I was furious when I caught my neighbor on the fire escape outside my bedroom window

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

When I lived in an apartment house with five other tenants, there was a very creepy man who lived directly across from my door. There was perhaps ten feet of distance between the entrance to my apartment and the entrance to his apartment.

My bedroom window faced an alley. There was a fire escape from the window that led down into the alley below.

Because my husband kept late hours, I would be alone all night long. If he wasn't working overnight at his job, he was out at the bars until the wee hours of the morning.

Our apartment didn't have air conditioning. On hot summer nights, I'd go to bed with my window open to let in the cool outside air.

Every night, I heard a clatter on the fire escape outside my bedroom window. I tried to dismiss the sound, telling myself it was the wind or a neighborhood cat.

When it happened night after night, I had to admit it was more than the wind or a cat. I promised myself I'd stick my head out the window to investigate further the next time I heard the sound. Weeks went by, and I didn't have the nerve to confront my fears.

Finally, I'd had enough. When I flung aside my curtains and poked my head out the window, there was my neighbor from across the hall standing on my fire escape. He looked so shocked to see me it was almost comical. "I thought I heard a clatter on the fire escape," he said.

"That's funny. I thought I heard a clatter on the fire escape, too," I replied.

The neighbor said he had heard someone on our fire escape and came out to investigate. He told me he had checked near my bedroom window to make sure I was safe.

He wasn't fooling anyone. My neighbor was a peeping Tom, and if anyone had made the clattering sound on the fire escape outside my bedroom window, it was him. It had been going on for weeks, maybe months.

I was so upset. My gut instinct had told me the neighbor was creepy from the beginning, but I never expected him to stand on my fire escape peering into my bedroom window when my husband wasn't home.

I slammed the window shut and locked it. Then I pulled down the shades and closed the curtains. There wouldn't be anyone peering in through my bedroom window again, not if I could help it.

Even though I was furious at what the neighbor had done, I didn't tell my husband. I was afraid it would cause a fight, or even worse, I was afraid he would blame me for the neighbor's actions. Instead, I dealt with the situation by keeping the bedroom window closed tightly, even in the summer.

I convinced my husband to move out of the house at the first available opportunity, and I never saw my peeping Tom neighbor again.

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