Caleb Thomas’ drab routine had grown tiresome. The dishes clanged as the dishwasher plucked them from the steaming carts. The vociferous mixture of Spanish and broken English hailed from the grills. The staff bellyached about their jobs, and how it was unfair that they were paid lousy wages. The manager’s constant threats to fire employees simply to scare them into working faster irritated him. But it was a job, and at least he didn’t have to wait by the back door like Mack; the homeless man who engaged in conversations with himself while he waited for a hand out. So, he donned his well practiced shit grin and went to work.
“My name is Caleb. I will be your waiter for the evening,” he greeted two pretty blonde women and their garish dates. He wrote his name on a napkin and took their order. One of the women caught his eye. Caleb tried not stare, but found it difficult to look away. He gathered his bearings and walked off.
Brook Abernathy gathered with a few friends at Lidia’s Italian Home Kitchen on South Boulevard just outside of Downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. They celebrated her divorce from her husband, Richard over Veal Marsala, bruschetta, prosciutto, and a bottle of Ecco Domani Merlot. A friend and co-worker, Derrick Ruben flirted unabashedly with the newly single woman. He rubbed her bare thigh under the table.
“How does it feel to be back on the market?” Derrick asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe if I were a piece of meat I could tell you, but for now I’m enjoying the company of my friends,” Brook said; slapping his hand off her leg. “Slow down, lover boy. I haven’t even finished my first glass of wine.” She winked.
Brook’s friend Marcy wore a white see –through blouse that revealed her red lace bra. It squeezed together her well endowed breast. She said, “Well, I guess Rich is up for grabs now, huh?” Marcy gulped down her glass of wine. “I’m just kidding, honey. That jerk is not my type.”
Yeah, you would fuck him if given the opportunity. You might have already; slut.
Brook smiled. “You can have him if you want, and everything that comes along with a sadistic psychopath.”
“I’m not sharing,” another one of Brook’s male friends, Walter stated. “This one is mine.”
“You’re sure of yourself aren’t you?” Marcy fronted a look of surprise at his remark.
“I go for what I like.” Walter moved closer and rubbed her back. She moved in rhythm to his touch.
“Can I get anyone dessert?” Caleb asked the table.
“No, thank you. We’re ready for the check,” Brook smiled. She subtly sized Caleb up. She liked what she saw. He was average height with an athletic build. He had a clean shave, clean cut hair, and soft brown eyes. She unconsciously adorned a wanton smile. Caleb reciprocated. He extracted a handful of mints from his apron and placed them in the pay dish. As he started away from the table he caught a menacing glare from Derrick. He met his glare with an intense gaze of his own. Derrick averted his eyes. Caleb smirked at Derrick’s attempt to intimidate.
“Thank you. Have a wonderful rest of the night,” Caleb said, but not before placing his palm on Brook’s shoulder. Derrick stared with enmity as the waiter ambled away.
“He’s kind of cute Brook,” Marcy said. Her voice was slurred from the alcohol.
“Yes, he is,” Brook responded.
“Too bad he’s a waiter,” Marcy said. “He can’t afford me.”
Please, you’re as cheap as they come. Brooke thought.
They all pitched in on the tip and got up from the table. As they were leaving Caleb bumped into Derrick and caused him to fall into a nearby booth.
“I’m terribly sorry, sir. Here let me help you up.” Caleb gripped Derrick’s hand so forcefully Derrick’s knuckles popped. “There you go. Again, everyone have a splendid evening.” Caleb waltzed into the kitchen feeling good about his small victory. His focus turned to the voluptuous blonde with the Caribbean Sea blue eyes and puckered full lips. He visualized her chiseled calves strutting out the door. She smelled of cucumber and watermelon body wash, light scented sweet perfume, and a subtle hint of citrus; her shampoo perhaps. In that brief encounter he had become enamored with the woman.
Derrick stood in the parking lot pissing behind his black Audi S7. He shook his meat, zipped up his pants, and turned.
“Jesus Christ!” He was startled by Caleb standing by the driver’s side door of his car. “Don’t you have some tables to bus?”
Caleb stayed silent; his breathing expanding his muscular physique through a white T-shirt.
“Look, buddy. I apologize for my manners. I didn’t mean to rub you the wrong way,” Derrick said. His voice cracked.
“You ever go to her house?” Caleb asked.
“The woman you kept unsuccessfully coming onto.”
“Brook, yeah she’s my friend,” he stated nervously. “Look, if you want I could . . .”
“I bet you were a bully in school. One of those jerks who got their kicks by picking on poor kids, or did you terrorize the retards?”
“Get out of my way.” Derrick tried to push past Caleb.
Caleb delivered a vicious uppercut to Derrick’s abdomen. He slumped over and heaved out his Chicken Parmesan dinner. “What do you want?”
Caleb got behind the man and wrapped cooking twine around his neck. It smelled of pork roast, and raspberry glaze. He tightened his grip. Blood seeped into the twine as it cut into Caleb’s fingers. Derrick kicked wildly. His arms flared desperately as he tried to get loose from his attacker. The lights in the parking lot dimmed. Derrick could hear nothing, except the panicked palpitations of his heart beating voraciously in his chest. His arms went lame. He couldn’t feel his legs. The taillights of his car looked like demonic eyes watching him being murdered. He had a bile movement, just as everything went black.
Caleb retrieved the keys to Derrick’s car and popped the trunk. He threw the lifeless body in and shut it. He got in the driver’s seat and typed in Brook. 4815 Ashley Park Lane appeared on the screen. He got out of the car, wiped his hands on his apron, and went back inside the restaurant to finish his shift.
“So tell me. How was it?” Marcy asked Brook.
“How was what?”
“Did he give it to you right?”
“Marcy. What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about Derrick, of course. How was the sex?”
“I didn’t sleep with Derrick,” Brook said with disgust.
“Well, hell what did you guys do, make s’mores?”
Brook grew impatient. She didn’t know what Marcy was talking about, or why she assumed her and Derrick had been intimate. It was 6:30 in the morning and the coffee maker hadn’t even beeped yet. She looked at Marcy through a squint of confusion.
“Don’t look at me like that. I saw his car pull out the parking lot just as I was pulling in. I know it was him. His is the only Audi with a CUMSH2R license plate,” Marcy said.
“You sure you saw him leave, just now?”
“I thought Derrick was cool, but he’s a creep. I can’t believe he was stalking me!” she said angrily.
Brook and Marcy left out of the parking lot. Derrick’s Audi pulled in Brook’s parking spot. Caleb got out and headed to the office. It was closed. There was an emergency number on the door. He called the number and a heavy lethargic voice answered.
“Ashley Square at South Park, maintenance department.”
“Yes, sir this is Derrick. I’ve locked my keys in my apartment and my girlfriend has the spare. Can you unlock it for me please? I’m at 4815 apartment B. It’s kind of urgent. I forgot my insulin inside.”
“Give me a minute,” the maintenance man said.
Thirty minutes later the man showed up with the remains of his breakfast trapped in his scruffy beard.
“You have to be careful with that, man,” the maintenance man stated. “My mother went into a diabetic coma once. She wasn’t good with taking her medicine either.”
Than why the fuck did it take you thirty minutes to get here you fat slob? “I know. I have to be more careful.” Caleb said. He had contrived several rebuttals for why the guy should let him in, but the dingy maintenance man never questioned him. He didn’t even ask to see I.D. He unlocked the door and told Caleb to have a good day. “Thanks.”
Caleb entered the apartment and began searching. He surveyed the medicine cabinet first; relishing in the sweet perfumes that reminded him of Brook’s presence the night before. He imagined her doing her make-up in the nude; her supple cream flesh calling for his touch. Caleb ventured to her bedroom closet. It wasn’t what he expected. There were a few party dresses, but mostly professional attire and flats instead of high heels; a woman who could care less about impressing the corporate world, or she had a bad case of corns. Either way it made her seem more down to Earth. In her nightstand there was a black leather bound diary. He took it into the kitchen and placed it on the breakfast table. He found some pastrami in the fridge and made a sandwich. He sat down, lit a cigarette, and read her diary.
Brook and Marcy sat at a table outside of Mert’s restaurant on Church Street in downtown. They ate lunch and sipped on ice teas. Brook focused on her plate. She tried to filter Marcy’s never ending monologue of drama spewing from her mouth. The streets were lined with city maintenance laborers, vagrants, and office slaves released from their cubicle prisons for an hour to gorge themselves with greasy food. Through the sea of the heteronomy she glimpsed a handsome man strutting toward her. His gaze was fixed on hers. He stopped at her table.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hi . . . hello, how are you?” she greeted.
“I’m fine. Do you remember me?”
“Yes, I remember you. Lidia’s on South Boulevard, right?” He nodded. “I’m sorry, but I forgot your name.”
“Caleb Thomas,” he said proffering his hand. “What’s your name?”
“Brook. Brook Abernathy.” She gave him a toothy grin. Marcy cleared her throat. Brook pointed to Marcy. “This is my friend, Marcy.”
“Hi, nice to see you again,” Marcy said.
“I’m sorry. Where have we met before?” he asked.
Brook said, “She was with me that night at the restaurant.”
“Yes, yes of course.” Caleb nodded and reestablished eye contact with Brook. Marcy slid a finger through her hair, and pushed her breast up. It was an unconscious habit of hers when she didn’t get the attention from a man she thought attractive.
“Listen, Brook I’d really like to take you out sometime. How about we exchange numbers and set something up?”
“I’d like that. Have a seat. Have some lunch,” Brook invited.
“I don’t want to interrupt you two’s lunch, besides I’m on my way to the library.”
Marcy snorted a snide chortle, “You read?”
Caleb ignored her. It embarrassed her to be disregarded by a man.
Brooke kicked her friend under the table. She gave her a quick wide eyed reproach and smiled up at Caleb. He gave her his number and she called him to put her number in his phone. They exchanged niceties and he strolled off. It was Marcy’s annoying negativity that broke Brooke of her entrancement.
“You don’t even know him. He’s a waiter for Christ sake,” Marcy said.
Brooke shot her a playful grin. She leaned in and said, “Your jealous heifer.”
“Pffft. Like I said before, he cannot afford me.”
“Maybe he’s scared of those big ole tits of yours.” Marcy’s jaw dropped. “You could smother a man to death with those things.”
“You’re a mess,” Marcy laughed.
“Let me tell you. Richard had a lot of money, but he was an asshole. I rather be treated with respect then slapped around with a money clip. Besides, Caleb seems like a nice guy.”
That night Caleb sat in his dark room at the edge of his mattress set on the floor. His naked body was lathered with sweat from his daily regimen of five hundred push-ups, and five hundred sit-ups. He held a piece of blank printing paper he took from Brooke’s printer in her apartment. He sprayed it with her perfume before he left. He basked in her scent; ruminating on the possibilities of them together.
Caleb stood and went to his dresser. He grabbed a pencil and began to draw her face. Caleb captured the details like a forensic sketch artist. From the wavy hair, to the full lips he was able to quicken her image onto the page. She smiled seductively at him through pursed grey and white lips. He smiled back at her. A malodorous stench seeping into his window broke his fugue. The funk of Derrick’s carcass was too pungent. He had to dump the Audi.
Brooke stepped out of the apartment on her way to work. She was greeted by the maintenance man. “How’s your boyfriend doing?”
Brooke turned her lips down and stared.
“How’s your boyfriend; you know with taking his insulin?”
“I don’t have a boyfriend, Mr. Russell,” Brooke said. “Insulin?”
Ole Mr. Russell went over the scenario in his head. He’d realized that he let a stranger into Brooke’s apartment. How could he be so careless? He couldn’t reveal that he did. He would lose his job. Mr. Russell needed his job. Ashley Square Apartments was the only place who hadn’t done a background check, because if they did they would’ve know he was a repeat sex offender, and sex offenders aren’t the type welcomed around women and children.
“Oh goodness, I’ve got you mixed up with Mrs. Johnson,” he said with a straight face. “It’s early, and the blonde hair, you know?” He searched her eyes for accusations. “Never mind. Have a good one.” Mr. Russell scurried past her. Sweat dripped from his double chin. Brooke shrugged and got in her car. Her cell rang.
“Hello,” she answered.
“It’s Caleb. I hope I’m not calling you too early, but I’m on my way to work and I wanted to catch you before I got tied up all day and couldn’t call.”
Brooke beamed. “I’m on my way to work too. It isn’t too early. I’m glad you caught me.”
“I wanted to invite you to a get together tomorrow night. Some of my friends from work are pitching in and having a bar-be-cue. There’ll be drinks, and some card playing, things like that.”
“I’d love to,” Brooke said.
“Okay, see you tomorrow.”
Brooke hung up feeling a healthy and sprightly energy flowing through her body. It had been a long time since she felt that way about a man.
Caleb set out to court a beautiful woman, and her response toward him was positive. He felt triumphant, as he gazed upon the gorgeous watch that Derrick once wore. He unburdened the dead man’s wrist of it before he dumped his body in an abandoned house in Grier Town; a seedy part of the city on the east side of Charlotte.
Caleb clothed himself as a regular Joe at work. He hid the maniac inside him well. He cogitated on Brooke, and the well of emotion she induced in an otherwise cruel and merciless mind. Staring out from the plateau of lunacy he saw a man filled with joy marching through the valley of depravity, bringing with him a torch of hope to illuminate his black quiddity. He turned from the bathroom’s mirror, and readied himself to do his job.
Marcy occupied the only table in his station. She was alone. Her mascara seemed heavier every time he saw her. She looked dejected.
“Hello, what are you having today?” he spoke with an exasperated tone.
“I came to talk to you,” she said.
“I’m at work right now, what is it?”
“Why don’t you like me?” she asked. The insecurity of a school girl resonated in her voice.
“How do you figure I don’t like you?”
“You want Brooke,” she said.
“That’s right. I’m fond of her and would like to get to know her. She’s your friend, isn’t she?”
“She is,” Marcy’s eyes flickered with lust, “but I want you to be my friend too.”
“Look, Marcy I . . .” She placed her hand on his stomach. He felt blood rush to his member.
“Brooke gets all of the good guys. For a change I want one—just one good guy.”
“Which car is yours?” Caleb shoved a thumb toward the parking lot.
“The silver Buick Enclave in the front.”
“Pull around to the back of the restaurant. We’ll talk, okay?” Caleb’s tone softened. He sighed as he shuffled through the traffic doors. Marcy stomped through the lobby. Her platform shoes sounded like props for an old western themed radio program. The host eye fucked her tits as they bounced around in her shirt like a waterbed mattress.
“Right there,” Caleb whispered. “That’s a good girl.” He held Marcy’s hair back as she bobbed on his cock. Spittle dangled from her lips. Red lipstick smeared her mouth. He pushed her head back down. His thick, heavily veined dick slid in her throat. She gagged, and came up for air.
“Your cock taste so good,” she panted her words. “Cum in my mouth Daddy.” She jerked him into her mouth as her lips and tongue glided, sucked, and tickled the tip of his dick.
“Oh shit,” he said.
She sucked, and bobbed until she drank it all. He shivered. His body went limp. Her lips made a loud pop sound when she released him from her mouth.
Marcy’s mascara ran from the tears produced when she gagged on his member. “See, Daddy. I can be your friend.”
Caleb’s shift ended. The time had come to enjoy Brooke’s company. Her image occupied his mind like a portrait set on the wall of his psyche. He’d removed Derrick from the picture. Caleb knew that he would have to eventually do something about Marcy’s insistent covetousness, but for the time being her lewd thirst was satiated. The day couldn’t have gone by quick enough.
Brooke met Derrick at the bar-b-cue. Her hair was curled, and hung just past her shoulders. She sported a flowery sundress that accentuated her curvaceous frame. Caleb met Brooke at the front of the house. Before greeting her properly he stood back; watching her strut and taking her all in. She was captivating. He was experiencing an unfamiliar feeling. He’d loved women, before, but this was different. He loved his mother. Caleb loved Mrs. Lojowski, his high school guidance counselor who took his virginity. Brooke had intelligent eyes. Her disposition was humble, yet authoritative. The woman’s presence incited amorous emotion. He admired Brooke.
Caleb introduced her to his friends. His friends were different from hers, and it was a welcome change. They were inviting. It wasn’t a competition of who had the best material item, or who knew the most successful people. They simply enjoyed each other’s company.
“Thank you for inviting me,” Brook said.
“No, problem,” Caleb responded. “They like you.”
She felt herself blush. Caleb cupped her hands in his. She looked at him with a felicitous beam.
I knew you’d like that. I’m so glad I read your diary before I pursued you. I want to be your dream man.
“Can you get me another drink?” Brooke asked.
“Sure, sure,” he said. Caleb went into the house and mixed her a rum and Coke.
“Oh my God Caleb, these are my absolute favorite flowers,” Brooke stated. Along with the drink he brought her a bouquet of violet and white carnations.
Your ex-husband wouldn’t bring you your beloved carnations other than on special occasions. I know, because you told me in your April seventh entry. Thank you for sharing your secrets.
They sat silently, dreamily gazing into each other’s eyes; allowing their chemistry to work rather than screw it up with words. Caleb grabbed her hand and led her to his car. They went back to her place.
Brooke lay on Caleb’s chiseled chest. The moonlight leaked through the blinds illuminated his square jaw, and distinctive Mediterranean features. Something powerful emanated from his presence. She couldn’t pinpoint the source, but for some reason she had no explanation for, she visualized him turning into a werewolf at any moment. She tittered at the ridiculous idea, and got up to use the bathroom.
The day before she’d placed The Charlotte Observer on the tank of her toilet without reading it. She caught a glimpse of the black and white photo on the front page. A tow truck was lifting a car out of the marsh in Wilmington, NC. The license plate read CUMSH2R. She gasped, before reading a part of the article. It read:
Swansboro authorities say a Charlotte man’s car was recovered from the marshes of Bogue Sound. DMV records show the vehicle is owned by Derrick Ruben, an investment banker for First Union located in downtown Charlotte. No missing person report has been filed and police haven’t speculated on whether or not there was any foul play. They are attempting to locate Derrick Ruben at this time.
Brooke got back in the bed. She roused Caleb awake.
“What’s up? What’s going on?” he asked.
She told him about Derrick’s car being found. Brooke told him how he hadn’t been to work in a while, and nobody had heard from him.
“No one filed a missing person report?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “Honestly, there weren’t too many people that liked him.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it. If they didn’t find a body he’s probably on vacation. Some juvenile delinquent probably stole his car, took it for a joyride and ditched it in the sticks.” He wrapped his arms around her waist, and rested his head on her shoulder. She snuggled into his midsection and lifted his arm to her breast. His watch was cold on her nipple. She looked at it. The band had D.R. inscribed on it.
“Where did you get this watch?” Brooke tried to sound natural, but failed miserably. Her tone sounded worrisome.
“My mother gave it to me years ago as a birthday gift.”
“What’s D.R. stand for?”
“Okay, I know you’re not stupid. I confess. This is Derrick’s watch.”
Brooke jumped out of bed. She frantically tried to put her clothes on.
Caleb was calm. He said, “What’s the matter?”
“You know what. You killed him!”
“What?” Caleb looked shock. “Honey, calm down let me explain.” He held his palms up in a surrendering pose. “That night you came into the restaurant your pal kept giving me the evil eye. I never said anything to him. When you guys left I was taking the trash to the dump, and he approached me.
“I said, ‘What do you want.’ He said, ‘She doesn’t want you. Next time we come in here you stay the fuck away!’ I guess he noticed our vibe, so he continues on with his bullshit spitting his insults toward me. Brooke, I’m sorry, but yes I beat his ass. I didn’t kill him. I don’t have those kinds of balls. I’m not that type of guy. I let him get under my skin”
Brooke contemplated. She dropped her clothes, and laughed. “I’m a nut sometime. My imagination can get the best of me.”
Caleb sat back pondering on the situation. This is bad. I don’t want to kill her, but I might have to. Damn. Why does this always happen?