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July 1, 2022

Ladder Man

Matt Rowan

“I can be creepy with just a ladder,” Ladder Man said to me on the other side of my second-story window.

Startled by this, I dropped my mug of oatmeal. I’m at the point in my life in which I treat my oatmeal as less a solid than a liquid, hence the mug. It’s simply a choice one makes, like climbing a ladder to stare inside the home of whoever is behind the window you peer into.

As for Ladder Man, his appearance was unexpected, to be sure. I had never met him before, and I didn’t even know he called himself Ladder Man yet, though it was an unsurprising cognomen when I finally learned it.

Ladder Man continued, “Whenever I see a second-story window open at night, even when it’s covered by a screen, I think that person never counted on Ladder Man. Ladder Man can’t be stopped by a screen, even a good one. I don’t care.” He began banging his head into my window screen. I asked him to stop, as I knelt down with a paper towel, already having discarded the remains of my coffee mug in a waste bin I kept by my desk. I used the towel to clean up the residual oatmeal dotting my hardwood floor in an agglomeration of various lumpy piles.

To my further surprise, he complied and stopped attempting to ruin my screen, which wasn’t expensive but I knew my landlord would bill me for it as though it were.

“So is that why you’re here, to show me you’re creepy? It’s worked, you are. I’m creeped.”

“I’m here to indicate I’m Ladder Man. That the ladder takes me up. That I spy through windows and such, and that my life as Ladder Man occupies more of my time than you’d probably think possible.”

“Gotcha,” I said.

“I’m a climber of all ladders, social as well as not. Sometimes I sleep on my ladder, literally sleep on this ladder I’m currently perched upon. That sleep has led to some terrible mistakes.”

“Falling off the ladder while you sleep?” I said.

“Yes, mainly,” Ladder Man said.

The Ladder Man didn’t attempt to murder me, and in a certain sense, for that, I was grateful.

I couldn’t say the same for The Follower of Me to My Door — as he’d dubbed himself. It took a fair amount of clarification before I could understand The Follower of Me to My Door’s cognomen, though (unlike Ladder Man’s, which was easy to understand), given the pronoun usage, etc., which when said made it appear as though he were the “me/my” in question and not the Follower so indicated.

It is possible, of course, that our argument about The Follower of Me to My Door’s chosen alias and so forth led to the worst of our interaction. Very possible.