by Alyson Lee
An unfamiliar face appeared before her. He seemed like an old-fashioned politician or a vacuum cleaner salesman, pulled into the modern world. There was a hint of something else she couldn't quite put her finger on.
He spoke, "Evenin' ma'am," with a slight raise of an eyebrow and a tilt of his head, fostering a wholesome charm.
"What can I do for you?" She eyed him, suspiciously, through the screen of the door that separated them.
A smile that could melt butter played across his lips, "No, ma'am, it's what I can do for you. If I could just have a moment of your time." His eyes lit up with possibility.
"I'm sorry, I was just in the middle of making dinner."
"Oh, won't take but a minute," he nudged. "I'd like the opportunity to talk with you."
Hoping not to offend, she tried once more, "I'm sorry. Like I said, I'm in the middle of making dinner. Maybe another time."
"Well, you see ma'am, I'm not going to be around here again. So I would really appreciate it if we could spend some time together, now," he urged, his outward gentle manner helping to betray the inner workings of his insidious mind.
She offered a slightly inconvenienced smile in return, "Are you selling something?"
His face brightened, a smile of excitement and a twinkling of his eyes ushered in his pitch, "Ma'am, I am selling life
. I just have a couple questions for you." Eyes drenched in concern and compassion, "Now, your answers will tell me if you're in need of my help."
"Oh. . . thank you," the realization finally hit her, "we've already got a bible."
"Oh, no ma'am," he raised his hand to deflect the figurative door slamming in his face, "you misunderstand. I didn't say I was selling religion
. I said I am selling life
. May I come in for a moment?" For a second, his eyes abandoned the ruse, emanating a malevolent stare.
Simple uneasiness quickly turned to, perhaps irrational, blood coursing fear. A strained smile struggled to form across her face, but had no luck. She prayed he didn't notice how badly her arm shook as she secured the entry door, saying, "I'm sorry. I don't want to waste your time." Back pressed against the layer of steel safeguarding her, she ran through other possible entry points, her mind frantically racing to determine if everything was bolted shut. Presently, the fear wouldn't allow her to physically check. She listened for his footsteps, waiting for the familiar creak of the old porch. When that didn't come, she braved a look through the sidelite. He was gone.
She kept still by the front door for minutes that seemed like hours, listening, waiting to hear him making another approach. Maybe she'd just gotten the wrong impression, maybe she was overreacting. She made her way to the kitchen, eyes quickly darting out each window she passed along the way. There was no movement. She picked up a knife and, reluctantly, continued chopping. Two cups of chopped vegetables later, a more accustomed calm washed over her. I am so ridiculous. He was probably just selling vitamins or life insurance.
She took a rolling pin to the waiting dough. With stability now returned to the muscles of her arms, she got to work on the biscuits to complement her beef stew.
The ring of the telephone provided a new interruption to her dinner making. With a quick wipe of her hands against her jeans, she reached for the cordless. "Hello?" the comfort of his familiar voice warmed her, "hey, babe. Dinner should be ready by the time you get home." The stew gently simmered as she listened to his response. "Oh, how late are you going to be?" She turned the burner's dial to low. "Okay. I'll keep it warm for you," setting the sheet of biscuits aside. "Not much, there was a guy here earlier, trying to sell something. He freaked me out a little, but it's okay, he left." She popped a stray piece of celery in her mouth. "Alright, well be careful. Love you too."
With extra time on her hands, she headed upstairs to finish the book she had started reading three nights ago, double checking the deadbolt before heading up. The top stair let out a tiny groan beneath her feet, momentarily stopping her progress. I wonder if I should have called the police. Maybe there was something off about him.
Her fingers intuitively found the precise location of the light switch, pushing it in the on position, yet no light came. Great.
She felt her way along the edge of their bed to the other lamp, at the far side of the room. A soft yellow glow immediately filled the space around her. She turned to find her book but noticed the open window instead.
"You done with that dinner?" he asked dryly.
Her body lost its ability to steady itself, her legs started to give way under the stress. "What do you want?" she managed, not even sure which words had come out.
"I told you before," he plastered on that charming smile once more, "I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions." His eyes bored into her, "You answered the first question wrong. . . now I'm not sure if I even want to ask you the rest." His pseudo-disappointment distorted the friendly appearance he was still attempting to project.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled, though almost inaudible, shaking uncontrollably.
He rose from the bed, placed one hand at the small of her back, the other grasping her bent arm, just below the elbow, "Sweetheart, I think you need to sit down." He settled her quivering form at the foot of the bed then knelt before her, looping a strand of her hair around his middle finger. "You're a very pretty girl."
Tears streamed, involuntarily, down her cheeks now devoid of any coloring. The pounding of her heart echoed in her ears along with, what she only just realized to be, the grinding sound of her teeth clenched tightly against each other. Her imagination was in overdrive and traveling nowhere good.
"You seem a little upset. Afraid you're gonna get the other answers wrong?" With all due care, he gently wiped the tears from her cheeks, leaving his muscular hands to rest on either side of her neck. "I really like you," he paused to study her face, "I don't want to unfairly judge you, just because you answered the first question wrong." His eyes traced an outline of her from head to toe. "How 'bout I try a different approach? Maybe this question format is all wrong for you." He dropped one hand down to reach for hers; pulled it toward himself, rubbing his face with her fingers so bone cold with fear.
"My husband will be home soon. He has a gun, if he sees you. . ."
He gently closed his eyes, slowly reopening them as they made their way back to hers, his head shaking in utter disappointment, his smile turned sour by her deception. "Aw honey," his hands encircling her throat, "don't you start lying to me. I told you I really
like you." His sympathetic gaze the unlikely companion to the oxygen depleting squeeze of his hands, "Don't make me change my mind."
As his grip loosened, she gasped for more breath. "I'm not. . ."
"Shh," he covered her mouth, sandwiching her skull between his massive hands. "Please stop lying, sweetheart. I heard your conversation. He won't be home for a while." He uncovered her mouth, touching her trembling lips with his fingers. Her hair, now being grasped, pulled in just the right way, aided in the optimal positioning of her head. His cheek rubbed against hers, diverting the steady deluge of tears. He felt the hyperventilated pattern of her breath as he touched his lips to hers. "It works so much better when you play along, darlin'."
She felt her stomach turn, dreading every second he brought his face closer. It was all she could do to keep the bile from rising as he pressed his lips against hers, once more, and she forced herself to press back.
He noticed her effort. "You know," he positioned one hand on her upper thigh, slowly squeezing and releasing it again and again, "I thought I'd prefer that, but call me old fashioned. I don't like that you'd choose to break your marriage vows so easily. Makes me think you're not such a nice girl, after all."
She struggled to speak through her current hysterical outburst, "Please. . . no. . .I just didn't want to. . ." desperately hoping the rights words would come.
He pulled her to him, "What, sweetheart? You didn't want to. . . what?"
"Upset you." She prayed she hadn't dug herself in deeper.
"Aw," his face softened, "that's really sweet," he paused, lovingly peering into her petrified eyes, "but that didn't stop you from slamming the door in my face, now did it?"
She shook her head apologetically, "I'm sorry," her voice more calm, "I didn't mean to be rude. I was just afraid."
"Well, I'm awful sorry I scared you." He held her closer to him, then pulled away to gaze into her eyes, a sad puppy dog expression hung on his face. "You forgive me?"
She nodded a quick yes. "Do you. . ." she tried to swallow, "forgive me?"
His eyes met hers, his tongue wet his lips then retreated to allow for the broadest grin he had yet to display. He said nothing, only letting out a tiny chuckle, then another.
Her body shook uncontrollably, the frantic movement a slap in the face to her otherwise paralyzed-with-fear body. His laughter replayed over and over in her mind. She searched his eyes for an answer she wanted to hear, but was met only with a silent, mirthful stare. "You're going to kill me, aren't you?'
Partnered with the most charming smile and sweetly squinting eyes, the edge of his mouth almost imperceptibly curled up into a mischievous grin. "Got myself a little motto I like to live by," he leaned in toward her, planting his nose in her hair, taking in her scent. He pressed his lips to her ear and let out a long, sadistic breath, "Always keep 'em guessin'."
Edited because I stupidly left out a word and kept forgetting to fix it.
This post has been edited by Allee: 14 February 2011 - 02:49 PM