I had just finished brushing my teeth. I walked out of the bathroom and peeked around into the living room to turn the apartment lights out. Just before doing this, I glanced out our main window.

There he was. Standing under a light post in the middle of the parking lot outside the RFC. He saw me right away and froze for a second.

He then quickly darted behind the light post. Only, the light post was three inches wide, so you could still see this man. Realizing this, he waddled backward to the dark and shadowy edge of the parking lot, staring at me the whole time.

At this point, I was extremely paranoid. I saw one of my roommates, who was just getting back from work, drive into the same parking lot. I turned off the light and went to tell another roommate what I just saw.

As I described the situation, my eyes began to water. This was serious. Realizing how terrified I was, Roommate # 2 asked, “Should we get my telescope out to see who this stranger is?”

(Yeah, he conveniently had a telescope. His intentions were to look at the moon on a clear night. I guess this situation gave it a bigger, more applicable purpose.)

We tried to spot where this man went. He was wearing a red coat, so it wasn’t that hard to spot him. He was standing under three bright lights by the track and field bleachers.

It was almost like this guy was trying to mind his own business. Were we the ones that were creeping the stranger in the red coat out?

Maybe he was just talking on his phone or having a discrete smoke break. In a bright red coat, at 11:30 at night, in the 20oF weather. He saw me just as I had peered around the corner. He was staring into the apartments. I’m on the third floor and he still saw me.

You may think I’m crazy. Maybe a little schizophrenic? No.

My friends saw this stranger too. The first roommate who just got back from work said that he saw a person in the parking lot. I had to ask the second roommate a few times before he admitted to seeing the stranger as well.

We knew what our intentions were. The next step was to call campus safety, so I did. Good old Bruce picked up. I told him who I was.  Bruce and I go way back to freshmen year.

Science majors like me, who were in Gen Chem and Calc 1 and have a severe case of procrastination, have to know what Tuesday nights were like. I only had to do six all-nighters my first semester here (maybe I am crazy). Anyways, I had to work in The Connectors because I was a good roommate (Mathematica forced me to work in those computer labs), so Bruce and I got to know each other very well.

Back to present time. I explained the situation and asked Bruce to just check out the RFC parking lot that night on his rounds. Bruce chuckled and then agreed to check for weird people.

Looking back, I feel really bad for making him get out into the miserable weather in the middle of the night (sorry for that Bruce!). My excuse was that I was not in the right state of mind at that point.

I looked out the window again. The man in the red coat was gone. I had to put my adrenaline-fueled hawk-eyes to work. I looked along the fence by the track. I spotted a figure moving along the fence towards the apartments.

At that point another one of my roommates just walked in to the apartment to find three of us looking out the window. He had just gotten back from his shift at the Good Library. We caught him up to speed and, of course, he laughed at us.

He was also laughing because he saw Bruce at the library 15 minutes earlier, talking to someone on his phone. Finding out it was me dealing with the situation was just pure gold.

At this point, it was 12:30 a.m. and we were exhausted (I am speaking for myself at least). It was time to go to bed, but I couldn’t sleep in my room. What if the man in the red coat got into the apartments? He knew where we lived.

I must admit, looking back, there was no logic to sleeping in my roommate’s room on his hard floor that night. I was blinded by the paranoia and fear that had come over me that night, and I lived to tell the tale.

Of course, no one will believe my story besides my friends. I am alive as witness to seeing the man in the red coat. Or maybe I am just crazy, and my friends are trying to comfort me by saying that they saw the man in the red coat too. I don’t know what’s worse, me thinking that I’m crazy or knowing that there is a strange man in a red coat looking into the apartments at night.

Now I see people with red coats everywhere. If you have a red coat, just know that you may be the man in the red coat.