She’s The One (Part 3 of 3)

Destiny was almost foiled. I’d gotten a flat tire on the way, and I didn’t have a spare. I fretted over what to do. I couldn’t be late. No, not this time. That’s why the others had ended so badly. So I decided to leave the car where it was, flat tire and all.   I got out of the car feeling disgusted, tucking the gun down into my waistband. I adjusted my jacket so it couldn’t be seen. Now I was ready to set out on foot. But wait, I had forgotten something. Leaning back in the car, I opened the glove box again. I removed the pair of handcuffs. You never knew when restraints would come in handy. I put them in my jacket pocket and was on my way.

   It took me longer than I thought to get to the park on foot. The sun was already near to setting. I knew she was gone, through with her run and home by now.

  Walking the blocks through the city to her neighborhood gave me time to consider all my courses of action. I could follow through with this thing that I had started or I could just write it off as better luck next time. No, there wouldn’t be a next time, this was it. Images of Belinda would haunt me through eternity if I didn’t do this now.

   So I hurried along and found myself standing in front of her house. It was now dark and all the lights in her house were out. Either she’d gone out to eat or had retired to bed already. I looked at my watch. Probably went to eat.

   The house directly across the street from hers was empty. A “FOR SALE” sign hung on a tree out front by the street. The yard itself was lined by a row of bushes. I knew as dark as it was, no one would see me behind those hedges. It was the perfect place to hide and wait.

   So I did.

   About an hour later, a car pulled up outside her house. She got out of the back seat. I couldn’t help but smile. Her friends said their goodbyes and drove off, leaving her alone on the sidewalk. She turned and went up to the house. Grappling around in her pocket, she produced her house keys and slipped inside, closing the door shut behind her.

   Soon the light came on in her living room. I saw her well-lit form moving behind the curtain, before disappearing from view. The bedroom light came on, and again her silhouette gave away her movements, as she began to undress.

  Now would be the perfect time, I thought, while she was vulnerable, right in the state of changing clothes and preparing for bed. I put my hand on the pistol in my waistband. Okay, this is it.

   Suddenly I heard something. The sound of hard shoes on pavement. Someone was coming down the walk. I stayed put and didn’t move for fear of discovery. The footsteps stopped nearly in front of me. I peered out through the manicured branches of the hedge.

   It was the flower guy. He had a basket of flowers with a bottle of wine sticking out from the bouquet. He crossed the street away from me and walked up to Belinda’s door. “Well, well, looky here,” I whispered under my breath, as he reached up and rang her doorbell.

   Through her bedroom curtain, I could see her pass by the window and leave the room.

   He rang the doorbell a second time, and after a moment, she opened the door. Dressed in a light blue bathrobe, half hidden behind the door, they spoke for a few minutes. Then he nodded his head and looked down the street. I could see she was pointing in that direction.

   After a few more words, he turned around and left, and she closed the door shut. He walked across the yard and went next door. He rang their doorbell and waited.

   I laughed. “Wrong house, buddy.” I mused.

   The door opened and the flower guy handed them the basket. After a surprised thank you, they too shut the door and he went on down the street, finally rid of the flowers in his hand. But no, he had another flower, what appeared to be a rose. He must have pulled it from the bouquet before he gave it to the recipients. Cheap present for his ladylove, I thought.

    He got to the last yard on the block, and looking back before turning the corner, he stopped. He tilted his head as if listening, like maybe he knew he was being watched. He cocked his head the other way, and then he grinned. I could see his smile from where I was hidden.

   Damn, I thought, he’s seen me. But I knew that couldn’t be right. I was completely hidden from view and I hadn’t made a sound. Maybe he’s just thinking of something, and I’ve got it all wrong. I stayed still and prayed I wasn’t discovered.

   To my relief, he went on around the corner and disappeared from sight. I looked at my watch.

   Five minutes, I thought.

   I looked back up at her window. Where was she? I didn’t see her shadow anymore. How could I have let myself become distracted? And now I’d lost track of her. No, wait, there she was in the bedroom again. I could see her moving behind the curtain. Suddenly without warning, she opened the curtain. I shrank back, hoping she didn’t see me.

   She stood there in her bathrobe looking out into the night. My heart was racing and I could have swore she was getting ready to take it all off in full view of an opened window. But then she jumped, as if startled by something. I tried to remember if she had a dog or cat, but that was one tidbit of information I hadn’t covered. How could I have forgotten such a detail?

   She turned away from the window and left the room. “Now where’s she going?” I pondered. I looked at my watch. Two minutes had passed.

   I saw her shadow pass by the living room window, but she disappeared from sight. She must have gone into the kitchen. It was on the backside of the house and not in my area of view. And so I waited for her shadow to return.

   Three minutes.

    The living room light turned off. She must be going back to the bedroom. The bedroom light turned off. She must be going to bed.

   Four minutes.

   This couldn’t wait any longer. I knew what was waiting for me tonight. Inside that house lay my salvation, my victory. I emerged from the hedgerow and ran across the street. I really didn’t care now if anybody saw me. I was on a direct route with fate and nothing could stop me.

   I sprinted across the yard and entertained the thought of going through the front door, then thought better of it. There would be enough people moving in and out of that door once this was all over. Instead, I went around back, where I knew a small, screened door led into the kitchen.

 I put my hand on the door handle, and just as I suspected it would, it turned freely in my hand. I slowly opened the door. It made no sound on its hinges as if someone had recently oiled it. Stepping inside, my foot crunched on something. It was soft and made a quiet crinkle beneath my weight. I reached down and picked it up. It looked like a flower stem.

   Suddenly I heard a sound from elsewhere in the house, like something falling over. I quietly made my way out of the kitchen and into the hallway. I peeked into the dark living room. There was no movement there.

   Another noise, this time from the bedroom. It was a crash, followed by a scream as if someone were in throes of a nightmare and had lashed out, maybe knocking a lamp over. I quickly made my way down the wall, as another scream erupted, choked off this time in mid-sound.

   I pulled out my pistol and reached my hand around the corner, flipping the light switch on the wall. The bedroom was suddenly filled with bright light catching the girl by surprise.

   She was on the bed, her bathrobe torn open. A sock was stuck in her mouth, and her eyes were wide with fear. She was looking in my direction, silently imploring me to end this.

   And there on top of her he sat, pinning her to the bed with his weight, a huge gleaming knife in his hand. The flower guy. The killer of all those girls. Darcy, Anne, Debra, Desiree. Their faces flashed in front of me, all the times I’d been too late.

   “Not this time,” I growled.

   He prepared to finish the deed and raised the knife high. I shot him. It wasn’t enough though; he was still bringing the knife down. I quickly closed the distance from the doorway to the bed. With my free hand I grabbed his wrist that held the knife and twisted it back around his head.

   “Drop it,” I commanded.

   He grinned. “She’s the one,” he whispered.

   “I know,” I said.

   He dropped the knife, and I took the handcuffs from my pocket, slapping them on one wrist. I reached for his other hand, but I was too late. He spun around out of my grip, the cuffs yanked out of my hand.

   Belinda screamed and he was upon her, handcuffing himself to her and hauling her off the bed as a shield. The killer was grinning.

   “All the time too late, eh jack? Looks like you’re going to lose another one.”

   I was trying to aim the pistol but he hid behind her. There was no way I was going to get off a shot. “Let her go, this is between you and me.”

   “No, it isn’t. It’s between her and me.” He kissed her on the back of the neck and she cringed. “I’m going to love this one a long time.”

   “No, you’re not. You’re going to let her go.”

   “Jack, you just don’t get it do you? I’m not letting her go, and you’re not going to fire. What we have here is a stalemate.”

   “Maybe.” I was still trying to get a bead on him, but it was useless. And she was panicking too much. Tears were welling up in her eyes and she moaned to be set free. She wasn’t going to last very long like this. And then I thought of something that could save her. The last resort plan I never thought I’d ever use. “Belinda, You remember the card I showed you in the park?”

   Recognition registered on her face as she realized who I was and where she’d seen me before. She nodded her head and made a weak reply, “I think so.”

  “The Modeling agency?”

She appeared to be trying to remember, and as the killer watched me with wary eyes, I silently begged her to remember. If I could I would have sent her the mental image of the card. Shift Left models. Come on girl, shift left.

   “The name of the agency?” I prompted.

   The look on her face said she finally remembered and was realizing what I wanted her to do.

    “So do it.”

   She shifted to her left, and without hesitation I fired.

   The killer went down, dragging her handcuffed to the floor with him. But he was dead, and she was not.

   The police arrived pretty quickly, followed by Detective Marsten. My office partner winked. “You saw a girl, huh?”

   Paramedics had also appeared on the scene and were asking Belinda if she were okay. Thankfully, she was.

   I walked over to her. “I’m sorry,” I said, sitting down next to her.

   “Sorry?”

   “For not telling you who I really was that day in the park.”

   “He was there, wasn’t he?” she asked.

   I thought of the guy selling flowers to the young couple. The guy with the bouquet who watched me as I took her picture. The delivery man who had just been at her front door. “Yes, he was.”

   She nodded. “How long had he been following me?”

   “Not long.”

   She looked at me as if she wanted to ask another question, but wasn’t sure how to say it. Finally she came out with it. “What did he mean when he said she’s the one?”

   I swallowed hard. “He killed four other girls. I was too late to save them. They all died in my arms. I wasn’t going to let that happen to you. I think in his own twisted mind, he was searching for the right one.”

   “The right one for what?”

   “Some things are best not to think about,” I replied.

   All that mattered was it was over. I could go home now. I could rest next to my wife knowing I had saved someone else from the hands of evil. I knew eventually the cycle would start again. There would be a new killer. A new victim. A new hunt. But tonight, for at least a little while, there would be peace.

2017 Paul D Aronson.

She’s The One (Part 2 of 3)

That night I took the wife and kids to play miniature golf. I tried to immerse myself in this family outing, but I couldn’t get Belinda off my mind. I imagined to myself what her name would sound like coming from someone else’s mouth. Would it carry a tone of contempt or maybe of anger, and how would an inspector’s voice sound speaking her name aloud while pouring over details of her murder? No, I couldn’t think of that. ‘Stop it,’ my mind screamed, ‘you’re not supposed to think those kinds of thoughts.’   I returned my mind to attempting to beat my kids at miniature golf. I lost as always, little Gabrielle always wins it seems. She could very well be a golfing pro some day.

   Thursday at the office, the time just seemed to drag. I made arrangements to leave early on the premise that my daughter had a dentist’s appointment. So at three PM I left. But I didn’t go to any dental appointment. No, instead I went to the car rental agency I always used when I wanted to be discreet. I rented an inconspicuous gray Impala and then drove to the park. I parked right where the greenway path intersected with the city street. I looked at my watch and smiled. It was now four O’clock.

   Minutes later, Belinda came along right on schedule. I sat in the car and watched her through the trees as she sprinted along the path. Soon she would leave the park and pass right in front of the car. Would she see me sitting here? Recognize me perhaps? I hoped not, for it was very important she not know I was following her. That would spoil everything. Every carefully laid plan would all be for naught.

   I leaned over in the seat and opened the glove department. Inside lay a handgun and a pair of handcuffs. Yes, still there, I thought, just waiting for that golden moment to use them.

   She came jogging out of the park and I almost missed her, so lost in my reverie I was. Passing by so quickly, she didn’t notice me at all, and for that I smiled. I watched her as she went up the street,and after she was a block away, I started the car and slowly went after her.

   I followed her at a discreet distance as she made her way through town, among shops and restaurants, finally emerging into a neighborhood. She ran past a sign that read: Jefferson Heights. Two blocks into the neighborhood, her jog took her into a yard and up on a porch. The house number was 5302, and I wrote it down. This was where she lived. Now I was a happy man.

   I drove off, and as I did I passed by a florist’s delivery truck, which reminded me today was my wedding anniversary. I needed to pick up some flowers and a bottle of wine. Tonight was truly a joyous occasion indeed.

   The evening was fine, and probably one of the best nights of my life. I had brought cake and ice cream home, along with irises, my wife’s favorite flowers. We celebrated as a family: the wife, the kids, and myself. We even let the children stay up later than usual.

   After the kids went to bed, Samantha and I had an intimate celebration of our own. It had been some time since we’d made such passionate love and afterwards we both giggled as if it were our first time.

   “Honey, are you on a double dose of Viagra or something?” Samantha asked.

   “I’ll never tell my secret,” I laughed.

   “Well, whatever you’re taking,keep taking it.”

   “Anything for you, Belinda.”

   “Belinda?”

   “Uh,Samantha,I mean,” I laughed, trying to smooth it over, but it was too late. The damage was done. Her grin was erased, replaced by suspicion.

   “Who’s Belinda?”

   “What?”

   “You just called me Belinda.”

   “I did?” I tried to feign ignorance, but it didn’t work. I was in trouble.

   “Yes,you did. You just said, anything for you, Belinda.”

     I was trying to figure a quick way out of this, so I was silent for a minute. “Belinda? Oh..yeah her. Hon, I’m sorry, She’s a new client at work.”

   She didn’t believe me. “Since when do you have clients?”

   “Well, you know what I mean,” I replied, digging myself a deeper hole.

   “No, I don’t,” she said, forcing me to say it.

   “Well, uh, she’s like an assignment. You know, a project.” I was getting nervous. This could blow everything. All my plans for the victim could be shot down in this very instant, but lucky for me, Samantha finally bought my explanation.

   “That’s all she is?”

   “Yes, I swear. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to call you by her name. Guess her problem has been weighing heavy on my mind.”

   “You’re forgiven this time,” she half heartedly smiled, “but don’t bring your projects to bed next time.”

    “Yes ma’m,” I replied, but I knew I had put suspicion in her heart and would have to watch myself very closely from now on. Either that or get this Belinda obsession out of the way very soon.

   Yes, that was it. I needed to take care of that as soon as possible.

   For the next several days I watched my target’s activities very closely, or as closely as I could without arousing suspicion. I took pictures of her by day and made a log of her evening hours. After all, the previous ones had been planned for night, too. Evil thoughts become more real when the moon is high it seems.

   I really tried not to think of the others too much, all the times I failed in my sick, desperate mission. Darcy, Anne, Debra, Desiree, all young, all blond, all dead.

   Debra had looked up at me with frightened eyes as her life had left her. She had clutched desperately at my collar. I remember her fingers tightening, then releasing.

   Anne had called out a name, though it wasn’t mine. No matter, she was dead in my lap on the front porch in the snow of winter. Murder never even made it inside that night, it all occurred in the open air where the smell of her blood soon attracted the neighborhood dogs.

   Desiree died after I left her by herself in pursuit of other things. When I returned to the scene, her eyes were lifeless and staring into space.

   Darcy had gasped for breath in the last moments and I saw the light leaving the eyes of youth. As her lungs had filled with fluid and the sirens wailed, I was suddenly stricken with the realization of what had happened. Another girl dead. But I could not allow myself any feeling. No remorse, just determination to follow this through to the very end, to the one who would be the final act in this mad play. And now that I’d found her, maybe this sickness in me could end. Maybe I could bring it all to a close, and try to have a normal life away from all these morbid thoughts and memories.

   

   Belinda’s nighttime routine was quite predictable. Home from her jog, she’d go out just moments later to grab a bite to eat. She seemed to rarely eat dinner at home. Most of the time she just went a couple of blocks down to the local diner, but on occasion she’d get a cab and ride across town to one of the more fancier eateries. I don’t think she owned a car. If she did, I never saw it.

   I followed her on these dinner occasions, sometimes even going into those places myself to grab a bite. I studied what she ate, how she ate it, every little nuance from how she placed the napkin in her lap to the almost constant tapping of her foot.

   Despite her regular routine of going out to eat, her social life almost seemed to be non-existent. Sometimes she would meet someone for dinner, but afterwards she always went home alone. She didn’t go out dancing, or to the movies, though once she did stop at the local video store and rent one of those Meg Ryan romance flicks, but she seemed not to entertain family or friends at home much.

   Her habits and routine were perfect. But then so had the other ones. So, what made her any different? Maybe nothing, but I knew from everything I’d seen and observed that she was the one, the last one, and soon it would all be over.

   I had to prepare, the time was coming. Maybe even tomorrow.

   

 I’d been watching her night after night. From my car I had an ideal view of things. I could see nearly every window of her house quite clearly. Living room, bedroom, bathroom. Her curtains were a pastel white, and so when the light was on in the room it still afforded me a pretty good view as if there weren’t any curtains hanging at all. It was in those times that even the sight of her silhouette was enticing, alluring, and enough to turn any man into a peeping tom.

   I tried not to look so much, I really did. I knew the more I watched her, the more I’d be drawn in to her world, wanting to become a part of it. And though my presence said otherwise, I was trying to fight becoming attached to my target. She had already seeped into my dreams, my married life, and nearly every waking moment. Every little sight and sound drew me back to her. I couldn’t help this delirious obsession. And every night I said to myself, “I will end this tomorrow.”

   However, waiting for tomorrow is like waiting for a kettle of water to steam. The more you anticipate it, the longer it takes it to reach the boiling point upon the stove. So maybe if I just stopped watching her through her curtained world, the kettle would boil much quicker.

   I decided at that moment to take a day off from watching her. Instead I would spend my day in the office and the night with my family, as a normal husband and father would.

   The next day I went to the office early and tried to wrap myself up in other work, but I couldn’t do it. “Belinda,” a voice seemed to beckon, and I unlocked one of my desk drawers. Inside, among many secret things was a folder. I lay it on the desk, and flipped it open.

   There was Belinda’s face looking at me. A photo I’d taken. I touched the surface with my fingers. I could remember when I took this picture not too long ago. I’d hidden in the trees at the park and took her photo as she rested in between her afternoon jog and the sprint home. She was hot and sweating. Her blond hair was tied back in a ponytail, her sports bra surrounded by fine beads of perspiration on her skin. Her cheeks slightly flushed, she had a serene look on her face as if content with her day and life. I imagine she was.

   I closed the folder, and once again tried to immerse myself in something else. But after lunch I was drawn back to it for another look at her picture. Again, I admired everything there was about her, tracing my finger around her shape and form. But something troubled me. What was it? Something I couldn’t put my finger on. Something was wrong with the picture.

   But not her, she was perfect. I retrieved a magnifying glass from my desk, and began to look closer. In the background of the photo, life celebrated itself in the park. Behind her, a group of teenagers threw a Frisbee, and close by walked a young couple hand in hand. An old man sat on a bench reading a paper, while beside him sat a young man with a bouquet of roses as if waiting for his loved one to show up.

   Something was wrong with that image though, for the young man wasn’t looking around or off somewhere in the distance. No, he was looking right at me. Damn! He knows. He was watching me take pictures of her and now I’m busted. I hate being spotted like that. I slammed the folder shut and threw it back in the drawer.

   It’s all right, I thought, as I left the office, heading for the car. I can still do this. I felt nervous thinking I’d been found out, but as I got in the car, my resolve erased all fear. I leaned over and checked the glove compartment. I took the handgun out and lay it on the seat as I drove towards the park for a rendezvous with destiny.

To be continued….

She’s The One (Part 1 of 3)

Author’s Note: Years ago, I wrote this story in an attempt to enter in the serial killer genre of crime fiction. Despite completing it, for whatever reason I packed it away in a box with other abandoned pieces. So, now I’m taking a fresh look at it and seeing what I can do. Come along if you dare, lol….

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She’s The One 

Part One

   She’s the one. I knew it from the moment I saw her. It was like a revelation, realizing your destiny is right before your eyes, and there she was, an angelic vision of one man’s burning desire.

   The first time I had seen her was in the newspaper. I know it wasn’t really her, but still a close look-alike. Long, yellow-blond hair, big baby blue eyes, cherub face with bee-stung lips, the perfect epitome of the all American girl. Except the one in the paper was dead.

   This girl though was very much alive, jogging through the park on a Sunday afternoon. I was with my wife and kids when she came running by. My heart nearly stopped, a lump growing in my throat as my eyes followed her intently. Quickly assessing her mannerisms, I noted the way she lightly brushed her hair back from her eyes, the rhythm of her stride, the way her feet lightly glided across the pavement.

   I looked at my children to see if they had noticed me looking at her. They didn’t. But my wife Samantha did. She lightly punched my arm to regain my attention, and so I looked at her and smiled, embarrassed.

   “Honey, you don’t want that,” she playfully scolded.

   If only she’d known what I was thinking about that girl. If she could have seen the dark thoughts of my imagination, she may have immediately gathered up the kids and ran. I know it’s not normal to have such thoughts, but I never claimed to be normal, now did I? All of my life I’ve been different than everyone else. That’s why I do what I do: Think out dark thoughts and then act on them before it gets too late. Of course, sometimes I am too late. This time it would be different though, because the moment I saw her, I knew she was the one and our fates were entwined.

   When men do evil things they can elude detection for a long time. If they are meticulous enough and have an eye for detail, their perverted thoughts can seem non-existent to the rest of the world. On the outside, evil can wear the face of a neighbor or family man. Just like these thoughts of mine. Who in my family or among my friends would ever think my thoughts are full of obsession, abduction, and the need to put a stop to the emotions that course through my very veins?

    Even in the evening, when I lay down in the bed next to my wife, my head is still full of darkness and evil. I close my eyes to try and shut it out, but I can almost hear the voices taunting me, “she’s the one, she’s the one.”

   

   The day after I saw her, I sat at my desk at work, all thoughts on her blond beauty. Co-workers came by my desk and said hi, most of which I didn’t even acknowledge. All I could see were her long flowing locks of hair, fine toned legs propelling her down the sidewalk, sports bra fitting snugly to her frame of perfection.

   I had a piece of paper in front of me on the desk, jotting down names, trying to figure out what hers might be. Jenny, Susan, Diane. Nope, none of them seemed to fit. How about Rhonda, Mary, or Teresa? No, none of those either. I tried to imagine what name matched her, but the distractions of the office made it near impossible. So I closed my eyes and pictured her standing in front of me, hovering over my desk. Her white neck glistened with sweat from her jogging. She reached up with a hand and swept a lock of hair from her face and lightly whispered her name to me.

   “Linda,” she breathed.

   My eyes sprang open. She wasn’t there, but I’d already written the name down. Linda. Yes, that was it!

   Now all I needed to do was find her again. My only course of action was to return to the park, this time alone. So I grabbed my jacket and left the office, heading for where I thought she would be. It didn’t take me long to reach the park, and sure enough there she was. I could see her coming down the asphalt path that threaded among the trees and bushes. I sat down on a bench and pretended to watch the pigeons.

   She came running by, completely oblivious to my presence. I looked at my watch. It was four PM. She’d run Sunday at four, now Monday at four, and so my mind reasoned she’d be back again tomorrow at the same time.

   I got up and left the park. Before going home, I stopped at a sporting goods store and bought a jogging suit. If she were in the park tomorrow, I would meet her face to face and she would see these eyes that have sought her out for so long.

   I chickened out on Tuesday. It’s not that I thought of my family and what they would think of what I was doing. No, it was just that I lost my nerve. It’s like when you’ve waited for a moment forever and then when it arrives, you just freeze. You don’t know how to act or proceed, so you stand there mute watching the opportunity run by.

   And that’s what she did: run by me, not even giving me a second glance, much less a first. Again I watched the rhythm of her stride as she moved away from me, the muscles in her legs pumping, as she left the park to wherever she lived.

   I found myself wondering about that place. Her home. What was it like? Did she live alone? Did she have many friends come by to visit? No matter, I would find out soon enough.

   So instead of meeting her as I planned that day, I went back to the office. No one even seemed to miss me. I had changed out of my jogging outfit and back into the required coat and tie. It was as if I’d never left.

   The only colleague who seemed to notice my absence was Bill Marsten, whose desk was situated right across from my mine. He looked up from what he was working on, his face betraying a look of concern.

   “Jack, you don’t look so good. You okay?”

“I’m fine,” I replied, though not very assuringly.

   “You look pale,” he added.

   I didn’t know what to say and so the words that came out of my mouth were, “I saw a girl.”

   His face lit up. “Aw, well then that explains everything,” he chuckled. Then he picked up some papers from his desk. “I have to go file this report with the Big Kahuna. You got anything?” Before I even had a chance to answer, he grinned. “Of course not, you’ve been out of the office chasing girls.”

   I nervously smiled, wondering if maybe somehow he knew what I was up to and would be a problem to my plans. I briefly considered the thought of doing something about him and finding out what he may have known, but then it passed. He didn’t know anything; no reason involving him in this already twisted game I was in.

   This was for me, and me alone.

   Wednesday. I didn’t even go to the office. I put on my jogging suit, kissed the wife goodbye, and walked the kids to school. Then I made my way to the park. I knew she wouldn’t be there until late afternoon, but I had other things to do, other plans to think about. Like where would you hide a body there in the park? Would a broad daylight attack be arrogant? Or would one best wait until dark and inside a person’s home?

   The answer was simple; Even the most foolish of murderers would wait until dark and do these things in the victim’s home rather than a park.

   But still, I wanted to meet her first. See her face to face so she could look into these eyes that hid so much from the world.

   And this afternoon was the day. I would see her, touch her, and she would know my name, or at least the one I was prepared to give her.

   While I waited for the magic hour, I studied the park, just in the event a daylight attack was meant to be. Every bush, tree, or potential hiding place came under my studious eye. I ate lunch at a nearby hotdog stand and then returned to the park to wait.

   So as not to arouse too much suspicion, I jogged a little, and even engaged several people in friendly, casual conversation. A woman and her two young daughters were on the playground and I soon found myself chatting with the lady. She was divorced she said, and I noticed she looked at my finger. Though I knew she’d seen the wedding band there, I imagine that if I’d asked her out she would have agreed. There was a look in her eye that said she didn’t care if I was married or not.

    But I could never cheat on my wife. She’s the only one for me. Yeah, I know there’s the blond in the park, the one who haunts and obsesses me so, but that’s different. My feelings about her are nothing like the ones reserved for my wife and family.

   Four o’clock came and like clockwork the jogging blond arrived. Now was time for our worlds to collide. I had been waiting along a thick strand of trees and shrub. When she came down the path, I darted out of the brush, pretending to look back, and ran headlong into her.

   Wham! I feared I might have hit her too hard, for we both went down to the ground, her body trapped beneath my own. There was a look of surprise on her face that suddenly turned to fear when she looked in my cold, dark eyes. Her body seemed so soft and fragile beneath my weight. I feared I’d crushed her, so I rolled off of her and rose to my feet, giving her a little chance to breathe.

   “Oh my god, I’m very sorry,” I apologized. “Are you okay?”

   I had stood to my full height, and reached a hand down to her as she lay there, the wind knocked out of her temporarily.

   She didn’t take my hand, but instead got to her feet on her own, fear now turning to anger. “You should watch where you’re going.”

   “I’m sorry. There was a dog chasing after me back there and so I went through the bushes to lose him.”

   She peered into the foliage I had burst out from. “Looks like you lost him then.”

   “Yeah, I guess so.” I knew she would be jogging off again soon, so I needed to think quick, otherwise I’d lose my window of opportunity. “You sure you’re okay?”

   She nodded, starting to lightly jog in place.

   “Hey, are you a model?”

   She rolled her eyes. “No,” she replied and started to look around, as if to spy anyone who could rescue her from this awkwardness. The only person in sight was a guy selling flowers to a young couple not far away. He looked at us briefly before returning his attention to the lovers.

   Acting quick, I reached into my outfit and produced a card, which I handed towards her. “I’m a modeling agent. Here’s my card.”

   She looked at the card but didn’t take it. “Jack Lawrence,” she said aloud, reading it. “Shift Left Models.” She looked up at me suspiciously. “What kind of name is that?”

   “One I would hope you’ll remember,” I smiled.

  “I’m sorry, Mr. Lawrence, I have to go. I’m expected home soon.”

   I felt like that was a lie, but I knew it was best to let her go this time. “Well, again I’m sorry, Miss..” I left the sentence hanging in the air and she took the bait, finishing it for me.

   “Belinda,” she said. But all I heard at first was the “Linda” part. Just like I had imagined in the office. Yes, this was even more proof to me that she was the one. I must have had a strange look on my face, because she got that nervous look in her eye again. “Goodbye, Mr. Lawrence,” she said and then jogged off down the path.

   “Belinda,” I whispered, watching her go, knowing I would see her again soon. But the next time would have a far different outcome than this.

To be continued….

Challenge: Abandon Your Comfort Zone

Recently a friend of mine on Facebook challenged me to write something outside my comfort zone. “Whatever you are scared to write about, write it anyway,” he said. I let this sink in awhile, but didn’t really intend to take him up on the challenge. Still, it wouldn’t leave me. Could I abandon my safe writing place and tackle something that makes me uncomfortable or is darker than what I would normally write? Finally, while meditating with my adult coloring book, it came to me. What I felt is one of  the hardest things for me to write about just sprang to mind with a stark opening line. I feel weird telling you that I hope you enjoy this piece, but hopefully it does bring something to the table, to maybe inspire you to write a story or poem outside your own comfort zone. You don’t need to use the picture heading this post, just write what you don’t want to write 😉 Feel free to share anything you may write in regards to this challenge if you like. You can post it as a comment here in my post, or share a link if you have it written or posted somewhere else. Okay, takes a deep breath, here it goes.

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The Devil Is A Cold Floor
I am a shadow.

 A ghost moving against the chill of a cold concrete floor.

The voice of the devil tells me this is what adults do.

Lay still. Be quiet. This will hurt just a bit, then it feels good.

The devil lies. The hurt goes on forever

Following from one lover to another

To mess you up for everyone

Hot water heater

I imagine its the mouth of hell

As I stare up in into its tiny flickering flame

Wishing it could burn the shame away

But the shame remains as it always will

A stark reminder that the devil is a cold floor

Upon which all innocence dies.

50 Word Poetry

*Okay, I guess I’m feeling inspired this morning or something, so now here I go with a variation on the 50 word challenge. This time around the task is to write a poem of 50 words based on the image heading this post. Again, I selected this from random images on the web. I was feeling kind of hippy this AM so it appealed to me, and this poem resulted. Hope you enjoy! If you feel equally inspired, please feel free to post a 50 word poem of your own in the comments, or on your own blog. Please provide us a link so everyone can go check it out. Thanks*

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Green light and clear water

against her dark skin,

naked she wades into the pool,

letting the glorious cool

bathe her in its liberation,

like an attentive lover,

seeping into her very core,

as she sinks further

to rest upon the slick, smooth stones,

bare to the elements and I.

50 Word Story attempt

*I have seen several of these across the blogosphere lately, and have even joined in on a few, so I thought I would come up with my own, and see if it kickstarts anyone else’s imagination as well. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction of exactly 50 words based on the picture that heads this post. I selected the image at random off the web, along with a few others, and then just started writing. Feel free to write your own either in your own blog (put a link so we can all go read it) or within the comments on this post. Hope you enjoy!*

I stood on the edge of the pond, the isolation and still waters a pale reflection of my feelings dead ended in this life. I wanted to just wade in, first to my waist, then my neck, and finally over my head. Maybe the mermaids would save me, maybe not. 

The Last Dark Hour

I watched them again last night. For several evenings in a row they have come here to Red Gate Cemetery. Their discovery of the graveyard must have appealed to them somehow. At first, I thought they were a couple of Goth kids looking for a dark creepy place to make out, but as I got braver and edged my way closer, hiding behind tombstones and statues as I went, I realized they weren’t kids at all. The girl was young and lithe, early to mid twenties, with a glow about her that reminded one of the shimmer of stars reflecting across a body of water. In the moonlight, the color of her hair seemed to shift from red to black to brown, as if she were in a constant flux of change. Her face was very beautiful, almost angelic, with striking features you’d find yourself wanting to study the way artists do before they paint their subject. And the perfect shape of her body here in the shadows of the night nearly made my breath catch in my throat. Every movement of her was like a sensual dance of one who had not fallen in love, but surpassed it, becoming the muse and inspiration of every romantic line uttered from a poet’s lips. She spun into her companion’s arms, swirling and swaying against him, as if she were desperately seeking to become so close to him, not even the cool air of the night could pass between their bodies.

 Her companion was a little older than she. His long brown hair swirled about his shoulders as if the very breeze were caressing his frame. He was taller and his presence nearly commanded you to look in his eyes. Those eyes were dark, shifting from hazel to grey, brown to black, much in the same manner her hair had changed. His hands seemed to know every line of her body, as his long fingers traced a path on her cheek. It was both tender and sensual, and every time his touch would find a place pleasurable to her, she would lean into his hand.

 As I crept closer, I could hear something, a faint disturbance of the silence. At first I didn’t know if it was the sound of their bodies and it’s sensuous electricity passing between them, but I quickly realized the answer was simpler than that. They were singing to each other. I couldn’t quite hear the words from where I was, so ever more bravely I crouched behind a large angel statue just feet away from them. Now I could hear their voices more clearly as they both sang in low whispers:

 “My love, Take not your heart from mine,

 But let it rest safe against thine..”

 Peering around the statuary’s marble pillar, I could see them even more clearly. The girl’s skin was pale, and as the man’s fingers stroked her bare shoulder, I noticed two things. One was an ankh tattoo. The Egyptian cross of everlasting life lay atop a heart broken into two halves, and the man’s long fingernails seemed to trace the ink itself. The second and strangest thing I noticed was the man’s hand itself, as it went across her bare skin. He was pale too, but it seemed the more he touched her, and the longer I watched, the more ashen his skin became. It was nearly translucent, as if her mere presence created a glow from within. As his fingers crossed her neck, she tilted her head away from him, exposing her soft skin to him. He took a deep breath, as if he was breathing in her very scent, and his lips gently grazed her neck. Her excitement was so heightened at this, that I thought I saw a vein in her neck jump towards his lips. He kissed her there on that twitching vein, a long loving touch that made her wrap her arms more tightly around him. He opened his mouth, his teeth playfully grazing her heated skin. Suddenly it dawned on me exactly what he was. I inhaled sharply from the realization.

 He stopped. His lips still touched her skin, but now he was aware of everything around him. No longer completely lost in her, he raised his head and took a whiff of the night air. The girl took longer to recover, but she too realized they weren’t alone. She clutched him close, a look of fear taking over the haunting beauty of her eyes.

 The man kissed her forehead and she buried her cheek against his throat. He didn’t look at me as he spoke.

 “I know you’re there,” he said.

 I ducked back behind the statue as if that would hide me.

 “There’s no need to hide,” he said, as if he could read my very thoughts. “Your scent is strong…”

 I closed my eyes, hoping that maybe if I held them shut long enough this whole predicament would go away. When I opened them back up and gathered the resolve to come out of my hiding place, he appeared in front of me. One minute he had been holding her, and in the next he was hovering over me as I crouched behind the statue.

 “…but not as strong as your fear,” he finished.

 I cringed, trying to back away from him, but there was nowhere to go. He smiled and I noticed there was a trace of blood on his lower lip.

 “What do you want?” I managed to ask in a weak voice.

 “That is the very question I would ask of you. You have been watching us for awhile now.” “I..I’m sorry. I am just curious, that’s all.”

 He raised an eyebrow. “Curious?” He laughed under his breath. “A bit of the voyeur perhaps? Just what are you curious about, hmm?”

 “Why you come here?”

 “Ah, the cemetery fixation, yes.“ He stepped back from me a little, affording me space to breathe. “Have you ever considered cemeteries as a sort of crossroads? It’s where death ends with the burial of the body, yet it begins here too. Sometimes in the lives of mourners, sometimes in the deceased themselves. We are drawn here because it is a place of peace, rebirth, even reunion. There is no place where love is felt stronger, more desperate, more clinging to life and all its pleasures. “

 I noticed out of the corner of my eye the girl had come around the statue to stand behind her lover. She circled her arms around his waist and kissed him lightly behind the ear. She whispered something I could not make out.

 The man nodded. “Perhaps you would feel more at ease if we left.”

 I couldn’t speak. Their presence together was so intoxicating. Just by being this close to them I felt I was being consumed by their passions. Their desire for each other was so powerful, it made me want to blurt out “I love you” myself.

 He seemed to realize this and threw back his head in a slow easy laugh. “It is powerful, is it not? Love, the eternal variety, grows until it overwhelms everything in its path. Even the people who briefly come in contact with it. No one is unaffected by true love. No one.”

 The girl smiled, eyes closed, as her fingers lovingly played across his chest. It was apparent that for her there was no greater happiness than being in her lover’s arms. With that thought bouncing around in my head, her eyes opened and met mine. I completely melted inside. To look into her eyes was like peering at every romantic notion you had ever imagined, and seeing it look back at you, amorous and sensual. I don’t know if she was aware of the effect she had on me, but her lips curled into a smile, and it was then I noticed the blood on her mouth.

 “You’ve bit your lip,” I managed to say.

 The smile turned into a knowing grin. “We often do.”

 Her companion, with one hand on her chin, tilted her face up to him. His facial expression seemed to change. No longer was he the cordial talker with his attention directed to me. No, instead an intense look crossed his face as he stared into hers. It was as if all he saw was her and he was caressing her beautiful frame with his eyes. Ignoring my presence, he leaned into her, and with a gentle gesture pressed his lips to hers. Her mouth welcomed his and she closed her eyes. The kiss was the most sensual I’d ever seen. Every second seemed to be a testament of love, adoration, and desire, wrapped in eroticism. He playfully sucked at her bottom lip, and when they parted, I noticed the blood on her mouth was gone. He had taken it. Finally, as if coming out of a trance, he directed his attention to me once again.

 “So..,” he spoke. “What are we going to do?”

 Fearfully I backed away. “What..what do you..you mean?”

 He found my stuttering response amusing, and he let out a light chuckle.

 “You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?”

 I couldn’t lie. His all knowing eyes wouldn’t allow it. “Yeah.”

 “Why?”

 “Because..Because you’re a vampire.”

 He raised an eyebrow in apparent amusement.

 “Perhaps. Or perhaps you just have a skewed perception of things you don’t understand. Vampires as you call it.”

 “You were going to bite her neck and drink her blood.”

 He looked at the girl, who had now unbuttoned his shirt and was kissing his chest. “Oh most certainly I was. But why should that scare you?”

 “Because you might drink my blood too,” I stammered.

 He looked at me, his face taking on a stern countenance. “You do have a skewed perception. I would never drink anyone’s blood except my Liliana’s. Never. Blood is the life, but so is love. One cannot live without either. To drink another’s blood besides hers would be.. unfaithfulness.”

 “Then what are you going to do to me?”

 “Do to you?”

 “I’ve seen you. I know what you are.”

 “Foolish gravedigger, you don’t know what I am.”

 “You’re a vampire, “ I reminded him.

 “That word is so..mortal. I am..we are..the last of the Magimade. Our blessing is to live forever. Our curse is..well, it just is.”

 “The sun is your curse,” I offered.

 “To never see each other in that light. As it used to be. As it was before..” His voice trailed off and he appeared lost in his own thoughts. I was no longer scared. Before me were not the bloodsucking evil creatures of legend and Hollywood, but a tragically sad version of Romeo and Juliet made for the gothic crowd.

 “I can keep you from the sun,” I suggested. “If you need it.”

 His look turned stern again. “We do not need a human servant to do our bidding. We can find our own place of hiding and rest.”

 “There’s an empty crypt here. You could go inside and I could lock you in until morning. No one can get in without a key. You would be safe and undisturbed.”

 He seemed to think on this a moment. Liliana lightly kissed him on the back of his neck. Sadly he smiled. He turned his head to her and her lips found his own. It was a hungry, desperate kiss, like that of forbidden lovers before they have to part. When her mouth left his I could see the tears running down her cheek. He turned back to me and I could see the tears had welled up in his eyes too.

 “We cannot rest together,” he said. “It is part of our curse. We have until the last dark hour.”

 “And then what?”

 “Then I am a memory inside of her.”

 Liliana touched his cheek lovingly. “Nicolai,” she breathed.

 “Yes, my love.”

 “We don’t have much time.”

 “I know.”

 He buried his face against her bare shoulder, kissing her skin on a path to her neck, her cheek, and eventually her lips. Gently she wrapped her arms around him and I could see the love emanating on their faces. It was so apparent I thought to myself that nothing could hide a love as great as this. They held each other for a few more moments and all I could do was stand there in silence and wait. If I’d ever thought of running, it was lost to me now.

 Finally Liliana looked at me with sad eyes. “The hour is upon us. Nicolai must go. You should go, too.”

 It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a command. Her eyes compelled me to turn around and begin walking. I couldn’t fight it. But after taking about twenty paces, I managed to will myself to stop. I had to see this parting of lovers for myself. I turned around.

 Nicolai and Liliana stood facing each other. Her open hand rested against his cheek. His own hand was palm against her chest, right between her quietly heaving breasts. And then he began to break apart. At first I thought I was seeing things, but no, his body was slowly coming to pieces. Tiny flakes of ash and motes of dust seemed to peel away from his skin. She held out her hand to collect these remnants of him, and they seemed to be attracted to her in such a way, that they seeped into her own skin. Further coming apart, soon he was nothing but dust, falling into hands, where all the parts of him disappeared into her. His hand upon her chest was the last to go, and it trailed down her body into her palm, where it lingered a second, before fading into her like a misty fog across a pale morning sky. Now there was nothing left of him. It was as if he had never been there at all.

 I watched Liliana crumble to her knees, the tears pouring from her eyes, and she tilted back her head letting out an anguished wail, as if by somehow taking the remnants of her lover inside her body, her own beating heart had been torn away from it. I ran to her and tried to comfort her somehow. But there was no comfort for her. In the last dark hour before daylight, she was alone.