After a couple weeks, I began noticing someone looking out of the window of one of the houses I pass by. It happened everyday for a week and it was like they were purposefully waiting and watching for me. As I would look when running by, the figure started looking familiar to me. Finally, I stopped at the house and went up to the door. I knocked and waited for an answer. Shockingly, the door opened and I was amazed at who I saw standing before me.
"John?" I questioned.
"Hey, Ben. Long time, no see," John welcomed and shook my hand. "I've been seeing you running. Kept thinking I'd go out and meet you or you'd come up here. I'm glad you finally did."
"It's great to see you, man. I went into the house and John closed the door. "It's been a long time. We've all really missed you. You know, since you're supposed to be dead."
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that," he gritted his teeth in a cheesy smile. "I had to. My life had just gotten so complicated that I needed a clean slate."
"A clean slate? Your friends, your sister, all mourned you. How did you even get away with it?"
"Jenna works for a mortuary. She helped make sure no one knew I didn't die."
"We had a service for you," I said.
"And I really do appreciate that. Jenna told me about it. Said everyone was very sad. I wish I could've been there."
"You were supposed to be!"
"I said I was sorry. I had to start fresh. My exes were all up in my ass, I had been taking more and more drugs, and drinking way too much way too often. Let's not forget my chronic unemployment."
"And killing yourself off had made all that better?"
"Yeah. I haven't heard thing one from my exes, my drug use is minimal and I haven't had a drink since my death," John happily said.
"What were your exes upset about?" I asked him. We sat down on the couch, on opposite ends, which started making this all seem normal.
"They just wouldn't leave me alone. Always arguing with me, coming to me when the guy they were seeing hurt them in some way. I swear to God that I had sex with them more often while we were broken up than when we were dating."
"Yeah, that sounds terrible," I sarcastically moaned.
"But like I said, I needed a clean slate."
We continued talking for several hours until we had finished catching up. As I left, John made me promise not to tell anybody. I reluctantly made the promise, unsure if I was going to keep it but who would believe if I did tell them. We shook hands again and I waved good-bye as I ran back home.
The next day, I drove to John's house to see him. I walked up to the door and knocked. It took longer for the door to open but, then again, he wasn't expecting me. Instead of John, there was another man. "Yes?" he answered.
"Um, I was here yesterday and there was a man here. His name is John," I said.
"Oh. John called me last night. He said that he had to leave right away. He told me to keep the rent for the month so I didn't question it. Cleaned the place up good, too," the man opened the door for me to show me a completely empty house instead of the well-furnished one I saw yesterday. "He'd been here only a couple of months. He was probably my best tenant. Oh, well."
"And he didn't leave you any forwarding information?" I asked.
"Nope, and the only phone number he gave me was a landline."
"And that didn't seem strange?" I questioned.
"As long as they don't do significant damage to my property and pay the rent, I don't care what my tenants do."
I sighed frustratedly. "Thank you. Sorry to bother you." I walked away, the landlord closing the door behind me. I got back in my car and drove away, thinking about my now twice-dead friend.