A Psychological Thriller
By N.B. Wilde
All Rights Reserved
Marcus ordered a Whiskey-Whiskey then had to teach the barkeep how to mix it.
“It’s a Manhattan. Jack Daniels and vermouth. Dry vermouth, not sweet. Rocks on the side. Please serve it in a classic rocks glass, not one of those sissy stem glasses.”
He was working on a solution while he waited for Michelle. A solution to his ongoing search for stable romance. But as in most matters, he played this one close to the vest.
Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed a flip of blonde and a flash of leg saunter toward him. He kissed Michelle on the cheek when she sat beside him. “When did you start drinking the hard stuff and ditch the wine?” She asked him.
Michelle insidiously viewed Marcus’ appearance as she sat on the stool next to him. He was a looker, she gave him that despite all of their ups and downs.
“I drank Manhattans back in the day. I think I’m going back to them.” Replied Marcus.
“Alex, Chardonnay for the lady, please.” Marcus and the barkeep maintained a tight friendship.
Michelle searched the bottom of her purse scavenging through chocolate chip cookie crumbs for a vape. She found the last vape flavor among the torn cellophane wrappers draping it all in a messy display on the rich wooden bar. Marcus never understood how anyone could eat cookies and drink wine, but Michelle was a mystery.
She held the vape between her fingers and took a long drag while sipping the white elixir.
Drinks, serious libations, were necessary after the news they were handed in a meeting by Detective Horrigan, the precinct commanding officer. The city had been stricken by a series of gruesome murders involving single people living alone. Their efforts at solving the case were failing. Finally, no-nonsense, Horrigan wanted Michelle’s proven track record and her expertise in the field paired up with Marcus’ hound dog nose for the scent of criminals. Together, he knew they would crack the case.
Marcus readily agreed. Michelle hesitated, but with the financial and vacation incentive offered by Horrigan, she acquiesced.
Now at the bar, Michelle ordered an appetizer of shrimp cocktail. Marcus fidgeted on the bar top with the loose cellophane.
“Stop, please.” Said Michelle. Placing her hand gently over his. We have to work together. You know it and you know we’ll be dynamite. We’ll work this case and come out looking like heroes.”
Marcus peered into her eyes. “Let’s order dinner.”
The only thing he knew for sure was that they were in over their heads. He wasn’t sure he could go through with it after all.
Michelle looked back at Marcus and wished the mid-February chill gone. And just like that, she felt it melt away.
“Marcus,” whispered Michelle, “This case is going to be murder.”
Jillian fumbled with the lock on the door to her second story walk up. “Stuck again. Damn!”. She mumbled to herself. She jiggled it every which way then it finally opened.
She couldn’t wait to hit the couch with a glass of Perrier and her current read. Jillian was dead on her feet after a harrowing workday. She threw her duffle into a corner, stripped off her “dress casual”, threw on a T shirt, flannel bottoms and soft landed on the sofa.
“What a long day, Curly Cue!” She said to her orange tabby. Curly curled up beside her purring like a motor.
Fully absorbed in the chapters, Jillian read until after dark. Eventually she roused and heated herself a market prepared salmon dinner. She ate informally at the refinished table for one in her small kitchen. Through the double hung window she could see that all her neighbors’ lights were off. Some emitted the flickering blue glow of late night T.V. “Not for you and me, Curly. We two are night owls.”
Jillian loved the quiet solace of night. Her work as a Nurse Practitioner was finally done for the day, as well as her own rigorous health routine.
Jillian headed outdoors for a soothing solo stroll. She grabbed her quilted gray hoody from its hook on the back of the door on her way. “Out you go, Curly. Yours is the night. You’re now king of the jungle!” She gave the tomcat a soft sweep with her leg.
The sidewalk was well lit with halogen street lanterns. Jillian loved how the shadows cast in unexpected places depending on the moon phase. Tonight, it shone a perfect half-moon.
A few passersby scurried to and fro while Jillian sauntered leisurely, enjoying every step. Every step until that one misstep.
A breeze picked up bringing with it a few nimbus clouds. The mix created a stage for dancing light and shadow play. Accordingly, Jillian picked up her pace.
A blind space between parked cars, a sudden force of wind, a swoop of tree shadow, a painful turn of events. Jillian misjudged the curb, stepping off, rolling her left ankle inward. She fell forward catching herself, slightly scraping the palm of her hand. Upright, she tried to walk. A stabbing pain in her ankle slowed her down considerably. Jillian thought about phoning her friend Jason for a lift but with city traffic she knew he’d take longer than she would to hobble home. And longer to leave than she was comfortable with.
Covertly monitoring the scene, the lurker raised his thin, black eyebrows and focused the binocular lens. It wasn’t like he set it up but why not take opportunity when it strikes? In his mind he wasn’t a stalker. To his way of thinking he simply held an affinity for a certain type of someone. An affinity others may label a dark obsession. He loved his clandestine affairs even if they were edging on morbid fantasy. His latest object of attention sat well within his crosshairs.
He didn’t think of it as a weapon of choice. The object he concealed was a “Play toy”, as he’d come to think of it. He enjoyed the cool touch, the uptick of his pulse, the quickening of his breath as he thought of the possibilities the night held.
On that cold February eve in the murky silhouettes of the night the stalker scrutinized Jillian’s every subtle move. Guileless, Curly tracking her in the alleys, Jillian galumphed her way toward home.
NB Wilde 10.6.21 continued…