on the corner for a moment trying to calm my heart. I had Queso tucked under my arm. It was like he could sense something was wrong. He was so alert. I petted him a little to give him some comfort.
I remembered my friend lived in an apartment a couple of blocks away on the other side of the studio. So, I walked. I chose a route to where I could keep the studio in view, but there were plenty of hiding spots if I needed them. I couldn’t see him anywhere.
She wasn’t home, but thankfully her neighbors were. This couple was always sitting on the front porch of this building. Always. Anyway, I told them what was going on and they agreed to walk back with me.
We got there as this stranger was stepping out of the building. My friend’s husband stepped up and immediately asked him what he was doing. The man replied with dumb comments, “I was going to see how much it was to take class” and “I was supposed to meet someone named Lindsay here.”
I knew every student who took class there. We didn’t have a Lindsay.
He didn't seem to like that I argued.
“Yea, she lives right over there.” He responded by pointing directly at my friend’s building.
“I can promise you there isn’t a Lindsay there either,” The wife said.
He started to walk off. “I have been walking by there every day for two weeks.”
We just let him go. My friend moved in two weeks ago and I was staying with her until she was comfortable. We knew he was lying. We knew why he was at the studio.
Part Three: My Room
The next time I saw him was about three months later. I came home after a night out with my friends and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I woke almost immediately and there he was. His face was hovering over mine. He had dark eyes and hair that was slicked back into a pony tail. I could feel his breath on my face.
I remember thinking how real that nightmare felt. How paralyzed I was. I remember watching his face fade into the darkness of my room and still being unable to breathe.
When I woke up the next morning, my younger brother told me he saw a man leaving my room the night before. He thought he was having a nightmare.
My mom went to my room and found muddy shoe prints behind my bedroom door.
Part 4: 7 Years Later
I thought it was over. It’s been years. I’ve even moved four hours away from my hometown. My family and I live on the second floor in a nice apartment complex. We have great neighbors and we really enjoy our lives here.
The incident was about three days ago, around 11:15 pm. I was sitting next to an open window doing some research on my laptop. I decided to move to the dining room table for a little more comfort. When I bent over the unplug my computer, I glanced out the window. The stranger was standing outside on the sidewalk. Just staring.
I immediately drew back away from the window and called my husband who was on his way home from work. He asked me if he was still standing there. I checked. Yes.
I didn't move. I stared him down and kept talking to my husband. I kept getting chills! This man never broke eye contact. He stared me down for almost two minutes before walking away. He just turned and left. Just like that.
My husband was about five minutes from home.
The next morning we found a rose attached to a card in my car. It read, "I know you will never be mine. You've been my favorite to watch. Goodbye, My Love".