The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A stranger in the neighborhood

Rachael Conlin Levy
Photo courtesy of meaduva.

Something streaks across the driveway. My eye catches a fleeting image of a man, a naked man, rounding the corner of my house and heading into the backyard. In the kitchen I freeze. Adrenaline races. Brain screams. Oh, God! I’m alone! The door is unlocked!

I crouch down and dart for the door, turn the lock, and skitter into the hallway where there are no windows. I grab the phone and dial.

“911. What is your emergency?”

“There’s a naked man in my yard.”


“There’s a naked man in my yard!”

“Do you know him?”

“No! No! He’s naked!”

The dispatcher tells me police are coming. She asks me if I can still see him. I slip to a window. Peek out. He’s there, in the corner, peering over the fence. He’s got something red wrapped around him. He moves toward the house. I duck.

“He’s coming closer to the house!”

The dispatcher keeps me on the line until I see a cop walk across my lawn and another slip around the back of the house. Minutes pass. I peer out a window and see police with a man, shirtless, wearing jeans, no shoes. There’s a knock at the door.

“Is this the man you saw in your yard?”

“I think so, but he was naked.”

“Well, he’s wearing pants now.”

“Wait! I had some clothes on the line. Let me see if they’re still there.”

In the backyard I can’t find the jeans my sister loaned me. I am four months pregnant and have outgrown my clothes, so she was sharing her maternity pants, the kind with the elastic panel that replaces zipper and button. I tell the cop the pants are mine. He tells me to wait.

Inside, I pace. My heart quiets. I take deep breaths.

The cop returns and tells me a story. Apparently, the man and the high-school girl next door had been fooling around when the girl’s father came home and discovered them in bed. The father started beating up the guy and so he fled, naked, into my yard.

“I’ve had plenty of calls for people running naked in public, but this is the first time it actually made sense,” the officer said.

Did I want to press charges? I laugh and shake my head no. The jeans are returned, but I never wear them again.


Late this summer I spotted the girl in her own pair of maternity pants. She walked slowly down the street, heavy with the burden she carried. Holding her hand was a man. I didn’t recognize him, but then again, he was wearing clothes.

Prompted by Sunday Scribblings‘ topic “stranger.”

2 responses to “A stranger in the neighborhood”

  1. ~*sis*~ says:

    amusing story! 🙂

  2. Mindi says:

    I remember that story!

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