Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Joshua Hoffine

We at Alone at Night suggest taking a moment to check out Joshua Hoffine's art. Seriously, you'll thank us later when you're alone at night, unable to sleep, because who knows what is going on in the other room...




Monday, February 24, 2014

Snuggle Monster

I was living with a roommate at the time (we're both girls). It was really late, around 3am. I was profoundly asleep when I heard the door open. Then, I saw the silhouette of a man entering our bedroom and sitting on my bed, right next to me. I wasn't sure if it was real or just a dream, I was confused. He proceeded to calmly lay down next to me and then hugged me in a very clumsy way. For a moment I thought it could be my boyfriend, who lived near by, so I managed to grab his face and asked him "What's wrong? Are you OK?", it just seemed so weird he would show up in the middle of the night. He didn't say anything, stood up again, looked at me for like two seconds and then walked out of the bedroom. I didn't know what just happened so I decided to go after him. When I saw him leaving the apartment through the living room window I realized he wasn't my boyfriend nor anyone I knew. That was when the fear kicked in.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Selling Souls

My boyfriend (who is a truck driver) was back in town for the night, and I had just finished working a ridiculously long week, so we decided to head to our local bar and grab a quick drink with a friend. First of all, creeper guy had picked me out before we even entered the bar. This bar, in addition to the indoor portion (with bar, dancefloor, and bathrooms) also has a fenced in patio area that is visible from the outside entranceway. My boyfriend and I were standing outside finishing up our cigarettes before entering the bar when I noticed this guy.

He was the only person out on the patio, smoking a cigarette. He looked directly at me and held eye contact for far longer than was comfortable. The look he gave me was really disconcerting. It was almost like he was attempting to be sexy and alluring, like in the movies when two people catch each others' eyes in slow motion across the bar, but it came off as "hey girl, I'm a deranged serial killer." My boyfriend and I quietly chuckled about it for a moment before tossing our smokes, dismissing it, and entering the bar.

We grabbed a drink, and went out to the patio to sit by the heater (at that time he was no longer out there.) We're chit chatting, nursing our drinks, just waiting on our friend to arrive, when SURPRISE, McCreepy walks out and makes a beeline for our table. He seemed polite enough at first and asked if he could sit with us, next to the heater. We obliged, trying not to be rude. This is when shit starts to get bizarre.

He asks us what had brought us out this evening, and after making a bit of small talk, he lurches into this ridiculous rant about how there aren't enough women in the bar, that he needs more women for "human sacrifice" so he can "save the world." My boyfriend gives him a sideways look, and he immediately says, "Oh I'm just fuckin' with you, I'm totally kidding dude." Ok, so he's got a weird sense of humor, I can tolerate it for a few minutes. He asks us what we do for a living, and I tell him I work for a veterinarian. He suddenly seems interested and asks, "Oh! What vet do you work for?!" I stupidly tell him, and he immediately interjects, "-Insert name of vet- is a dead man." I stop cold. Wait, what? He continues to imply that he is going to off my boss, so I can "take over the clinic," and drones on and on about all the wonderful things he's going to do for my boyfriend and I since we're going to "sell him our souls." At this point I'm a little freaked out.

He tells us that he was sent by God from heaven, to hunt vampires and "whatever other goliaths" people inform him of...and of course goes right back to talking about "human sacrifice of women," and how he wishes our friend would hurry up and arrive so he could "have more women." In addition to his psycho-babble, I notice that some of his mannerisms are just...off. He was about halfway finished with smoking a cigarette, when he reaches over and snags one from my pack, offers one of his own to another patron, and then puts his out and proceeds to light the wrong end of the one he snatched from me. Weird.

Eventually he comes around to telling us that "the secrets are all in the technology," and asks to "see my phone." I politely decline. But, this guy just won't quit. My phone is laying on the table in front of me, and he keeps inching closer and closer to me, and becoming more verbally forceful. "C'mon, let me see your phone." "Let me hold your phone ma'am." "You need to let me show you something on your phone."

Finally I looked at my boyfriend, and said his name in a tone that conveyed "I am severely uncomfortable right now." Apparently McCreepy took notice of my tone, and the murderglare my boyfriend was shooting him, and quickly hopped up and scurried back inside.

_WolfCub

Monday, February 17, 2014

Let Me In


In my first job after college I traveled all over the United States. I had to do these site surveys, and one of my big clients was McDonald's. I'd fly in to a centrally located town, and drive to all the nearby McDonald's locations completing these site surveys. I'd be out for a week or two and then fly home. Then after a few days at  home, I'd fly out again.

I stayed in so many different hotels in so many different cities that they all blurred together. However, there are a few that stand out. Here's one of them.

I was in Springfield, Mass, which is a pretty shitty town. If you live there, I'm sorry. If you don't live there, don't visit. So, I'm doing my job, hitting my locations, and it's getting late. I decide to call it a day.

I get in my rental car, fire up my GPS and ask it to find me the nearest hotel.  The GPS takes me to this run down place that looks like it's either being renovated or torn down. My employer sets a $100 a night budget for hotels, and as I looked at this place, I was sure I'd come in under budget.

The hotel probably around a few hundred rooms, but there are only a handful of cars in the parking lot. Sitting in my car in the parking lot, I wasn't actually sure that it was open and operational. It was late, and I was tired, and I didn't feel like driving anywhere else, so I decided to hell with it.

I parked and entered the lobby and find that the hotel is, in fact, open for business. Not only am I not going to blow my one hundred dollar budget, but it's actually alarmingly inexpensive for a night's stay. I continued the to hell with it attitude, paid up, took my room key and wandered the labyrinthine halls until I found my room.

My room was on the first floor, and it had a sliding glass door the lead out onto a bare cement slab that I guess could be considered, in some sort of post-apocalyptic reality, as a patio.

I washed up and went out to get dinner. When I left my room, I realized that there was an exit no about ten feet away. Instead of hauling my luggage all through the maze-like corridors I could have parked my car right by that door. I marked the door's location in my mind, get in my car and ask the all-knowing GPS to find me a good place to eat, hoping it does a better job at that than it did finding me a hotel.

I arrived back to my hotel after night had fallen. The restaurant was okay, but the drive out to it gave me a chance to see Springfield, a shit hole of a town during the day, at night. Somehow, it was even worse.

I was always leery about crime while working because I had been mugged once before while on the job, in Winston Salem, NC. On a crime scale of one to ten, I would have given Springfield a solid 7.I would have given Winston Salem a 6.

I scoped out the parking lot, saw nothing amiss and proceeded to enter the hotel. In my room, I changed into my sleep attire, a t-shirt and shorts, and turned on the television.  I kept looking over at the sliding glass door. Couldn't help myself. I had the curtain pulled, and I doubt anyone could see me, but I still hated that it was there. It's would be easy to break into. I considered asking for a different room, but it was too late, so I decided to man-up and try to sleep.

I decided to read for a few minutes before going to sleep. It was quiet and I was beginning to nod off when I heard a hollow knock on the sliding glass door. I sat up and waited for a moment to see if I heard the knocking again. A moment passes and then there is another knock.

I walked over to the door, slid the curtain to the side and saw a man standing on the post-apocalyptic patio looking in at me. He says, "Hey, can you let me in?" To which I reply an emphatic, "Hell, no!"
His brow wrinkled for a moment and then he kind of laughed and smiled and said, "No, I mean in that door." and he pointed in the direction of the exit/entrance just a few feet away. He went on to explain, "I forgot my key."

I wondered for a moment whether I was being paranoid or not, or if this was a sketchy situation. I made up my mind, "Sure. I can let you in." I watch him walk in the direction of the entrance and I left my room and let him in.

After I opened the door for him, he thanked me. I then realized that it might be better if he didn't know which room I was in, so I stopped to tie my shoes (which I had put on in case I had to run, but in my haste had neglected to tie.) The lame ruse gave me enough time to see the guy wander down the same hallway that I had come down and stop outside my room. I remember thinking to myself, of course this happens.

Right as I was about to panic, the man turned to the door opposite mine and knocked. A moment later the door opened and the man says, "Forgot my damn key" to whomever else was in the room.

Not long later, I got stabbed in Indianapolis, and decided to quit the job before I wound up dead.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Downsized

{This is a story from a friend. I can vouch that he isn't a creeper, though he may be kind of strange. --Alone at Night Staff}

About two years ago I was downsized from my job at a community college. After a few fruitless months of applying for jobs, I was growing pretty despondent. Not only wasn't I getting any interviews, but I wasn't even finding many positions for which to apply.

My typical day would be as follows: wake up, go to the library to use their WiFi to search for and apply to jobs, go home for lunch, go back to the library and search/apply for jobs until dinner, watch TV until bed. After a few months of this, I was becoming progressively more restless at night and increasingly depressed. The warm winds of summer had finally arrived, so I decided to go for bike rides late at night, and usually with a few drinks in me.

I would start drinking with dinner and continue until I had a nice buzz on, and then head out for a ride. I'd wait until it was late at night, but not too late. I wanted to see people, their lives, in their houses. It couldn't be midnight on a Tuesday, because too many people would be in bed. 10pm, I had decided was the perfect time. It was late enough that people would be home, but not so late that everyone would be asleep.

Now, I want to make clear that I didn't want to see people in their homes for any explicitly creepy reason. It wasn't like I was hoping to see someone naked, or having sex or anything like that. I know that this will be difficult for a lot of people to understand, and it is difficult for me to explain, but I'll try. I wanted to see people living their lives, because I felt so much like I was just treading water in my own life. I was unemployed, seemingly without many options, and was increasingly worried I would have no future. I wanted to see what other people were like in their lives, but when they were alone and could be entirely themselves. Seeing people at the grocery store wasn't the same as seeing them at home. We all put on a type of mask when we're out in public, limit our actions and stifle our true selves. I was interested, I guess always have been even before I was downsized, in what people were like when they thought they were alone.

I know that sounds creepy and I just have to hope some people understand what I mean. I'm sure some people will just cross me off as a weirdo, and that's fine. Know, however, that I had no nefarious intentions, I promise. The best I can relate my desires to is to liken it to documentary films, or candid photography. My motivations were the same as why I read books. It's a way to get to know humanity in a way that is true and deeper than the casual facades we see in public.

So, I rode my bike through sleepy neighborhood streets late at night, and as I slowly rode down the street, I looked in windows. I didn't stop my bike, and I never trespassed on anyone's property. I just watched as I rode by from the street. It was like being presented with a shoebox filled with snapshots of people's lives. Slowly, but with a steady and unceasing pace, I flipped through the photos.
Some of the images that stuck with me almost seem mundane, but would drive my imagination. The images include an empty kitchen with an incredibly beautiful painting that I tried to ride by every night. I once saw an overweight man standing in his living room in front of his television wearing underwear and a white t-shirt, eating something from a bowl (he was standing in front of a large picture window, which I thought was funny) and I have no idea why this scene captured my thoughts as it did. I saw countless families in various rooms, usually watching TV or more rarely and, what was more special, talking. The scenes were lovely to me in some strange way that I really have trouble explaining.

However, I realized one night that, though I knew my interest was entirely harmless, if I was on the other end of my late-night rides, I might have considered myself exceptionally creepy.

I usually took a similar route on my rides, as I liked certain neighborhoods (safer for me to ride at night, less traffic, more neighborhood houses). After several weeks, it made sense that some people might start to notice me. One evening, I'm on my ride, and I decide to take an alley between two streets, just to see the houses from the back, and maybe see a new perspective on the people I felt I'd come to know in some strange way. The alley is dark, except for the occasional back porch light and I'm, per usual, a little drunk. I’m riding and contemplating my current life situation, the people in all these houses, and humanity in general, when suddenly I hear a kind of scream, more like a half strangled yelp, from nearby. I nearly startled right of my bike, and I see in the shadows a woman drop a trash bag and sprint off into her house. I hear her yelling inside about, "It's that guy on the bike! He's in our back yard" (I wasn't in the yard just to clarify. I was in the alley). Suddenly the backdoor slams open and a mammoth of a man emerges from the house.

My drunken brain realizes, slowly, that I'm in trouble. It's too late to pedal off, so I stop riding when the man emerges from the back yard and yells, "Blah blah blah, what do you think you're doing? blah blah blah" I remember trying to explain my entire back-story to him, about losing my job, being bored, wanting to get out of the house for a while, etc, but I'm sure I wasn't making any sense. I was drunk and startled. He did the obvious thing, and threatened to call the cops and to hurt me if he saw me again, etc, etc. I apologized for startling his wife – I was truly sorry, as I never meant any harm to anyone – and rode off.

I wasn't trying to be a creeper, but I guess to that lady and her husband at least, I was. Too many months later, I still hadn't found a good job, so I decided to attend graduate school. I still wonder what is going on behind the curtains and walls of people’s houses, and I still occasionally ride my bike late at night, but I do so sober, more because I have more hope for my life now than I did then then any other reason. Oh, and I stay away from that one house, too.