It seemed as though my prayers had been answered. I had been feeling isolated and lonely, longing for the touch of hands that weren’t my own. Male hands that would roam over my body awakening and satiating the primal urges every heterosexual woman feels from time to time. The past weeks had been especially hard on me and now here I was leading a stranded and very good looking, charming stranger to my home.
My golden retriever, Christine did not seem to share my enthusiasm. She had taken an instant dislike to the handsome stranger. I stocked it up to the distinct of aroma of marijuana that surrounded him. She had never liked the smell of weed. On the half mile walk back to my house from his car she had firmly wedged herself between us. Any time he seemed to step to close to me, a low growl sounded in her throat.
He seemed to be a good sport about it though and respected her need for space, walking alongside me but keeping a good 3 foot barrier between us. I had offered my phone to call the mechanic in town 15 miles away and he had accepted, even bringing his weed along at my suggestion. I was looking forward to having a hoot. I had not partaken in the drug since moving here months ago. Let’s face it. You didn’t go into the local grocery or drug store in a small town where every one knows every one and ask where you could score some green.
On my weekly trip to town to buy groceries and stop at the post office, I had on a couple of occasions stopped into the local saloon to have a cold beer only to find older….much older gentlemen sharing a pitcher of draught beer and complaining about whatever happened to be getting under their skin at the time. Things like the weather, the fish not biting, the kids today! It always went silent whenever I walked in before they would tip their hats hello, then go back to their conversation.
It appeared that the younger crowd opted to travel to the city about 40 miles away to get their rock on, their rocks off, score their weed, etc. That was a little far for me to go….besides, I hadn’t even realized I missed having a toke until I had smelled it on him. We walked slowly and talked. He told me how he was visiting the country. He was a writer and was recently suffering from writer’s block. He explained he had decided to take a hiatus, wanting to travel and perhaps gain new perspective and inspiration for a novel he was writing. When I asked him what his novel was about, he chuckled and said, “I doubt it would be your cup of tea, dear lady. I write horror.”
My grin turned into an all out smile. “I LOVE the macabre,” I exclaimed. “Stephen King is one of my all time favorite writers! In fact, Christine here,” I said, leaning down and giving Christine a rub under her jaw, “was named for King’s evil Plymouth Fury! I suppose Cujo might have been a more fitting name for a dog, but it just didn’t suit her….did it Christine?” I finished, giving Christine a harder rub and talking directly to her. Christine, basking the affection returned it by licking my hand and waging her tail furiously.
We approached the stairs leading to my door and he stepped closer to follow me in. Christine’s tail stopped immediately, the growl returning only this time she also bared her teeth at him in warning. “Christine!” I scolded her harshly, embarrassed by her reaction. “You be nice!” I reprimanded as I looked to him in apology. What the hell had gotten into her? She whined softly, obviously torn between her natural instincts of wanting to protect me and please me.
I led him into the house and headed straight to the living room to the phone. “I’ll give Joe a call,” I said over my shoulder.
“Let me ring him up,” he said. “I’ll need to give him the AAA number the rental agency gave me,” he replied hurriedly, darting past me and taking the phone from my hands. I surrendered the phone to hold back Christine who now really had her hair up. I thought it a little strange that he insisted…AND tempted the wrath of my dog to stop me from making the call… but only for a moment and dismissed it immediately as I recited the number for him. I was amazed by how easily I had gotten into the habit of memorizing phone numbers again. Cell phones had almost made the art obsolete with contact listings or google searches allowing you to just hit a name and having your call connected. I headed back into the kitchen while he made the call. I could hear him clearly as he spoke to Joe.
After briefly explaining his dilemma to the mechanic, he called out to me. “Luv, where am I?”
“Tell him you’re at Devine’s, he knows where I live,” I replied returning to the doorway so I didn’t have to raise my voice. He looked at me inquiringly, raising one eyebrow. I shrugged, “My parents were hippies.”
“Yes, I am at Devine’s,” he spoke into the phone. He was silent for a moment, apparently listening to Joe’s reply then answering, “No bother, when you can get here is fine.” He hung up the phone and I mentioned he hadn’t given Joe the AAA number.
“Drat! Oh well, I’ll give it to him when he comes. He said he was tied up with another emergency but assured me he would be here within a couple of hours. Do you mind if I enjoy your lovely company until he arrives?”
“Not at all,” I replied but the passion that had initially gripped me at the sight of him was now shifting to a slight feeling of uneasiness. First of all, Christine’s reaction to him unsettled me, then his insistence on making the call himself, and finally, having to tell Joe where he was calling from. When I first moved here, I had multiple issues with my little Honda and had to call Joe many times. My number always showed up on his caller ID display and he had gotten into the habit of answering my calls with “Hello pretty lady, what can I do for you this time?” Perhaps he hadn’t checked the number before answering the phone, but if he hadn’t, it was a first.
“Would you like a glass of wine?” I asked as he followed me back to the kitchen and took a seat at the end of the island. Christine was at my heels and I imagined he had figured he had pushed his luck with the dog far enough and was keeping a safe distance. Though my mind was sending me warning signals, my body had needs that longed to be fulfilled and a glass or two of wine would surely loosen me up again.
“A glass of red would be lovely if you have it, Devine,” he said politely.
“I do,” I said pulling a nice Pinot Noir from the wine shelf, “and call me Dee, all my friends do.”
“Right, Dee it is.” He pulled the baggie from his pocket and started rolling a joint. I poured two glasses and reached for crackers and cheese. It may have been awhile since I had company but that didn’t mean I forgot how to be a proper hostess. “Where shall we smoke this?” he asked holding up the perfectly rolled fat joint.
Normally I would have suggested we go outside to the patio, but after a quick glance out the window at the increasingly darkening sky I smiled, “Here is fine.” I grabbed an ashtray and his glass of wine and set it down in front of him. I nearly tripped over Christine who was sticking so close to me she was getting under my feet. I turned and grabbed my own glass and the plate of cheese and crackers before settling down on the stool across from him. He sparked the joint, took a long deep draw and passed it to me. I repeated the action and felt the hot smoke burn my throat as I pulled it deep into my lungs. Coughing as I exhaled I choked out an apology, “It’s been awhile,” I laughed.
He laughed with me and we engaged in the usual small talk as we smoked and drank….I did much better with the subsequent draws. I noticed Christine was still at my feet. I had expected her to retire to the other room when I started to smoke. Huh…maybe it wasn’t the smell that was bothering her. He turned the conversation to me, asking what I did for a living. I told him I was a writer as well, or at least trying to be. He didn’t ask what I wrote, instead replying, “I thought you were going to tell me you were a housewife. Speaking of which, when do you expect your husband to arrive home?”
Oh, I’m not married, I live here alone.” I regretted my words as soon as they were out of my mouth.
“Really?” he spoke softly, his eyes becoming dark and glittering. “No one to interrupt us then.” His eyes roamed over me and I could them on my skin. It was more a leer than a gaze and it felt slimy, dirty. My spidey senses weren’t just tingling, they were ringing out loud alarms of ‘Stranger Danger, Beware, Stranger Danger’. As if to emphasize the ominous moment, thunder clapped directly over the house and it started to pour. I jumped at the sound and Christine whined and trembled at my feet. She was afraid of storms and her fear wasn’t helping me.
I laughed nervously, “Well, Joe should be here soon.” Feeling very uncomfortable with being alone with him, I tried to reason with myself that it was probably the weed making me paranoid, but those damn inner alarms kept sounding off in my head.
“I’m going to give him a call to see what’s holding him up,” I said as I got up and darted into the living room, Christine following close behind. I picked up the receiver only to find the line was dead. That was weird, the lines were buried underground and storms had never knocked out the phones before. I clicked the buttons on top of the base a couple of times but still no dial tone. I decided to check to make sure it was still plugged in. I pulled on the cord only to find it pulled easily in my hand, without resistance. Inspecting the end I discovered that it hadn’t come unplugged, it had been cut.
Fear bubbled and churned in my stomach like acid and I felt the blood leave my head, making me feel dazed. I looked up to find him watching me from the kitchen doorway with cold dark eyes. “Joe’s not coming luv,” his grin emitting pure evil.
I was frozen, standing there. I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been. He stepped toward me and that was enough to break the spell I was under. The living room door leading outside was behind me and I made a break for it. He sprang to action immediately and I felt his fingertips brush the back of my shirt as I flung the door open and ran out into the night and the full force of the storm. He would have had me if not for Christine. Barking and growling she lunged at him, her jaws locking around his forearm. I didn’t look back as he howled in pain and anger.