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Breath on My Back

What was that?

True story...

The stale smell of the barbecue grill lingers with me as I drive home. There are a few pieces of chicken and barbecue sauce left on my green bar apron. Molecules of fun memories stick to my nose from that smoky restaurant my friends like to hang out at weekly. Another long night of work, bussing tables, chatting with friends and keeping up the fast pace.

As I approach the hill near my home, I glance to the left and see an orange October moon glowing down on the hillside. There is a warm inland breeze blowing from the east over Morgan Hill and San Jose. This wind comes from the San Joaquin Valley and winds over the foothills and reservoirs to greet our town with signs of fall time. I turn through the curves and catch curious glimpses of red-orange city light peering through the dark trees and openings between the leaves. As I pull up to my driveway, I notice no one is home. Nice, I'll have a quiet night to relax and chow down on a barbecue combo from work.

I turn the truck off and grab my dinner in the white foam box, and walk down into the garage and through the door. The hallway is dark but I see light in the living room at the end of the house. I cruise into the kitchen and put the food on the counter. Man, I have to take a piss. As I approach the bathroom, I hear pat, pat, pat right behind me and I stop walking. I freeze in my tracks and so do the steps behind me. After a moment frozen in time, I take a couple more steps and then feel a step behind me, and breath on my back. Without using words, it says to me that I am not alone; I didn't think anyone was here. Was it Mike, my brother, playing a trick on me? I scurry into my room and squat down onto the floor and feel for my gun. I get lower onto my belly and feel the air rifle and snag it by the pump. Yeah, I know, a pellet gun may not look like much, but it's all I have to make me feel safe. I just want to scare away the intruder and make a statement. I don't get easily scared, right? I swing around the barrel, scanning a beautiful view of golden orange lights with no silhouette in sight. So I check the front door, nothing. I check the sliding glass door with another spectacular view, nothing. I walk back the way I came into the house and nothing. After about 10 minutes of surveying the scene, I decide to eat; no being was going to keep me from eating some tasty barbecue.

While chomping down on some great grub, I promise myself everything is fine and accept that there are times we freak ourselves out and there may even be times where we do really feel the breath on our backs and steps behind us lurking in the dark of the night. Three years later after our house sold, our neighbor on the hill below told me that a man was shot in our house in 1959, and then the steps in the night began to make sense.

This took place in October 1987 on Tourney Rd 18720 Tourney Rd. Los Gatos, California (Land of the Wildcats, where the palms meet the pines…)

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