A journal of narrative writing.
by Michael Lacare

“Is everything okay?” I ask.

“They’re fine,” she says.

That’s funny, I want to say. They don’t look fine.


My neighbors have stopped arguing. At least, I have not heard them raising their voices in quite some time. When I return home one evening, there is a woman dressed in a black skirt and white blouse knocking on my door.

“Can I help you?”

She turns and looks at me. “I’m looking for Jodi.”

“Jodi doesn’t live there.”

She seems confused. “Oh.”

“I do,” I say.

“That’s funny. I was just here a couple of days ago.”

“You must have the wrong place.”

“Did you just move in?” she asks.

“No,” I say. “I’ve been here for awhile.”

Her brows furrow and she wrinkles her nose. “Are you sure?” Then she laughs and points at me. “Are you fucking with me?”


Her smile fades and I walk past her, shoving my key into the lock. “See?” I walk inside and close the door. I count to ten and peer through the peep hole. The woman is still there. She knocks on my door.

I answer it.

“Are you Bryan?” she asks.


Claire has called into work again. Sal has the day off, so she lucked out because Wade could care less. He is in the back office, on the telephone.

The same police officer from the other day comes into the store and inquires about Claire. I tell him she called in. He then asks me if we have another way to get in touch with her.

“I’m sorry, we don’t,” I say.

“Let her know I stopped by,” he says and walks out.


“That cop came by yesterday,” I say to Claire as she grabs a basket full of returned tapes.

“Jesus,” she says. “Really?”

I follow her to the Horror section. “Is everything cool?”

“The guy’s a whack job.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing,” she says. “Forget it.”

“The cop’s a whack job?”

She rolls her eyes and sighs. We are now in the Drama section, which I find appropriate. “Big time.”

“I don’t get it,” I say.

She sets the basket down. “The other day, I call the cops on my boyfriend and this whack-a-doodle comes out. He starts asking me all these questions and the next thing I know, he’s as crazy as Billy.”

Billy? “Billy?”

“My boyfriend.”

“What happened?”

“I think the cop’s stalking me,” Claire says.

“No, what happened that you had to call the cops on your boyfriend?”

Claire hesitates and says nothing. Then she rolls up the sleeve on her left arm. There are several small, round singe marks on her skin.

“What are those?” I ask.

“Cigarette burns.” She swallows hard, holding back tears. “It’s something he does,” she says, as if she is referring to a simple hobby, like stamp collecting or building model train sets.

“Jesus Christ.” I am practically at a loss for words.

“It’s not your problem,” Claire says and heaves the basket toward New Releases. “Looks like I’m trading one psycho for another. Story of my life.”

“What makes you say that?”

She turns to peer at me from over her shoulder. “Because he’s relentless.”

“What happened to your boyfriend?”