No, not an attempt to get hits. Just the next piece of my serial horror story.
Melanie startled awake, drenched in sweat. She’d been dreaming about something huge with long vicious teeth chasing her down the hall. She threw the sheet off and realized that it was sticking to her crotch. She’d wet herself in her sleep. Her face flushed and she gingerly pushed the damp fabric away. Light struggled through the blinds and she looked at the clock. It was almost nine.
“What the hell was in that pill?” She got out of bed and gathered the wet sheets. The smell of her own piss made her wrinkle her nose. One decent thing the apartment had was a washer and dryer.
“Elard?” She yelled before she kicked the door to her room open. There was no answer. She had a moment of panic and envisioned finding him hanging from the ceiling fan in the middle of their living room. Thankfully it was the paranoid delusion brought on by nightmare filled sleep.
The washer and dryer was in their bathroom closet. She threw the sheets in and took off her clothes, adding them to the mix. Once she had it going she turned on the shower and waited for it to warm up. The tile was cold under her bare feet and there was a chill in the air. They kept the heat turned low to save on utility bills. She looked at herself in the mirror and gasped. There were big dark circles under her eyes and her hair was a stringy mess. She felt like crawling back into bed, but with no sheets it wouldn’t have been quite as effective.
She climbed into the shower and washed herself thoroughly. She even went so far as to shave her legs and pits. It made her feel human. She didn’t leave the shower until the water started to develop a chill. Once she was out and toweled off, she got into her bathrobe and that’s when she heard the front door open and close.
“Elard?” Her voice was barely above a whisper. Of course it was him. But she didn’t hear the person unlock the deadbolt. The footfalls were heavier than Elard’s usual even, light step. She whimpered and backed away from the thin, hollow door separating her from whoever it was out there. She might have pissed herself again if it wasn’t for the fact that her bladder was empty.
“Mel, you awake?” Elard’s voice boomed from the kitchen.
“Elard? I’m in the bathroom.” Her voice sounded stronger than she did. She held out her hands and willed them to stop shaking. Once she was sure she wouldn’t fly into a thousand pieces she walked out of the bathroom and into the living room.
He came out of the kitchen, wearing blue jeans, a black turtleneck, and a purple sweatshirt that had been cut to ribbons. “I got us groceries.”
“But it’s only the fifteenth. We usually don’t get groceries for another week.” The cupboard was getting pretty bare.
“I grabbed your card. You have that five hundred dollars, right?”
The money. The blood money. She balled up her fists and started swinging her hands and screaming. The first few clumsy punches missed him, but he let the next few catch him in the chest. “I wasn’t going to use that. It’s dirty. Damn you.”
Eventually he caught her hands and with effort managed to hold on to them. “Calm down, Mel. It may be dirty, but we could use the groceries and fuck this guy.”
She stopped fighting and felt all of the anger and energy drain out of her. “Yeah, fuck this guy.” She fell to the floor on her butt and cradled her head in her hands.
“Look, let me fix you breakfast and we’ll get started. You go get dressed before you have any more of a wardrobe malfunction.” He turned and walked into the kitchen.
She looked down and saw that her tobe gaped open. She pulled it shut, tied it off, and went to her bedroom. A clean pair of jeans and a long sleeved tee shirt later and she stood in the kitchen, inhaling the aroma of bacon and coffee. “I’m sorry.”
Elard turned from the cooking bacon, tongs in hand. “Don’t worry about it. My sister hits harder than that and she’d only eleven. You had a seriously fucked up day and it’s not going to get better anytime soon. We’ll eat and plan. You’ll feel a little better every day.”
“I wish I could be as sure about that as you are. Why are you so sure?” She walked over to the coffee pot. “Hey, we have a fucking coffee pot.” She opened the cabinet door and pulled down a mug.
“Yeah it was like fifteen bucks. No more of that instant crap.” He looked from the bacon to her. “I think I told you that I had some pretty bad stuff happen to me when I was a kid, right?”
She sipped the strong, black brew and nodded, moaning. “Damn that’s good. Yeah, but you never told me what.”
“Not very many people know. My mom was killed not long after my sister was born. Someone came into our house and held us up. When they couldn’t get the money they wanted they blew her head off. Did it right in front of me and the baby girl. I felt like shit about it for years. I was this big, bad twelve year old and I thought I should have been able to stop a grown ass man from killing my mom.”
“You were just a kid. There was-”
They said “nothing you could do” in unison. “Exactly. This woman was hurt bad and there was nothing you could do and no way you could have known. I got better with therapy. You will too.”
“They ever catch the guy?”
Elard shook his head. “No. Probably never will. Personally, he’s the one son of a bitch I’d like to see fried crisper than this bacon. But he probably OD’d in an alley somewhere.” He transferred the bacon to paper towels.
She took a piece and nibbled at it. Then she shoved the whole piece in her mouth and chewed noisily.
Elard laughed. “You act like you haven’t had a decent meal in months.”
She swallowed the bacon and with a healthy slug of coffee she nodded. “I have, just not bacon cooked so expertly.”
“I worked a short order job for a summer at the beach when I was sixteen. I learned how to make crispy bacon and the secret to good oral sex that year. Oddly enough, in both cases it’s patience.”
She laughed, snorting coffee through her nose.
They finished breakfast and cleanup. Melanie drank a second cup of coffee and made it last for thirty minutes while she watched Elard go through his morning yoga.
“I’m going out for a jog and then I’m going by the library. I’ve got snooping to do.” He had changed into a pair of shorts that would make Richard Simmons proud or scandalized and wore a long sleeved black shirt that hugged him tightly.
She nodded. “I need to research what we talked about last night.”
He shut the door and she fired up her laptop. It was three years old, but Elard kept it running in tip top shape. He took good care of her. She wondered if she brought as much to their friendship as he did. When she asked him about it once he just told her that she was his bitch and he was hers and things would level out one day.
She had access to a number of newspaper and periodical databases thanks to her status as a student. She had also done an internship the past summer to the local newspaper and her mentor had showed her several tricks of the trade. Before lunch she had a number of files saved that included mysterious deaths and hospitalizations. She didn’t know exactly what she was looking for, but anything that caught her eye got dumped into the to be read file.
When she got tired of pouring over the grim and grisly business of offing your fellow humans, she turned attention to the owner of that thrift shop. She didn’t remember the name of the shop, but a quick search of the address told her that the name was Second Hand Rose. The owner’s name was not, in fact, Rose. It was Felicia Trainor. She’d owned the shop for two years. According to her Facebook page, the shop was quite popular with the local soccer mom set.
More trolling on social networking and city and county public records showed her that Felicia had run similar shops in other cities. She moved every couple of years. If the pattern continued she was going to make the move again soon. Whoever it was that wanted her harmed must have known that. One of her searches turned up something interesting. Felicia had been put on trial on drug charges. The charges including possession with intent to sell. She couldn’t find any record of jail time, but that was an area she wasn’t familiar with. She’d need to find out how hard it was to snoop a person’s criminal record. Employers had to be able to do background checks.
Maybe the killer was another dealer she’d pissed off? That made a little sense to her. She looked up at the clock and realized that it was nearly lunch time. The smell of frying bacon still hung in the air, but it didn’t smell as good as it had when it was fresh. She looked in the fridge and made herself a sandwich and took grapes and an apple. They all went in a small backpack with a bottle of water. She slung it over one shoulder and went out back to get her bike.
The afternoon was cool and sunny, the sun brutally bright. She unlocked her bike and pushed off, jumping into the seat and peddling furiously. The rolling mount was left over from childhood, meant to impress her best friend Maegan. She hadn’t been peddling for more than two minutes when she realized there was a car behind her. She slowed down, intending to let it pass, but it didn’t. She hopped the bike up onto the sidewalk and pulled to a stop, taking her water bottle out.
While she swallowed several long draughts of cool water, she looked around. When she saw the BMW she choked. It had to be the same one from yesterday. She tried to be as nonchalant as possible in putting the bottle back and mounting her bike. She headed up the sidewalk, still in the same direction. When she passed a house with an open yard that backed up to a house with no fences, she swung onto the grass and pumped her legs hard. In thirty seconds she was on the street running parallel to the one she’d just been on. She doubled back in the direction of her apartment,
The car would have to go at least a block further to make a cross street. She cut back over to the original street, making a circuit. If the car was still on this street she would do the same thing in the other direction and head as fast as she could towards campus. It was nowhere to be found.
Had she imagined the whole thing? She couldn’t be sure. Fear did funny things. Her appetite had flown the coop, but she needed the energy. She road to a nearby park frequented by young moms and their toddlers and ate there. The sound of laughter warmed the chill in her soul.