Pete the freak
I met him on the stairs…
… and I had to squeeze
past him to avoid the bulk of his body and looking at his
face. It wasn’t the first time we had met like this
and it probably wouldn’t be the last. In the apartment
block we called him Pete the Freak. Not the nicest of nicknames
I’ll admit. He came and went infrequently and everyone
dreaded bumping into him. His flat was in the attic. It
smelled. We had no idea what he did in there. I’d
say he was maybe 45-50 and had an enormous yellowing beard.
He always wore this 1970s style parka with a fur hood. He
never took it off whatever the weather. He didn’t
seem to have a job or an income so we had no idea how he
could afford the rent. We’d spoken to the landlord
collectively about trying to have him removed for environmental
health reasons but so far nothing had changed.
Once, a pint of milk had been sat outside of his door for
so long that it turned yellow and crusty and we actually
thought he’d died. Clara from the apartment below
me plucked up the courage to knock on his door to see if
he was still alive. She knocked, waited and after a few
seconds there was the shuffling sound of Pete the Freak
coming to the door. Clara bolted, too scared to face him
head on. It seemed a pity that he should live this way and
I felt more than a little embarrassed that I was treating
him like an alien from another planet. I mean, what would
my mother say? In fact, my mother said plenty when she came
to stay last May and she didn’t think much of my smelly
One day out of sheer boredom and morbid curiosity, I decided
to follow Pete the Freak to see where he went.
I was sat outside the front door in the sun on the steps
when he made an appearance. I’d got a few days paid
leave and seeing as everyone else was at work, I was just
knocking around the apartment block alone and looking for
something to occupy my time.
Pete the Freak came out, shuffling along, wearing his parka
despite the summer heat of at least 25 degrees. The smell
of his attic room was following him like an invisible green
trail. I waited until he’d turned the corner before
sneaking after him. I edged around the corner of the building
and waited until he’d gone a little further down the
road before continuing. He then turned on to the busy high
street. It would be hard to keep a track of anyone else,
but Pete the Freak was so large and because he was wearing
that god-awful parka he stuck out like a sore thumb.
He ambled slowly along, not looking into any shop windows
or viewing goods for sale on the market stalls. His vision
seemed to be head on. I noticed people stepping out of his
way. They could probably smell him too.
Eventually he turned down a small side street and after
a few seconds I followed. As I turned the corner I already
regretted ever following him in the first place. There in
front of me, not six inches from my face was Pete the Freak
staring directly in to my eyes.
By Rachel White