Cafe de Desiree

January 3, 2013

Blood in the Snow

Filed under: horror,relationships,story — desi83 @ 6:12 am

I still don’t really know what I want to title this, but here is my story, the unedited complete first draft. Read this when you have some time, and give me feedback if you have any.

The first thing I noticed when I pulled into the parking lot of our apartment was her fluffy, white robe sprawled out onto the slightly snow-covered grass. What stood out, even in the darkness with only the dim street lights illuminating it, was the blood. It reminded me of her innocence; the dark blood stained the pure white of her robe. I prayed that it was just red wine or tomato soup, and in her haste, she threw out the soiled material. Maybe it belonged to someone else. I only faintly remembered that robe. It was the first winter that we were together. We had spent that last winter as neighbors without even knowing it. To think, we were strangers less than a year ago. I got up the nerve to approach the red-soaked robe. I bent down to get a better glimpse of it. It looked and smelled like blood. I was careful not to touch it. I ran into the apartment while making bargains with a God that I wasn’t even sure existed. I wasn’t taking any chances for the worst. The smell of her lingered through the house-spaghetti and meat balls, homemade chocolate chip cookies that she’d made recently, and her sweet pea body spray were the smells of our home together. “Baby, are you home?” I tried to sound casual. “Are you asleep already?” I asked with all the hope I could muster. I burst into the room with my eyes squeezed shut, as if I could cast some spell to bring her into the room, safely asleep. I slowly opened the door to find an empty, unmade bed. I remembered why it was so untidy-no more like destroyed! I woke her up to make love at seven in the morning because she looked so beautiful while she slept. I grabbed the blanket and held it, wishing it were her. Maybe she was at her parents’ house or out with her friends. I grabbed my phone and hit two on speed dial. I could faintly hear a ring coming from the bathroom. I slowly turned the knob, fearing that I’d see her mangled body slumped over the tub. I only found her phone ringing serenely on the bathroom counter. I pressed end on my phone and dialed 911. My heart knew that she was hurt; she needed me, and I had just been trying to deny the worst.

“911, what’s your emergency?” a cold voice answered. “I think something has happened to my girlfriend. Her bloody robe is in our front yard. Her phone is here, but she is missing,” I explained in between sobs. “What is your location?” the cold, monotone voice inquired. “508 Lincoln Boulevard, apartment A5,” I answered. “I’ll send an officer,” she said almost reluctantly. “Thank you,” I said somewhat sarcastically. I sat in the yard staring at the robe. That’s when I noticed the flip flop that seemed familiar lying on the sidewalk. Why had she been outside in her robe and flip flops? I gasped. “Ralph!” I couldn’t believe it took me this long to remember that the damn dog was missing, too. She had probably taken him for a short walk. I looked up and noticed her car parked on the other side of the parking lot sitting right beside the dumpster. The pieces were coming one by one, leading me to believe more and more the worst possible scenario

As I stood beside the robe, careful not to touch it in fear of tampering with evidence, I stared at her car and realized that would be a good thing to investigate. Just then, I saw the blue lights, and an officer stepped out of the cruiser. The last time I was in a scene like this, I was getting my first DUI, so I was still a little nervous around cops and those menacing blue lights. “Did you make the call about a missing woman, sir?” he asked sternly, officially. “Yes, sir. This robe belongs to my girlfriend, and I have not seen her since I’ve been home,” I stated. His eyes widened, and he pulled out a notepad and pen and began scribbling down notes. “Are you sure this belongs to her?” he asked. I’d only seen the robe a few times, but I remembered it now, just lying on the sofa a few days ago. “Yes, sir,” I answered nervously. “Do you live with her?” the officer inquired. “Yes, we live right there in that apartment, A5,” I answered, pointing to our apartment. “What is your girlfriend’s name?” he asked, suddenly looking up at me. “Callista, or Callie Stokes,” I answered. “How old is Callie?” he asked. “She is twenty-three years old,” I answered. “Describe her to me please,” the officer asked as he studied his notepad, quickly jotting down notes. “She has long blond hair, bright blue eyes, suntanned skin, and she is about one hundred and ten pounds. I think she’s around 5’4,” I described. “Okay, that just sounds like every man’s dream girl. Are you also going to tell me that her measurements are 36-24-36?” he asked. I shrugged my shoulders and blushed. She was every man’s dream girl, but she really was my girl. “Does she have any distinctive features?” he asked, shaking his head. I thought about it for a moment. “She has a Marylin Monroe freckle on her face, four piercings in each ear, and a tattoo of the Aries sign on her left hip,” I described thoroughly. “Okay, that’s something I can use in the investigation. Now, tell me where you’re coming from, since I’m assuming that you just discovered the robe,” he observed. “I work second shift, so I just got out about an hour and a half ago. That’s why I’m wearing this dirty black shirt and worn out jeans,” I explained. “Where do you work, um, what’s your name again?” he asked. “I don’t think I’ve told you my name yet. My name is Jake England,” I replied suspiciously. He looked strangely familiar. “Well, Mr. England, you may call me Detective McAllister. What exactly do you do for a living, Mr. England?” the officer asked, looking me straight in the eyes. “I work for the Volkswagon plant. I work on the production line,” I answered. “That’s not too far from here. When did you leave work, and when did you arrive at your apartment?” McAllister asked. “I left work around ten o’clock, and I got home around eleven o’clock, give or take a couple of minutes,” I answered. “Hmmm,” McAllister mumbled. “Why did it take you so long to get home? I happen to know that the Volkswagon plant is only fifteen minutes from here,” McAllister questioned. “I stopped at Buddy’s, a bar a couple of miles from the plant, to have a beer like I usually do,” I admitted. “Did you only have one beer?” McAllister pressed. “I had a couple. How does that pertain to my girlfriend’s disappearance?” I asked impatiently, trembling slightly, “Can we get back to the investigation, please?” “I am going to need a statement from someone at Buddy’s confirming your alibi,” McAllister said suspiciously. “I’m the one who called 911. Why would I be a suspect?” I asked angrily. “It’s because you’re the one who called 911, and because the spouse or boyfriend is always the first one to be suspected,” the officer explained, “It’s just routine.” I hung my head, feeling helpless. This was not happening. It was a bad dream, and I would wake up next to Callie and kiss her until she made me stop.

Is there anything else that you would like to add that could help lead us to Callie?” McAllister asked, attempting to wrap up the intense interview. “Yes, her car is still in the parking lot right beside the dumpster,” I said as I pointed toward the car. He squinted as he scribbled more notes in his notepad. “Also, her dog is missing and her flip flop is in the grass right beside the robe-just one flip flop,” I added. The officer nodded and wrote it down. Just then, two detectives arrived and began collecting the robe and the flip flop and put them in a scientific-looking plastic bag labeled “forensic evidence”. “So, from the evidence and the scene that we have before us, it is likely that Callie was walking her dog in her robe and flip flops. Someone could have grabbed her during the walk. Is her dog aggressive at all?” Officer McAllister inquired. “No, he’s just a big teddy bear of a dog,” I said regretfully. “Was anything missing from the house?” he questioned. “No, nothing was taken. It looks as though Callie could still be here, but she’s not. I’ve checked every room,” I answered. I started shaking and choking back tears. I had to keep it together for Callie’s sake. “Hmmm, normally if someone is assaulted or killed at their residence by a stranger, it is a result of a robbery. Do you know if she was in contact with anyone this evening?” McAllister speculated. “It’s a week-day, so she probably came straight home from school, grabbed a couple of beers and graded papers all evening by herself,” I answered confidently. “When did you last see Ms. Stokes?” McAllister asked. “I kissed her goodbye this morning before she left for work,” I answered nostalgically. “What time did you go to work, Mr. England?” McAllister questioned with an accusatory stare. “I work at one-thirty five days a week,” I answered, annoyed. McAllister quickly jotted down some notes then suddenly looked back at me. “Can you think of anyone who may have paid her a visit or who might be capable of hurting her?” he asked, very focused. “No one would have a reason to hurt her sir. She is a charismatic, funny, beautiful girl who spends her life taking care of children and dogs,” I answered passionately. At that, I broke into tears. I was always the calm one in stressful situations while Callie seemed to lose it at the smallest sign of inconvenience. However, this was a situation that had me imagining the worst possible scenarios. “So you can’t think of anyone who could have dropped by unexpectedly?” McAllister asked, unconcerned at my uncontrollable sobs. “Do you want a list of every person she knows or has ever met?” I asked sarcastically. McAllister’s eyes twinkled and he perked up. “Yes, that would be perfect! Include their phone numbers and addresses. Also, we will be interviewing all of the neighbors,” McAllister said excitedly. He was pumped and ready to find out what happened to Callie. Even though I still had a chip on my shoulder about cops, I was glad to have one on my side this time.

Suddenly, our neighbor Travis sped into the parking lot and swerved diagonally into the handicapped space and the space next to it. The officer and I stared for a moment, and out stumbled Travis, gripping his coat and a paper bag with some sort of bottle in it. “Is that a neighbor of yours?” Officer McAllister asked me as his suspicious glare turned to Travis. I couldn’t help but chuckle. Travis is one of the most ridiculous people I’ve ever known. He always inadvertently makes a grand entrance. “We’ll keep in touch, Mr. England. I’m going to conduct the first interview with your neighbor,” he said as he quickly approached Travis before he could duck into his apartment. “Excuse me sir, may I have a word with you?” McAllister called out to Travis. Travis kept his head down and tucked his paper bag-covered bottle into his coat. “I just want to go home,” I have nothing to do with whatever is going on here,” he mumbled. “That’s what I need to find out. What is your full name, sir?” McAllister asked, blocking Travis from escaping into his apartment. “Travis O’Hare. What is going on? You can’t give me a DUI because I’m not driving now. I’m going to get plastered in the privacy of my own freaking home!” he slurred with a drunken laugh. “I should give you a DUI anyway, or at least a ticket for public intoxication, but that is not what this is about,” McAllister said menacingly. Travis’s eyes widened and he stood stiff as a board. “When is the last time that you saw your neighbor, Ms. Callie Stokes?” McAllister asked, now standing almost nose to nose with Travis. “Man, screw that bitch. I don’t care. What the hell did she do?” Travis jabbered. “Oh she hasn’t done anything that we know of, but she is missing. I am sensing that you have some aggression toward her,” McAllister observed. “She’s batshit crazy is all I know. I haven’t talked to her or Jake since they left me at a bar without a ride, and it was because of her,” Travis explained. McAllister frantically jotted down all of Travis’s mutterings.

When did you leave the apartment today, and where did you go?” McAllister asked. “I left around, I don’t know, five or so. I went to my friend Trey’s house to watch the game. We hung out and drank some Jack, and I am just getting home,” he answered. “Could I have this Trey’s number please, for an alibi?” McAllister asked with a huge polite grin. “I guess. Say, what happened? Did somebody kill her or something?” he asked, staggering. I felt this rage rise up inside of me, and I ran toward Travis and shoved him. It was as if I were possessed by some angry ghost. The officer grabbed me and shoved me back as Travis stumbled toward me, mumbling something that sounded like reassurance to the officer. He put his hands up and said, “it’s cool, man, no problema!” He leaned toward me and whispered, “so what’d they find? Usually it’s a shoe or clothing of some sort. Leaves you with nothing but questions and assuming the worst.” I punched him in the face and fell to the ground on my knees. He looked back at me, holding his bloody face and ran to his apartment. “Mr. England, I will ask you not to harm Mr. O’Hare any further. I realize you are upset and you want to lash out, but you’re just making it worse,” the officer said trying to calm me down. I sat on the sidewalk holding my head. “How did he fucking know? Her stuff isn’t on the front lawn anymore. I don’t trust him,” I yelled. “We’ll keep an eye on him, Mr. England. In the meantime, you stay here and get some rest, and I’ll keep searching for clues to lead me to your Callie,” he reassured me. “Okay, that’s fine, thank you Officer. Just let me know if you hear anything,” I said wearily. “I’m going to call forensics here to collect the robe and check for any other evidence that may have any tissue or fingerprints out here that could be used as evidence,” he assured me.

The truth is, Travis and I were close friends until Callie and I moved in together. I still tried to keep our friendship, but it wasn’t the same. He resented her since she got angry with me every time Travis was around. Sure, he was a bad influence on me, but he was a good friend who just happened to have a lot of bad habits but not too many other friends. He was a sad sort of person. I guess I felt sorry for him, but he was also hilarious and weird in an interesting sort of way. I wondered if he could have resented her to the point of-no way. He was weird and a little socially-awkward, but he was not capable of killing anyone. He didn’t hate her that much, did he? I would talk with him the next day so he wouldn’t be paranoid of my hitting him or accusing him again. Forensics showed up, bagged up the bloody robe, and dusted the parameter for prints. They didn’t find any other clothing or objects. “Was there any sign of breaking and entering when you entered the residence, Mr. England?” McAllister asked. “No sir. It looked like Callie has been here and maybe went outside to walk her dog. I still haven’t found the dog,” I responded, curious as to what could have happened to Ralph. “We’re still going to search the apartment for clues just in case it was a friend that Callie let into the apartment who could have harmed Callie,” McAllister explained. It was all a bit of a blur. I just sort of stood there watching these uniformed strangers prowl through all of our belongings in our happy, humble home. It was surreal, like being an extra in a crime show.

It suddenly dawned on me that Callie’s windshield had been busted a week ago, with what Travis thought may have been a hammer. Her plants had gone from green and full of blooms to brown and shriveled within a couple of days. A month ago, the small angel statue she had on the patio had been broken all over the yard, and we had seen it intact just the previous night. We took the car to the repair shop where they confirmed that the windshield had to have been busted by a hammer or another blunt object. Why had Travis known what type of tool had busted the windshield, and described in such detail how it had happened? “Wow, dude, it looks like someone probably waited until it was dark, grabbed a hammer, knelt on top of the hood, and then whacked the windshield right in the middle,” he described while demonstrating with body movements. “Somebody’s pissed off at you, Callie,” Travis warned. The repair shop showed me the dents in the hood where someone probably knelt on the hood. Callie had cursed him the day before the windshield incident for barging into our apartment drunk in the middle of the day. Travis was pretty much always drunk. Could he really be capable of something as coldblooded as-No! I could not say it. Until there was a dead body and actual evidence, I could not lay the burden of accusation on him. There was a chance that she was alive until they found the body, so there may not have been a murder of which to accuse Travis.

“It’s cold in here, Jake,” Callie whispered. I turned to hold her close to me so that I could warm her. Her skin chilled my touch, and I could not get her warm. Instead, I was left feeling cold. “I can’t get you warm, Callie. I’m shivering the more that I touch you,” I responded sadly. I shook her gently, but her only response was a whimper. I was getting colder and colder as I held her tighter. “Callie!” I shouted as I turned her over to face me. “Oh my God,” I whispered. “Help me, Jake,” she uttered through frozen lips. My heart felt as if it were going to burst out of my chest at the sight of her. Frozen tears lined her face, and her lips were pale blue. “What do you want me to do, Callie? What can I do?” I panicked. I stared at her with terror in my eyes. “I’m lost, Jake,” Callie whispered. I awoke in a cold sweat. What did it all mean? Was it just the stress of the situation, or was she trying to tell me something? Okay, now I was driving into crazytown. We were not telepathic.

I was willing to consider anything a possibility at this point. I would even try to listen to frozen creepy Callie in my dreams for some sort of sign in my subconscious. I knew that Callie needed me to find her, and I was no longer going to waste time sleeping. I threw on my slippers and jacket and went outside. I pulled my jacket tightly against me as I shivered from the cold night air, and maybe a little bit from the dream. I began wandering through the front yard, searching for any clue that the detective may have missed: a weapon, blood or clothing that may belong to her attacker, or anything else that could add to the puzzle that had barely began.

I made my way to the backyard and noticed Ralph’s leash on Travis’s patio, hidden behind a bush. I crept around the outside of his apartment to see if I could find any other evidence when I heard a dog barking. That is when I lost it. I banged loudly on his door, and the barking grew louder. I heard someone scrambling around inside and finally Travis threw open the door holding a chopping knife. “What’s up, man?” he asked as he lowered the knife. His eyes were bloodshot but wide and alert. Ralph ran between Travis’s legs, almost knocking him down. Luckily, he grabbed the door frame so that he wouldn’t fall on me with a knife. “Hey, Ralphie, there you are boy!” I said excitedly as the huge golden retriever jumped on me and put his paws on my chest. Then, I turned to Travis with disbelief burning in my eyes. “Why the hell is Callie’s dog in your apartment?” I demanded calmly through clenched teeth. “I heard him scratching at my door a couple of hours ago, so I let him in,” Travis explained weakly, still holding the knife loosely by his side. “Really? When were you planning on telling me this? And why are you answering the door with a knife?” I asked, my voice getting higher and more impatient. “It is four o’clock in the morning, man, so I figured you were asleep. And you know I had a stalker awhile ago. So if I am not expecting someone to pay me a visit at four a.m., I take my ‘guard dog’ with me,” he answered thoroughly.

“When was the last time that you had an issue with your stalker?” I asked him, mostly to humor him. “A couple of days ago, someone was peeking through my bedroom window,” he began. “I would think you’d enjoy that sort of thing,” I chided. “No, man, this wasn’t a hot chick or anything like that. I couldn’t really see who it was because it was dark, but the person was wearing a green hoodie. When he saw me notice him, he disappeared. Later, I realized my pipe and and some cd’s were missing from my car. That could have been the homeless guy, but I don’t know,” Travis explained. “Why didn’t you tell any of this to the detective, Travis? This so-called stalker may have hurt Callie,” I replied angrily. “Also, why didn’t you call the police when you found Ralph?” I demanded. “I didn’t think they’d be concerned over a missing dog,” Travis remarked. Travis’s eyes were twitching, and he was shaking. I wasn’t sure if it was his temper flaring or the drugs. “We thought Ralph was with Callie, so now he is a clue in her disappearance. He may have DNA on him or something,” I calmly explained. Travis shook his head and ran his hands through his hair manically. Then he began to breath hard. Ralph was just sitting in the corner, appearing scared and confused. “I was drunk and smoking crack, so I was trying to avoid the detective. I didn’t exactly want to invite him in for a drink,” Travis replied quietly. “I thought your crack pipe was stolen?” I asked casually. “No, that pipe was for weed. I always have my crack pipe hidden where no one can find it,” Travis replied with a smirk. “Let me guess, you have it hidden under your bed?” I guessed. “Damn it. You got me. Well, don’t go trying to steal it. Crack is wack, man!” he joked. “You don’t have to tell me, dude,” I responded with a laugh. “You should stick to pot, Travis. You are crazy and manic enough without smoking crack, and alcohol makes you horribly annoying,” I pointed out. “Whoa, dude, you sounded just like Callie for a minute. And I didn’t like hearing that shit from her, either,” Travis observed. “Well, she is a smart woman,” I replied. “She was…” he replied quietly. “No not was-is! There is a good chance that she is still alive. I have to believe it,” I stated. “That did look like a lot of blood on the robe,” Travis began. “What the fuck, man?” I shouted. “Sorry, you are right, Jake. I hope they find her for your sake, and that she is okay and ready to start bitching at me again,” he replied, consoling me. “I am going home with Ralph now, and I’m going to have to speak with the detective about all of this, man,” I said, exasperated. “Yeah, that’s cool, man, whatever you have to do. Don’t forget Ralph’s leash,” Travis said as he handed me Ralph’s red leash. I stared at him for a moment calculating the possibility of his guilt.

I decided to try and get more sleep, as difficult as it was with my mind going in several different directions. I lay down with Ralph at the foot of our bed and stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t help but start mentally investigating Callie’s disappearance. What hadn’t I checked? I checked her car, Travis’s apartment, the front and back yard, but Ralph was my only clue. I jumped up and ran into the living room and snatched up Callie’s phone. I pushed the call history button and noted that her friends Jamie and Miranda had called a half an hour before I arrived home. I definitely needed to tell the detective about that. I noticed an unfamiliar number on her received calls list. There was no name with it, and it was made almost an hour before I had arrived at the apartment. So, she answered the call from the mystery caller, but she had missed her best friends’ calls. I remembered that Callie kept an address book in her dresser. So, I dug it out and flipped through it. After reading through familiar names and numbers, I discovered that the mysterious number was there with a name beside it…John Chang. Who was John Chang, and why was he calling my girlfriend at ten o’clock at night? I decided that I would call him in a couple of hours when it was an almost decent time to call someone. I stared at the ceiling holding her phone in my hand with the address book open beside me. Could this be an old boyfriend? Maybe it was a work colleague or wrong number? I looked at it again. The call had lasted twenty minutes. I strained my brain trying to remember if Callie had mentioned a guy named Chang, but no one came to mind.

I finally decided to try calling John Chang. I struggled to dial each digit, then I hung up. I was not prepared for this. What if she was seeing this man behind my back? I had to find out in case he knew something that I didn’t. If she was cheating, would I even care what happened to her? Yes, damn it, no matter what I wanted to know that she was alive and well. I dialed the number once more, and it began to ring. My heart began to pound with that first ring. Six more times it rang before it went to voice-mail. “This is John Chang, you know what to do,” said a deep voice with a southern accent. Strange, I thought Chang was an Asian name, but the voice did not sound like it came from an Asian man. I suppose that is being ethnocentric, but still. Chang, an Asian name, Chinese, I think. Then, a memory popped in my head.

“Come over here, Jake,” Callie ordered flirtatiously. “Yes ma’am,” I teased back. She began kissing my face and neck, and suddenly she started tickling me. I grabbed her and threw her on the couch and pinned her down so I could retaliate, but she started gasping for air and kicking me. It was the horrible fear in her eyes that stopped me. I stopped tickling her, but I stayed on top of her and threw my hands up. “I’m sorry Callie, whatever I did! Did I hurt you?” I panicked. “No, you’re fine, it’s just that…(she sighed and looked down averting her eyes from me) I was reminded of a bad memory when you pinned me down. It has nothing to do with you,” she reassured me. I climbed off of her, and we both sat up on the couch. “What was it, the bad memory?” I asked. “Well, the guy that I was engaged to during college was kind of abusive. I mean, he didn’t beat me or anything, but he was controlling, verbally abusive, and he shoved me down a couple of times during arguments. I still have nightmares about him, and I hate to say it, but every time that I see a muscular Chinese man, I get a chill up my spine because I think it might be him,” Callie revealed.

I knew from that memory exactly who John Chang was. I wanted to know why the fuck he was calling my girlfriend the night she disappeared with her bloody robe still lying on the lawn, or really why was he calling her at all? I looked through the rest of her call list, and there was a missed call from John on Monday and Tuesday. She hadn’t called him back, but I noticed that her text inbox and outbox were empty. Had they been texting and she just erased the messages? No, why would she ever want to talk to that jerk again? Had this been going on for awhile? I couldn’t believe that she could keep any secrets from me. That’s what I loved about our relationship. We were brutally honest with each other about everything. Why would she hide her communication with her crazy ex all of the sudden? I just needed to find this John guy to get some answers.

I threw on a sweatshirt and my slippers and searched the living room for my keys. I grabbed them out of the pile of junk on the coffee table and bolted out of the parking lot with Callie’s address book open to the page with John Chang’s information. His street name was scribbled below his name, and I knew exactly where it was. I would knock on every door until I found him. What was I going to say? “Hey, I’m Jake, Callie’s boyfriend. So did you kill my girlfriend last night?” It wouldn’t be easy,but I was going to find out the truth somehow. I pulled into the subdivision and quickly found the street. I drove into the culdesac and parked. I knocked on the first door, and an elderly woman answered the door. She said that she did not know a John Chang. I continued down the street knocking on each door that I came to. No one seemed to know who John Chang was. I guess he kept to himself-typical of a crazy abusive ex-girlfriend killer. I was about to give up when I saw a red Silverado truck pull into a driveway of a house that I had checked earlier, and no one had answered the door. I sank down in my seat and watched as short, muscular Asian man with short black hair climbed out of the truck. He was wearing tight Wrangler jeans, work boots, and a plain black t-shirt. He definitely looked like he went with the voice I’d heard on his voice-mail. He walked with his southern swagger into his large two-story brick house. The yard looked professionally landscaped, and I could see a large crystal chandelier from the glass covered/gold embroidered front door. This guy had money. He could have easily paid someone to hide a body. I was still laying low in my car, probably looking pretty damned suspicious in this neighborhood.

I inhaled and exhaled my fear slowly, and I opened my door. I rolled my shoulders and began walking up to the front door of the man who may have killed my Callie, or at least roughed her up during their relationship. I was going to have to be calm if I wanted answers. I rang the door bell, and this smug, southern-born Asian man opened the door. “Um, can I help you?” he asked, annoyed. He had this evil in his eyes. Some people just exude goodness or evil through their eyes, and you just know it by looking at them. I lost it. “Are you John Chang?” I asked, shaking. “Yeah, what is wrong with you?” he asked. It was obvious that I hated this man I didn’t even know. “Where the fuck is my girlfriend?” I shouted. “Who the fuck are you, and why would I know anything about your girlfriend?” he asked as he stepped closer to me, sticking out his chest. He was a few inches shorter than I, but he made up for it in physique. He could probably take me in a fight, but I didn’t care. “Her name is Callie Stokes, and I believe you have a history with her,” I said as I glared at him with only two inches between us. He laughed. I shoved him.

“Dude, you need to back off. I can’t fight you,” he said, but he looked like he wanted a fight. “Why are you laughing, man? Do you know what happened to her?” I asked, shaking furiously. “Callie and I have been talking. I called her a few weeks ago to see how she was. I think she misses me a little bit, and now I see why,” he said as he looked me up and down. “What have you done with her?” I growled in his face. He pushed me back. “I haven’t seen her since we split. We just talked on the phone and on facebook chat. I wanted to meet up with her, but she said she didn’t know if it was a good idea,” he explained. “Not a good idea? You abused her. You shouldn’t be talking to her or even thinking about her. She told me what you did,” I said, angry at both at them. “I didn’t do shit. She would scream and holler and push me. I had to restrain her a few times,” he clarified. “Bullshit. I’m going to tell the cops about you, Chang,” I warned him. “Tell them, and I’ll tell them you came to my house and harassed me,” he replied. I could not hold back my rage any longer. I raised my arm to his neck and pushed him into the wall with my elbow pressing into his throat. Suddenly, I was on the ground, and he had me in a choke hold. “I cannot fight you. I am legally a dangerous weapon, but I can legally stop you from hurting me. I’m going to let you go, and you are going to leave. Got it?” he asked, still holding me down. I choked out a “yes”. He let me up, and I rubbed my sore neck. “I am going to the cops. I know you are lying,” I said. “So, is she missing or have they found her body?” he asked. “She’s missing, and they found a piece of her clothing with her blood on it. I’m not looking for her body, I’m looking for her to be alive,” I said. “Well, I haven’t fucking seen her, but good luck,” he said as he slammed the door behind me. I was going to make sure he paid.

The phone rang as soon as I got into our apartment. “Mr. England? This is Officer McAllister. I just got a call from a John Chang that you were at his house harassing him,” McAllister said firmly.

He’s Callie’s abusive ex-boyfriend, I had to check him out,” I defended.

You leave that up to me and the rest of the department. You’re going to make things worse for you and Callie if you go around threatening every possible suspect. We will definitely check him out, though. Is there a reason that you suddenly thought of him?”

His phone number was on Callie’s call history. She told me once that she dated a Chinese guy who was abusive, so I put two and two together. So, I’m just trying to figure out why she was talking to someone who used to hurt her. They spoke on the phone the night she was killed.

Okay, that is definitely a lead. Next time, please call me or the department before you go interrogating people on your own. Do you have any other leads or possible suspects?”

Yes, I do actually. Last night, I found Callie’s dog. He’s an inside dog, and Callie takes him for walks a couple of times a day. My neighbor, Travis, had him in his apartment. I went over there at about 4 am to ask him about his stalker, and there was Ralph in his apartment. I’m not sure if or when he was planning on telling me that he found Ralph. Oh, and his stalker-he said there was a person peeking through his window, and Callie’s windshield was cracked recently. Also, some personal items were stolen from his car. He said the person peeking through his window had on a green hoodie.”

Okay, I’ve got all this written down. I’ll question John Chang and Travis O’Hare about what you’ve told me. In the meantime, please just get some rest and come to me with any other leads or evidence.”

McAllister hung up the phone, and I slumped down into the kitchen chair. I started thinking about responsibilities. My world stopped when I found Callie’s bloody robe. It was difficult to comprehend trying to go about life right now-dinner, taking care of Ralph, cleaning the apartment, going to work, or brushing my teeth right before I crawled into that huge, cold, empty bed. The thing is, Callie took care of most of the responsibilities. I went to work, and that was about it. She walked Ralph, cooked dinner, did the laundry, cleaned the apartment, and kept up with our finances. She was so smart and put-together. I have been in the recovery process since we met. I was addicted to opiates when we first met. I was a total mess, and she saved me with her tough love. She told me that she wouldn’t associate with me if I didn’t quit the pills. “Associate” was her word. I tried, but it’s not like someone can just stop an addiction all at once. She would find my pills and flush them down the toilet. My friends would come over to give me a fix, and she’d chase them away with her little can of pepper spray. She was determined to save me. She let me live in her apartment, but she made sure I cleaned up and paid my half. The truth is, I couldn’t afford my own place back then because all of my money was going to drugs and alcohol. Yet, for the first time in my life, I found someone who believed I could be a better person. I loved her so much that I did quit the pills, and I cut back on the drinking. Travis and I used to get wasted together all the time before Callie came along. That’s pretty much why he can’t stand Callie and why she can’t stand him. That was something I should probably mention to McAllister. I needed a pen and paper to jot down these passing thoughts.

I opened the refrigerator, then I looked in the freezer. There was nothing there that I felt like cooking. Callie would be whipping up something amazing if she were here. I found a can of beans, dumped them in a bowl, and I microwaved them. They exploded all over the microwave, and I sank down into the floor. “Callie, please, I’m a mess without you, come home,” I pleaded even though she couldn’t hear me. I grabbed some paper towels, took out the bowl of beans, and began scarfing them down. Ralph was staring at me, wanting food or a walk or both. I inhaled and exhaled, and I clipped his leash onto his collar. He pulled me hard outside, and I was struggling to keep up with him. I hadn’t taken him for a walk in a very long time. “Ralphie, slow down! Stay! Stay!” I shouted. He finally stopped to lift his leg up to pee. I took the day off work because I just couldn’t deal with it. Ralph dragged me back into the house, and I dumped some food in his bowl. I didn’t know how much she usually fed him exactly, but I figured I should just fill up his bowl.

I sat on the couch with Ralph in my lap. We watched some sitcom on television, but I couldn’t concentrate on it. I couldn’t hear what the characters said or notice what they were doing. I was floating in darkness with no one to hold onto me. I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t just sit there in my pain and helplessness. I just needed something to take it all away. That’s when there was a knock at the door. I slowly rose off the couch and shuffled to the door. “Dude, you look like a mess,” Travis said with his junkie giggle. “I am a mess without her,” I mumbled. “Oh man, you just need to forget about all of this for awhile. I brought you a present,” he said as he whipped out a pill bottle. “Oh no, man, get those away from me,” I said as I felt a longing for those pills. My whole body tensed up with the anticipation of escaping with them. “Come on, you just need something to get you by while you’re going through this tough time,” Travis pressured me. “Hold out your hand,” he persuaded me as he gingerly grasped my arm and turned over my palm. He set the bottle into my palm and closed my hand around it. I stood there staring at this bottle, and I scrunched up my face in frustration. A single tear fell down my cheek. “I can’t Travis, she’ll hate me. She tried so hard to clean me up,” I begged. “Had you rather sit here in pain? Do you think she’d want you to go to that dark place and stay there?” he continued.

I looked at the bottle to see what it was. Loratab 10 mg. It was name brand, and it was a high dose. I twisted off the cap and dropped two pills in my palm. I kept them in my hand as I placed the bottle on the table, and I grabbed a beer out of the refrigerator. I chased the pills with a beer and sat down on the couch to wait for all of my pain and fear to disappear. “Now, you can sleep tonight, and you won’t hurt for her anymore,” he said soothingly as he sat down beside me and repeated what I had just done. We sat there, zoning out, and I didn’t even care that I had just undone all of Callie’s hard work. For all I knew she was screwing her psycho ex-boyfriend behind my back. I drifted away slowly until consciousness left us, my crazy yet faithful neighbor and me.

I woke up to a pounding on the door. Travis was in the recliner asleep, and we had a bottle of Loratab and some beer cans on the table. It wasn’t a scene that I particularly wanted anyone to see. I picked up a jacket that was nearby and threw it over my table of deceit. I rubbed my face with my hands and then through my hair. I realized that I needed to shave badly. “Hold on, I’m coming!” I yelled to the uninvited guest. “It’s Office McAllister,” the guest yelled back. Shit. “Travis! Hey, Travis, wake up. The cop is here,” I whispered. Travis began to stir, but he didn’t open his eyes. I opened the door anyway. “Jake, hey, I just wanted to come by and let you know that I talked to…is that the other suspect passed out on your recliner?” McAllister asked, astonished. “Yes, he came by last night to check on me. We had a few beers, and then he fell asleep on my recliner. Did you need to talk with him?” I asked, hoping that McAllister wouldn’t look under the jacket on the table. “First, you’re telling me that I should question him in the disappearance of your girlfriend, and now you’re having beers with him? It doesn’t look good, Jake,” McAllister said suspiciously. “What the fuck are you talking about, suspect?” Travis asked. “I told you I’d have to tell the detective that you had Ralph in your apartment and that you had a stalker. I have to tell him anything that he could use to lead me to my Callie,” I explained. “She wouldn’t come back to you now, anyway even if she were still alive,” Travis shot back. “What do you mean, ‘still alive’? You don’t know that she isn’t. Or do you?” I shouted at Travis. “Okay, guys, calm down. Travis, why don’t I talk with you outside? I just have a few questions, and then you can be on your way,” McAllister said, trying to keep the peace. “Alright, whatever,” he said. They went outside, and I grabbed the pills from the table. I hid them in the dresser drawer in my room, and I threw away the empty beer cans. I decided to shave while I was at it. I stood looking at the mirror, and I didn’t much like who was looking back at me. He was a broken, irresponsible man who didn’t deserve a girl like Callie. His eyes were hollow, empty. His face was a dull pale color with a scar on his cheek from a rough night in New York several years ago. He was a shadow of the terrible person he used to be. Callie had given him a glow upon his cheeks, a sparkle in his eyes, and a smile that made him look human. Without her, he was a lost shadow.

Jake, can I see you for a moment?” McAllister called me.

I’ll be right out,” I replied, still staring at this empty person in the mirror. I wiped off the remnants of the shaving cream and walked into the living room to meet McAllister.

I need you to get it together if you would like to find Callie. You are no good to her hopped up on God-knows-what kind of drugs and alcohol,” he warned me.

Drugs? What are you talking about?” I asked innocently. He gave me a knowing look.

Travis is obviously on something all the time. You two fell asleep together and both look like death warmed over,” he clarified.

We didn’t ‘fall asleep together’,” I corrected.

He’s not someone to turn to right now,” McAllister warned. “What business of yours is it who I turn to right now?” I demanded. McAllister shook his head.

All I’m saying is that I need you to keep it together if you want to find Callie. I spoke with John Chang,” he revealed.

What did he say? Do you think he had anything to do with it? Do you know why he and Callie were talking?” I asked all at once.

His alibi didn’t check out. So, I’m going to try to get a search warrant. Something strange is definitely going on with that guy.”

What was his alibi?”

He said that he was at a bar right after work the night Callie went missing. I went to that bar, and no one remembered him. I watched the surveillance camera just in case he just went unnoticed, but I never saw him enter the bar. Considering that he spoke with Callie on the telephone within an hour of her disappearance, he is definitely a suspect now. So, we’re going to try to get a search warrant for his house and car.”

Thank you, Officer McAllister. Please let me know as soon as you find anything. So, did Travis tell you anything useful?”

McAllister rolled his eyes. “That guy is trouble, but I don’t know that he’d hurt anyone. I’m definitely keeping my eye on him, though. Don’t let him steer you the wrong way. You need to keep your focus and be someone she’ll want to come home to.”

You’re right. I’m sorry about that. Well, keep in touch if you hear anything.”

I will. Behave yourself, and I’ll be talking with you again soon.”

I went back into the apartment and took a shower. I stood there and let the hot water envelope me in its warmth and cleanliness. I breathed in the steam, and I thought about praying. I just couldn’t, though. God never seemed to be there for me in the past, so why should he care now? I got out, dried off, and threw on some boxers and a t-shirt of mine that Callie used to wear to bed sometimes. It still smelled like her. I sat on the bed and opened the dresser drawer. I sat there staring at the bottle of pills, thinking it would be nice to sleep again. I knew that Callie would be hurt if she saw me take them. Yet, if she never returned to me, what would be the point? I put them in my hand and stared at them for a bit. I sighed, then I dumped out a couple and swallowed them. I at least chased them with water this time. I laid down on top of the blankets and stared at the ceiling, wondering if she’d ever lie beside me again. Then my thoughts drifted to John Chang. That conceited son of a bitch might have been touching her behind my back. Worse than that, he might have killed her. Strangely, it wouldn’t be as bad if he just killed her than if he got her love first. I had always thought of her as innocent, a victim in a bad relationship that anyone could have ended up with. I didn’t want to think that she could touch someone else besides me. If he did touch her, I’d kill him with my bare hands. I’d strangle him and look into his eyes as I watched him die. Just one word from the police that there is evidence that John hurt Callie, and he would be a dead man at my hand. Chang was “legally a dangerous weapon” because of his martial arts training, so I’d have to find him in the dead of night in the quiet darkness of his room while he lay unaware of my presence. I could softly walk into his room with a needle of sedative that I could get from Travis. Once he was barely conscious, I could put my hands around his neck and press down, watching as his breath and heart beat left him, and he lay limp under my hands. I fell asleep, feeling at peace with my plan.

“Jake, are we still going to dinner tonight at that new Japanese restaurant?” Callie asked. “Is that tonight?” I asked as I tensed up. Shit, she was going to be mad. “Kokoro told us the other night that his brother and sister-in-law were opening a new Japanese restaurant downtown. We told him that we’d check it out tonight. He gave us coupons. This conversation happened at Kokoro’s liquor store. Are you serious right now?” Callie was fuming, but she was still trying to control the fire that was brewing inside of her head. “I told Travis and the guys that I’d go play pool with them. I can cancel, though,” I offered. She rolled her eyes. “So, can you spot us tonight? I am running low on funds this week,” I said weakly. Now, the flames were about to start burning through me. “Are you serious? We’ve been planning this for a week. I know you can afford it because I do your budgeting every month. Where did the money go?” Callie demanded. “I don’t know, a little bit here and there? I guess cigarettes, beer, gas, you know, it just goes, money, that is,” I muttered. She rolled her eyes. “Sadly, I do factor in cigarettes when I figure your budget. I also factor in gas and food expenses. So, the money that is left, you are saying that you drank so much beer that you spent all of that money? I haven’t seen you getting plastered this week, so when did this binge drinking occur?” Callie asked while standing less than an inch away from me.

I lost it. I couldn’t handle being treated like a child anymore. “I don’t want you to do my budgeting anymore. I don’t know where every penny of yours goes, so it is not fair that you should be tracing my money,” I said firmly. She laughed. “If I stopped doing your budgeting, then how would you pay me your half of the rent? If you don’t pay me half the rent, where are you going to lay your head at night?” Callie challenged. “Look, just go by yourself or get one of your friends to go. I’ll just hang with Travis and the guys. I’m not going to spend my Friday night being treated like some juvenile delinquent by my supposed girlfriend,” I shouted. “Oh, you would love that. You get to hang out with your little boyfriend and spend money on booze instead of, God forbid, actually taking me out on a real date. That’s fine, I’m calling Eric. I’m calling a friend who is gentleman enough to take out a girl that he’s not even going to get to bang later,” Callie fired back. “I’m out,” I said as I slammed the door in her face.

I woke up to the phone ringing beside my bed. It was Detective McAllister. “Jake, we did the search in John’s car and residence. We found something kind of interesting,” he began. I was suddenly sobered up with a mix of dread and hope. “There was a girl’s jacket there. Forensics identified it as having Callie’s hair and fingerprints on it,” he revealed. “Okay, that is something, right? He obviously has lied about seeing her,” I said hopefully. McAllister sighed. “That only proves that she has been at his house at some point. They dated, he is not denying that, so I we can’t charge him with anything. It’s just a jacket, Jake. If this guy had anything to do with Callie’s disappearance, he is a master at hiding it,” McAllister lamented. I knew what the jacket meant. She had been at his house. “By the way, did you know that John Chang is actually Dr. John Chang? He’s a surgeon at St. Thomas Hospital. Let’s just say that he has plenty of money for a lawyer, and I am betting that he is getting one right now,” McAllister added. Even if there was evidence against the bastard, he could pay his way out. “Is there not enough circumstantial evidence against him to make a case?” I asked. “There is just as much against your neighbor buddy. Chang doesn’t have a solid alibi, and he spoke with Callie the night she disappeared. He knew her, and he has her jacket. You say that he was abusive, but there is no record of any abuse, so that’s hearsay. Your neighbor? He was known to have a grudge against Callie, he is a drunk and a drug addict, and he had her dog in his apartment the night she went missing. He could have attacked her, took her somewhere, and then came home right when you did. So, we have two possible suspects with circumstantial evidence, but no physical evidence actually tying anyone to the disappearance. We’ll just have to keep looking,” McAllister explained. I sighed and groaned out of frustration.

“I know this is frustrating, but Callie needs you to be strong and in control for her. Get some rest, and stay clean for her. Getting messed up every night is not going to bring her back, and if she does come back, she’s not going to want to find you drunk and high falling all over yourself,” McAllister advised. “Let me know if there is any new information,” I said, and I hung up. This was hopeless. I might never see her again, and there was nothing I could do about it. Dread flooded my body, and I could feel my blood becoming thicker in my veins, threatening to burst them if I kept sitting still. My head pounded, and my brain longed to shut down. I couldn’t handle the thoughts anymore. My eyesight became blurry from the pain in my head, and I knew I had to get rid of this rage somehow. My body suddenly took over as my brain shut down every synapse except the ones that told my feet to move and drag me to the bedroom. There, those few synapses brought my hand to the nightstand where I kept the bottle of freedom. My hand wrapped around the bottle and dumped out a few little white magic pills. My feet then carried me to the refrigerator so that I could chase the pills with my favorite bottle of mind-numbing substance. My hand then found a needle and a tiny bottle of something more mind-numbing than the pills. Then, those few little synapses that were controlling me solely by my motor functions and instincts, brought me outside and into my car. My hand reached into my pocket and brought out my set of keys. I put the key into the ignition and drove with no conscious decision as to where to go.

After I slammed the door in Callie’s face the night we had our big fight, Travis and I went to Main Street bar. I was so tired of having her judge me all the time. I didn’t feel like I was living with my girlfriend. It was more like living with a mother, and it got to a point that I didn’t want to make love to her anymore. Because who wants to make love to their own mom? I was so fed up, yet I still loved her and needed her like my very own breath. Yet, I was beginning to lose my very breath the more I was around her. I took what little money that I had left, and I spent it that night on a little bit of everything. “Whiskey, please, make it a double,” I ordered. The cute bartender smiled. “Do you have a preference of whiskey?” “Whatever will make me forget that I’m me,” I said. We both laughed. She poured some kind of cheap whiskey in a glass and slid it over to me. I downed it, then I choked. “Are you alright, rockstar?” she asked. “Why did you just call me that?” I asked, smiling and still choking a little bit. She pointed at my shirt. I laughed because I’d forgotten what kind of shirt I’d worn. “I mean, unless your shirt is lying, that’s what you are,” she called me out. “Um, sure. I’m a rock star,” I said. “Musicians are my weakness,” she said with a wink. “Alcohol is mine,” I said with a laugh. My phone began to ring, and I saw that it was Callie. I hit ignore on it and kept flirting with the cute bartender. Travis was entertaining people at the pool table with his drunken jibberish. I stayed there until about three in the morning chatting up the bartender. I can’t tell you what we even talked about, because the whiskey had filled my brain. The bar began to close, and she asked me to stay. Travis left with a guy we knew at the apartment so they could do blow. I glanced at my phone, and I noticed that Callie had called ten times. I turned off my phone, and I sat staring bleary-eyed at all the bottles of booze standing before me. Suddenly, the pretty bartender who liked rock stars was straddling me.

My blind rage took me to a very familiar neighborhood. I passed by several large brick houses with manicured yards landscaped with pretty bushes and flowers. I slowly drove through the neighborhood in which I could never hope to belong. I just wanted to get rid of the pain and the rage. I pills hadn’t helped like I thought they would. I found myself parked in front of a house I’d visited recently. I remembered the crystal chandelier that I could see from the front window, and I remembered the red Silverado truck. I parked my piece of junk car in this paved driveway, and I turned off my headlights. My blind rage that dominated my synapses took me to the front door and led my hand into my pocket where I had a flat-head screw-driver. Somehow, I was able to mindlessly pry the door open. I walked into his house quietly, and I felt for the needle and the tiny bottle of sedative that I’d kept in my jacket pocket. I took off my shoes, and I quietly walked up the stairs. Once I was on the second floor, I followed the sound of softly playing country music. The whole floor was pitch dark, so I was sure that no one was awake. I crept into the room that carried the sound of the country music, and I stood waiting for my eyesight to adapt to the darkness. I could faintly make out a figure in the dark lying on a king sized bed that could have fit three more of him. I crept up to his bedside, and I just stared for a moment. He was asleep, and Miranda Lambert was singing a song of revenge from the radio by his head:

“I’m goin’ home, gonna load my shotgun
Wait by the door and light a cigarette
If he wants a fight well now he’s got one
And he ain’t seen me crazy yet…”

I knelt down by his bedside and carefully took out the needle and the tiny bottle. I prepared the sedative and looked up at this villain who stole my love away from me so discreetly and deceptively in the night like a stealthy tom cat using his nocturnal nature as his advantage. I was the stealthy tom cat now. I was the one using the darkness to commit my crime. I stared at him for a moment, and I felt a hatred for him that I had never felt for anyone before or after this moment. I studied him, trying to decide where it would be best to pierce his skin and thus steal away his power. I took notice of his neck. He had a slender yet strong neck. It would be an easy target, and I figured the medicine would go to his brain quicker through his neck than, say, the arm or the leg. I slowly, quietly reached his neck with the needle, and I pressed down. For a moment, I saw his eyes widen, and he grabbed my hand. He squeezed my wrist, crushing the bones beneath his fingers. I howled in pain, and then seconds later, his eyes closed and his grip relaxed. He dropped my hand, and I held my broken wrist in my other hand. I grunted from the pain, but I couldn’t stop now. I had to finish my act of revenge, with or without a right hand to assist me. I decided under the circumstances, that smothering him with a pillow might be the easiest way to enact the punishment. So, I reached over his head, grabbed the pillow beside him with my left hand, and placed it over his face. I pressed down, but it was difficult to press down hard enough with just one hand. So, I picked up my right arm and placed my right elbow onto the pillow. I held my breath to stop myself from screaming from the pain. I pressed onto the pillow with my hand and my elbow, and I suddenly felt him shake and struggle against my body as I lay across him. However, because of the sedative, his struggle was weak. After a short moment, I felt his body go limp beneath me. I closed my eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. I gathered the needle and sedative and put them in my pocket. I felt for the flat head screw-driver, and it was still there. I walked out of his room, grabbed my shoes from the floor that I’d left downstairs, and I knelt down to put them on. As I rose to stand up, I noticed some dirt on his pristine carpet. I glanced at his coffee table and noticed a photo of a girl-my girlfriend. I shook my head and quickly ran out of the house.

Dude, are you trippin’?” Travis asked as he met me outside of my apartment. “What? No, man, I’m just freaking out about this whole situation, you know? I don’t know where the fuck my girlfriend is. She could be dead, she could be alive and hurting somewhere, or she could have just taken off because she needed to get away from me. I just want to know,” I stammered. “It’s two o’clock in the morning. Let’s get you into the apartment and lie down to sleep,” Travis said in a suspiciously courteous manner. I unlocked my door, and Travis followed me inside. I took off my jacket and threw it over my couch, and I fell onto the couch feeling absolutely exhausted. “Do you want me to stay, man? I’ve got some stuff with me that might make you feel better,” Travis offered. I waved my hand at him. “No, no more of that shit, okay, Travis? That is why I am where I am right now. Callie is gone because of me,” I admitted. “That’s, yeah, that’s probably true,” Travis muttered. “Why would you agree? I thought you blamed everything that ever happened between us on her,” I said, not understanding his uncharacteristic response.“She was cheating on you, Jake. She was fucking that Chinese dude,” Travis said. “What, you knew she was doing it, or you are just assuming?” I asked, bolting upright. He looked down as he answered me.

“I saw her. That night she disappeared, I saw her let him into your apartment. You were working to pay the rent, and she just invited this crazy bastard into your apartment to fuck him in your bed. It was sick. You turned your whole life around for her, dude. You stopped the drugs, you stopped hanging out with me so much, you stopped flirting with bartenders, and you just became this robot for her that went to work a job you don’t like so you could come home and be criticized by this judgmental nag. I mean, you’re like, really good to her now, and this is how she repays you. She fucks some nut-job that used to abuse her. Why? Because he has money and a reputation that you’ll never have. That is the sick part. He can go around hitting women, and yet, he gets the good life. You totally change yourself into someone that you think she deserves, and you get deceived. It’s not fair. I couldn’t…I couldn’t let this go unjustified. I didn’t lose my best friend for nothing. The bitch should have at least been appreciative of you and treated you right. That? I could handle that as a forgotten friend watching you in your new life with the woman you worshipped. I could not handle being the forgotten friend watching you get swindled. It couldn’t be for nothing, you see? So, I got justice for you and for our friendship.”

What are you saying, Travis?” I asked calmly with fire burning through my eyes as I looked at him. “What did you do?” He started fidgeting and moaning. “Answer me. I killed him tonight. Did you hear me? I thought I was avenging my girlfriend’s death. Tell me I didn’t kill him without a reason,” Travis put his hands on his head and began rocking back and forth. I approached him and whispered to him. “Travis, I need you to be honest with me right now. If you love me as a friend, you need to tell me the truth,” I said soothingly.

“I stopped her. I stopped her from making a fool out of you. I watched him leave, and I saw her come out of there wearing nothing but a bath robe walking Ralph around the yard. She had this stupid smile on her face like she’d just had a wonderful time. I was outside smoking a cigarette, and I hid in the shadows in the corner between our apartments. I tried to catch a glimpse of guilt in her eyes, but it wasn’t there. Under that robe, it was just Callie, naked, covered in his smell, spit, and fluids. It was disgusting. I have never felt a hatred like that in my life before or after that moment. I felt in my pocket for my knife. You see, ever since that person started stalking me, I have been carrying a knife for protection. I approached her, and I said hello. She asked me why I was talking to her. I mean, she stole my best friend, and she can’t even be polite to me as a neighbor. So, with a stealth quickness I grabbed her neck and stabbed her several times in complete madness until she collapsed in my arms. I fell onto the ground holding her, and it began to snow. These giant snow flakes began falling on us, and for a moment, it was beautiful. I slipped off the robe, and I took her limp, naked body into my car. I took her away where no one could find her, and I got some clothes from the trunk of my car and changed in the alley. No, not an alley near her, somewhere else. I stopped at the store and got some booze and more cigarettes, and I drove back to the apartment. That’s where I found you and that prying detective in the yard looking at the bloody robe that hid her prostituting body. I took it off because I wanted her to remain exposed as the whore she really is. If you’re wondering why there weren’t fingerprints, it is because I also carried with me rubber gloves. You know me, I’m the weird paranoid guy. I’m always prepared.”

I sat in total shock as he confessed his devious crime of hate, just trying to absorb the truth of it all. I had killed because of her. He had killed because of her. Yet, I did not blame her or hate her. I didn’t know whether or not I truly regretted killing John Chang, since he did make love to and abuse my girl. Rubber gloves. I suddenly realized that I did not wear them when I murdered John Chang. The dirt on his carpet-it was probably from my shoes. There was no dirt anywhere else in his perfectly vacuumed and dusted house. Those were merely passing thoughts as I stared at Travis, trying to figure out what to do or what to think. “Where is she?” I asked as my eyes teared up. “I can’t tell you that,” Travis answered. “WHERE IS SHE?” I shouted. He shook his head. I took out the flathead screw-driver with my left hand, jumped on him, and brandished it over his throat. “Tell me now,” I demanded. “I can’t do that. If you kill me, you’ll never know,” Travis said in a shakey voice. “You know what, it doesn’t even matter. Either way she is gone, and either way you took her from me,” I said through sobs. “She was never yours anyway. She fixed you into what she thought you should be, and then she became bored with you. That’s what she does. She liked Chang because he was messed up. She thought she could change him into a better person. She had to be stopped so that you could go back to living your life as yourself,” Travis reasoned. “You killed my girl, my reason for living and breathing and enduring this stupid world,” I shouted as I plunged the screw-driver into his throat. Blood spurted out of his jugular as I stabbed and stabbed down as deep and hard as I could. His eyes continued to stare at me as I cried on my best friend’s shoulder.

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October 19, 2012

“All That’s Left”

Filed under: horror,story — desi83 @ 8:22 am

I’m not a hundred percent sure about the title and won’t be until it is finished. This is a revival of a story that I partially posted like six months ago. I dug out the notebook where I first wrote it, so I’m typing it out now, editing it, and even changing the ending. Anyway, if you like horror or just descriptive writing, have fun. It is long for a blog post, and this is not all of it, so pop some popcorn and get comfortable. I am going to finish typing out this story by the weekend’s end.

All That’s Left

The first thing I noticed when I pulled into the parking lot of our apartment was her fluffy, white robe sprawled out onto the grass. What stood out, even in the darkness with only the dim street lights illuminating it, was the blood. It reminded me of her innocence; the dark blood stained the pure white of her robe. Iprayed that it was just red wine or tomato soup, and in her haste, she threw out the soiled material. Maybe it belonged to someone else. I only faintly remembered that robe. It was the first winter that we were together. We had spent that last winter as neighbors without even knowing it. To think, we were strangers less than a year ago. I got up the nerve to approach the red-soaked robe. I bent down to get a better glimpse of it. It looked and smelled like blood. I was careful not to touch it. I ran into the apartment while making bargains with a God that I wasn’t even sure existed. I wasn’t taking any chances for the worst. The smell of her lingered through the house-spaghetti and meat balls, homemade chocolate chip cookies that she’d made recently, and her sweet pea body spray were the smells of our home together. “Baby, are you home?” I tried to sound casual. “Are you asleep already?” I asked with all the hope I could muster. I burst into the room with my eyes squeezed shut, as if I could cast some spell to bring her into the room, safely asleep. I slowly opened the door to find an empty, unmade bed. I remembered why it was so untidy-no more like destroyed! I woke her up to make love at seven in the morning because she looked so beautiful while she slept. I grabbed the blanket and held it, wishing it were her. Maybe she was at her parents’ house or out with her friends. I grabbed my phone and hit two on speed dial. I could faintly hear a ring coming from the bathroom. I slowly turned the knob, fearing that I’d see her mangled body slumped over the tub. I only found her phone ringing serenely on the bathroom counter. I pressed end on my phone and dialed 911. My heart knew that she was hurt; she needed me, and I had just been trying to deny the worst.

“911, what’s your emergency?” a cold voice answered. “I think something has happened to my girlfriend. Her bloody robe is in our front yard. Her phone is here, but she is missing,” I explained in between sobs. “What is your location?” the cold, monotone voice inquired. “508 Lincoln Boulevard, apartment A5,” I answered. “I’ll send an officer,” she said almost reluctantly. “Thank you,” I said somewhat sarcastically. I sat in the yard staring at the robe. That’s when I noticed the flip flop that seemed familiar lying on the sidewalk. Why had she been outside in her robe and flip flops? I gasped. “Ralph!” I couldn’t believe it took me this long to remember that the damn dog was missing, too. She had probably taken him for a short walk. I looked up and noticed her car parked on the other side of the parking lot sitting right beside the dumpster. The pieces were coming one by one, leading me to believe more and more the worst possible scenario

As I stood beside the robe, careful not to touch it in fear of tampering with evidence, I stared at her car and realized that would be a good thing to investigate. Just then, I saw the blue lights, and an officer stepped out of the cruiser. The last time I was in a scene like this, I was getting my first DUI, so I was still a little nervous around cops and those menacing blue lights. “Did you make the call about a missing woman, sir?” he asked sternly, officially. “Yes, sir. This robe belongs to my girlfriend, and I have not seen her since I’ve been home,” I stated. His eyes widened, and he pulled out a notepad and pen and began scribbling down notes. “Are you sure this belongs to her?” he asked. I’d only seen the robe a few times, but I remembered it now, just lying on the sofa a few days ago. “Yes, sir,” I answered nervously. “Do you live with her?” the officer inquired. “Yes, we live right there in that apartment, A5,” I answered, pointing to our apartment. “What is your girlfriend’s name?” he asked, suddenly looking up at me. “Callista, or Callie Stokes,” I answered. “How old is Callie?” he asked. “She is twenty-three years old,” I answered. “Describe her to me please,” the officer asked as he studied his notepad, quickly jotting down notes. “She has long blond hair, bright blue eyes, suntanned skin, and she is about one hundred and ten pounds. I think she’s around 5’4,” I described. “Okay, that just sounds like every man’s dream girl. Are you also going to tell me that her measurements are 36-24-36?” he asked. I shrugged my shoulders and blushed. She was every man’s dream girl, but she really was my girl. “Does she have any distinctive features?” he asked, shaking his head. I thought about it for a moment. “She has a Marylin Monroe freckle on her face, four piercings in each ear, and a tattoo of the Aries sign on her left hip,” I described thoroughly. “Okay, that’s something I can use in the investigation. Now, tell me where you’re coming from, since I’m assuming that you just discovered the robe,” he observed. “I work second shift, so I just got out about an hour and a half ago. That’s why I’m wearing this dirty black shirt and worn out jeans,” I explained. “Where do you work, um, what’s your name again?” he asked. “I don’t think I’ve told you my name yet. My name is Jake England,” I replied suspiciously. He looked strangely familiar. “Well, Mr. England, you may call me Detective McAllister. What exactly do you do for a living, Mr. England?” the officer asked, looking me straight in the eyes. “I work for the Volkswagon plant. I work on the production line,” I answered. “That’s not too far from here. When did you leave work, and when did you arrive at your apartment?” McAllister asked. “I left work around ten o’clock, and I got home around eleven o’clock, give or take a couple of minutes,” I answered. “Hmmm,” McAllister mumbled. “Why did it take you so long to get home? I happen to know that the Volkswagon plant is only fifteen minutes from here,” McAllister questioned. “I stopped at Buddy’s, a bar a couple of miles from the plant, to have a beer like I usually do,” I admitted. “Did you only have one beer?” McAllister pressed. “I had a couple. How does that pertain to my girlfriend’s disappearance?” I asked impatiently, trembling slightly, “Can we get back to the investigation, please?” “I am going to need a statement from someone at Buddy’s confirming your alibi,” McAllister said suspiciously. “I’m the one who called 911. Why would I be a suspect?” I asked angrily. “It’s because you’re the one who called 911, and because the spouse or boyfriend is always the first one to be suspected,” the officer explained, “It’s just routine.” I hung my head, feeling helpless. This was not happening. It was a bad dream, and I would wake up next to Callie and kiss her until she made me stop.

Is there anything else that you would like to add that could help lead us to Callie?” McAllister asked, attempting to wrap up the intense interview. “Yes, her car is still in the parking lot right beside the dumpster,” I said as I pointed toward the car. He squinted as he scribbled more notes in his notepad. “Also, her dog is missing and her flip flop is in the grass right beside the robe-just one flip flop,” I added. The officer nodded and wrote it down. Just then, two detectives arrived and began collecting the robe and the flip flop and put them in a scientific-looking plastic bag labeled “forensic evidence”. “So, from the evidence and the scene that we have before us, it is likely that Callie was walking her dog in her robe and flip flops. Someone could have grabbed her during the walk. Is her dog aggressive at all?” Officer McAllister inquired. “No, he’s just a big teddy bear of a dog,” I said regretfully. “Was anything missing from the house?” he questioned. “No, nothing was taken. It looks as though Callie could still be here, but she’s not. I’ve checked every room,” I answered. I started shaking and choking back tears. I had to keep it together for Callie’s sake. “Hmmm, normally if someone is assaulted or killed at their residence by a stranger, it is a result of a robbery. Do you know if she was in contact with anyone this evening?” McAllister speculated. “It’s a week-day, so she probably came straight home from school, grabbed a couple of beers and graded papers all evening by herself,” I answered confidently. “When did you last see Ms. Stokes?” McAllister asked. “I kissed her goodbye this morning before she left for work,” I answered nostalgically. “What time did you go to work, Mr. England?” McAllister questioned with an accusatory stare. “I work at one-thirty five days a week,” I answered, annoyed. McAllister quickly jotted down some notes then suddenly looked back at me. “Can you think of anyone who may have paid her a visit or who might be capable of hurting her?” he asked, very focused. “No one would have a reason to hurt her sir. She is a charismatic, funny, beautiful girl who spends her life taking care of children and dogs,” I answered passionately. At that, I broke into tears. I was always the calm one in stressful situations while Callie seemed to lose it at the smallest sign of inconvenience. However, this was a situation that had me imagining the worst possible scenarios. “So you can’t think of anyone who could have dropped by unexpectedly?” McAllister asked, unconcerned at my uncontrollable sobs. “Do you want a list of every person she knows or has ever met?” I asked sarcastically. McAllister’s eyes twinkled and he perked up. “Yes, that would be perfect! Include their phone numbers and addresses. Also, we will be interviewing all of the neighbors,” McAllister said excitedly. He was pumped and ready to find out what happened to Callie. Even though I still had a chip on my shoulder about cops, I was glad to have one on my side this time.

Suddenly, our neighbor Travis sped into the parking lot and swerved diagonally into the handicapped space and the space next to it. The officer and I stared for a moment, and out stumbled Travis, gripping his coat and a paper bag with some sort of bottle in it. “Is that a neighbor of yours?” Officer McAllister asked me as his suspicious glare turned to Travis. I couldn’t help but chuckle. Travis is one of the most ridiculous people I’ve ever known. He always inadvertently makes a grand entrance. “We’ll keep in touch, Mr. England. I’m going to conduct the first interview with your neighbor,” he said as he quickly approached Travis before he could duck into his apartment. “Excuse me sir, may I have a word with you?” McAllister called out to Travis. Travis kept his head down and tucked his paper bag-covered bottle into his coat. “I just want to go home,” I have nothing to do with whatever is going on here,” he mumbled. “That’s what I need to find out. What is your full name, sir?” McAllister asked, blocking Travis from escaping into his apartment. “Travis O’Hare. What is going on? You can’t give me a DUI because I’m not driving now. I’m going to get plastered in the privacy of my own freaking home!” he slurred with a drunken laugh. “I should give you a DUI anyway, or at least a ticket for public intoxication, but that is not what this is about,” McAllister said menacingly. Travis’s eyes widened and he stood stiff as a board. “When is the last time that you saw your neighbor, Ms. Callie Stokes?” McAllister asked, now standing almost nose to nose with Travis. “Man, screw that bitch. I don’t care. What the hell did she do?” Travis jabbered. “Oh she hasn’t done anything that we know of, but she is missing. I am sensing that you have some aggression toward her,” McAllister observed. “She’s batshit crazy is all I know. I haven’t talked to her or Jake since they left me at a bar without a ride, and it was because of her,” Travis explained. McAllister frantically jotted down all of Travis’s mutterings.

When did you leave the apartment today, and where did you go?” McAllister asked. “I left around, I don’t know, five or so. I went to my friend Trey’s house to watch the game. We hung out and drank some Jack, and I am just getting home,” he answered. “Could I have this Trey’s number please, for an alibi?” McAllister asked with a huge polite grin. “I guess. Say, what happened? Did somebody kill her or something?” he asked, staggering. I felt this rage rise up inside of me, and I ran toward Travis and shoved him. It was as if I were possessed by some angry ghost. The officer grabbed me and shoved me back as Travis stumbled toward me, mumbling something that sounded like reassurance to the officer. He put his hands up and said, “it’s cool, man, no problema!” He leaned toward me and whispered, “so what’d they find? Usually it’s a shoe or clothing of some sort. Leaves you with nothing but questions and assuming the worst.” I punched him in the face and fell to the ground on my knees. He looked back at me, holding his bloody face and ran to his apartment. “Mr. England, I will ask you not to harm Mr. O’Hare any further. I realize you are upset and you want to lash out, but you’re just making it worse,” the officer said trying to calm me down. I sat on the sidewalk holding my head. “How did he fucking know? Her stuff isn’t on the front lawn anymore. I don’t trust him,” I yelled. “We’ll keep an eye on him, Mr. England. In the meantime, you stay here and get some rest, and I’ll keep searching for clues to lead me to your Callie,” he reassured me. “Okay, that’s fine, thank you Officer. Just let me know if you hear anything,” I said wearily. “I’m going to call forensics here to collect the robe and check for any other evidence that may have any tissue or fingerprints out here that could be used as evidence,” he assured me.

The truth is, Travis and I were close friends until Callie and I moved in together. I still tried to keep our friendship, but it wasn’t the same. He resented her since she got angry with me every time Travis was around. Sure, he was a bad influence on me, but he was a good friend who just happened to have a lot of bad habits but not too many other friends. He was a sad sort of person. I guess I felt sorry for him, but he was also hilarious and weird in an interesting sort of way. I wondered if he could have resented her to the point of-no way. He was weird and a little socially-awkward, but he was not capable of killing anyone. He didn’t hate her that much, did he? I would talk with him the next day so he wouldn’t be paranoid of my hitting him or accusing him again. Forensics showed up, bagged up the bloody robe, and dusted the parameter for prints. They didn’t find any other clothing or objects. “Was there any sign of breaking and entering when you entered the residence, Mr. England?” McAllister asked. “No sir. It looked like Callie has been here and maybe went outside to walk her dog. I still haven’t found the dog,” I responded, curious as to what could have happened to Ralph. “We’re still going to search the apartment for clues just in case it was a friend that Callie let into the apartment who could have harmed Callie,” McAllister explained. It was all a bit of a blur. I just sort of stood there watching these uniformed strangers prowl through all of our belongings in our happy, humble home. It was surreal, like being an extra in a crime show.

It suddenly dawned on me that Callie’s windshield had been busted a week ago, with what Travis thought may have been a hammer. Her plants had gone from green and full of blooms to brown and shriveled within a couple of days. A month ago, the small angel statue she had on the patio had been broken all over the yard, and we had seen it intact just the previous night. We took the car to the repair shop where they confirmed that the windshield had to have been busted by a hammer or another blunt object. Why had Travis known what type of tool had busted the windshield, and described in such detail how it had happened? “Wow, dude, it looks like someone probably waited until it was dark, grabbed a hammer, knelt on top of the hood, and then whacked the windshield right in the middle,” he described while demonstrating with body movements. “Somebody’s pissed off at you, Callie,” Travis warned. The repair shop showed me the dents in the hood where someone probably knelt on the hood. Callie had cursed him the day before the windshield incident for barging into our apartment drunk in the middle of the day. Travis was pretty much always drunk. Could he really be capable of something as coldblooded as-No! I could not say it. Until there was a dead body and actual evidence, I could not lay the burden of accusation on him. There was a chance that she was alive until they found the body, so there may not have been a murder of which to accuse Travis.

“It’s cold in here, Jake,” Callie whispered. I turned to hold her close to me so that I could warm her. Her skin chilled my touch, and I could not get her warm. Instead, I was left feeling cold. “I can’t get you warm, Callie. I’m shivering the more that I touch you,” I responded sadly. I shook her gently, but her only response was a whimper. I was getting colder and colder as I held her tighter. “Callie!” I shouted as I turned her over to face me. “Oh my God,” I whispered. “Help me, Jake,” she uttered through frozen lips. My heart felt as if it were going to burst out of my chest at the sight of her. Frozen tears lined her face, and her lips were pale blue. “What do you want me to do, Callie? What can I do?” I panicked. I stared at her with terror in my eyes. “I’m lost, Jake,” Callie whispered. I awoke in a cold sweat. What did it all mean? Was it just the stress of the situation, or was she trying to tell me something? Okay, now I was driving into crazytown. We were not telepathic.

I was willing to consider anything a possibility at this point. I would even try to listen to frozen creepy Callie in my dreams for some sort of sign in my subconscious. I knew that Callie needed me to find her, and I was no longer going to waste time sleeping. I threw on my slippers and jacket and went outside. I pulled my jacket tightly against me as I shivered from the cold night air, and maybe a little bit from the dream. I began wandering through the front yard, searching for any clue that the detective may have missed: a weapon, blood or clothing that may belong to her attacker, or anything else that could add to the puzzle that had barely began.

I made my way to the backyard and noticed Ralph’s leash on Travis’s patio, hidden behind a bush. I crept around the outside of his apartment to see if I could find any other evidence when I heard a dog barking. That is when I lost it. I banged loudly on his door, and the barking grew louder. I heard someone scrambling around inside and finally Travis threw open the door holding a chopping knife. “What’s up, man?” he asked as he lowered the knife. His eyes were bloodshot but wide and alert. Ralph ran between Travis’s legs, almost knocking him down. Luckily, he grabbed the door frame so that he wouldn’t fall on me with a knife. “Hey, Ralphie, there you are boy!” I said excitedly as the huge golden retriever jumped on me and put his paws on my chest. Then, I turned to Travis with disbelief burning in my eyes. “Why the hell is Callie’s dog in your apartment?” I demanded calmly through clenched teeth. “I heard him scratching at my door a couple of hours ago, so I let him in,” Travis explained weakly, still holding the knife loosely by his side. “Really? When were you planning on telling me this? And why are you answering the door with a knife?” I asked, my voice getting higher and more impatient. “It is four o’clock in the morning, man, so I figured you were asleep. And you know I had a stalker awhile ago. So if I am not expecting someone to pay me a visit at four a.m., I take my ‘guard dog’ with me,” he answered thoroughly.

May 2, 2012

Horror Story Continued…

Filed under: horror,story — desi83 @ 8:11 am

Note: Please read the previous entry, Horror Story Parts 1 and 2, before continuing.

I laid there for a moment, trying to bring myself back to reality. I didn’t feel like I was in my apartment on my couch; I felt like I was at the store hiding from those eyes. Milly was now sitting on the floor staring up at me with those eternally sad eyes. “Okay, I am at home on my couch, and no one is here besides my dogs. I am okay, and the ghost eyes are not real,” I said to myself. I had to laugh. Was I really scared of the store being haunted? “Ms. Lisa, bad things have happened to people who’ve worked third shift at the Greenville store. There are legends, you know,” Ms. Addy had warned me. Those words were burned into my memory, and no matter how cynical I was, I was going to go into work with that fear looming over me. I couldn’t let the fear consume me. So, I got up and put on some pink running shorts, a white tank top with a sports bra underneath, my moisture-wicking running socks, and my New Balance running shoes, and I headed out the door with Milo’s leash in my hand. He was a great running partner because he constantly pulled me further so that I had to run faster to catch up. For all the time I waste and bad habits that I indulge, running is the one thing that makes me feel like I have a purpose. Every time I run, I go as fast and as distant as my body will carry me. It is a never-ending journey for me, because I will always push myself harder and further on every run. I also feel closer to Milo on our runs, because I think he has the same mentality. We ran through the parking lot, around the track that surrounds the pond at my apartment complex, and onto the sidewalk that parallels the main street going by my apartment complex. I was hoping to hit five miles today with an increased time of 5.5 minutes per mile as compared to 6 minutes on our previous run. Milo was definitely up for the challenge.

As I ran, I began to wonder if my life was ever going to mean more. If so, when? What would it take? I couldn’t be a retail manager forever, and I couldn’t stay in a dead-end relationship for the rest of my life. I wanted to do something that was meaningful. I thought of Greg, who worked as a gas station attendant with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He didn’t have a clue what he wanted to do with his degree. Most of his ideas required him to get a higher degree, and his gas station salary was not going to pay for his tuition. His parents had paid for his college tuition the first time around, but they had recently cut him off since he has been coasting on his tiny salary and their allowances that they still gave him as an adult. He had to move in with his sister, who is not exactly fond of me for whatever reason. I wondered if Greg was ever going to wake up and take action to have what he wants for his life. I thought of Brad, my hot neighbor with the glittering smile, who sold cars every day with that same smile. I wondered if that was the extent of his aspirations, or if he dreamed of something bigger. What force would it take to shoot us out of our comfort zone and into the sky? Or was this the eternal plan for people like me, to wander aimlessly through life in precarious situations until we get crushed by a compactor or fall off a ladder doing some mundane task for a check that barely covers the monthly bills? I figured the first step was to ask that very question.

I looked down at my watch, and I noticed that we only had one mile to go. I was soaked in sweat, and I felt like throwing up my breakfast, but my legs felt like lightning. We were running on the sidewalk by the road where my apartment was located, when I noticed a cluster of people and dogs up ahead. Milo was usually pretty good about running beside me, but it was too distracting for him with so many dogs in his view. I was trying to steer us to the left, while he was pulling with all of his might to the right towards the group of dogs and people. I jerked him as hard as I could toward me as we passed them, and I suddenly lost my balance. As I fell, I felt this horrible fear at my loss of control go through my body, and I landed on my hands and knees. I felt a shooting pain as my body hit the concrete. I could feel the skin ripping off my knees on impact. “Milo!” I screamed. The people stopped and turned, and their dogs were pulling on their leashes and barking for their freedom. Milo came to me and licked the top of my right hand. All but one of the people who had caused this accident kept walking in order to control their dogs. “Hey, are you okay?” asked the concerned young man. He looked about nineteen years old, and he had a friendly face. His deep brown eyes stared down at me as I turned over onto my bottom and sat for a moment, trying to recover. Milo was sniffing me and pacing. My new hero reached a hand down to me. “Thanks,” I said as I took his hand and rose to my feet. “Can you walk?” he asked softly. I slowly took a step as I held his hand. “I think I’ll be alright. I live in that apartment complex,” I said as I pointed in the direction ahead of us. “Okay, well let me take your dog’s leash, and I’ll walk you to your apartment,” he offered. I was not going to argue, because the shooting pain in my bloody knees was making it almost impossible to walk.

I wondered how old this guy really was and if he was in school. I wondered who is friends were and if any of those dogs in their group belonged to him. I was too tired and in pain to ask these questions. “I’m sorry about what happened. I feel like it was partly our fault that you fell,” he apologized. I smiled. ‘Yah think?’ I thought to myself. “It’s fine. I usually-I usually have better control with Milo…but he just couldn’t contain himself…when he saw those dogs with-with you and your friends,” I said between breaths. “I can imagine. The girl is my sister, the guy that was in the green shirt is my sister’s boyfriend, and the guy wearing the blue and white striped shirt is my room-mate. The two German Shepherds belong to my sister, and the mutt belongs to my room-mate. So, as you can see, I was just tagging along. I don’t have any dogs because they’re too much trouble,” he explained. “Interesting. So, how are dogs too much trouble? If I can handle them, then surely you can,” I responded condescendingly. “I would not be able to devote enough time to a dog with my schedule,” he replied. “Okay, I’ll bite, what is it that you do?” I asked. I squeezed my eyes shut as I felt the pain in my knees stabbing me suddenly. “I am working on earning my Master’s Degree in Psychology. So, when I’m not at school, I am either writing papers at home or doing field work. I am always busy, but it will be worth it after I get that degree and get into a position where I can really help people-and get paid for it,” he said with a smile. Oh, he had that salesman smile like Brad. We approached my apartment, and I looked up at the stairs in disgust. Why did I get a second story apartment? “That’s my apartment-up there,” I pointed. He looked at me with a pouty face. “You can let Milo go. He will know to run up the stairs and wait,” I advised. He complied, and I grabbed his hand so that he could slowly guide me up the stairs. Each step was more excruciating than the next. Blood was dripping from both of my knees. We finally reached the top, and I pulled the house key from my shoe and walked into my apartment with my handsome hero following me inside.

I plopped on the couch and propped my leg onto the coffee table. The helpful stranger went into the bathroom and began gathering supplies to play nurse for me. He emerged holding a wet cloth, some ointment, bandages, and rubbing alcohol. “How did you know where my bathroom was and where all of those items were?” I asked suspiciously. “My apartment has the same layout with the same medicine cabinet as yours,” he explained as he pressed the cloth against my knee. I gasped from the pain. “What is your name?” I manged to utter. “I’m Seth. I live in building C, so we’re not far from each other,” he replied as he poured the alcohol onto the cloth. “This is going to burn like hell,” he warned. “I don’t think that is really neces-Ah! Oh my God, why?” I attempted to speak but was interrupted by the burning of rubbing alcohol forced upon me. “Ow! Ow, oh my God, this is fuck!” I shouted. Seth laughed quietly. “Thanks for the warning, man,” I said angrily. “I did warn you,” he retorted. I rolled my eyes and threw my head back as the pain throbbed in my knees. “I am surprised that we’ve never bumped into each other until today,” I suddenly realized. “Like I said, I’m overwhelmingly busy with school. I am glad that I met you today, though,” he said as he rubbed the ointment on my wounds. “I am definitely glad, or else I may have been limping back home by myself,” I replied, smiling at my newfound hero. He gently placed the bandage on my right leg. “So, how far did you run before you fell?” Seth asked, trying to distract me from the pain. “I ran a little over four miles. I was averaging 5.6 minutes per mile, which was almost to my goal time,” I answered. He placed the bandage on my left knee. “What was your goal time?” he asked, looking down at my knee. “It was supposed to be 5.5 minutes per mile, and I was intending on going for 5 miles,” I explained. “That is extremely impressive. I haven’t ran a mile since high school,” he laughed. “Well, you are all patched up,” he said happily. “Thank you so much, Seth. I’m Lisa, by the way,” I said with a smile. “Well, it was a pleasure to meet you today, Lisa. I’m just sorry that it had to be under unpleasant circumstances,” he replied in his charming voice. The pain in my hands suddenly reminded me that I had also hurt my palms in the fall. I looked down at them and saw some blood. “Could you hand me that cloth again, or I guess rinse it off first? My hands got a little beat up as well,” I asked. “Sure, no problem,” Seth replied as he picked up the cloth and headed to my bathroom with it.

I leaned back on the couch, feeling a bit angry with myself for letting this happen. It would be awhile before I could run again. Before Seth returned to my living room, there was a knock at my door. “Do you want me to answer that so you don’t have to get up?” Seth asked. “That would be great, thanks,” I replied. I had no idea who could be knocking on my door. Seth opened the door, and I knew exactly who my visitor was. “Hey, I’m here to see my girlfriend. Who are you?” Greg asked with a slightly angry tone. ‘Shit,’ I thought as I rolled my eyes. Greg was the last person that I wanted to see right now, and I didn’t want Seth to know about him. I felt my hatred for Greg grow even stronger in that moment.

“It’s okay, Greg. He’s my neighbor. He helped me get back home after I fell,” I shouted to him from the couch. Greg stormed into the apartment and knelt down beside me. I didn’t move from where I was. “Honey, are you okay? What happened? Why didn’t you call me?” he asked, agitated. Seth stood in the kitchen with an awkward look on his face, trying to divert his eyes from us. “It just happened, and Seth was on the trail. So, he helped me get home and bandaged my knee,” I explained. “Thanks, man,” Greg said, hinting to Seth to go home. “No, problem. Well, I’ll see you around, Lisa,” Seth said as he headed out the door with a smirk on his face. I wanted to break up with Greg right then. I couldn’t, however; it was bad timing. It always seemed like bad timing, though. I just knew that he would cry and beg me to stay with him if I told him that I didn’t want to be with him any longer. “Do you need anything, babe? Do you want to put ice on your knees? I’ll go get some,” he insisted. “No! No, thank you, but I’m fine. I just need to rest,” I said, annoyed. “I can stay if you want,” he said quietly. “I need to rest, Greg,” I responded with my eyes shut. “How did you fall?” he asked, stalling. “I was running with Milo. We almost made my goal of five miles, but I tripped and fell when we were trying to go around some people and their dogs. Seth was one of the people in that group, so he stayed behind to help me,” I explained. “I always told you that it seemed dangerous for you to run with Milo. I can run with you, and I can take Milo’s leash,” he replied excitedly. “I fell one time, and it was my fault. I should have walked around that group instead of trying to run around them. I’ll know next time,” I replied, staring at the ceiling.

Greg turned on the television and continued to sit in the floor while I stayed sprawled over the couch. I wanted him to leave, but I didn’t feel like using my energy. I knew he’d want to know why, and he’d have that hurt look on his face. I just couldn’t deal with that right now. So, I just tried to relax. I wanted so badly to smoke, but I knew that he would not like it. Greg was more of a straight-laced kind of guy. He knew that I had my habits, and he didn’t try to lecture me about it, but he would give me a disapproving look if I engaged in any said habits. I smoke pot and occasionally have fun with mushrooms, I drink a lot of whiskey, and I have a temper. Having a temper isn’t exactly a habit like the others, but it is a tendency that I can’t always control. It makes Greg very uncomfortable because he does not like confrontation. Sometimes I just want to argue or debate for the fun of it, but he just shuts down. He’s like a puppy-innocent, sad-eyed, and always wanting attention. How can I chase away a puppy? I don’t, however, I want to have a romantic relationship with a puppy. If I cheat on him, he’d break up with me and not beg me to stay with him. That is one of his deal-breakers. Maybe I could just lie and say that I cheated on him? I could tell him that Seth and I were having rough, passionate sex, and that is how I hurt my knees. Ah, but then he’d feel the need to get revenge on Seth. Then, Seth would think that I was a psycho for getting him involved in my drama, because he barely knows me. I don’t want to ruin his opinion of me. There is another way to get out of this without a terrible confrontation, I just know it. Yes, I know, I said that Greg was the one that avoids confrontation. Well, I like to avoid the kind of confrontation where someone cries. “Greg, can you get me a glass of whiskey, please? On ice?” I asked nicely. I figured I’d use him while he was there. “Sure, babe, no problem,” he said as he quickly jumped up to serve me. Why did this irritate me?

I asked Greg to warm up some left-overs for me before I sent him on his way. I told him that I was tired and in pain, and I wanted to go to sleep. He kissed me passionately, and I tried to pull back because it always seems like he’s trying to eat my face. We don’t need to devour each other with every kiss. “I’ll call you later, Lisa. I love you,” he said sweetly. “I love you, too,” I lied. I did love you, I thought I loved you, is what I wanted to say. He left, and I sighed out of relief. Milo, who had been sitting in the recliner ever since we returned home, was staring at me with sad, apologetic eyes. “It’s okay, Milo, it’s not your fault,” I said looking directly into his eyes. He picked up his head and smiled at me the way only a dog can smile-tongue hanging out, mouth wide, and eyes squinting. Milly was curled up in a ball beside my feet on the couch. She rarely ever moved from that spot on the couch, so she was always a perfect and ready foot warmer. I sat up and squeezed my eyes shut from the pain. I reached under the couch for my wooden box of happiness without moving my legs too much. I pulled out my little baggie of green, and I stuffed it into my Ed Hardy pipe. I just wanted to sleep and stop thinking. I was so tired of thinking all of the time.

To Be Continued…

April 9, 2012

My First Horror Story-Part 1 and 2

Filed under: horror,story — desi83 @ 11:13 pm

*I posted the first part of the story here a month ago, but I just put the whole story on here as it is written so far. If you’ve already read part one, skip to part 2*

-Part 1-

“Lisa, could you come in here for a moment, please?” my boss said from his office. I could see Rob sitting down in the chair in the office. Mike always had a witness with him when he called someone into the office to be disciplined, or if he was going to give said person some bad news. Either way, dread spread through my body. My head tingled, and I felt my feet become heavy as I made my way to the office. “Yes sir?” I said timidly. “Have a seat, Lisa. I have some news for you,” Mike announced calmly. He had this calm, confident demeanor about him through all situations. I have seen this man deal with the worst of humankind, and nothing ever seems to crack him. “Alright, you are either going to hate me or love me for this,” he proceeded. I closed my eyes. “Okay,” I said awkwardly. Damn it, why can’t I be as cool as him in these situations? I am such a scared little person. “Well, I heard that you were interested in third shift from a ‘little bird’ here, so I emailed Mr. Davis. You are being transferred to Greenville,” he announced. Rob winked at me. I sighed deeply. “I was actually going to ask you about the possibility of doing that today, sir, so you beat me to the punch,” I said happily. I felt my body relax. I had been wanting the graveyard shift for awhile. “Greenville is a good place to work third shift. There is virtually no crime there, it is a quiet town, and it is not far from where you live. You will probably save about 20 bucks a week on gas as to compared to driving to this store. Also, you can go back to school or whatever you want to do since it’ll be seven days on and seven days off. You’ll just have to lose sleep during your weeks on if you want to do anything,” he reassured me.

“When do I start?” I asked. “You need to be there tomorrow morning at 7 am for a store meeting, and then you will start on Tuesday night,” he replied with a smile. “But I’m working until eleven tonight,” I replied, annoyed. “It would be preferable for you to make it to the meeting,” he said sternly. “Fine, yes, you are right,” I responded. “Okay, well, since it is your last day at this store, why don’t we play some stockroom basketball for old time’s sake?” he asked jubilantly. “Okay,” I said with a chuckle. “What are the stakes?” Rob asked. “Okay, Lisa. If you lose, you have to clean my office top to bottom,” he answered. “What if I win?” I asked smiling slyly. “If you win, you can leave a half an hour early. But if you lose, you have to spend that last half hour cleaning the office. How does that sound?” he asked. “Well, so far, sir, you are undefeated, but I will take that challenge,” I said confidently.

Rob, Mike, and I walked into the stockroom to play basketball with giant beach balls and two huge cardboard boxes.

“Okay, Lisa, I’m going to put this box inside of this bigger box. It’s two points for the outside box, three points for the inside box. Actually, that is the point system for you. For me, it is one point for the outside box, and two points for the inside box. That way you have a little advantage since you’re playing the reigning champion,” he said graciously. “Okay, as long as you aren’t doing it because I’m a girl,” I said defensively. “No, he gave me the same advantage,” Rob said, “and he still won.” “Okay, Lisa, stand behind this piece of tape and toss the ball in,” Mike suggested. “Okay, here goes nothing,” I said as I bent my knees and hurdled the ball toward the boxes. It went right over them. “Oh, wow, too much power behind that shot,” Rob said laughing. “I’m just warming up,” I said confidently. “Hey now, what is going on in here?” Melinda asked as she walked in the stockroom with her cart full of fixtures from the reset she was doing. “I’m out here working my ass off, and this is what the bosses are doing?” she scoffed. “It’s Lisa’s last day here, so we’re giving her a little goodbye party,” Mike said as he approached the little strip of tape on the floor. “Oh, wow, she’s leaving?” she asked. “Yes, I’m moving to Greenville to work third shift,” I replied. “Mmph,” she said as she went about her work. We didn’t get along most of time.

She tended to make snide remarks to me hinting of her jealousy, and I got onto her quite often for slacking off. Sometimes I hated being a manager because I often thought it would be so much easier only be responsible for my work instead of everyone else’s.

“Oh, two points!” Mike shouted when he made the inside box. “2-0, you’re up!” Rob shouted. “You guys didn’t tell me there was a game going on!” Chris said as he entered our makeshift basketball court. “It’s Lisa’s last day, so we had to have one last game with her,” Mike replied. “Yes, I’ve already beaten you this week, Chris, so now I have to beat Mike,” I said teasing him. “When did you beat me?” he asked. “We played a little paper wad basketball at the register the other day, and I beat you,” I reminded him. “Oh, that so does not count,” he said laughing. I made my way to the strip of tape, and I softly threw the ball this time as throwing it hard did not work last time. It barely touched the edge of the outside box and rolled back to me. “Oh, this is going to be really bad,” I lamented. We made a few more shots, and Mike was ahead 8-0. “Okay, this is the last shot. If I make it to 10 points, you’ll be cleaning my office,” he gloated. “It’s not over yet, Mike,” I said with an evil smile. I was up, and I bent my knees, focused on the inside box, and tossed the ball. It flew over both boxes. “Rob, go grab that ball for me, will you?” Mike said. Rob obediently ran to fetch the ball for him. Rob was his lackey, or so I called him. He wanted a promotion so badly, so he did whatever Mike told him to. “Okay, Lisa, here goes nothing,” Mike said as he smoothly tossed the ball directly into the 2-point box. “I can’t wait to see my clean office tomorrow!” he said triumphantly. “Okay, Rob, let’s play to 10 points to see who is going to buy Lisa’s goodbye cake,” he suggested. “Hmmm, can it be any cake? I can buy her a Hostess cake off the shelf then?” Rob said with a smirk. Rob was glad to be rid of me. I was out-performing him even though he was technically above me, so with me gone, it would make him look better. “No, Rob, it will be a cake of her choice from Publix,” Mike corrected him. “Alright, I’m bringing my A game today,” he said as he stepped to the line of tape. “So, you are really leaving us?” Chris asked me. “Yes, apparently a ‘little bird’ told Mike that I wanted to be transferred. I was kind of caught off guard since I was planning on approaching Mike about it. Even though it is what I wanted, I’m kind of pissed that they beat me to the punch,” I replied. “Man, that is crazy. We’re going to miss you here, Lisa. But I’m glad it’s working out for you,” he said while pulling stock from the shelves and loading it on his cart. “I’m going to miss you too, Chris,” I said. We stood looking at each other for a moment. “Well, keep in touch, alright?” he said diverting his eyes from me. “We always have Facebook,” I said with a laugh. “Oh yes, there is that,” he said smiling. “Oh, looks like Rob is buying your cake, Lisa!” Mike said, gloating. “Well, Rob, I would like a red velvet cake, please,” I said slyly. “No problem, your highness,” he replied. “Alright, guys get back to work, enough funny business,” Mike shouted. “Yeah, okay,” I said giggling. “Hey Lisa, wait up,” Mike said. “Okay, just because this is your last day, it doesn’t mean it is time to slack off. This is the day to give me your best work because you always want to leave a great impression every time that you leave a place,” he advised. “I know that, Mike. I always work hard for you,” I said, slightly offended. “Okay, well, it really has been a pleasure working with you, Lisa. I know at that store you’ll be like a comet shooting through the night, changing the way they do things. Their last couple of third shift managers didn’t make much of an impression, so they’ll be glad to have someone who works hard,” Mike said. I smiled, and went on working on the project that I’d left earlier.

I’ve been at Jones’ Drug for five years, and all along I have been trying to find a way out. I went to college and majored in English, but had no idea what to do with my degree after I graduated. Third shift was hopefully going to be my way out of retail since I’d have time to go back to school. My life so far has been pretty dull. I’ve worked as an assistant manager giving orders to employees who don’t want to be there and calming down customers who take their frustrations out on those reluctant employees. I put out stock, reset departments, put together displays to try to spotlight whatever products that corporate wants us to spotlight, and I make sure all the cash is accounted for. It has become pretty redundant over the years. Promotions are getting fewer with the failing economy, and the few who do get promoted are seeing less bonuses than their predecessors and have worked twice as many hours to make up for the hours cut from the employees and hourly managers. I am an hourly manager, and I am fine to stay that way until I find a new line of work. I have done all I can in this career, and I am ready to move on. I just have to figure out what I am going to move on to do. I have always wanted to be a writer in some capacity. I just need to align my career desires with actual career possibilities. Journalism is a dying art because of the technology revolution. Being a paid author is about as likely as winning the lottery. I do not want to teach. I tried teaching middle school for a year, and I ended up on anxiety medication before that year was up. Showing up to work doped up on Xanax was not exactly a way to be a good role model. So, I was going to research a few careers during the next few months, and I was going to go back to school in the fall. It seemed like the perfect situation at the time. Greenville, I knew, was where I needed to be. I cleaned the office that night top to bottom, just as I had promised. The fumes from the Spit Fire spray gave me a headache and a bit of dizziness.

Joe walked into the office and gave me a questioning look when he spotted me scrubbing the office floor. “I lost a bet, Joe,” I said smiling. He laughed. “Hey, did you happen to tell Mike that I wanted third shift?” I asked. I didn’t know who else could have told him. “No, I didn’t tell anyone. I figured you’d talk to him if you wanted to take the job,” he replied. “Hmm, I bet it was that rat bastard, Rob,” I said grumbling. “Ah, you told Rob, huh?” he said with a smirk. “I got mad at him one day, and I said something like, ‘I just need to go on third shift so I don’t have to deal with any of this bullshit’, and I guess he mentioned it to Mike,” I realized. “So, you’re getting transferred then? That’s great, right?” Joe asked. Joe was one of the third shift managers at that store, and we had many conversations about our hopes and dreams during that overlap between our shifts. He had already told me about the Greenville opening a few weeks ago. “Yes, but I wanted to ask for the transfer. Instead, Mike apparently heard from a ‘little bird’ that I wanted third shift, so he processed the transfer before I talked to him about it,” I complained. “Oh, yeah, I can see how that would throw you off guard. Well, are you happy about going third shift in Greenville, though?” he asked. “Yes, I am happy to move on to something a little different. I may go back to school if I can figure out what I want to do,” I replied. “Well, I hope you find what you’re looking for, Lisa,” he said. “I do too,” I replied wistfully. “Well, Lisa, it has been wonderful working with you, and I will give you a call sometime at your new store to see how you are doing,” Joe promised. “Thanks, Joe. There is cake in the break room if you want some. I think I have had enough. Oh, and Rob had to buy it for me since he lost a game to Mike,” I informed him. He laughed and shook his head. “Hopefully, both of us will be out of here one day, Lisa, and we can both realize our dreams,” Joe wished. “Hopefully,” I agreed.

Ms. Addy walked into the office to clock out, and I knew this was going to be a difficult good-bye. Ms. Addy doesn’t like most people, especially managers. In turn, most managers do not like Ms. Addy. She is irritable, bitter, and she can’t do much physical work because, well, she is old. When I first came to work for this Jones Drug location, I did not care for her upon our first meeting. Yet, she grew on me…like a fungus, but still. I learned how to deal with Mrs. Addy, and I learned how to make her smile. She loves to persuade customers to buy the beauty products that we promote, and she loves to see the results. Every day that I have worked for her, she has called me over to see the sales results in the beauty department. If she has worked the day before and done well, she likes to show me so that I’ll praise her. If someone else worked the day before and did badly, she likes for me to see how much the department truly needs her. I also know how to stand up to her when she is being unreasonable without being mean to her about it. I was going to miss Ms. Addy more than I was going to miss anyone else there. We had a special bond, especially as fellow English majors. I still wished I could see her articles that she wrote for newspapers a few decades ago. Over time, I found her to be quite an abysmal woman, and I wondered what wisdom was behind those eyes.  “Well, Ms. Lisa, I guess this is good-bye,” Ms. Addy said sadly. “Yes, it looks like it, Ms. Addy. Now you be nice to the new guy,” I said sternly but affectionately. “I already don’t like him. How is having another male manager going to help me in cosmetics? They don’t know anything about cosmetics, so they don’t care,” she said grumpily. “That is true, but I hear he is a very nice man,” I reassured her. “Well, I don’t like him, and he better not march in here telling me what to do,” she scoffed. I laughed. “I know you’ll give him hell, and he’ll have to either figure out how to deal with you or leave,” I said smiling. She grabbed me for a hug.

“Ms. Lisa, bad things have happened to people who’ve worked third shift at the Greenville store. There are legends, you know,” Ms. Addy warned. Joe was sitting behind us in the office, chuckling to himself. “It is true! I’m sure you’ve heard the stories, Joe. Ten years ago, there was a manager working in the stock room. She was by herself while her cashier was up front to ring up customers, if any straggled in at three in the morning. She was on a ladder getting down some stock for them to put out. She fell off that ladder and broke several bones in her body. She laid there all night bleeding inside and out with no one there to find her and help her. They say she screamed for hours, and no one heard her through that heavy door. Her cashier never checked on her because he was too busy playing his Gameboy to think about what she might be doing. The opening manager found her there, but it was too late,” Ms. Addy said darkly. Joe laughed again, “it was an accident. People fall off ladders, especially the old rickety ones we have at our stores.” I still felt chills run up my spine. “Okay, did you know about the cardboard compactor incident that happened fifteen years ago?” she asked. “No, I have not heard of that,” Joe replied cynically. “Okay, there was a man named Stephan who worked as the night shift manager in Greenville at the time. He was in the stockroom throwing away several boxes from where he had put up the product from the warehouse that night. He jabbed as many in as he could until there was no room left before he turned on the compactor.

He stood there waiting until it made a hideous noise and smoke came seeping out of it. He opened the door and crawled inside to shove the cardboard down into the compactor. Somehow, he fell inside of it and the door slammed shut. He screamed for help, but it was futile. There is no way his cashier could hear him through that door with his being all the way up front. A couple of hours passed, and the cashier started to wonder what his manager was doing. He walked into the stockroom and yelled for him. He didn’t hear or see his manager, so he went back to the front assuming he was in the office. Seven am rolled around, and the store manager arrived. Then, the potato chip vendor arrived. Mrs. Lemon, the store manager, did not have time to try to find Stephan because she had to check in the vendor. After the vendor had been checked in and put out his stock, he went to the stockroom to throw away his empty cardboard boxes. He opened the compactor, threw in the boxes, and turned on the motor. He still has nightmares about the shrill screams that he heard coming from the compactor. Smoke filled the air, and the sound of bones crushing could be heard from within the machine. He had walked away as soon as he turned on the motor, but he quickly ran back to the compactor and turned it off when he heard those blood-curdling screams. It was so dark inside of the machine that he couldn’t figure out what had made the noise. Also, smoke was rolling out of the opening. He immediately rushed to the store manager to tell her what happened. She bravely climbed into it with a flashlight with the vendor standing by. The vendor later said that her screams were almost as traumatizing to him than the ones that came from the compactor,” Ms. Addy animately narrated. “How do you know all of this, Mrs. Addy?” I asked. “I read the story in the local paper. They had video footage from the stockroom as well as the witness accounts. You know, I wrote a story about an incident that happened there thirty years ago, but it was the cashier who was killed,” she explained. “You know, Ms. Addy, I think that is all that I can stand to hear right now. I will be very careful there, I promise,” I said, cringing. “Try not to be by yourself too much. Make your cashier help you and be near you as much as possible. It only happens to people who find themselves alone a lot there,” she warned. “Yes, ma’am, Ms. Addy. I’m going to miss you,” I said smiling warmly at her. “Well, give us a call here sometime, or stop in and visit,” she suggested. “I will,” I agreed. With that, I went home filled with excitement, and well, a new fear about this new position.

-Part Two-

As I pulled into my apartment, my phone rang, and it was Greg. I hit “Quiet” and it continued to blink showing his name over and over again. A few seconds later, my voicemail chime sounded. My heart hurt, and my stomach began to churn. I hated avoiding him, but I just couldn’t deal with my relationship issues right now. I was still feeling that mix of excitement and dread about my new third shift position. I know I’m selfish, but I just didn’t want to deal with someone else right now. I walked into my apartment where my dogs immediately greeted me with a gratuitous amount of licking and jumping. “Okay, okay, I love you too, guys!” I said, heading straight for their food pantry. I fed them and refilled their water bowl, and I fell down onto the couch. I flipped on the television and mindlessly surfed the channels for something to take my mind off of everything. I decided I did want to deal with someone else’s drama that didn’t affect me, so “Grey’s Anatomy” it was. Milo, my border collie, jumped on the couch and toppled onto my lap. Milly followed, but I had to pick her up since her back has been getting weaker. Milly is my little daschund that I’ve had for ten years. She’s still loving toward me and frisky with Milo, but she is starting to have trouble walking and jumping. I don’t even want to imagine life without her.

The phone rang again, and this time I decided to answer so I wouldn’t have to figure out anymore lies to tell. “Hey, Greg, what’s up?” I said. He spoke sweetly to me, and my whole body tensed up in horrible pain. My heart felt heavy. How did I ever get myself into this? “Hey, sweetie, I was calling to see if you wanted me to come over tonight. We could watch a movie and, you know, relax,” he suggested. I knew exactly what he meant by “relax”. I definitely wasn’t in the mood for that. “I can’t, Greg, I have to be up early tomorrow morning for a meeting. I’m being transferred to Greenville for a third shift position,” I replied solemnly. “Oh, well that is good, right? You’ve wanted this for a long time. Why would they have you come in early tomorrow if you’re going to be on third shift?” he asked in his happy, bubbly voice. “I don’t know, it’s just some dumb meeting,” I replied sharply. “Okay, I didn’t know,” he said defensively. I sighed and rolled my eyes. I knew that I was being harsh with him. “I’m going to the meeting in the morning, and I will start the graveyard shift on Tuesday night. So, it’s not so bad. I’ll go to the meeting and get to know the layout of the new store as well as get introduced to this whole new set of people. It’ll be interesting. Then, I can go home and nap for awhile,” I explained a bit nicer this time. He laughed. Sometimes he laughs and I don’t know why or how what I said could be funny. It makes me wonder if what I say is funny when I’m actually trying to crack him up. “Well, that sounds like a plan. So, did you want to go out tomorrow night?” he asked anxiously. “I will call you tomorrow afternoon at some point,” I reassured him.

I sat for a moment staring at my phone. I was trapped, yet again, in a relationship that I did not want. I was going to eventually have to break his heart, but I didn’t want to think about it with everything else going on. I rolled a joint and smoked to get away from my thoughts. I sat there, breathing it in deeply, down into my chest and closed my eyes. I just had to learn to enjoy little moments and not put so much pressure on myself. I smiled to myself and cuddled with Milly. Milo was now sitting on the floor with her toy rope in her mouth, staring at me with a longing gaze. I rolled my eyes as I attempted to pull it from her grip. Her teeth were much stronger than my hand, so I gave up and told her to come join us on the couch. She sneezed from the smoke, and I laughed. I turned on some music and got lost in the moment. Mumford and Sons played for me until I drifted to sleep, still hearing the music in my dreams. Suddenly, I awoke and jumped off the couch to see what time it was. The clock read 4 am, so I had about an hour and a half left to sleep. I sat up on the couch, stretched, and staggered to my bedroom with Milo and Milly slowly following me. I set my alarm to 5:30 and quickly passed out, still wearing my work clothes and suffering from the worst case of cotton mouth.

Band of Horses blared loudly from my radio alarm clock, and I threw everything off of my dresser trying to find the thing before I finally turned it off successfully. I sighed. “It’s only for a few hours, and then I can go home and sleep,” I said to myself. I stripped off my clothes and climbed into a hot, steamy shower. I stood there for a moment, enjoying the heat and the feeling of cleanliness. I felt like crying, but the tears wouldn’t come. So, I laughed. I laughed harder than I have in a long time, but it wasn’t because I wanted to. I washed all of the soap off of me and dried off. Milo and Milly were waiting for me outside of my bathroom door. My bathroom was in my bedroom, separated only by a thin door without a lock. Even though I lived by myself, it was quite convenient. I combed my hair with my fingers and shook my head a few times so that it would look somewhat curly. I didn’t bother with work clothes since this was just a meeting, so I pulled on some jeans and buttoned up a plain white shirt. I didn’t really care too much what I looked like. I needed to figure out what kind of job that I would care about while on hiding in the third shift position. I slipped on some flats, fed my fur kids, and headed out the door.

I drove down the long country road to my new location with the windows rolled down. I didn’t get much sleep, and I still felt a little bit high, but I was feeling a strange euphoria this morning. I needed a change, and I was getting it finally. I arrived at the store at exactly 7 am, so I quickly parked and walked briskly to the entrance. I walked in and about twenty sets of eyes were on me. “Hi, I’m Lisa, the new girl,” I said nervously. Seriously, did I look at the time wrong? Was I actually late? “Everyone, this is Ms. Lisa, she will be our new third shift manager. Why don’t you all introduce yourselves to her? We’ll start over here with you, Ellen,” Mrs. Steepleton annouced. All of the employees and managers who worked at this location were there, and they introduced themselves. I immediately forgot all of their names. “Okay, guys, we are here today because I need to address the problems that I’ve noticed with all of you here lately,” Mrs. Steepleton announced as she handed out a memo to each of us outlining each problem that she had with everyone. As she began to speak, a customer walked in and looked very confused. “Are you open?” a lady with a tooth missing and badly bleached hair asked timidly. “Yes, we are, what can I help you find?” the assistant store manager asked eagerly. “I just need cigarettes, ma’am,” the lady replied, “I’m so sorry to interrupt y’all.” “No, no, we are here to serve you,” Mrs. Lewis, the assistant, replied apologetically. I covered my mouth so no one could notice my laughing. Everyone was standing there staring at Mrs. Lewis and the poor, confused woman just wanting to feed her habit. “Okay, guys, let’s start from the top. Maria, read to me the first sentence on the paper,” Mrs. Steepleton instructed. “The villagers are running amuck!” Maria read enthusiastically. A couple of people laughed. “That’s right, Maria, that is what is happening right now. Read the first bulleted line for me,” Mrs. Steepleton instructed. “A lunch break is thirty minutes and a 15 minute break is 15 minutes. You must take a thirty minute break if you…” Maria started. “Yes, thank you Maria, but I just wanted you to read the first line,” Mrs. Steepleton corrected. I rolled my eyes looking down at the memo. Mike would never have done something like this. He just wrote people up when they did something wrong, and he fired people if they continued to screw up. I hated this store already.

“Okay, all of you are free to go except for the managers. We are going to have a managers’ meeting in my office,” Mrs. Steepleton said. “Except for us who have to work, right?” John, the first shift front cashier, asked. “Um, yeah,” Mrs. Steepleton answered as someone slapped him on the back of his shaved head. He had tattoos going up and down both arms and a lip ring hanging from his mouth. “Get that ring out, John! You know better,” Mrs. Lewis shouted at him. He shook his head and took it out and put it in his pocket. I had no idea where the office was, so I tried to follow the managers, but they were all going in different directions. “Where is the meeting?” I asked Mrs. Steepleton. “Oh, it is in the office, I’ll be in there in a minute,” she replied as she rushed off to the other side of the store. I asked the wrong question. “Mrs. Lewis!” I shouted. She kept walking and talking to one of the older employees. “Where is the office?!” I shouted. “It’s over here, just follow me, geez,” the male manager replied, annoyed. I couldn’t even remember his name, but I didn’t really want to as rude as he was. I followed him into the office, and Mrs. Lewis and the other female manger came in behind us. “Mrs. Steepleton will be in here in a minute. She had something to take care of,” Mrs. Lewis replied. The male manager snorted. Mrs. Lewis gave him a knowing look, and he whispered an apology. There were two books propped up against the computer in Mrs. Steepleton’s office. They were both about leadership. It’s never a good sign to have to read books on leadership in your work office.

Mrs. Steepleton came in and sat down. “Alright, everyone, this is Lisa, she’s going to be alternating third shift with Amanda,” she began. Amanda waved at me. “Well, you don’t have very big shoes to fill,” the male manager joked. I laughed. “Jeff is a really short guy,” Amanda explained. “I know Jeff. We went on a blind date a long time ago,” I revealed, trying to break the ice. “Wow, you must have been blind to go out with him,” Mrs. Steepleton replied. Everyone laughed. ‘Professional’ was not the word to describe these people. “Well, it was just one date,” I explained. “I would hope so,” Mrs. Steepleton replied. She was definitely a mean girl when she was in high school. “Seriously, though, Jeff was useless. He didn’t hardly do anything here, and he didn’t give us a notice. He just handed in his keys and said, ‘Peace’,” Mrs. Lewis added. “Wow, that is pretty unprofessional,” I replied mockingly. “Oh, I’m so glad God sent you to us,” Mrs. Lewis said smiling. I smiled back uncomfortably. “Apparently he got a job as a parking garage manager. What the hell do you even do as a parking garage manager?” Bob asked, laughing. I finally noticed the male manager’s name tag. Everyone continued laughing at Jeff, and I wondered if they’d ever make fun of me that way. I really didn’t care because I was totally going to make fun of this entire ridiculous meeting to Joe. I couldn’t wait to call him and tell him what idiots I was now working with. As I was walking to my car, Amanda stopped me. “So, has anyone told you about the weird sounds in the store at night?” she asked, smiling. “No, but I have heard some horror stories about third shift at this store,” I replied nervously. She laughed. “Just be prepared. Not all of the noises that you’ll hear can be blamed on the rats or the building settling. It can get pretty weird sometimes,” she explained. “Okay, well, I don’t believe in ghosts, so I’m not too worried about it,” I replied, annoyed with this whole situation. She laughed again, and waved goodbye to me. I shook my head and didn’t give it much more thought. I drove home and finally felt my lack of sleep affecting me. I turned up the music and rolled down the windows to keep myself awake.

My phone buzzed, and I knew that it was Greg texting me. When I pulled into my parking lot, I decided to read the text. Oh, he was so predictable. “Hi, babe. After you nap, let’s hang out,” the text read. I rolled my eyes as hard as I could roll them. I did not want to see him. I wanted to spend the day with myself, and maybe with my dogs. I got out of my car and headed to my apartment, shoving my phone back into my purse without replying. “Lisa, how’s it going?” Brad, one of my neighbors, shouted from a few feet away. “Hey, Brad, headed to work?” I asked. “Yes, working on the weekend sucks,” he lamented. “I know what you mean. I’m hoping to someday get out of retail hell,” I said half-jokingly. “Well, I’ll see you around, Lisa,” he said with a smile that lit up the whole run-down parking lot. Man, why couldn’t I go out with a guy like that? I shouldn’t think that way, but I couldn’t help it. I wondered if I could ever get tired of that face? He was definitely on my list of future possibilities, even if he didn’t know it. I walked into my parking lot, and Milo immediately jumped on me and drowned me in doggie kisses. “I see you, I love you, too! We will walk after I nap, buddy,” I said through giggles. I threw down my purse, slipped off my shoes, and laid down on the couch. I smoked a joint and fell asleep with the sun shining on me from the living room window with the slightly opened blinds. It reminded me a little of lying on the beach. It was fun to escape to places like that in my mind sometimes. As I fell into a deeper sleep, I began to dream. I dreamed that I was ringing up customers in that store. I felt like I had been there for hours and couldn’t leave. Then, I noticed that all of the customers had something in common: none of them had eyes. They just had black holes where there should be eyes. I was the only person who seemed to notice this as an unusual thing. I felt terrified, and I wanted to leave so I yelled, “Help!” to Mrs. Steepleton. Mrs. Steepleton and Amanda were there, and they began laughing at me loudly. Then the ceiling began to leak and water began sprinkling on my arm. I woke up screaming, and Milly was on top of me, furiously licking my arm.

March 9, 2012

My first horror story-in the works

Filed under: horror,story — desi83 @ 9:28 am
Tags: ,

(Don’t have a title yet; open to suggestions!)

“Lisa, could you come in here for a moment, please?” my boss said from his office. I could see Rob sitting down in the chair in the office. Mike always had a witness with him when he called someone into the office to be disciplined, or if he was going to give said person some bad news. Either way, dread spread through my body. My head tingled, and I felt my feet become heavy as I made my way to the office. “Yes sir?” I said timidly. “Have a seat, Lisa. I have some news for you,” Mike announced calmly. He had this calm, confident demeanor about him through all situations. I have seen this man deal with the worst of humankind, and nothing ever seems to crack him. “Alright, you are either going to hate me or love me for this,” he preceded. I closed my eyes. “Okay,” I said awkwardly. Damn it, why can’t I be as cool as him in these situations? I am such a scared little person. “Well, I heard that you were interested in third shift from a ‘little bird’ here, so I emailed Mr. Davis. You are being transferred to Greenville,” he announced. Rob winked at me. I sighed deeply. “I was actually going to ask you about the possibility of doing that today, sir, so you beat me to the punch,” I said happily. I felt my body relax. I had been wanting the graveyard shift for awhile.
“Greenville is a good place to work third shift. There is virtually no crime there, it is a quiet town, and it is not far from where you live. You will probably save about 20 bucks a week on gas as to compared to driving to this store. Also, you can go back to school or whatever you want to do since it’ll be seven days on and seven days off. You’ll just have to lose sleep during your weeks on if you want to do anything,” he reassured me.
“When do I start?” I asked.
“You need to be there tomorrow morning at 7 am for a store meeting, and then you will start on Tuesday night,” he replied with a smile.
“But I’m working until eleven tonight,” I replied, annoyed.
“It would be preferable for you to make it to the meeting,” he said sternly.
“Fine, yes, you are right,” I responded.
“Okay, well, since it is your last day at this store, why don’t we play some stockroom basketball for old time’s sake?” he asked jubilantly.
“Okay,” I said with a chuckle.
“What are the stakes?” Rob asked.
“Okay, Lisa. If you lose, you have to clean my office top to bottom,” he answered.
“What if I win?” I asked smiling slyly.
“If you win, you can leave a half an hour early. But if you lose, you have to spend that last half hour cleaning the office. How does that sound?” he asked.
“Well, so far, sir, you are undefeated, but I will take that challenge,” I said confidently.
Rob, Mike, and I walked into the stockroom to play basketball with giant beach balls and two huge cardboard boxes.
“Okay, Lisa, I’m going to put this box inside of this bigger box. It’s two points for the outside box, three points for the inside box. Actually, that is the point system for you. For me, it is one point for the outside box, and two points for the inside box. That way you have a little advantage since you’re playing the reigning champion,” he said graciously.
“Okay, as long as you aren’t doing it because I’m a girl,” I said defensively.
“No, he gave me the same advantage,” Rob said, “and he still won.”
“Okay, Lisa, stand behind this piece of tape and toss the ball in,” Mike suggested.
“Okay, here goes nothing,” I said as I bent my knees and hurdled the ball toward the boxes. It went right over them.
“Oh, wow, too much power behind that shot,” Rob said laughing.
“I’m just warming up,” I said confidently.
“Hey now, what is going on in here?” Melinda asked as she walked in the stockroom with her cart full of fixtures from the reset she was doing. “I’m out here working my ass off, and this is what the bosses are doing?” she scoffed.
“It’s Lisa’s last day here, so we’re giving her a little goodbye party,” Mike said as he approached the little strip of tape on the floor.
“Oh, wow, she’s leaving?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m moving to Greenville to work third shift,” I replied.
“Mmph,” she said as she went about her work. We didn’t get along most of time. She tended to make snide remarks to me hinting of her jealousy, and I got onto her quite often for slacking off. Sometimes I hated being a manager because I often thought it would be so much easier only be responsible for my work instead of everyone else’s.
“Oh, two points!” Mike shouted when he made the inside box.
“2-0, you’re up!” Rob shouted.
“You guys didn’t tell me there was a game going on!” Chris said as he entered our makeshift basketball court.
“It’s Lisa’s last day, so we had to have one last game with her,” Mike replied.
“Yes, I’ve already beaten you this week, Chris, so now I have to beat Mike,” I said teasing him.
“When did you beat me?” he asked.
“We played a little paper wad basketball at the register the other day, and I beat you,” I reminded him. “Oh, that so does not count,” he said laughing. I made my way to the strip of tape, and I softly threw the ball this time as throwing it hard did not work last time. It barely touched the edge of the outside box and rolled back to me. “Oh, this is going to be really bad,” I lamented. We made a few more shots, and Mike was ahead 8-0.
“Okay, this is the last shot. If I make it to 10 points, you’ll be cleaning my office,” he gloated.
“It’s not over yet, Mike,” I said with an evil smile. I was up, and I bent my knees, focused on the inside box, and tossed the ball. It flew over both boxes.
“Rob, go grab that ball for me, will you?” Mike said. Rob obediently ran to fetch the ball for him. Rob was his lackey, or so I called him. He wanted a promotion so badly, so he did whatever Mike told him to. “Okay, Lisa, here goes nothing,” Mike said as he smoothly tossed the ball directly into the 2-point box. “I can’t wait to see my clean office tomorrow!” he said triumphantly. “Okay, Rob, let’s play to 10 points to see who is going to buy Lisa’s goodbye cake,” he suggested.
“Hmmm, can it be any cake? I can buy her a Hostess cake off the shelf then?” Rob said with a smirk. Rob was glad to be rid of me. I was out-performing him even though he was technically above me, so with me gone, it would make him look better.
“No, Rob, it will be a cake of her choice from Publix,” Mike corrected him.
“Alright, I’m bringing my A game today,” he said as he stepped to the line of tape.
“So, you are really leaving us?” Chris asked me.
“Yes, apparently a ‘little bird’ told Mike that I wanted to be transferred. I was kind of caught off guard since I was planning on approaching Mike about it. Even though it is what I wanted, I’m kind of pissed that they beat me to the punch,” I replied.
“Man, that is crazy. We’re going to miss you here, Lisa. But I’m glad it’s working out for you,” he said while pulling stock from the shelves and loading it on his cart.
“I’m going to miss you too, Chris,” I said. We stood looking at each other for a moment.
“Well, keep in touch, alright?” he said diverting his eyes from me.
“We always have Facebook,” I said with a laugh.
“Oh yes, there is that,” he said smiling.
“Oh, looks like Rob is buying your cake, Lisa!” Mike said, gloating.
“Well, Rob, I would like a red velvet cake, please,” I said slyly.
“No problem, your highness,” he replied.
“Alright, guys get back to work, enough funny business,” Mike shouted.
“Yeah, okay,” I said giggling.
“Hey Lisa, wait up,” Mike said. “Okay, just because this is your last day, it doesn’t mean it is time to slack off. This is the day to give me your best work because you always want to leave a great impression every time that you leave a place,” he advised.
“I know that, Mike. I always work hard for you,” I said, slightly offended.
“Okay, well, it really has been a pleasure working with you, Lisa. I know at that store you’ll be like a comet shooting through the night, changing the way they do things. Their last couple of third shift managers didn’t make much of an impression, so they’ll be glad to have someone who works hard,” Mike said. I smiled, and went on working on the project that I’d left earlier.
I’ve been at Jones’ Drug for five years, and all along I have been trying to find a way out. I went to college and majored in English, but had no idea what to do with my degree after I graduated. Third shift was hopefully going to be my way out of retail since I’d have time to go back to school. My life so far has been pretty dull. I’ve worked as an assistant manager giving orders to employees who don’t want to be there and calming down customers who take their frustrations out on those reluctant employees. I put out stock, reset departments, put together displays to try to spotlight whatever products that corporate wants us to spotlight, and I make sure all the cash is accounted for. It has become pretty redundant over the years. Promotions are getting fewer with the failing economy, and the few who do get promoted are seeing less bonuses than their predecessors and have worked twice as many hours to make up for the hours cut from the employees and hourly managers. I am an hourly manager, and I am fine to stay that way until I find a new line of work. I have done all I can in this career, and I am ready to move on. I just have to figure out what I am going to move on to do. I have always wanted to be a writer in some capacity. I just need to align my career desires with actual career possibilities. Journalism is a dying art because of the technology revolution. Being a paid author is about as likely as winning the lottery. I do not want to teach. I tried teaching middle school for a year, and I ended up on anxiety medication before that year was up. Showing up to work doped up on Xanax was not exactly a way to be a good role model. So, I was going to research a few careers during the next few months, and I was going to go back to school in the fall. It seemed like the perfect situation at the time. Greenville, I knew, was where I needed to be. I cleaned the office that night top to bottom, just as I had promised. The fumes from the Spit Fire spray gave me a headache and a bit of dizziness. Joe walked into the office and gave me a questioning look when he spotted me scrubbing the office floor. “I lost a bet, Joe,” I said smiling. He laughed.
“Hey, did you happen to tell Mike that I wanted third shift?” I asked. I didn’t know who else could have told him.
“No, I didn’t tell anyone. I figured you’d talk to him if you wanted to take the job,” he replied.
“Hmm, I bet it was that rat bastard, Rob,” I said grumbling.
“Ah, you told Rob, huh?” he said with a smirk.
“I got mad at him one day, and I said something like, ‘I just need to go on third shift so I don’t have to deal with any of this bullshit’, and I guess he mentioned it to Mike,” I realized.
“So, you’re getting transferred then? That’s great, right?” Joe asked. Joe was one of the third shift managers at that store, and we had many conversations about our hopes and dreams during that overlap between our shifts. He had already told me about the Greenville opening a few weeks ago.
“Yes, but I wanted to ask for the transfer. Instead, Mike apparently heard from a ‘little bird’ that I wanted third shift, so he processed the transfer before I talked to him about it,” I complained.
“Oh, yeah, I can see how that would throw you off guard. Well, are you happy about going third shift in Greenville, though?” he asked.
“Yes, I am happy to move on to something a little different. I may go back to school if I can figure out what I want to do,” I replied.
“Well, I hope you find what you’re looking for, Lisa,” he said.
“I do too,” I replied wistfully.
“Well, Lisa, it has been wonderful working with you, and I will give you a call sometime at your new store to see how you are doing,” Joe promised.
“Thanks, Joe. There is cake in the break room if you want some. I think I have had enough. Oh, and Rob had to buy it for me since he lost a game to Mike,” I informed him. He laughed and shook his head.
“Hopefully, both of us will be out of here one day, Lisa, and we can both realize our dreams,” Joe wished. “Hopefully,” I agreed.
Ms. Addy walked into the office to clock out, and I knew this was going to be a difficult good-bye. Ms. Addy doesn’t like most people, especially managers. In turn, most managers do not like Ms. Addy. She is irritable, bitter, and she can’t do much physical work because, well, she is old. When I first came to work for this Jones Drug location, I did not care for her upon our first meeting. Yet, she grew on me…like a fungus, but still. I learned how to deal with Mrs. Addy, and I learned how to make her smile. She loves to persuade customers to buy the beauty products that we promote, and she loves to see the results. Every day that I have worked for her, she has called me over to see the sales results in the beauty department. If she has worked the day before and done well, she likes to show me so that I’ll praise her. If someone else worked the day before and did badly, she likes for me to see how much the department truly needs her. I also know how to stand up to her when she is being unreasonable without being mean to her about it. I was going to miss Ms. Addy more than I was going to miss anyone else there. We had a special bond, especially as fellow English majors. I still wished I could see her articles that she wrote for newspapers a few decades ago.
“Well, Ms. Lisa, I guess this is good-bye,” Ms. Addy said sadly.
“Yes, it looks like it, Ms. Addy. Now you be nice to the new guy,” I said sternly but affectionately.
“I already don’t like him. How is having another male manager going to help me in cosmetics? They don’t know anything about cosmetics, so they don’t care,” she said grumpily.
“That is true, but I hear he is a very nice man,” I reassured her.
“Well, I don’t like him, and he better not march in here telling me what to do,” she scoffed. I laughed. “I know you’ll give him hell, and he’ll have to either figure out how to deal with you or leave,” I said smiling. She grabbed me for a hug.
“Ms. Lisa, bad things have happened to people who’ve worked third shift at the Greenville store. There are legends, you know,” Ms. Addy warned. Joe was sitting behind us in the office, chuckling to himself. “It is true! I’m sure you’ve heard the stories, Joe. Ten years ago, there was a manager working in the stock room. She was by herself while her cashier was up front to ring up customers, if any straggled in at three in the morning. She was on a ladder getting down some stock for them to put out. She fell off that ladder and broke several bones in her body. She laid there all night bleeding inside and out with no one there to find her and help her. They say she screamed for hours, and no one heard her through that heavy door. Her cashier never checked on her because he was too busy playing his Gameboy to think about what she might be doing. The opening manager found her there, but it was too late,” Ms. Addy said darkly. Joe laughed again, “it was an accident. People fall off ladders, especially the old rickety ones we have at our stores.” I still felt chills run up my spine.
“Okay, did you know about the cardboard compactor incident that happened fifteen years ago?” she asked. “No, I have not heard of that,” Joe replied cynically. “Okay, there was a man named Stephan who worked as the night shift manager in Greenville at the time. He was in the stockroom throwing away several boxes from where he had put up the product from the warehouse that night. He jabbed as many in as he could until there was no room left before he turned on the compactor.He stood there waiting until it made a hideous noise and smoke came seeping out of it. He opened the door and crawled inside to shove the cardboard down into the compactor. Somehow, he fell inside of it and the door slammed shut. He screamed for help, but it was futile. There is no way his cashier could hear him through that door with his being all the way up front. A couple of hours passed, and the cashier started to wonder what his manager was doing. He walked into the stockroom and yelled for him. He didn’t hear or see his manager, so he went back to the front assuming he was in the office. Seven am rolled around, and the store manager arrived. Then, the potato chip vendor arrived. Mrs. Lemon, the store manager, did not have time to try to find Stephan because she had to check in the vendor. After the vendor had been checked in and put out his stock, he went to the stockroom to throw away his empty cardboard boxes. He opened the compactor, threw in the boxes, and turned on the motor. He still has nightmares about the shrill screams that he heard coming from the compactor. Smoke filled the air, and the sound of bones crushing could be heard from within the machine. He had walked away as soon as he turned on the motor, but he quickly ran back to the compactor and turned it off when he heard those blood-curdling screams. It was so dark inside of the machine that he couldn’t figure out what had made the noise. Also, smoke was rolling out of the opening. He immediately rushed to the store manager to tell her what happened. She bravely climbed into it with a flashlight with the vendor standing by. The vendor later said that her screams were almost as traumatizing to him than the ones that came from the compactor,” Ms. Addy animately narrated.
“How do you know all of this, Mrs. Addy?” I asked. “I read the story in the local paper. They had video footage from the stockroom as well as the witness accounts. You know, I wrote a story about an incident that happened there thirty years ago, but it was the cashier who was killed,” she explained.
“You know, Ms. Addy, I think that is all that I can stand to hear right now. I will be very careful there, I promise,” I said, cringing.
“Try not to be by yourself too much. Make your cashier help you and be near you as much as possible. It only happens to people who find themselves alone a lot there,” she warned.
“Yes, ma’am, Ms. Addy. I’m going to miss you,” I said smiling warmly at her.
“Well, give us a call here sometime, or stop in and visit,” she suggested.
“I will,” I agreed. With that, I went home filled with excitement, and well, a new fear about this new position.

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