A Blessing From Above

A horror story about the friendly neighbor Lenny, a retired veterinarian, who becomes witness to a delicate situation at the house next door, and lends a hand.

. . .

Lenny Hancock folded the morning paper and placed it beside his coffee and the half-eaten ham sandwich. His neighbor Mike’s shiny black Ford came up on the old gravel road, followed by a dust cloud that billowed over the wheat-fields. Lenny found it odd, since no one dared to use that pot riddled back-road these days, beside Bob and his old tractor. He glanced at the old Omega clock on his wrist. It was half past ten. Mike shouldn’t be home from the mill for at least another 6 hours. He suspected that the rusty wreck of a car parked under the massive apple trees in Mike’s driveway had something to do with his swift arrival.

Lenny helped plant those trees 40 years ago, when Spencer and Mary had a small potato farm there. Lenny had been in his mid-30’s and just opened the veterinarian clinic in his basement. They had been decent and hardworking folks and there wasn’t a day gone by when Lenny didn’t think about them and how he missed the old simpler times. Cancer took Mary a couple of years after they got Melinda. Spencer never remarried and raised his daughter by himself at the farm. Then on a sunny day in late august, Melinda headed off to college with a smile as big as her dreams. Since that day, no one saw her again, neither in Holden nor anywhere. Spencer seldom talked about his missing daughter, and Lenny knew better than to stir things up. Five years ago Spencer fell down and didn’t get back up. A massive stroke said the corners. The entire estate went up on auction. Bob Naslund nabbed the fields while the newlyweds Mike and Karen Miller bought the house.

Mike’s car skidded to a stop, and gravel rained over the uncut lawn. Lenny eased himself up from his chair and walked across the porch.

“Barb, something’s up at the Millers.” He murmured through to the open window to his wife.

Mike flew out of his car as if it was on fire and glared at the old car as he marched towards the house. Seconds later, a window on the second floor flung open and Lenny’s jaw dropped as a tanned and naked young lad climbed out and clung on to the windowsill for dear life. The lad looked down at the big rose bushes below before he let go. For a second Lenny thought the man hanged in the air like a cartoon, before he fell through the air.

This wasn’t the first time Karen enjoyed the company of other men while Mike was away. Around three years ago, Lenny spotted a brand new Lexus on Mike’s driveway. When he went over to have a closer look, he spotted Karen with another man through the kitchen window. She had been naked from the waist up and while the man fondled her breast, Karen worked her tongue over his chiseled face as if it was cotton candy. Slack-jawed, Lenny had backed away. From that day, there wasn’t unusual to see unfamiliar vehicles at the Millers’. Sometimes, she took a break, but there was always someone new after a while. Lenny and Barb discussed if they should tell Mike about his wife’s promiscuous hobby, but they decided against it. It was better not to stir things up. Besides, they enjoyed their new neighbors, and Mike was always glad to lend a hand if Lenny needed help around the house.

Mike’s blushed face looked out of the window. For a moment, Lenny wasn’t sure if he would wave hello or not, but before he could decide, Mike shut the window with a bang. The lad’s frighten face popped up from the bushes looked around like a deer at a busy road. When he thought the coast was clear, he crawled out and limped toward Lenny’s house, looking over his shoulder with every other step.

“Oh, dear!” Barb came up beside her husband and shook her head. “Those scratches will burn something awful.”

“Mm, and that ankle seems busted to me.”

They stared at the man as he limped closer with a grimace of defeat over his handsome face.

“Are you thinking of taking care of the poor lad?” Barbara asked.

Lenny nodded and stretched his back. “It sure seems to be the wisest thing to do here.”

“Are you sure?” She asked. Lenny nodded and stroke his unshaven face. “Well, you know best, dear. Then I’ll go inside and set things up.”

Lenny walked up to the lad and grabbed his arm and place it around his neck.

“Thank you,” the man said and nodded towards the Millers’ house. “That man is an over-the-top psychopath, did you know that?”

“Oh, is that so?” Lenny said as they hobbled towards the entrance of the basement.

The fluorescent tubes flickered to life and lit up the old clinic with its cold light. Lenny helped the lad up on the big examination table in the middle.

“Oh, fuck that’s cold.”

“I can imagine,” Lenny chuckled and ripped off a sheet of paper from a big roll on the floor. “Here, it might not help against the cold, but you could cover yourself a bit.”

“Thanks. By the way, the name is Steve.”

“No problem, the pleasure is all mine, Steve” Lenny pulled out a rolling stool and sat down.

“Are you some kind of doctor or something?” Steve’s eyes moved over the clinic.

“Close. Veterinarian. Ran the clinic for almost 40 years, before the wife said it was enough. Sold most of the equipment and invited our boy and his family on an all-inclusive cruise in the Caribbean. But enough about me know, let’s look at that ankle of yours, shall we?”

Steve groaned as Lenny took a gentle grip beneath the heel.

“Oh damn, that hurts so bad.” Steve whimpered.

The ankle had a reddish taint and had ballooned to twice its normal size. Lenny leaned back and shook his head.

“Well, my guess you got yourself a nasty sprain or, if you’re unlucky, a broken ankle. There’s no way to tell really without an X-ray.”

“What the hell?” Steve looked up at the ceiling. “That sounds like my fucking luck.”

Lenny shrugged. “I’m sorry son, but I could give you something for the pain if you like?”

Steve’s eyes grew with anticipation. “Oh yeah, that’s sounds like a plan doc.”

With a nod, Lenny got up and took out a small glass vial from a cabinet.

“Have you known Karen for a long time?” Lenny asked as he fished up a syringe from a drawer.

“Nah, not that long. Like a month. We met at the gym and talked, and then one thing led to another and, well, I think you can guess the rest, can’t you, doc?” A huge grin grew on Steve’s tanned face.

Lenny nodded as he put the needle in the vial and pulled up the liquid in the syringe. “Oh, I think I get the gist of it, Steve. But, what do you with all your stuff? I mean, surely you must have your phone and wallet there?”

Steve shook his head. “Nah, you see I travel light. I bring no expensive or personal stuff with me to these kinds of meetings, you know.”

“I see, but what about the car?” Fritz tapped the syringe with his finger.

Steve laughed. “That’s the beauty of it. A friend of mine owns a car scrap, and he let me borrow used up cars. So I don’t care what happens to that wreck. This isn’t my first rodeo, old man.”

“Clever, you surely thought of everything, haven’t you?”

Steve tapped his temple. “It’s all up here, doc.”

Lenny sat back on the stool and drew up the solution from the vial in the syringe. “Now then, let’s see if we cannot take the edge off that pain, shall we?”

“Let’s take that pain away, shall we?” Lenny sat down in front of Steve.

“Yeah, fill me up with the good stuff, doc!”

Lenny nodded, then he put the needle against Steve’s thigh, and it sank into the flesh like a hot knife through butter.

“There you go, Steve. In a moment all your pain will go away.” Lenny placed the empty syringe on the table and looked at Steve in silence.

Steve’s eyes moved around the room for a while before he got a surprised look.

“Wow, that went straight to my…” Steve’s body wavered and his hands clutched the table. “Is it supposed to… Doc, I think something is wrong here.” Steve said in a worried tone.

Lenny stood up and grabbed Steve by his shoulders and eased him down on the table. Lenny couldn’t help himself. It was like that time when he was a little boy, and his mother’s plate of marvelous chocolate cookies. She’d left it on the counter to cool while she went outside to hang the laundry. Lenny had battled with himself before he sneaked away with a cookie. It didn’t take long before half of the cookies were missing. The pain and the burn from the box on the ear resounded to this day, but it had been worth it.

“Shh, just relax and let it happen. You know Steve, this isn’t my first rodeo either.”

Steve’s eyes moved around like ping-pong balls and he opened and closed his mouth as if he just forgot what he was about to say. He fought for air, but his muscles had shut down. His eyes bulged out of their sockets and soon his face got a light-blue tone. His body convulsed in spasms before it became still and his eyes became blank. Lenny took deep, fast breaths as the euphoria washed over him. His hands trembled as he pulled out a drawer under the table, and the glimmer from the stainless instruments matched the glee in his eyes.

Lenny walked out on his porch and leaned against the railing and dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief.

This was the beauty of life – you could never tell what the day would bring or if it would be your last. You could wake up one morning and find yourself at a bus stop headed for college, only to end your days in your neighbor’s basement. He pulled out his phone and dialed.

“Hi, son it’s Dad. Everything is fine with me and your mother. How are you and the kids? I’m glad to hear it. What do you say about some barbecue this weekend? I’ve come across some nice meat, you know. Well, you could say it was a blessing from above. That sounds great, Sunday it is. You have a deal. Oh, could you ask Linda to bring that delicious pepper sauce of hers? Yeah, you know how your mother is crazy about it! Great, can’t wait to see you all!”

Lenny put the phone one railing and clutched his hands. This would be a wonderful weekend with his family. Maybe even Mike and Karen would like to come over for a bite? That would be something to remember, he chuckled and sat down on the chair.

Copyright © 2021

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