by Eric Poirier
He’s always staring. It creeps the hell out of me. He just stands at his door and watches us play street hockey every time. I am the only member of the crew that has a problem with it so I have to put up with it by myself. It’s because there’s no where else to play, that’s the problem. Our neighborhood street makes this horseshoe and both ends connect to one of the busiest roads in the city. There are only a couple of areas where it’s straight enough to play. One is in front of old Mrs. Kensington’s and she always calls the cops on us. The other is, of course, in front of hawk man’s house and he never complains, he just stares, and so, for the rest of my friends it was the obvious choice. There was no question about it, nobody says poo to us playing street hockey in front of his house so we continued – to my constant discomfort though. He never screams when we walk all over his grass with our rollerblades to fetch our ballhockey ball. He has yet to call the police. Actually, I think he has yet to stand anywhere else in the world but in his doorway during our gameplay. It’s not like we play on a schedule. We play when we all can. We’ve even played late at night on a Saturday during some of the year’s hottest days. We always play on a moment’s notice. Either Marc, Rodney or Steve will call everybody out of the blue and we all get together to play. And yet he is always there. He always knows when we’re there. And it’s not like he stands at his door 24/7. I live directly across the street from his house and the only time he stands there is to watch us play. It never fails. Every time, I roll out onto the street first before everybody else as quietly as possible. I don’t make a peep. But he knows to come out and stare at me before the rest arrive. And so, every time, for a few minutes, we watch each other, until the boys arrive and then he watches all of us. At least most of the time. Some times his gaze will be averted to the sky directly above my bungalow, through the tree in our back yard. The guys tell me to relax. That he’s just an old crazy who likes to watch us play to stem the doom of boredom. I don’t know why I am so uncomfortable with him. Probably because I live right in front of him and I always see him come out to watch. He is not there unless we play in the street. I have never seen him leave or anybody go in. He is always there watching us through the tiny holes in his screen door.
Mother is still telling me not to bother him (me bother him!) or let myself be bothered. She has seen hawk man watch us play while she watches us from the veranda of our house. Even though she’s never seen anybody go in or out of that house, she says people do go in because we don’t watch him 24/7 and that the man needs to sustain himself somehow. His story is nothing new. Uncle Aidan told me about him during one of our talks on the veranda.
Mrs. Fusil lived with hawk man before I was born. After I was born, her husband and brother were involved in a car accident. Mr. Fusil died but her brother lived to become hawk man. I have always remembered hawk man as hawk man. The guy who stares at us playing hockey. My first memory of that house is of Mrs. Fusil dying and then me noticing hawk man. Apparently, Mrs. Fusil left the house to run errands which explains who took care of hawk man. Uncle Aidan, who has practically lived with me and my parents for as long as I can remember (he always comes over, even when his brother isn’t around), says he used to watch hawk man shovel the drive way in the summer, put empty garbage cans to the curb, cut the grass to a nice brown finish, and stare at people pass by the front of his house. When Fusil died, hawk man disappeared from the outside world to become hawk man. Uncle Aidan too has noticed his behaviour because often he watches me play hockey with mom on the veranda. Uncle Aidan too doesn’t really notice the seriousness of his staring because half way through our hockey game he goes into the house with mom. I am really the only person who watches hawk man stare at us the entire game. I never get a chance to talk to Aidan about hawk man’s staring during his staring because hawk man only watches us when we play and when we play, I am playing while Uncle Aidan is either on the veranda or in the house. Mom doesn’t want to hear about it anymore and dad is never home during the day. Maybe one day I won’t play and watch hawk man with mom and Uncle Aidan while the others play. I never thought of that before. Good idea.
I tried not playing today but it didn’t work. I waited until Uncle Aidan showed up again and made the calls to have a moment’s notice hockey game. As usual, the boys agreed. Mom and Uncle Aidan placed themselves on the veranda. But instead of quietly going out to the street to wait for hawk man to show up and the boys to arrive, I sat down between mom and Uncle Aidan. Mom and Uncle Aidan looked surprised and for some reason sighed heavily when I told them I felt like not playing and watching hawk man instead. Only, hawk man never showed at his door and the guys kicked up a fuss when I told them I didn’t want to play. They wouldn’t play without me and so they left, each went back home. They hate playing with a player missing and they know I am usually hard to sway. I’ll probably hear about it next game. I was upset. The street was empty and so was hawk man’s doorway. Mom and Uncle Aidan asked me why I didn’t want to play and asked if I was certain that I didn’t want to call the boys back to tell them I wanted to play. Mom thought I felt embarrassed about playing because I was obviously the worst player in the group. But that doesn’t bother me. I told them no, I wanted to see hawk man while not playing and talk to Uncle Aidan about him. Mom sighed heavily again and went back into the house. Uncle Aidan watched my mom go back into the house, and then looked at me. He seemed very annoyed. He sighed and said “what”. Then he said that hawk man wasn’t showing up today so I should probably have a game. But I still felt like talking to Uncle Aidan about hawk man. Uncle Aidan sighed another time, looked at his watch, then said “okay”. I asked Uncle Aidan what hawk man’s problem was and why he only came out when we played hockey. I also told him how I’ve caught him looking at the sky and lately, at the space between our house and our neighbour’s house. Uncle Aidan looked at his watch again and said I shouldn’t mind the old crazy because he was crazy. The car accident did some damage and he will probably do the same thing until he dies, which Uncle Aidan says will probably be soon. “But what’s his problem” I said again in a louder voice. Uncle Aidan said “I don’t know”. We then sat quietly for what felt like a long time. Hawk man never showed. Usually Uncle Aidan and I talk a lot on the veranda but this wasn’t our veranda time. It was suppose to be the time when I play hockey, hawk man watches, and mom and Uncle Aidan watch us before going into the house for coffee. Usually Uncle Aidan calls me out to the veranda during my homework and we talk about school. One time I asked Uncle Aidan why he didn’t go to work during the day like dad. He said in a guff that he was working on it and sat quietly until he left. Today Uncle Aidan looked at his watch, said ooops and left right away in his car. I went inside and did homework for the rest of day until going to bed. I heard dad came home late as usual and he went straight to the basement to watch TV.
We played hockey after school today and hawk man showed up as usual in the same way, with me waiting for the guys. Marc made the calls and called me first to make sure I was playing for real today. Ms. Nordick liked my story about the boy who is able to stop time and decided to steal everything until he comes across the monster that lives in the world when time stands still. Hawk man watched and watched again. Today I noticed something new. The ballhockey ball went onto hawk man’s lawn again and this time I went to go get it. I never go get it because hawk man makes me uncomfortable. The closer I am to his stare the more I am creeped out. The boys know this and never make me go get it except today they made me because I bailed on them yesterday. The rain last night made the grass soft and the wheels on my blades sank into the earth. Every footstep made a squishy noise as I walked towards the ball. I looked down at my feet only to look up a bit to see how far from the ball was. I could feel his gaze on me. Burrowing a whole into the top of my head. At one point in my long journey of discomfort I heard Rodney yell out at me to hurry up. At another point, while still feeling his gaze, I really wanted to look up at him and throw my stick at him, having it rip through the screen door and hit him square in the head. He falls to the ground and instead of seeing him in the doorway, it’s the whole left behind by my valiant stick. But I am sure the boys would yell out “what are you doing you crazy head”. When I reached the ball, I didn’t look up to throw my stick but I did look up to confirm his gaze on me. Only, his gaze wasn’t on me but on the space between mine and Mr. Gallows’s house. Everything went silent I think because up until I reached the ball the boys kept yelling at me to hurry up. When I looked up they stopped yelling. Hawk man was staring at Mr. Gallows’s dog, Slammer, which was also staring into the sky where hawk man usually stares. Slammer was rock still at the end of his leach along the edge of Mr. Gallows’s yard. I’ve never seen the mutt so silent. Usually it won’t shut up at all and dad is always yelling at it in the middle of the night. Dad actually confronted Mr. Gallows about it, nothing was ever done. Slammer bit me once but I think it wanted to play. But now, it simply stared. When I returned my gaze to hawk man he too was looking into the sky, exactly where he always looks, at the sky over top of my house through the tree in my back yard. I looked in that direction too but only saw bits of blue sky through the leaves. I told myself that I would have to look in that area without the tree in the way. What could be more interesting then a street hockey game I thought? Was there a street hockey game in the sky? Tomorrow before the game I will have to look in the sky.
This morning I thought of another story for next week’s assignment. Ms. Nordick really likes my stories I think. I always get a remark in red on the last page. This new one will be about a parapsychologist who drags his family to a haunted castle in Scotland and gets them all sucked through the wall into a chamber of corpses that use to be previous parapsychologists who investigated the house. Ms. Nordick says my stories have a Gothic twist to them. I write better in my stories. Now it’s just getting my thoughts out on paper as quickly as possible. I heard dad this morning. I always hear dad in the morning when he gets ready for work. He’s out the door before me and mom are up but I always hear him. This morning I heard another one of his reactions to a story in the paper. Only this morning it was much louder than usual. This is the story. Some kid in another neighbourhood was attacked and killed by his own pet dog. Dad read it out loud. According to a neighbour, for three days before the attack, the dog stood rock still looking off into the sky, in the direction of North East. Nobody approached the dog until the son decided to play with it then the dog attacked and killed the boy. The neighbour’s are the ones who witnessed it and called the police because the parents were still at work. Apparently the boy gets home from school before the parents. The police arrived before the parents but the boy was dead next to the dog which was staring off into the sky. The dog was put down and the parents are now being investigated. I next heard dad say “oh shit” and he ran out of the house. After he left I looked out my window into our neighbor’s yard and saw Slammer still standing and staring. I looked out into the sky where hawk man looks but the tree was still in the way. I told myself that I would have to look past the tree but at the exact same time as hawk man to make sure I’ll see what he and Slammer sees. And that’s all I could think of all day, even during my session with Ms. Nordick. Actually, she’s getting weird. I told Ms. Nordick about the haunted Scottish house story for my next assignment but she kept asking me how my big story was going. What big story? Did Ms. Nordick assign something that I forgot about? Afraid to look like a bad student I told her the story was going fine. I think I’ve been distracted with the hawk man more than usual lately that I’m starting to forget and miss other things. I even started telling her about hawk man. Not that he has been distracting me but that the staring is getting on my nerves. Actually, Ms. Nordick seems more interested in my big story. I think I’m in trouble. Ms. Nordick wrote things down as she always does then left. I think I’m in trouble. I should come up with a story tonight and tell her at our next session. I went out to hockey today with the plan to run to the backyard pass the tree to see the sky as hawk man was looking. Rodney called the game and I was out waiting as usual, staring intently at hawk man who just stared back at me. The guys arrived and the game was on. Hawk man stared, mom and uncle Aidan watched for half the game then went inside. I played like crap like always. Only I was playing even crappier because I kept watching hawk man. The guys knew not to pass me the ball or expect anything from me because I wasn’t paying attention. Hawk man kept watching me. And I noticed that he watches me more than the others. In fact, I think he watches me only. But paying close attention paid off. Finally hawk man looked away from me and up which means he was looking at the sky because if he looked away and down, he was looking at Slammer. And hawk man only looks at three things, me, the sky and slammer. I dropped my hockey stick and rollerbladed up my driveway into a passageway between my backyard fence and Mr. Wayne’s which ended in the park behind my house so that I could see the sky passed the tree in my yard. I fell two times because I was running with rollerblades on the soft grass. When I got to the park and in front of my tree I looked into the sky and saw nothing. A cloud I think. Maybe it was gone and hawk man stopped looking. It was all open sky and nothing else. It was so open I almost felt like I wanted to be in it. To spread my arms. For a few seconds I looked at the open sky rather than trying to see what hawk man looked at. But that was weird. Then I started thinking of hawk man again. There had to be something there because Slammer was also looking. So then I started looking at him. Then I started making some noise to see if he would budge. But he didn’t. Slammer was like hawk man, rock still. Then I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. When I looked over I saw a pink blur that looked like mom close the drapes really fast in my parents’ bedroom. Then I looked back at Slammer who was still looking. So I looked again and still saw nothing. Only nice blue openness. Then I heard my mom telling me to tell her why I wasn’t playing hockey with the boys. I looked over to answer and mom was standing at the bedroom window yelling at me through the screen. I told her I wanted to see what hawk man was looking at. She made a huff and closed the drapes again. This time I saw a red blur move because mom was wearing her housecoat. Slammer’s backyard has no fence so I walked up to him to maybe stand behind him and see what was in the sky. I did this and again there was only the open sky. With a free bird flying by. And then another gliding in circles. I stood there behind Slammer watching for what seemed like forever. But there was nothing there. Then Slammer turned on me and let out a bark. But it wasn’t until his teeth were on my arm did I notice he wanted to kill me. All I remember is me screaming on the ground with Slammer on top. Then I felt someone hold down my arms and then drag me away before I passed out I guess. This happened yesterday. So that is why this entry is so long. I have two days to write. I passed out before being able to write. My right arm had two long cuts in it running parallel to each other from my elbow to my wrist. It hurt badly. My entire forearm was all bandaged up when I woke up this morning. Mom and Uncle Aidan haven’t said anything about it yet, and dad hasn’t been home yet. Slammer is still there staring at the sky. It’s as if nothing happened. I think it’s Saturday today. I don’t know how I lost track of that. I guess dad is working this weekend. Nobody wanted to play hockey so I just sat in my room writing down on a different page why I think hawk man is staring at me. I can’t remember what I wrote down because Ms. Nordick came by today and took my page. And my scissors for some reason. She was looking at me funny today. I don’t even remember what mom and Uncle Aidan were doing today. I couldn’t hear them because I was in my room all day. I think I am going to skip writing in my journal tomorrow.
Mom slapped me today. And Ms. Nordick told me not to talk to haw man if I can help it.
I decided to go inside hawk man’s house today. Tomorrow after school I am going to call a hockey game, get ready, and instead of playing I am going into his house. I am not going to tell Ms. Nordick. I am going to invite myself in. The boys won’t like it but too friggin bad.
I called the game right after school and waited for everybody with my gear on as usual. Mom and Aidan stayed inside today. As usual hawk man arrived at his door to stare at me. Then the boys came, set up the nets and called to me. By this time hawk man was staring at the sky again. I skated across the street, pass the boys who looked at me funny and sat down on hawk man’s lawn to take off my skates. The boys started asking what I was doing. I walked across the grass in my socks towards the screen door with hawk man who was still looking in the sky. By this time I couldn’t hear the boys anymore. I was focused. I stopped at the foot of the patio steps leading up to his screen door and looked up at the still sky-staring hawk man. I raised my right leg and put my socked foot on the first step. Hawk man didn’t move. I lifted my left leg and moved forward onto the step. This time hawk man took a step back still looking at the sky. I moved up to the next step and again hawk man stepped back. Three more steps to go. I never took my eyes of him who never took his eyes off the sky. Two more steps for up me and two steps back for him. We moved together. Hawk man continued to stare. He’s not as old as I thought he was. But I couldn’t get closer to see. My last step up was hawk man’s last step back because I stopped at the top of the stairs. I was on the patio at the same height as hawk man. I felt enclosed and cold. Then I got mad. All I remember was running towards the screen door and hawk man running backwards in step with me, never looking away from the sky. Then I felt pain on my face and nothing. I woke up about ten minutes ago and things were weird. I was in my room, feeling cold, my journal was moved and my face is now covered in stitches because I have several cuts on my face. I feel tired and shaky. I am going to bed now and see what happens tomorrow.
I had a surprise session with Ms. Nordick today. I am very upset right now and it has nothing to do with hawk man. She said my story is coming along good and that I should keep writing. What story? The only thing I am writing is my journal and I never bring it to my sessions with her. But that wasn’t what upset me today. Ms. Nordick started asking me a lot of questions about mom and Uncle Aidan. She asked my why I thought Uncle Aidan was always home and what he and mom did when I was outside playing hockey. I said I didn’t know why he was there and that all they did was drink coffee in the house together. Then she asked if Uncle Aidan would sometimes spend the night. I told her that sometimes I go to bed and Uncle Aidan is still here. Then she asked if he was here now. I did not know what to say because we were at the session. It was only me and her at our sessions. I thought she was going crazy. Then she asked me if Uncle Aidan had ever touched me in a way that made me feel uncomfortable. I stared to sweat. Then she asked if I sometimes touch myself and pretend it’s him touching me. I asked her if she meant hawk man but she said no, Uncle Aidan. Then she asked me if I could tell her what dad looked like. I couldn’t answer her. Not because I was getting mad, but because I could not picture dad in my mind. I tried and tried and tried and got angry at her. I got up from my chair to run at her but suddenly I was standing in the middle of the road where we play hockey. I must of have blacked out again. Maybe it’s another day and this paragraph should be two paragraphs. Anyway… I was in the road looking at hawk man standing in the doorway to his house but the screen door was gone. He was looking at me. It was like only me and him were on the street, maybe in the world. I ran towards him because I wanted to hit him. Ever since I started writing about him he’s been bugging me and I have been getting in trouble. I ran towards him and again he ran backwards in perfect step with me. I stopped at the top of his patio steps and he was at the end of his hallway inside his house. Standing there looking at me. I ran towards him right into his house. He ran backwards into a room off to the left then closed the door. I stopped in front of the door and listened. It sounded like there were two people inside breathing hard. Then I heard my mother yell OH DAN. I opened the door and then I was in my mom’s bedroom but inside hawk man’s house. Mom and Uncle Aidan were in bed, their closes were off and mom was sitting on Uncle Aidan looking up at the ceiling. Uncle Aidan touched my mom then looked at me and smiled. I ran to the bed, pushed mom right off the bed then jumped on top of Uncle Aidan and slammed both my fists on his noise. He fell asleep and then my nose started to bleed and hurt. I jumped off the bed and on top of mom and put my hands around her neck and started to squeeze. She cried and screamed and yelled and I squeezed tighter. The more I squeezed the more I felt like I was choking. I was choking but I continued to squeeze. Then everything went white and cold and two men came into the room and pulled me off mom, slammed me onto the floor and pinned my arms down. A woman came in and put a needle in my arm and I fell asleep. I am awake now, my nose is all bandaged up, I have a soar throat and my journal has been moved again. And…I found……. There’s writing in the back of my journal that’s not mine…..
“Hello Mr. Hawksworth. This is Dr. Nordick writing. If you find this entry before I explain things to you, understand that I believe this to be the best method of reaching you. After we were forced to sedate you I took your journal, as I have been doing since we encouraged you to start keeping one, and made this entry in an attempt to enable you to draw the conclusion yourself. Your hawk man story is a very interesting one. But your journal is nothing more than a story. My colleagues all believe this forward mode of mine to tell you the truth is shocking but necessary. I had hoped that you would come to remember your situation on your own by letting you write in your journal. But you simply seemed to become more involved with your own fiction. I now hope that this method will help you remember. I will simply tell you everything. I pray that you will not interpret this to be a game of mine where I am contributing to your fiction to make, what you seem to have concluded as a creative writing seminar, more interesting.
“You are hawk man Mr. Hawsworth. The man you see standing behind his screen door watching you is what you look like today. Your visual of him is the reflection of your own image on your mirror in your room at St. Miguel Hospital. Your activity as a youth in trying to figure out hawk man is all done in the confine of your room. I’ve paid close attention to your journal and have been able to link your entries of activity with your own activity in your room. You run around your room when you believe to be running on hawk man’s lawn or in the park behind your house with your rollerblades on. The marks on your arm from Slammer’s bites are actually self-inflicted wounds from the scissors we removed from your room. I am cursing myself for ever letting you have scissors in the first place. The lacerations on your face were made when you ran into your own mirror trying to chase hawk man. The reason hawk man eludes you in your journal and dream world is because you are attempting to capture the memory of yourself as you once were. Hawk man is you reminiscing of good times you once had as a young boy before your uncle abused you in your adolescence.
“Now is the hard truth you seem to have let slip from your memory. The following information is fact that have been recorded but that you have suppressed. When you were a boy, probably of the age you dream yourself to be in your journal, your father passed away, which is why you can’t describe or even picture him in your mind. Before your father’s death, your mother was having an affair with your uncle (your father’s brother). Your uncle started to abuse you to your mother’s indifference until you finally sought the help of your neighbours who informed the police. Your uncle and mother were placed into custody and you were placed in foster homes until you were old enough to live on your own. I am sorry to say your life is fraught with negligence and delinquency as a result. You were once married. You had a job and a home in a neighbourhood that no doubt is your home in your journals. What I am about to reveal to you now are the events that have resulted in your admittance to St. Miguel.
“Two years ago, you returned home from work to discover your wife in bed with another man. Her actions were intentional because she wanted you to find out in that way. Your reaction led to the murder of your wife and her lover. With scissors and a pen, you stabbed them to death after beating them into submission. You are a very strong man Donald. It is proving to be very difficult to contain you. Once your victims were murdered, you crossed your street and walked into your neighbours’ house. You murdered them in their bedroom using your scissors and watched your own house from behind the screen door until police arrived and apprehended you without difficulty. Other neighbours managed to call the police. When the police arrived, you simply stared off into the sky without saying a word. The police managed to remove you quite easily. You were declared mentally unstable and have been under my observation since that time. You have been writing your journal for several days now. It was only a few days prior to that when you began communicating. Until then you simply lied in bed completely shut out.
“I will go no further. I will allow you to make the connections between your past and the persons in your journal. I hope this exercise will recapture what you have lost. In realizing this I hope you will cease the self-inflicted violence you have been subjecting yourself to for the last several days. I hope you will be open to meet me with calmly and want to discuss this for our next session. I will not give up on you. We are all here to help you, Don.”
I feel betrayed again…nobody wants to be nice to me.
Hawk man put Ms. Nordick up to this. Here she comes into the room behind two big guys… I am going to stab them all with my pen…
Copyright Eric Poirier 2013