January 18th: The first time I met Leroy (REDACTED) in person I talked him into breaking into a missing girl's house. The next time I saw him he had a black eye and a dislocated shoulder.
When I asked him what happened he started to shake, and he shook the whole time he told me his story.
And what did I say when he was done? What did I say to the scared high school senior standing before me?
“Did you get it on video?”
Remember that if you ever start to think that I’m a hero in all this...
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
Slim To None
Al Bruno III
…the video began with an external view of a darkened street. Leroy was hidden in a neighbor's yard, waiting for Suzie (REDACTED)'s parents to leave their home. I wasn't sure if Leroy was going to get a chance to get inside the place but Mr. and Mrs. (REDACTED) have turned to their faith in this time of crisis and are attending evening and morning services on a regular basis.
Church days are always the optimal time for doing things like this, funerals and weddings are even better.
After you type a sentence like that you really have to question your life choices but that's a whole other blog post.
Leroy waited twenty minutes before heading in. First he tried the windows, no luck there. Then he did the old credit card in the door trick but only managed to destroy a perfectly good library card. Then he looked for a plastic rock, he found one and sure enough there was a key underneath it.
With that he was in.
The digital video camera I gave him was from the pawn shop I work at so it didn't have the greatest picture under the best of circumstances but it did have a night vision setting so he was able to make his way around the darkened house without crashing into the furniture. Leroy had no idea where Suzie's room was, so he had to do a little poking around.
First there was the living room, or the parlor, or whatever people are calling them these days. Two couches and a recliner were on one side of the room, a widescreen TV on the other. Framed photographs were on the walls, most of them were of the (REDACTED) family in their younger days. It’s funny how the novelty of taking pictures wears off as your kid gets older isn’t it? Maybe it is just that families get too busy. Maybe its that deep down parents would rather remember their kids when they’re helpless little accessories, not when their surly teens or disappointing adults.
One of the framed photographs wasn’t a photograph at all, it was the front page of the Knickerbocker News from over a decade ago. A headline blared “MIRACLE ESCAPE” above a column of text and a black and white photograph of nine tired looking kids. Leroy kept the camera trained on it for almost a minute. I wondered if he had his own copy of this article somewhere in his home.
That part of the house explored he made his way to the kitchen. There had been a lot of concerned visitors of late and each visitor had brought comfort food of one kind or another. Tupperware containers of all sizes and shapes were piled up in the sink, there were so many that they had begun to spill over onto the nearby counter. The crumbs and scraps of food were beginning to spoil. My grandmother would have called this an open invitation for every rodent in the neighborhood.
Maybe so but we all know that there are worse things than rats that can get in your house. Lots worse.
Leroy moved from the kitchen to the guest room, then from the guest room to the bathroom and finally to Suzie’s room. Her room was in the rearmost part of the house, her curtains were drawn closed but thanks to the miracle that is Google Earth I know that she grew up with a view of her backyard.
Funny thing about the (REDACTED) family’s backyard. It was surrounded on all sides by the neighbors’ yards, and each of them had put up a tall wooden slat fence. All the houses on this road, and the nearby streets, have been that way for years. I did a little digging to find out why and learned that there have been long running problems with “transients, vandals and peeping Toms.”
Now that he had found Suzie’s room, Leroy did as I asked and took long lingering images of everything even remotely interesting. First there was her desk, it was cluttered with pens, markers and bottles of nail polish. There were papers everywhere, most were covered with the standard time wasting doodles of the bored; squares, lightning bolts, circles and little tornados but mixed in with those was this weird tangle of lines and curves that created an image somewhere between a sigil and a stick figure.
There was an iPod on her dresser, thumbing through it revealed she had been recently listening to an album called Plans.
Checking her dresser drawers and nightstand revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Did Leroy get a guilty thrill out of rummaging through a girl’s unmentionables? Lord knows I still do.
There was a poster for the band ‘Death Cab For Cutie’ over the headboard, a leather jacket was hung over one of the bedposts. The bed itself was refreshingly free of any stuffed animals or dolls or other foofyiness. Looking under the bed gave Leroy the first real surprise of the evening, a box of 9 millimeter ammunition, Remington brand to be precise.
He put the box back under the bed and turned his attention to the closet. He was grumbling under his breath, griping about his time being wasted and wondering to himself what kind of an idiot I was.
Suzie’s closet was crammed full of clothes; dresses, jeans, blouses and coats. It looked like she wasn’t the kind of girl that liked to throw anything away.
The camera saw the figure in the closet before Leroy did.
Cue the double take.
Leroy’s gasp was more like a grunt. He stepped back. The figure in the closet stepped forward. This was no faceless spindly man, this was just a stranger in jeans, a hoodie and a wooden mask. The mask was a sharp oval with distended eyes and a gaping mouth that overflowed with gnarled fangs.
“This isn’t what you think...” Leroy said.
The masked figure leaped. The camera went flying across the room...
...how do I describe that lacquered mask? Imagine a Japanese Oni demon re-imagined as a Garbage Pail Kid.
And since I am not going to go on calling it ‘the masked figure’ from here on out it will be known as Crooked Teeth. I think Suzie, wherever she is, would approve.
So, Crooked Teeth beat the crap out of Leroy and ran. Thankfully Leroy managed to get out of the (REDACTED) family home before the police arrived to investigate the brouhaha.
What was the masked figure- I mean Crooked Teeth- doing in Suzie’s closet? Waiting for a bus? Searching for something? Had it been following Leroy all along?
I don’t know, all I do know is that while Leroy and I were going over the video we lost another one of the Colonie Village Nine.
And this time it wasn’t a disappearance, this time we had a body.