A scary Netflix documentary and a late night errand – what could go wrong? | Steve Canavan

I made the mistake of watching a documentary series called Night Stalker on Netflix at the weekend.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 6:00 pm
The kind of horror Steve Canavan imagined lurking in the shadows behind his house... Picture by Shutterstock

It is a terrifying programme, documenting the tale of an American serial killer in the 1980s in Los Angeles, who basically broke into people’s houses late at night and did the most unspeakable things to them.

He indiscriminately killed men and women and abused children – which made him highly unusual in serial killer terms; not having one specific type of victim – and my legs were like jelly when it finally ended late on Saturday, about 11 pm.

‘My God,’ I said to Mrs Canavan, who had spent the evening in the kitchen chatting to her friends online and discussing big world events like nursery fees and the price of hummus, ‘that was the most frightening thing I’ve ever watched in my entire life.’

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‘Was it?’ she replied, with complete disinterest, continuing to fiddle on her phone, then casually added: ‘By the way I couldn’t shut the back gate earlier so it’s wide open’.

I stared through the patio door window into the dark and lonely backyard and saw the gate – that leads onto a long deserted alley behind our house, the kind of alley you’d see on a Crimewatch reconstruction – swinging wide open.

She leaves the gate open quite often and it really annoys me.

All you have to do is push two bolts across which lock the gate and, granted, they’re a bit stiff and in need of a splash of WD-40, but she says in pathetic manner that she has weak wrists and cannot do it.

I don’t think it is anything to do with her wrists, more the fact she can’t be bothered.

She has much the same attitude to many household chores come to think of it.

Anyway, given someone can walk from the alley directly to our patio doors and I’d just watched a programme about a serial killer, I obviously couldn’t leave the gate open.

But it meant I now had to venture out late at night, with no moon, and our security light knackered, meaning it was incredibly dark.

Psychologically readying myself for the daring task ahead, I sort of loitered by the back door, staring out.

‘Well, are you going out to shut it?’ said Mrs Canavan, noticing my hesitation.

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I’m just, erm, just building up to it.’

‘What do you mean, building up to it?’ questioned Mrs C, oblivious to the fact I’d just watched a two-hour documentary about a murderer who operated at night in lonely areas.

‘I mean…’ I said, trailing off, then added snappily, ‘well, it doesn’t matter, I’m going out now.’

I paused, before adding dramatically: ‘If I don’t return, can you tell the children I love them very much?’

But Mrs C didn’t hear, she was again staring at her phone and saying something along the lines of: ‘You know Vicky, the one with the boyfriend who’s got that medical condition which means he can’t grow underarm hair?

‘She’s booked to go to Spain in June’.

I ignored her – I don’t know who any of her friends are, let alone Vicky – and steeled myself to step outside and to possibly get slaughtered.

For the first time ever I grabbed a weapon – a rolling pin (I’ve no idea why we have this in our kitchen drawer because Mrs Canavan hasn’t baked since 2008 when she attempted to make a Victoria sponge so solid we had to use an electric saw to cut through it).

I put on some wellies we keep by the back door and, rolling pin in right hand ready to fight off anyone who pounced, I crept outside.

The gate was swinging open. I shoulder barged it shut, then spent several panicky minutes trying to slide the suddenly incredibly stiff bolts into place.

All the while I furtively looked around me, fearing the worst was going to happen at any moment, then, finally done, crept back towards the door, looking over my shoulder for an attacker.

Right at that moment something shot past my line of vision and, heart missing around two dozen beats, I leapt to my left, slipped on the decking and fell with a loud thud on the side of my head.

I looked up to see a cat on the fence (it had a distinct look of smug satisfaction that it had just made a grown man fall over), while I lay on the floor, lightly moaning, realising that if there was a serial killer in the vicinity he’d have the easiest job in the world finishing me off.

I’d even dropped the damn rolling pin.

Mrs Canavan came out around three minutes later to enquire why I was prostrate on the decking.

‘Because I’ve almost knocked myself out,’ I barked in ultra-aggressive tones.

After all I was only out here because of her laziness earlier in the day.

I had to get an ice pack from the freezer to treat the lump on the side of my head, and put a plaster on an abrasion on my hip.

Before I went to bed that night, still fretting about being killed, I placed an unopened nine-pack of Andrex toilet roll at the top of the stairs, the theory being that if someone crept up in the dark, they’d tread on the packet, it would make a loud crinkly noise and I’d wake.

I’m not sure what I’d do if I woke – I’d not thought the plan through that far – but I think it would comfort me to know I was about to be killed rather than it just happening while I was slumbering.

The good thing is, as of today, I’m still alive, though Mrs Canavan the next morning tripped over the toilet rolls and went flying.

She was angry. I thought it was fine payback for the back gate.

Ah, domestic bliss.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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