Behind the WindowpaneA Story by emily
I didn’t know Michael Krope, not many people did. He kept to his self mostly, preferring to remain out of site, hunkered up in his dark cave of solitude. The place he had called home for the last twenty odd years was a ratty old bay-and-gable; rust red bricks, large bay window stretching up the front of the narrow building. The grey gable roof capped it off like a well fitted cone hat. High ceilings allowed for rays of sun to reach back into the farthest depths of the house, one of the only positive things one could say about the decrepit building. A few shingles were set out of place, threatening to slip off the steep angle the roof was set on and incapacitate any unfortunate pedestrians below, but nothing of that nature ever happened. The paint along the windows and door were flakey chips among rotted wood, the grass had died long ago leaving a large Blue Ash tree as the only sign of life. It was a wonder the tree had survived as long as it had, it’s four sided branches and thick trunk were very much alive, the leaves a vibrant green. The tree had been planted there by one of Krope’s late relatives an unknown number of years before, no one knew who.
I lived on that same street all my life, still do to this very day, and had never actually met the old man. I had seen him a few times, always from the neighbourhood pool adjacent from his quarters. All my closest friend’s growing up-there was four of us in total- referred to him as Creepy Krope, always peeking around long, dark drapes with those thick glasses, surveying the living world beyond the walls of his self created confines.
We used to throw eggs at his house, splatter ugly yellow yolk at his face hidden behind the shield of his window. We threw other things as well, vandalising his home as he watched on. He never did anything about it, never called the cops or chased us away with a broom. We threw eggs, rotted fruit, sometimes balloons full of sticky syrup and he never did a thing to stop us. We would laugh hysterically as we committed these offences, feeling invincible.
Many rumours circulated around the man; when I was a school boy, the most popular one made everyone who heard it apprehensive.
The three of us boys had been sitting on the pools edge, dangling our feet into the cool water while the golden sun beat down on our twelve year old, water speckled bodies; my sister was there too, three years younger. The pool was mostly empty, save for two sun tanning goddesses on bubbly beach towels at the corner of the pool who became the objects of our drooling focus. Adults generally didn’t go to the pool and so location had naturally become their official ‘hang out.’
“Want to have a breath holding contest?”
The boys groaned, “We all know you’ll win Jimmy.” I spoke unenthused, the boy frowned.
Jimmy was the one who saw him first, narrowing his eyes and sticking out his tongue at the old man. The other boys turned their heads to see the subject of his gesture.
“What do you think he does all day?” I asked curiously, locking eyes with the man through the grimy window.
Carlos shrugged, his curly wet hair flopping in his eyes, he brushed it back with his fingers, “Who knows what that weirdo does.”
A grin broke out across Jimmy’s face, his eyes narrowing with confidentiality, “You know what I heard?” He looked to each of them to make sure he had their attention. “He had a family once... but he killed them.”
“Oh my God is that true?” My sister cried appauled.
“No, no. Don’t listen to him Jess, that’s ridiculous.” I countered.
Jimmy wasn’t deterred, “It’s true. He had five kids and a wife. All just miraculously vanished.”
“Five kids!” Carlos said in disbelief.
“Uh-huh. Apparently his wife threatened to leave him, you know, because of all the satanic stuff he was doing in the basement.”
“What kind of satanic stuff?” I asked as we all leaned in closer to hear.
Jimmy looked around for easdroppers, apparently satisfied all was cleared, he continued. “Human sacrifices.” He whispered the words and Jess squealed.
“You’re scaring my sister dude, that’s not cool.”
Jimmy ignored me, “He would do it in the basement, you know, all those pets that went missing, the people who ‘left town.’ Well one day his wife caught him in the act, she was going to turn him in to the badges and leave with their kids so he killed her.”
“How?” Carlos asked wide eyed.
“He destroyed her skull with his bare hands.”
“Ew!” Jess shrieked.
“Jess, go home if you’re gonna’ be such a baby.” I said, seeing no way Jimmy would keep quiet now... and I wanted to hear more myself.
“No, I don’t want to.”
“Then stop complaining... and don’t tell mom or dad.”
“Anyway, if you two are about done now, I’d like to continue.” He smiled, “Unless you’re too scared.”
“No way.” I protested.
Carlos snorted, “I’m not scared.”
He nodded, “Well... After he killed his wife, he had to get rid of the kids so he came down here to this very pool and drowned them one by one!”
I pulled my legs quickly from the water and Jimmy laughed, “What’s the matter, you’re not afraid of ghosts are you?” I gulped.
“Ghosts?” It was Carlos, who was next to remove his feet from the pool.
“Yupp. They come out at night... I heard if you try and go swimming little hands will come pull you under by the legs.”
“You’re lying.” Jess declared hopefully.
“Am I? Why don’t you try it then? Come here tonight and see what happens to you.”
“I don’t have to because I know you’re making it up.”
Jimmy looked over at the old man who continued to watch the people below, “He told the cops his family moved away... but I know. I know the truth.” He seemed to shoot daggers at the creepy man, “I know your secret you murderer.” He whispered.
“Even if this is true, I’m pretty sure someone would have figured it out.” Carlos reasoned.
Jimmy shook his head, “Someone did figure it out, how do you think I heard?”
This peeked my interest, “Who?”
“Does it matter? He sits up in his house all day and watches, waiting for his next victim, waiting to add more ghosts to the pool.”
“Stop, I don’t like this, you’re making it up.”
“You think so Jess? Like I said, come here tonight, we’ll all come. In fact I dare you.”
She looked to me with those large dewy eyes full of fear, “Will- will you come?”
I rolled my eyes, “We’ll all come.”
Up in the bay and gable, none of us saw the curtains fell back in place.
Thinking back to that night, I wished I had said no, said I wouldn’t go, convinced them not to either but I hadn’t wanted to be a wuss, to be regarded as a sissy in the eyes of my best friends. So, on June twenty third at two thirty in the morning, we each snuck out of our own respectable homes and met in front of the pool. A night everything changed.
We got there to find Jimmy didn’t show. We waited a half hour before deciding to go along with the plan regardless, we would hassle him the next day, make him feel like the p***y he was always calling one or all of us. My sister wore a pair of baggy soccer shorts and a green tank under her sweater. It had been decided she would have to go swimming to fully complete the dare Jimmy had pinned her with. Once a dare was set, that was it, no backing down unless you wanted a year of constant flak. The boys both wore their swim trunks, wearing plain tee’s to cover their scrawny torso’s, just in case.
As expected the pool was deserted as were the streets. No lights shone in any neighbouring houses aside from a few front door motion detectors. The water was eerily still, the slight breeze rippling the glassy surface like gentle fingertips.
Jess shivered. “You’re sure nothing will happen?” We all began taking off our unnecessary clothes and dropping them on the grass surrounding the pool. Trees lay scattered around, most of them dead and leafless but they would provide the necessary cover in case someone did happen by and decided to be noble and call the badges on them. No one was permitted to go swimming here after nine o’clock, for our safety of course.
“You’ll be fine Jess. There’s no such things as ghosts.” But even as I said the words, I doubted their integrity.
We heard movement in the water and spun around to face the pool.
“What was that?” Carlos asked with fear in his eyes.
“Maybe- maybe a frog jumped in, or a twig fell or the wind...” I offered. By the looks in their eyes they didn’t believe me just as much as I didn’t believe myself.
“Well, are we gonna’ do this or what?” Carlos looked to Jess and nodded to the pool. She turned to me then cautiously sat down on the top step of the small ladder screwed into the inside of the pool, gripping the sides with white knuckled hands.
“All the way, don’t be a sally!” I chided her, the dare wouldn’t be complete unless she went all the way in and swam from one side to the other.
She shot me an angry stare but slid her bottom down to the next step on the ladder. “It’s so warm... this isn’t so bad-“
Her head snapped back as her body was suddenly pulled under the surface of the water, bubbles rose up as she kicked and thrashed and the two of us ran to the pools edge struggling to see what was going on.
“Jess!” I yelled desperately, “You better not be messing with us!” The water went still and my heart beat jumped to my throat. “I’m going in!” I called to Carlos who stood with a look of complete shock on his face.
‘Wait! What if the ghosts gets you too?”
“That’s my sister dude!” I went to jump right as a head broke the surface of the water. It was not my sister. Laughter erupted from him as he grasped the ladder and shook the water from his eyes.
“Jimmy you prick!” I let the breath I had been holding escape my lungs in a single huff.
“Oh man! I scared you guys good!” He climbed the ladder, water dripping off of his green swim trunks. “Carlos, you looked like you were about to pee yourself!”
I looked into the still water, “Where is my sister...?” My eyes were strained on that one spot where she went under, waiting for her emergence,
Jimmy stopped laughing and turned, “I let go of her... I don’t-“
A small spot of blood rose up and spread out in front of our eyes.
“What did you do to her man!” I shrieked. I dove into the water in an instant, stomach curled into a pretzelled knot. I opened my eyes but the chlorine burned so bad against the exposed organs it made seeing nearly impossible. I felt around instead, frantically thrusting my arms out, sweeping the bottom of the pool. My lungs began to burn, I couldn’t hold my breath long,’my heart rate was too elevated.
I shot up to the surface and drank in a large gulp of air. “Help me!” I demanded of the two boys who stood wide eyed.
“I didn’t mean to!” Jimmy cried, tears streaming down his face.
“You sonofabitch, get in here now and help me!”
“It was a prank... I just wanted to scare you guys.”
Carlos stood with glassy eyes, he was clearly in shock and Jimmy was rendered useless as he backed away from the pool. “I can’t go to jail.”
I dove in once again, fighting past the searing chlorine. I couldn’t see her, I couldn’t feel her. My heart thrummed like a jack hammer, my head growing dizzy. I was forced to the surface once again only to find Jimmy had taken off. Carlos sat on the ground with his head in his hands sobbing.
I surveyed the pool from above, searching for any dark spots in the water that might have indicated where Jess was. I dove once more, shooting straight for the bottom and used my body to comb for my sister. I shot my legs out like a star fish then moved forward a foot and repeated the process. My mind began betraying me, trying to convince me it was hopeless, that my sister would have drowned by now but as my lungs ached I pushed on, tiny bubbles materializing behind my eyelids. My body was screaming at me to draw in a breath, begging for oxygen.
An arm wrapped around my waist and I began flailing like a fish caught on a hook, a scream escaped my lips with a stream of bubbles; my voice gargled and muffled underwater. I was suddenly free from the depths of the pool and air poured into my burning lungs.
“Jess!” I screamed as I was forced up onto the deck, I wiped at the tears in my eyes and my vision cleared, coming out of the water was an old man, a slender, blueish arm in each of his hands, he pulled my sister out of the water and laid her in the grass on her back. I watched as he pried her mouth open and tilted her head back, pushing hard on her chest before moving his lips to her. I watched in horror as I trembled a foot from them, a spot on her head was matted by thick, dark fluid I recognised as blood.
“Please help her. Please help her.” I repeated those words over and over, sirens blared in the distance. I rocked as I chanted; praying to whatever God would be able to answer. Water sputtered up from her lips as she hacked out a coughing fit, the man rolled her head to the side so she wouldn’t choke and held her wrist in his hands, keeping tabs on her pulse.
I scrambled to her side, kissing her cheek, her nose, her forehead. “Thank you!” I cried, “thank you thank you!” My praise was directed to the sky, to the Gods I had pleaded to but I logically turned to the man instead as two ambulances, followed by a pair of cruisers, came speeding to a stop. “Thank you.”
He nodded, climbing to his feet as paramedics rushed out of the ambulance with a stretcher, he crossed the street back to that old bay-and-gable home, back to the window from which he loved to survey the world below.
I didn’t know Michael Krope. Not many people did.
But I loved him.
© 2011 emily
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on May 13, 2011
Last Updated on May 13, 2011
AboutI am a twenty-two year old Justice and Peace student majoring in psychology aspiring to do all that I can to change this world for the better. I am very passionate about performing arts, filmograph.. more..