The Neighbor

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Taylor awoke and cautiously looked around the room. It was a small room in a large building and it was quiet and dark with no windows. The only light coming in was from a small skylight. He stood and softly walked to the door and put his ear to it. He could hear faint noises but couldn’t tell what he was listening to.

     ‘How the hell did I get here?’ he thought. ‘What I was I doing?’ Oh yeah I was trying to look in my neighbors back yard because I heard strange noises coming from there. Then everything went blank.

     He looked at the wall and there were pictures of wolves on it. Then he noticed the word ‘Run’ written in what looked like blood. He inspected it closer and decided it looked more like crayon than blood. The pictures were of some lovely wolves, in many different poses, it resembled a group of family portraits only not humans.

    Taylor had never seen any dogs of any kind, wolf or otherwise, at his neighbor’s house but there was a tall fence all around it which is what he was trying to look through when someone must have hit him over the head.

     His neighbor was rangy with long shaggy dark hair but he didn’t look particularly scary. He’d moved in a month ago and never seemed to have any visitors. They had never spoken.

     Taylor slowly turned the door handle and opened it just enough to stick his head out. He could hear what sounded like a television but all he could see was a hallway. He walked out and around the corner and suddenly was in the living room.

     “There you are, how do you feel?” The neighbor was sitting on the couch staring at him. A wolf was lying on the couch next to him and two more were sitting on the floor at his feet.

     “Like someone hit me over the back of the head with a bat.”

     “What did you think would happen when you trespassed on my property and spied on me?”

     “I wanted to find out what the noises I heard were. I was checking to see if everything was alright.”

     “Then why didn’t you just knock on my front door?” His dark eyes narrowed and kind of sneer formed on his lips.

     “I don’t know, I guess I wanted to see if there was really something wrong before I bothered you.”

    “Nice try. I think you are just nosy. I bought a lamb yesterday which wasn’t happy I took it away from its mother. If you had come to the door I would have told you that was what you heard. My name is James. Who are you?”

     “Taylor. I heard the lamb making noise I guess but I don’t know what they sound like. I’m really sorry I bothered you. ”

     “I bet you are. Are you scared?”

     “No, why would I be?”

     “So what do you do Taylor?” He put a lot of emphasis on his name.

     “I’m a writer.”

     “That’s nice. Where’s your wife?”

     “I don’t have one. Where’s yours?” Taylor was annoyed at James line of questioning.

     “Now don’t get mad. I just wondered why no one has come looking for you. You have been out for a few hours.” James stood up and strode up to Taylor and put his hand out as if he were going to be friendly.

     “I’m not your friend. I’m going home now. I won’t press charges since I was trespassing, even if you didn’t have any cause to attack me.” Taylor pushed his arm away and started backing towards the door.

     “Tristan, get the door!” The large silver and black wolf stood up and blocked the exit.

     “What the hell! You can’t stop me from leaving.” Taylor started to panic and his eyes showed fear.

      “We are ready to eat dinner, why don’t you join us?”

        James smiled and Taylor noticed his front teeth were large and his canines looked like   fangs. “No thank you. I have dinner plans. They will come looking for me if I don’t show up.”

     “Don’t lie to me. You don’t have any plans and no one is going to look for you. Relax. You will enjoy dinner. Let me get you ready first.” James walked down the hall and motioned for Taylor to follow. Taylor looked towards the front door and the huge wolf was still standing in front of it.

     “Where are we going?”

     “Back to the family room, the room you were in earlier.” James said and entered the wolf picture room. Taylor followed and noticed one of the other wolves followed them down the hall.

     “Now what? You’re going to kill me?”

     “Of course not! I’m going to turn you into a vampire!”

      James was at Taylor’s neck before he could even move. It felt good when his teeth sunk into his jugular. He heard dying was peaceful and it certainly seemed to be. He woke up lying on the floor just like before. He looked around, the pictures of the wolves were still there but the word ‘Run’ was gone. The door was closed. He got up and opened the door and cautiously walked down the hallway to the living room.

      James was sitting on the couch with a woman, a boy and a wolfish looking dog were sitting at their feet.

     “Hi neighbor! Are you feeling better now?”

     “What happened?”

     “You passed out in our front yard so I brought you in the house. You came to for a minute and said you needed the pills you had in your pocket so I gave you one. You said you needed to sleep a little. You were breathing alright so I let you sleep. My wife said I should have called an ambulance but you seemed fine. We’re having fresh lamb for dinner would you like to stay?”

     James smiled and when Taylor saw his fangs he ran out the door.

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Orange Gingered Cranberry Sauce with Pecans

1 package fresh cranberries

3/4 cups white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 orange, juiced and peeled

1 cup water

1/4 cup minced candied ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup triple sec

1/2 cup toasted pecans

Grate the peel off of the orange and add to a pot with the sugars, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Juice the orange and add the juice to the pot. Turn the heat on medium and when the sugar dissolves add the cranberries and cook until they pop, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add triple sec and pecans and cool the sauce. Best if made a day or two ahead.