Many, many years ago, after a nice evening as I was kissing her, she screamed. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “The window! The window!” she said holding me. “Someone is looking in the window!” I thought I heard things. I dragged her into the hall and then exited out the front door. I checked the bushes and the driveway. No one by the street. As I returned to the house, I could still see the fright in her eyes. I wasn’t too calm either. Thus, in a small way I had some perspective of someone intruding into a private moment.
In Exchange house artist Mattie Summers is in Arizona. She leads a comfortable life but her marriage is not longer viable. He husband John is on the road for extended periods, leaving here alone in her desert home. But this story is not about Mattie and the desert home. It about leaving the area and leaving John behind to go on vacation. When King John pulls into the desert abode he treats Mattie with incredible abuse. Yet when his district manger calls John becomes accommodating and full of flattery, retrieving reports and evaluating the company. An argument ensues between John and Mattie resulting in John speeding off the property.
It all sounds simple enough. Arrange with another person to exchange homes in different geographic areas. Her best friend DR from her hair saloon likes the idea and Mattie of off to Maine. Seems like a nice little town, Rexford, Maine but there are indicators as story progresses that there might be some people in the town that may not want her at the Exchange House. The property management guy Daniel McCabe is good looking but there is something that’s off with this man. Another man a long-haired mechanic is mouthy and doesn’t like her. Many people wonder what this outsider is doing in town.
Hitchcock on TV-Nothing more scary than the use of the imagination in an isolated setting.
An Unlocked Window from 1965 Alfred Hitchcock
A crazy murderer targets nurses taking care of patients in a vulnerable, remote setting. Add to the setting a nasty weather mix. And phones calls coming in from the potential murderer. This demented ghoul is informing the nurses that he intends to make a house call. Stella, one of the nurses secures every possible entrance to the far away house. But she makes a fatal mistake-a cellar window has not been locked...
I had not seen Unlocked Window prior to writing Exchange House. Once I got inside Mattie’s head and drove into town, I let the emotions take over. Mattie is already stirred up from her husband’s behavior. She felt alone and vulnerable even before she got on the plane to Maine. And now the most dreaded word: Strangers… Listen to Jim Morrison singing People are Strange and better yet buy the song if you want to seep down to that cautionary level. Everyone Mattie sees amplifies the unwarranted fear. Remember how FDR said boldly the only thing we have to fear if fear itself. Apparently, Mattie missed the history lesson.
In her head Mattie rationalizes the beautiful house along the ocean, somewhat isolated from town, holds the prescription to settle her nerves. After all, as she walks in the autumn sunshine along the cliffs overlooking the blue Atlantic and takes in the waves crashing on the rocks below, Mattie realizes how she has gotten far away from John. Or has she?
McCabe, the property manager, is masculine, capable, and dynamic. He has large strong hands. Her maiden name is already known by McCabe. He was a military lawyer. Smoking a cigarette somehow enhances his vital appearance. His touch is captivating. Why wasn’t he a lawyer anymore?
A Potpourri of Fear for Mattie Summers.
-Mattie’s rental car has “Major League” problems.
-McCabe gets the car into Belson’s Garage.
-One of the mechanics, a pony tailed man, is very weird to the point a frightening this already shaken woman, even when just taking to her.
-The little mechanic with the long hair, Raymond Snowden, eats at a booth in the diner near Mattie.
-McCabe’s strong hands tightens some ropes as Raymond Snowden smokes a cigarette while leaning against the garage ‘s open bay.
-McCabe tells her how far the house is from town and other homes.
-Does the touchy McCabe have problems with rejection?
-The old fashion ringing phone in the dead of night.
-The powerful storm moving up the coast.
-The drop to the rocks from the cliffs.
Rest assured there is more fear, spliced into the over all anxiety and tension the UNEXPECTED. This story should have been called ‘from the fire into the frying pan’ but we’ll leave the Exchange House title in place. Heed ye the warning-throughout the entire story there are people lurking, lurking, lurking.
If you dare-Watch this Alfred Hitchcock Hour, ‘the Unlocked Window,’ from 1965 directed by Joseph Newman…