My Neighbor Fred

Keeping this one pretty short. This may or may not eventually be part of a series about a guy named Wayne Ellsworth who’s a “weirdness magnet.”

It stood a little over seven feet tall, with skin the mottled gray of New Hampshire granite. Its eyes were set inhumanly low and far apart; its snub nose was black and appeared to have four nostrils. Its mouth had a divided upper lip that vaguely resembled a cat’s, but its blue-gray teeth didn’t look catlike at all – or like anything else I’d ever seen before. It wore a baggy sweatshirt that failed to hide the fact that its shoulders were structured wrong. The four-fingered hand that was still hovering near the doorbell had far too many joints, and was at the end of an arm with three elbows.

“Hi,” it said, in a voice that was obviously not human. It had a slight lisp and the faintest trace of a Brooklyn accent. “I’m Fred Smith, from Number Nine, down the block. I was wondering if you could do me a favor.”

“Uh,” I said.

“Yeah, I know. I look pretty strange.” It glanced over its misshapen shoulder and asked, “Could I come in?”

“Uh,” I said again.

Its mouth did something I really can’t describe that I guess was a grimace, and it said, “Maybe this was a bad idea, but honestly, I didn’t know where else to go.”

I wasn’t ready to invite it in for tea, but despite its appearance and the weird voice, it sounded so normal that my brain finally started to slip into gear. “What kind of a favor?” I asked.

“Could you make a phone call for me? Maybe tell a little white lie or two?” It looked around uneasily. “And if you could let me in, out of sight, I’d really appreciate it. I don’t want to start any trouble, and I’m pretty nervous out here in the open.”

That made perfect sense. I couldn’t help taking a quick look at its hands and teeth, but I didn’t see any claws or fangs – in fact, it didn’t appear to have fingernails at all.

“Come on in,” I said, stepping aside, “and tell me about it.”

It ducked its head to fit through the door, then straightened up again once it was inside, and looked around.

“You have a lovely home,” it said.

“Thank you,” I replied automatically.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *