Home Invasion: Safe Keeping (excerpt)

“Haven’t you ever been curious about your neighbors?” he asked, glancing at her over his shoulder with a small grin. “I have. Fortunately for me, I have the keys to all of their apartments.”

She gasped. “And you just come in and… snoop around?”

“Pretty much,” he said, tossing the keys down on the coffee table as if he owned the place. He casually picked up a stack of mail and began to flip through it. “Bills,” he said, frowning.

“We should go. What if he comes back?”

“He won’t. I know the schedules of the tenants as well as I know my own. Go ahead, take a look around.”

Her eyes widened. “Me?”

“Well I’ve seen it all,” he said with a shrug. “I already know what goes on behind the closed doors of the sickos this building seems to attract.”

She shook her head, backing toward the door. “No. No, I’m not going to just go through this guy’s stuff!”

Gnar looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “You’re sure? You won’t believe what there is to find,” he said. She kept her arms crossed defiantly over her chest, not moving from her spot, despite the growing curiosity budding in the pit of her stomach.

Finally Gnar shrugged and grabbed the keys from the table. “Fine, we can go.”

“Wait,” she conceded, stepping forward. “Are you sure we’re safe?”

He smiled. “Positive.”

“Alright. Show me to the goods.”

He led her to the bathroom attached to Keith’s room and pulled open the medicine cabinet. She gasped, leaning forward to get a better look the bottles upon bottles of prescription pills that neatly lined the narrow shelves. She reached out to grab one, but Gnar caught hold of her wrist. “Don’t touch anything,” he instructed.

She nodded, tilting her head to read the small labels. They were all prescribed to Keith Henry, Jr. “Oh, my God. Is he…a drug addict?”

“Not quite,” Gnar replied, kneeling down and pulling open the cabinet beneath the sink. She kneeled down beside him and peered into the space where she, in her own bathroom, kept the cleaning supplies. Her eyes bulged when they fell upon the large bags of marijuana and an even bigger assortment of pills.

“He’s a drug dealer,” she concluded aloud.

“That’s what it looks like,” Gnar agreed.

“Maybe he’s doing it to pay for college,” she suggested, feeling a strange need to defend the boy.

“Maybe,” Gnar replied, rising to his feet. “Anyway, we should get out of here. I have an even better one for you.” He pulled a rag out of his pocket and began to wipe down the surfaces of the bathroom.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Fingerprints” he said. “Just in case.”

The next apartment was on the fifth floor. “Who lives here?” she asked as Gnar led them inside.

“Reverend and Mrs. Pittman,” he replied. “They’re an older couple who walk around here turning their noses up at anyone who doesn’t go to church three times a week. Once I came in to fix their toilet and he pretty much told me I was going to hell after he found out I’m not baptised. A Jehovah’s witness used to live next door to them, but the Pittman’s ran her out of her after just a few months.”

Inside of the apartment, she noticed the crosses immediately. They were everywhere, spread throughout the apartment, all colors and sizes, paired with scriptures and rosaries and religious poems and pictures of J.C. himself. The next thing to catch her attention was the four-foot statue of Virgin Mary, standing next to the arm chair like a house guest. “Wow,” she said, bewildered.

“Holy shit,” Gnar said. “No pun intended.” He and Maxie exchanged glances and a chuckle. “C’mon,” he said. “Let me show you the bedrooms.”

She followed him to the first bedroom. It was small and plain, painted a pale blue with oak furniture. There were more crosses, a big one hovering over the bed like a dark cloud on a sunny day. A few family pictures were scattered about, and they even had a small television on the dresser. “I like to call this their day room,” Gnar said.

She glanced at him, confused, and he motioned for her to follow him. They went to the second bedroom next, which had to be unlocked. Maxie stepped inside and gasped, placing her hand on her chest as she peered around. Black curtains over the windows darkened the room, and there was no furniture, just…devices. The room resembled a mid-evil times torture chamber with its chains and locks and…swings. There were whips, and gags, and blindfolds, and leather costumes. Sex paraphernalia decorated the room like trophies, like art. She wrapped her arms around herself as she stepped further inside, afraid to touch anything that had previously been somewhere less than sanitary.

“They’re masochists,” she said.

He is,” Gnar said. “She’s a dominatrix.”

“Oh, my Go—”

“Don’t even say His name,” he interjected, peering around the room. “Those two walk around judging everyone else. I have no problem with strange fantasies and fetishes. But the hypocrisy.”

Maxie moved to the armoire and pulled the doors open to reveal a large, flat screen TV accompanied by a broad collection of S&M inspired porn DVDs. “Better than any sex store you’ve ever been in, huh?” he asked.

She shuddered. “Let’s get out of here. I’m starting to feel violated.”

He chuckled and they headed toward the front door, stopping short when the knob clicked and Mrs. Pittman’s voice carried from the other side…


Safe Keeping

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