Amanda and her boyfriend Patrick were excited. They had been dating for over a year and decided to take things a step further by getting a place together.
Patrick was twenty-eight and working at his father’s carpentry business, and she was twenty-six and enjoying a fulfilling career as a caregiver. She usually cared for people in their homes and found the work to be bittersweet. She felt bad for those who were struggling yet enjoyed the rewarding feeling that came with knowing she was helping to make their lives a little bit easier each day. The only thing she didn’t like about her job was the unpredictable hours. She simply never knew how long or how often she might be needed to assist a particular patient. Most of her patients were elderly but there were some that were a little younger that may have had an accident or an unexpected stroke and were recovering at home and in need of help.
Amanda and Patrick agreed to meet the landlord at the small office he had downtown. He owned a few two-family homes in the city and was to show them the top floor of one he had for rent on the outskirts of the city.
Amanda didn’t think much of the landlord upon first glance. She didn’t study him closely at first. She was excited to see the apartment and that was what she focused on.
The landlord, Ed Rollins, was somewhere in his fifties. He had gray-white hair, was about six feet tall and two-hundred pounds, and easily dwarfed the five-foot four-inch Amanda who weighed one hundred and twenty pounds soaking wet. He was even bigger than her boyfriend. Patrick was a few inches shorter and slender. This guy had a bit of a gut and a much broader chest and shoulders.
Other than these basic details that were obvious and hard to miss, Amanda didn’t notice or sense anything unusual right away.
Patrick and the landlord did most of the talking. The landlord asked Patrick about his job and whether or not they planned to do a lot of entertaining.
“No, sir,” Patrick assured him. “We seldom have much company since we’re both pretty busy with our jobs and what time we do have off we like to spend relaxing together or out wherever.”
“You guys smoke?”
“No,” they both answered.
Without a word, the landlord unlocked the door as Amanda asked if the downstairs was occupied. She was curious to know what kind of neighbors they might be living above.
“It’s empty for now,” said the landlord without looking at her.
They inspected the small one-bedroom, one-bath apartment and both agreed it would suit their needs just fine. The rent and location also fit with what they were looking for.
It was when Amanda turned to face the landlord to ask him something about the heater when she noticed the strange look in his eyes. She couldn’t quite put a finger on what it was. It was strange and a bit eerie the way he gazed down at her with his intense light blue eyes. Was there anger behind his gaze? Something else? Or could it be that Amanda was simply reading something into it that didn’t exist? For a fleeting second, she could have sworn she’d seen something in those strange eyes but then he appeared to be an ordinary average guy.
But then Amanda was caught up in the excitement of the apartment again, and the landlord informed them that if they wanted the place, it was theirs. They eagerly and happily agreed to move in that weekend.
It happened again in the bedroom. Patrick was still inspecting something in the kitchen when Amanda stepped into the bedroom to inspect the size of the closet in that room. As she was closing the door and turning around, she came face-to-face with the landlord. What she saw was the creepiest, coldest, hardest glare she’d ever witnessed. Did she remind the guy of someone he hated or something? The landlord’s head was sort of positioned downward and he peered at her through his dark-rimmed glasses under his bushy eyebrows with icy eyes. She was pretty sure she saw rage and something else in those laser-like eyes that seem to penetrate her very soul.
But how could that be? They didn’t even know each other. The guy couldn’t possibly be angry at her or have any kind of a problem with her since they hadn’t even known each other for fifteen minutes. She decided to pretend not to notice and hoped the guy couldn’t sense her discomfort.
The crazed look was gone almost as soon as she’d noticed it. Suddenly, he was back to looking like an ordinary guy. There wasn’t anything threatening about him whatsoever and Amanda laughed at herself for those few seconds she felt intimidated and creeped out. She told herself she was being silly and thought once again how they were virtual strangers.
The moment was quickly forgotten as she and Patrick excitedly discussed moving in during the weekend which was just a few days away. They signed some papers down in the office and were each given a key.
She kissed Patrick goodbye as he dropped her off at the apartment she was sharing with a friend a few minutes later, and let herself inside. Then that freaky moment popped back into mind and she quickly dismissed it as a strange and unusual paranoia on her part. He was their potential landlord, after all, so perhaps it was only normal that she would feel he was studying her as intently as he had been. People didn’t want to rent to just anybody.
Determined to put the strange landlord out of mind, not expecting to see much of him any way other than when they were dropping off the rent, she began to pack.