The Chair

brown wooden chair

The Chair

That is how my situation started. As stupid as it sounds. Somebody left this chair in my driveway. At the time I had no idea who and I had no idea why.

Not many people make it out to our street. We are sort of off the beaten track. To give you an idea of the foot traffic, Halloween just passed, and we didn’t see a single trick-or-treater. But my wife, Emily, and I kinda prefer it that way. We both lived in cities throughout our adolescence. When we moved into our country house in late 2016, it was a welcome break from the grind of traffic and bright lights.

That is, until this happened.

The first time I saw the chair was in the morning before work. I asked Em whether she had left it there. Sometimes her friends visited and they stayed up late drinking on the driveway. They had a habit of leaving stuff out. But Em told me it couldn’t be. The last time her friends were over was a week ago. We would have noticed the chair blocking our way by now.

And so I chalked it up to someone’s forgetful memory. I threw the chair in the garage and thought not much more of it.

I came home from work that night and parked in my usual spot. Nothing blocked my way. I went inside and had dinner with my wife. We talked about our day, like usual, and watched Netflix for a couple hours. We passed out around 10:00 and nothing woke us up. Nothing disturbed us. The dog didn’t even bark.

But the next morning, I went outside, and there was the chair again. Sitting in the exact same spot we had originally found it.

I stared at it like an idiot for about ten straight minutes. I wasn’t sure what to do. I took a picture, which is posted in this story, and stared some more. Then I started to look around the property, with our German Shepherd, Lola, patiently pacing by my side.

We didn’t find anything.

I returned to the driveway and threw the chair back inside the garage. The first one was still there. I noticed the brand was exactly the same. I found an old dead bolt in the back from a past remodel. And so I fixed that to the door handle, figuring that whomever it was, they would eventually run out of chairs.

I honestly didn’t know what to make of the situation. My best guess was a prank from some kids. Even still, I locked the doors to my house extra tight when we went to sleep that night. I left the bedroom door open so that Lola could keep an eye on the whole house. When I finally fell asleep, it was after hours of waiting up listening, but I slept peacefully.

By the time morning came the chair had actually faded from my mind. Dreams have a way of refocusing the brain. I hopped into the shower and started to get ready for work. Then my wife’s panicked shouts from the kitchen reminded me pretty quick.

Matt! Get out here.

I turned off the shower and threw on some clothes in a panic. I went outside into the freezing cold expecting to see a possum or raccoon sifting through the garbage. That type of thing was more likely to prompt a scream from Emily.

But instead, sitting and placed evenly side by side on my driveway were two chairs. The same exact type as the ones locked in my garage.

There seemed to be something stuck to the backing. I approached and found a note, written on plain journal paper, in an awkward attempt at script.

I brought a friend.

I hope you don’t mind.

Now… I probably overreacted at this juncture. I told Emily to lock herself inside with the dog. I pulled out my cell phone and called the police immediately. I didn’t touch a single thing and waited on my porch patiently.

A serious looking police officer arrived about a half hour later. But I could tell almost immediately that he didn’t seem to take our situation very seriously. He asked the basic questions, and I provided what answers I could. My wife eventually emerged and asked what he thought happened. The cop’s reply didn’t give us much confidence.

Kids, ghosts, hell if I know. Maybe one of you just forgot the chairs out here. Anyway, call the number on this ticket, if you have any further issues regarding the, well… chairs.

That’s it?” I asked. “You’re not going to swab for finger prints, or anything?

The officer stared at me dubiously.

Do we have a crime, here?

I pointed at the chair.

How about trespassing?

He laughed for the first time.

Those chairs are not enough to prove trespassing, son. Have a good day.

And with that, he waddled back down my driveway, and disappeared down the street. I watched him leave in dumbfounded anger. Then I threw the chairs with the first two and locked up the garage once again.

Emily talked about selling the house almost immediately after the cop left. That part hurt. It was our first home together, and I was damned if I was going to let some prankster ruin it.

But something about the way those chairs just sat there so creepily made our skin crawl. We thought about renting a room that night, to be safe. But the remodels at our house had left us strapped for cash, and hotels are expensive. We really just didn’t have the money to swing it at the time.

And so we stayed home.

We did not sleep very much. Emily insisted on going into the basement, where we had more locks to block an intruder. Lola and I followed her apprehensively. Em fell asleep on the couch around midnight. The dog and I watched the driveway like hawks, until well into the early hours of the morning, but I fell asleep around 3:00.

I woke up to the scratching of metal legs against gravel.

This had to be my chance. I grabbed the bat positioned by our door in one hand and Lola’s leash in the other. Excitement over the moment overwhelmed me. I felt a hell of a lot more confident with each of them by my side. We sprinted up the stairs. I tripped and stubbed my toe on a loose floorboard. That definitely slowed us down.

By the time I made it outside to the crystal clear night, there was nobody in the area. Lola offered a few sniffs but quickly went over to pee in her spot. I was left alone with my bat.

I rounded the corner of our house and saw a now familiar sight.

Three chairs were sitting perfectly placed side by side in our driveway. The middle one had a note attached to it. Just like last time.

I hope you don’t mind.

We just like to watch.

Attached at the bottom was a picture taken with a very grainy camera. I had to squint in the dark to see it. But when I recognized the subject, I nearly fell over on the spot. The picture was of my wife. She was sleeping, in the basement, with the blanket pulled over most of her face.

The angle of the picture suggested one shocking detail.

The photographer had made it into my house.

We moved out soon after. My mother-in-law was more than willing to accommodate us given the circumstances. The police investigated, properly this time, but they never found a serious lead.

Our old home is now up for sale, now, and yesterday I drove by it at night. For the first time in a while. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the stress of writing this story. Maybe it was the open-endedness of the way in which the situation was left. I still didn’t know who left the chairs. Or why. That bothers me. It is an insult to my pride.

Whatever the reason, I wish I hadn’t.

I saw them as soon as I turned onto the street.

Sitting in my former driveway were three outdoor chairs occupied by three burly men. Their backs were to me. As I desperately tried to K-Turn my way out of that street, my tires squealed against the pavement, and that made a loud noise, which drew their attention.

As if in perfect unison, all three men turned to look at me. I could not see their faces. Ski masks covered everything but the light eyes sticking out in between. Black clothing made them look indecipherable altogether. I thought I was dead. I thought they would rush me before I had time to turn around. I cursed loudly as my old car sputtered a bit. But the men just stared silently.

Finally, I hit the gas and jetted down the street. I pulled out my phone to call the police, and checked my rear-view mirror to see whether the men were still there. That’s when I noticed the strangest thing of all.

The men never tried to leave. They never tried to run. They just waved; quietly and awkwardly from the seats of those fucking outdoor chairs.

And then one of them took a picture.