Unseen Tides – Part 3

At noon they walked to Lee Ho Fooks for lunch. Kenny spotted Jan right away and smiled but turned away abruptly leaving them to their own devices. Jan gave Marsha a puzzled look and they sat down at Jan’s favourite table.

Kenny appeared again with menus and jasmine tea and seemed friendly but distracted.

“Hi Kenny. You seem a bit jumpy today, are they keeping you too busy?”

“Oh no Miss Jan, everything is good. Hello Jan’s friend, I’m Kenny.”

“Hi Kenny. I’ve heard great things about you. It’s good to finally meet you.”

He took their order and disappeared into the kitchen.

“Well now, you’re right. He seems like a man with something to hide.”

“Yeah, Marsha, this is weird. I mean, what with yesterday’s goings on. Maybe I shouldn’t ask him?”

“No, I think this is all the more reason to ask.”

When Kenny retuned with their food Marsha made a face at Jan.

“Um, Kenny, before you go I wanted to ask you a question. About yesterday, when you gave me my cookie you said I needed to be vigilant. You remember?”

“Yes, I remember.”

He was fidgeting and Jan felt bad but she pressed on.

“Kenny, why did you say that?”

He looked as though he were about to bolt at any moment. He glanced over his shoulder and then looked down at the table.

“Miss Jan, it is none of my business maybe but you’re a nice lady so I will say. You have been coming here for a long time. Lately there has been a man that comes in after you. He always sits by the window. He looks at you a lot. I think this man has…well, bad energy. I don’t like. You understand?”

“Yes Kenny, I understand. Is he here today?”

“He came in early today. He – oh! He’s leaving now!”

He pointed to the door and Jan and Marsha turned just in time to see a tall man in a trench coat putting on a fedora and heading out in a hurry.

“Kenny, how long has he been watching me?”

“I don’t know if he is watching you but I think maybe he is. He’s been doing it for about a month now.”

“Why didn’t you tell me before?”

Kenny hung his head in embarrassment. “Not Kenny’s business. I’m sorry.”

He shuffled away with a dejected look and Jan’s heart went out to him.

“Damn. That wasn’t good.”

“Listen girl, stay with what’s important. Why is this guy stalking you? This after that phone call yesterday?”

“Yeah. What can I do?”

“I don’t know. Be careful for a start. Pay attention to everything around you when you go out. If you get another one of those calls tell him you’ve seen him and you know where to find him. That should put a fright in him. He’s probably just some creep.”

They ate lunch in silence, Marsha not knowing what to say and Jan reliving the events of the previous day. When they were done Jan saw Kenny approaching with two fortune cookies on a plate.

“Kenny, look, I don’t want you to feel bad about that guy. I have one more question for you. When you said I needed to be vigilant were you talking about the guy watching me or was it something else?”

“I got this feeling when I brought you the cookie. I think maybe something is not right.”

Jan fished the fortune out her purse again.

“Read this Kenny. Tell me what you think.”

Kenny read it and shook his head.

“I don’t know Miss Jan. Never seen one like this before.”

Jan picked up her cookie and broke it open and read the fortune then asked Marsha to read hers.

“Today is a day to make a big wish.”

Jan handed her fortune to Marsha and folded her arms.

“Oh my god, Jan. This is unreal.”

Jan took it and read it out loud to Kenny.

“The unceasing tide brings both good and evil. Be prepared.”

Part 4 Tomorrow

Advertisements

Unseen Tides – Part 2

“Sounds like a rough day babe. Tell me about the phone call.”

Marsha had listened patiently to her litany, beginning with the strange fortune cookie.

“The phone rang so loud I burned my hand making myself a cup of tea. The message he left was foul. I don’t even want to repeat it.”

“Heavy breather stuff?”

“Even worse. It was graphic.”

“I’m sorry Jan. How about if we have coffee tomorrow and then do some shopping?”

“Sounds good. Say around ten at McMillan’s?”

“I’ll be there. You take it easy and make it an early night.”

Hanging up the phone Jan sighed and shook her head. Perhaps it was just a series of coincidences. Just a bad day and nothing more. She busied herself with housework and by late afternoon she had put it all out of her mind.

As she was cooking dinner the phone rang and she felt trepidation as she lifted the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Hello! Am I speaking to Janet Winslow?”

“Yes. How may I help you?”

“Janet, congratulations. You’ve won first prize in the Lotman Travel Agency draw.”

“The what?”

“You filled out an entry form when you were at our shop inquiring about a cruise in February. You’re the winner of the draw. We just need to confirm your address and we’ll be sending you a check for $500!”

“Oh my. This is…well it’s wonderful. Thank you!”

She confirmed her details and hung up the phone. What a wonderful end to the day. Something positive at last. Later on she had dinner and watched a couple of television shows and then went to bed.

The next morning she was up bright and early and feeling good. She couldn’t wait to tell Marsha about her good luck. A quick breakfast and she was showered and dressed and ready to go.

She walked into McMillan’s to find Marsha waiting.

“Hey, girl, how’s it going?”

“Well now, you’re in a chipper mood.”

“Yeah, you’ll never guess what happened last night!”

“You got lucky down at the local?”

Jan rolled her eyes. “I wish. No, I won a draw at this travel agency I went to a couple of months ago. First prize, five hundred dollars!”

“Wow! You go girl.”

They ordered coffee and caught up on gossip.

“So anyway, Jan, you’re feeling better about all that stuff that happened?”

“Yeah, I guess. I still wonder about this weird fortune though.”

She took it out of her purse and showed it to Marsha.

“Yeah, that’s odd. Fortune cookies are usually pretty upbeat or silly.”

“I know. It’s just so strange, first the cookie and then all those things happening. Did I tell you about my waiter?”

“He said something to you about the fortune?”

“Well, I always ask him what he thinks my fortune will be. It’s a little game we play. This time, though, he told I needed to be vigilant and then all that stuff happened.”

“Hmm…well, maybe after we shop we should have lunch there and you can ask him what he meant.”

Jan thought about it. “Okay, I guess. I was going to ask him yesterday but I decided it would be silly.”

“But then all this stuff happened, right? Look, just ask him and you can at least clear up that much.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Come on, let’s go shop.”

They headed for the high street and enjoyed the morning the sun as they walked.

Part 3 Tomorrow

Unseen Tides – Part 1

Finishing up the last of her chicken chow fun Jan took a sip of jasmine tea and smiled at Kenny, her waiter, as he approached with the usual fortune cookie to complete her meal.

“Your lunch was satisfactory I trust Miss Jan?”

“As always Kenny. What do you think my fortune will be today?”

Kenny frowned. “I have a feeling Miss Jan. I think something…well, I wish you good fortune but I think you must be vigilant.”

He put the plate down and walked away without another word. Jan was left looking after him in bewilderment. What was that supposed to mean?

Picking up the fortune cookie she hesitated. Was there something out of the ordinary in there? She held it up to her ear and shook it. Nothing. It was just a fortune cookie and she was being silly she decided.

She broke it open and picked out the fortune. Something wasn’t right about it but she couldn’t decide what. She unfolded it and read the black writing.

‘To seize the day

The will abides

But outcomes rest

On unseen tides’

Pursing her lips she read it over several times and then put it down gingerly on the plate. Odd is what it was. Her elbow slid an inch or two and knocked her teacup onto the floor. A passing bus boy cleaned up the mess and gave her a shy smile.

Such an odd fortune, she thought. Unseen tides. What could that mean? She vacillated over calling Kenny back to the table and asking him what he thought it meant and why he had told her she needed to be vigilant but she didn’t want him to think her silly.

Paying her bill and heading for home she found she couldn’t get the matter out of her mind. So distracted was she that she managed to run a stop sign and nearly got in an accident. The other driver shouted obscenities at her and drove off in a huff.

Embarrassed, she forced herself to concentrate and made it home without further incident. She put on the kettle thinking a nice cup of camomile tea would sooth her. She got out a tea bag and put it in the cup and was pouring the boiling water over it when the phone rang. It was inordinately loud. Startled, she spilled water on her hand and felt a searing pain. She ignored the phone and ran cold water on her hand until the pain subsided and then put some lotion on the burn.

She sat down with her tea and turned on the television for a bit of distraction. After a bit she remembered the phone call and checked to see if there was a message. There was, and after listening to it she felt a chill run up her spine. She listened to it again and then walked back to her seat.

Why would anyone want to say something so vile to her? The message had been graphic and repellent. She fretted over what she should do. What had been a wonderful day until lunchtime had turned into a virtual nightmare.

She decided to call Marsha. She just needed to confide in someone, and if anyone would know what to do it would be her best friend.

Part 2 Tomorrow

A Meeting Of Like Minds

Standing on the shoulder in the fog, a steady drizzle shrouding visibility he pulled the drawstrings on the hood of his parka tighter and stared into the gloom waiting for the right one. His monkey mind jumped from thought to thought searching, restless, wanting.

His right hand reached under the edge of the parka and fondled the cold bone handle of the Bowie knife that nestled in the waistband of his jeans. His mind running over images of the things he would do with the knife. Sweet caresses of gleaming blade on soft, tender flesh ripe for the opening.

He could almost hear the screams, the begging, and the pleading. The eyes shining with raw terror staring into his searching for deliverance, then going blank as the lifeblood flowed from every jagged crevice. It would be sweetness, oh yes.

He snapped to attention as a pair of headlights cut through the gloom. He strained his eyes to see the driver’s face, his thumb twitching. He waited until he could see clear then relaxed his thumb. No, not this one, not this time. There were children in the car. There were rules.

He shifted his weight from one leg to the other and resumed his reverie. Time was on his side. Another hour passed and the gloom deepened. Still he waited and watched. Another car approached. He strained to see a face, his thumb ready to shoot out from his side. No, not this one either, she would not do. The eyes never lied. She looked him over as she passed, her face an open book of question, wondering why he didn’t have his thumb out for a ride.

He did not give her so much as a glance as she passed. He was back in his sweet daydream. He opened his mind to possibility. He imaged sliding into the seat next to the bunny and flashing the disarming smile he had practiced to perfection. Winning their confidence. Putting them at ease. It was important, that. He needed them to feel trust. It made things so much sweeter.

**********************************************************

As he rounded a sharp curve he down shifted the baby blue Cadillac he’d hotwired in a parking lot a hundred miles back. He cursed once again under his breath at the gloom, the fog, and the drizzle. The urge was upon him and he would not be denied. Still, he was quite aware that the weather meant the possibility of hitchhikers was diminished. Ah, but fate would see him right. It always did. He need only be patient and vigilant. The right one would appear. His need for fresh meat would be sated soon enough. He kept his eyes on the shoulder, searching for a victim.

He drove on. Ten miles. Twenty. Thirty. There was nothing to be seen. He tried hard to quell the undercurrent of longing that was taking hold in the pit of his stomach. Unscrewing his thermos he took a swig of brandy-laced coffee and enjoyed the soothing warmth in his throat.

Five more miles and he thought he saw a dark, hooded figure in the road a quarter of a mile ahead. Fifty yards more and he was certain. He slowed as he approached. The figure was standing like a statue, his hand hanging still at his side. At last the hand shot out, thumbing for a ride. He slowed to a stop, suppressing the smile that played at his lips.

***************************************************************

His eyes strained to make out a face as another pair of headlights appeared. Yes, this was the one. A small niggle at the back of his mind but it was probably just the long wait in the cold gloom.

He reached for door handle and looked in at the driver.

“How far are you going?”

“Denver.”

“Great.”

He slid in next to the bunny and flashed his winning smile, feeling the cold bone handle of the knife nestle against his belly.

“Where are you headed?”

“Eternity.”

Burying The Hatchet – Part 2 – The End

I was glad I had some time to think before the meeting. See, me and Jonny go back a long ways. High school actually. We used to do shakedowns together. Dealt some dope too. We were doin’ so good we both decided to lose the whole school thing. I mean; it just wasn’t our bag. We quit school on the same day and never looked back.

Our parents didn’t like it so we moved in together and vowed to watch each other’s backs from then on, which we did for a long time. Then about a year ago we had a falling out over a dame, which is kinda funny when I think about it. Seems dames are our weak point.

Anyways, we parted company. Mostly we stayed out of each other’s way out of respect. We ended up at the same party last weekend and when I saw he was there I was gonna leave but he came over to me and started talkin’ about how we should make amends. Told me he had this sweet deal lined up and it was the sort of thing he’d only want to do with me.

I was touched, I tell ya. So this was the night we were to sit down together and talk it all out and start fresh. Yeah, that’s what I thought anyway. I had to wonder why he’d gone after my woman. I mean it was a woman that came between us in the first place.

You know, it don’t pay to try to figure things like that out, that’s what experience has taught me. You just have to work with what is. I grabbed my bag and headed to the car. It was time for our meeting.

We had planned to meet in a little club on the edge of town. A place we used to hang back in the old days. Quiet, out of the way, a good place to sort things out. I parked around the corner and checked the street as I headed for the door. I saw Jonny’s car parked out front.

I sling my bag over my shoulder and shove the door open. Just the bartender and two others guys. I see Jonny sittin’ in a booth at the back. He had a shot and a beer in front of him and a cigarette hangin’ out of the corner of his mouth. Same ol’ Jonny. I give him the nod and slide into the opposite seat, puttin’ my bag between my feet.

“Hey Stan, how’s tricks?” he says to me.

I tell him I’m good and order a beer. He takes a drag on his smoke and then crushes it out. I can see he’s thinkin’ how to start the ball rollin’. He looks up and me and smiles.

“Stan, I want ya ta know I’m really sorry about what happened last year. I been thinkin’, it was real stupid. It shouldn’t never have happened.”

I nod. “You’re right Jonny. Why’d we let a woman come between us?”

Jonny shrugs and leans in. “It’s history, pal. Like I told you, I want to make a new start. Let bygones be bygones, ya know?”

“I hear what you’re sayin’ Jonny. You wanna put the past behind us. Bury the hatchet.”

“See, I knew you’d understand. That’s what I want. Let’s bury the hatchet.”

I reached down into my bag and grabbed the handle and brought it up quick smart and did just that. Boy did I. It must have gone four inches into his head. He didn’t even make a sound. Just sat there with his eyes poppin’ out.

I got up and walked out without lookin’ back.

So like I said, now I’m sittin’ here waitin’ for the cops to take a powder so I can get my stuff and hightail it out of here. You gotta think things through.

The End

Burying The Hatchet – Part 1

Sometimes you don’t think everything through and it’s no big deal. Other times it can be annoying. Like now for instance. See, I’m sittin’ here wanting to get in to my apartment so I can pick up some stuff and get the hell out of Dodge.

No can do. The cops have got my place staked out. For the life of me I don’t know how they got onto me so fast. If I’d packed my stuff before I did the deed that got them staking me out I’d be long gone. Now I gotta wait.

No matter, gives me time to relive the satisfaction of settling things with Jonny. See, today was the day him and me were gonna get things straight between us. Work it all out; make a fresh start and what. I tell ya, if I hadn’t stopped in to the Stone Rose for a beer this afternoon it would all be different right now.

I was sitting at the bar, had Journey on the jukebox; everything was copasetic as my old man used to say. I was lookin’ sharp too. Every hair in place and my new black leather jacket just shoutin’ stud. Couple of the ladies was checkin’ me out but I had things to do, people to see.  A man’s gotta have his priorities straight before he lets other things get straight if you get my drift.

Anyways, Ralphie comes boppin’ in and parks it right next to me. Asks me what’s up. Hey Ralphie, I says. Goin’ ta see Jonny pretty soon. Mend some fences. Now Ralphie had this shit eatin’ grin on his puss like he does most of the time but as soon as I tell him the plan I see his smile flicker and then he gets a tic in his left eye.

Now I’ve known Ralphie since we were kids. Something wasn’t right.

So I says to him, “Hey Ralphie, what’s the buzz?”

He tries to wave it off and takes a long pull on his beer. I’m not goin’ for it. I tell him to spill or else. Ralphie knows when I say or else I mean it.

“Um, well, okay Stan, but don’t get pissed off at me, okay?”

I nod.

“You know I respect your old lady, Stan. But, um…well, I saw her at this road house out by the highway Tuesday night and she was…well…she was…”

“Hangin’ with her sister?”

“Not exactly Stan. She was with Jonny.”

He mumbled the last part into his beer but I caught it. I shouldn’t have grabbed his neck so hard but I was more than a little pissed off. He spilled his beer and I bought him another one.

“I’m sorry Stan,” he spluttered. “I was gonna tell ya anyway but when you said you were gonna see Jonny…”

“Yeah, okay. You sure she was “with” him?”

He averted his eyes. “Yeah, she was. There was no doubt.”

“Well then, I guess I got some thinkin’ to do. See ya around Ralphie.”

I headed out to my car and sat watching the traffic and thinking things through. I remembered something Jonny had said on the phone when he called me about workin’ things out.

I decided he was right, it was the thing to do. I headed home to get the necessaries.

Part 2 Tomorrow

Interval – Part 5 – The End

“There has to be an explanation. I’ll bet it’s a simple one.” Phil ran his fingers through his short grey hair and stared at the ceiling for a moment.”

He looked around the room and his eyes settled on the clock. “You say this clock hasn’t moved since you’ve been here? Well if time has stopped…”

He looked into Alice’s eyes and he saw a light come on in her head.

“Then that would mean…”

Phil and Alice disappeared simultaneously. Brenda let out a loud gasp and Mike and the new woman sat with their mouths open.

“This is insanity. How can people just disappear?”

“How can they just appear in the first place, Miss…?”

“I’m sorry. Becky. Becky Miller. You’re right, but that just means this whole thing is crazy. How the hell did I get here?”

She beat her fist against her forehead for a moment. “Why can’t I remember where I was before I was here? Maybe that’s a clue.”

Mike nodded. “Yeah, we’ve all been trying to remember. I think you’re right, if we could figure out why we can’t remember that then maybe it would help.”

Brenda was staring off into space and didn’t seem to be paying attention but then she spoke up.

“Did you hear what Phil said right before they vanished? ‘If time has stopped.’ But has it? Or has it only stopped for us?”

Mike frowned. “Somehow I don’t think that was what mattered. I think he was going with the notion that time had, in fact, stopped. At least that would make the most sense. Then he and Alice got something from that and they both disappeared.”

“But how does that help? What did they realize?”

Becky stood up suddenly as the blood drained from her face.

“Oh my god…I think…listen, what does it mean when time stops? Don’t over think it, just go with it.”

Mike and Brenda considered it but as they did three more people appeared in various parts of the room.

“Guys, don’t get distracted. I think I know what’s going on. When does time stop for any person? When you’re dead!”, she hissed.

As one Mike, Brenda and Becky vanished. The three people who had just appeared looked at each other and then at the table where the other three had been sitting.

One of the men stood up and scratched his head.

“Where the hell are we?”

One of the others was still staring at the table. “And who were those people that just disappeared?”

They all began looking around the room.

“Hey, there aren’t any doors here.”

“Yeah, and the clock isn’t working.”

The End