“Toby, get back here! Toby!” Running after her errant cocker spaniel for all she was worth, Janet silently cursed herself for letting him off the leash. As he bounded over the grassy hill she despaired of ever catching up with him, but when she got to the other side, there he was being petted by a stranger.
Janet slowed to a walk and sized up the situation. You couldn’t be too careful these days, she thought to herself, but while the guy seemed maybe a bit odd, Toby sure did like him, and from the looks of it, he really liked Toby. Approaching, she saw him look up.
“Yours? What a great dog. I take it his name is Toby. I’m Evan.”
Extending her hand, Janet smiled. “Janet. Thanks so much for catching him for me. I really shouldn’t have let him off the leash, but he’s so full of energy, and I thought I could trust him.”
Evan put on his winning smile. “Oh, no problem, he’s a good dog.” And I’ll bet he’d taste really good in a stew with some potatoes and carrots, he thought to himself. “You walk him here often?”
Hesitating, Janet thought about diverting the question, but decided she was just being a bit paranoid. “Well, yeah, most days. Sometimes I take him other places for a change of scenery, but he seems to like this park.”
The wheels were turning in his head. “Yeah, I like it here too.” And I’d sure like to strap you to a table in my special room and test your pain threshold. I wonder how much screaming you’d manage as I slit your throat from ear to ear. I really must put more soundproofing in. “I usually ride my bike, but it’s in the shop.”
“I see. Well, must be on my way. Nice meeting you Evan.”
“Nice to meet you too Janet, perhaps we’ll see each other again.” Perhaps a lot sooner than you think. I just might follow you home at a discreet distance.
Moving along the path, Evan smiled serenely at everyone who caught his eye. Leaving the park, he came across a man tinkering under the hood of his car. “Having engine trouble?” Evan enquired.
Standing up, the man wiped his hand on a rag and frowned. “Yeah, I think it’s just dirty spark plugs. Keeps cutting out on me. If I can get it down to that station at the next corner I’ll be all right.”
Evan grinned. “Hey I can help you push if you’d like.” You look like the kind of guy I’d really like to bury alive, he thought to himself. I know just the place.
“Oh, hey, would you? That would be great!” He closed the hood and steered while Evan pushed from the back.
“Thanks a lot for that, you’re a real swell guy.”
Evan sized him up. “You’re about six-one, aren’t you?”
“What? Well, yeah, why?”
“Oh, no reason. Glad I could be of help. You live around here?”
“Well, yeah. Not far. Why do you ask?”
Evan shrugged. “No reason. Just making conversation.” Yeah, I’ve got just the place for you. I could feed you through a tube for a while; see how long it takes you to go mad before you die in the hole I bury you in.
Evan watched him drive away; making a mental note of the street he turned down. They would meet again. He was sure of it.
A few blocks down the road he came across an old woman struggling to carry a large bag of groceries. “Hi there. Boy, that sure looks heavy. Could I give you a hand?”
Peering at the nice young man who had addressed her, the woman broke into a smile. “Why thank you so much! You’re too kind!” She handed him the bag. “I live just down the street here.”
Reaching the door, she opened it and thanked Evan again. “Could I offer you a cup of coffee or something, you’ve been so nice.”
Evan glanced around quickly. There was nobody on the street. Smiling, he said “why yes, that would be lovely.” He couldn’t wait to see the headlines the next day. They would make a nice addition to his collection.