After her live-in boyfriend was transferred to the graveyard shift, Becky Medeiros fell into the evening habit of lounging around the house in her underwear. Or sometimes in the nude. She kept the front and side curtains drawn after dark, but the house backed up on a wooded lot, so she was often careless with the rear windows.
The neighborhood potheads had discovered her habit. After sundown, they often gathered beneath the low branches of a large white pine ten yards from her back fence to pass a joint and enjoy the show. Later, police would find a disturbance in the thick blanket of pine needles. Forty-five discarded roaches and a scattering of torn Doritos bags and Snickers wrappers told them someone had been lurking there on and off and on for weeks.
Becky was an attractive young woman. Slim waist, long muscular legs, small firm breasts. A dancer’s body. The watchers whispered crude jokes and imagined what it would be like screw her. All but one of them. He harbored a different fantasy.
It had been an unusually hot and dry Rhode Island spring; but on the evening of Friday, June 5, the temperature fell into the low sixties, and threatening clouds shimmered like embers beneath the setting sun. Shortly before ten, it began to rain. Only a few drops penetrated the pine’s thick branches, but the weather had kept the other peepers away. This time, he had the hiding place all to himself.
He yanked a handkerchief from the front pocket of his hoodie, wiped raindrops from his binoculars, and raised them to his eyes. There she was, naked in the warm glow of her bedside lamp as she stretched and twisted to a yoga instructional video flashing blue on the flat-screen above her bureau. She bent at the waist now, right hand touching left ankle, her ass an offering.
From weeks of watching, he knew she rarely turned in before “Late Night” signed off. But tonight, she killed the TV after David Letterman’s monologue and slipped out of the bedroom. A moment later, the bathroom light snapped on, narrow beams leaking between the cracks of the Venetian blinds.
He swept the binoculars back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom until, ten minutes later, she reappeared wrapped in a hot pink towel. She dropped the towel to the floor, sat on the edge of her bed, and turned off the bedside lamp.
He lingered under the tree, giving her time to fall asleep. Then he laid his binoculars in the pine needles, crawled out from under the branches, vaulted her white picket fence, and crossed the wet grass to the rear door. There, an overhead lamp was burning. He reached up and gave the bulb a twist, extinguishing the light.
He tried the door. It was locked. He considered breaking a pane of glass to reach the inside latch, but that would make too much noise. Instead, he edged along the back of the house, looking for another way inside.