By Cindy and Walt
When I left the industrial park area, I drove Sylvia’s car out of town. At the first rest stop on the interstate highway that went toward Roaring Gap I left her car and picked up my truck. I had no idea who was waiting to drive the car back to Sylvia. Obviously someone was watching because my bag with all the money and other shit was in the truck. I drove off feeling pretty sure I would hear from someone once again, even though I had committed my third murder. I was also sure that both Sylvia and Morris knew I had killed Ari, yet neither could ever prove it.
As I got closer to the turn off for Roaring Gap there began to be signs of a past snow storm. The road and parking lots were clear but the grass areas still showed signs snow. There were large piles of snow in the parking lots of the buildings bordering the highway.
The road to the Country Store had been cleared long before so driving was fine. I was surprised to find my drive and parking areas clear. Even my walk was clear.
When I arrived home no one welcomed me, and no one called to tell me job well done. I was just home without any fanfare. I looked at the Country Store with the lawn covered in snow and was at peace. I didn’t give a crap about any of it. I was glad to be home and alive. Ari could have done a lot worse to me than the black eye and split lip.
I pulled my car to the back of the stucco covered concrete block building and parked it at the edge of the new gravel parking area. It was pretty close to the woods, so I wondered how the pickup could handle the tree sap in the spring and fall. I didn’t have to worry about it for awhile appearing from the amount of snow surrounding the parking area.
I had been planning what I would do when I got home. It was a few days till Christmas and I had not done a thing shopping wise. Nor had I decorated. I opened the door on the Country Store only to find it cold as a bitch inside. There was a note on the roll top desk.
The note read, ‘boxes came and they are under the stairs. Water is turned off. You will need to turn it on when you get the stove going. Call me so I can stop by to check on things.’ The signature was a giant C.
The one large and two small boxes were stacked in the corner under the stairs. I didn’t bother to check them because I was cold. I knew it would take the heater a while to raise the temperature above the current twenty three degrees. I knew that it was twenty three because in my kitchen hung a large thermometer attached to an Orange Crush advertising sign. I had found it in a yard sale before I left for the Industrial park area.
I pulled a hassock up to the stove and began to lay a fire. First I found a paper plate in the can of paper refuge. I found a six inch long 2×4 which I could chop into smaller kindling. I kept an ornamental piece of a large tree trunk to use for that purpose. I used the small hatchet/hand axe to split the 2×4. I rolled the pieces of the 2×4 in the paper plate the lit the plate using a long butane charcoal lighter.
I had to carefully add wood to the stove for fifteen minutes before I had a good solid fire going. When it was burning, I still had to sit another twenty minutes till I was comfortable enough to remove the green army type coat I had bought on my drive home. I stopped shortly after the rest area to dump the fake fur thing. My hooker stroll coat was no longer a fashion item to me. I bought the contradiction of a coat at the Walmart store in the sporting goods department. It was a youth size coat. Thank god I hadn’t gained enough weight to be in a men’s size.
When I thought about a possible weight gain, I went to check on my bike. It was still on the rear deck under a real canvas tarp. After I shook the snow off it didn’t look as though the almost two month absence had cause it any damage. I knew that first thing in the morning I would be back on my normal schedule. I didn’t know where I would ride it in all the snow but I knew I would be riding.
With that settled, I turned to unpacking the backpack which had been held for me by Sylvia. Long before the house was warm, I went into the grease pit. I replaced the cash filled grease tubes into the case of other tubes filled with grease. I also replaced the lock box that contained the unused false identities.
I went back to the living room where I left the electronic gear I had used in the days before the industrial park adventure. It hadn’t been quite two months, but I had been gone long enough to accumulate junk mail on the computer and a long list of voice mail messages on my cell phone.
I turned on the water before I began thinking about the messages. I had the coffee cooking while I checked my open Email which mostly held spam about camera’s, and of course penis enlargement, cheap Viagra, and meeting Asian girls. What a waste, I thought. Spam was always aimed at men. Well maybe not the Asian women, I did chuckle at that thought. There was absolutely no mail in either of the confidential emails. The laptop was slow, because the memory was on a flash drive. I needed a computer I could watch old TV shows on, since I hadn’t seen anything on TV for two months. Plus I was ready to dump cable TV from the Phone Company.
Finally I listened to the voice mail messages on my cell phone. The phone that I used in Country Store had a capacity of one hundred voice messages. It was full. I thumbed down to the last message and found that it had been filled by the end of the first month I was out of town. Well over half the messages were from Joan. Even though my outgoing message explained that I was out of town for work and stated I would return the call when I returned. Joan called at least daily some days she called more. The only thing that ended the string of messages from her was the fact that the in box filled up.
Since Joan was home at 7 PM and I didn’t have her number, I couldn’t return her calls. I wouldn’t have called her at home even if I had the number. I couldn’t imagine what I would say if her husband answered the phone.
There was only one message from Jeremy. “When you get back call me. Alice misses you.”
“I’ll bet it isn’t me that she misses,” I said with a laugh. She probably needs someone to lead her into trouble, I thought.
I did call Carlos at home. His wife answered the phone with a simple, “Hello.”
“Nita this is Rose, would you give Carlos a message tell him he can stop checking on the place. Also to come by and collect his money for cleaning my driveway and checking the place while I was out of town,” I said.
“Carlos is here, do you want to speak with him?” she asked.
“Not really, everything is fine. But thanks Nita, I hope we can all get together over the holidays,” I said before I broke the connection.
There was only one other person of any interest to me. I played the message from the missing Rachel Rankin. It had been left only five days after I left for my assignment. “Rose thanks for being concerned. Robbie and I are in a bit of a jam, could you send me a thousand dollars?”
“Not just no, but hello no,” I said to the empty house.
I dialed Jeremy and Alice’s Number. “Hello,” Alice said into her phone.
“Well hello there sweetie. Long time no see and I mean that literally,” I said.
“I could say the same about you. Have you been away on those mysterious business trips,” she asked.
“Oil well five miles out to sea, nothing mysterious about that. The only thing that works is the Satellite phone and Direct TV.” As I always said I was a world class liar.
“Oh how fun, did you at least have hunky oil men to play with?” she asked.
“I had a few,” I lied again. “So I’m home now, if you want to get together again.”
“Jeremy will be happy to hear that. He was afraid you had lost interest,” she said.
“I’m always interested, but I’m never consumed,” I said with a laugh. “I have to take a shower now that the house is finally warm.”
“Okay, I’ll call and we can get together sometime soon,” Alice promised.
I had made all the catching up calls I needed to make, so I went into the bathroom. It still had a chill in the room since it had a huge amount of uninsulated wall exposed to the cold air outside. I flipped on the light switch, which would bring a small ceiling mounted ceramic heater online. In the summer there was a switch to disconnect the heater from the lights, but since it wasn’t summer the heater blew hot air down on the bath room area.
I decided to unpack my purchases from almost two months previously. They were going to be a mystery to me for a while. I also had two months worth of drawing classes on line to catch up. I had things to do that should keep me busy for a while.
I sat on the far side of the room from the wood stove, since it was putting out a high volume of heat. I opened each box, then searched if for the manual and instruction sheets. Hell, there were even assembly directions on a couple of pieces.
As soon as I had the two cameras unpacked I read the directions and the manuals. The best I could figure I would need Carlos to install the mounts on the sleeping loft wall. I just had to aim the cameras into the living room area. Then it would be a simple job for me to bolt the camera platforms to the mounts so that I could work the remote pan and elevation controls from the computer. Everything worked on batteries so I needed to have plenty of rechargeable ones handy.
I planned to use the new computer as my home computer and the SBI laptop for their business. The small tablet was set up just to check the Church Camp email.
I decided after an hour that the bathroom was warm enough to take my shower. Even though it was evening rather than morning, I carried my clean clothes into the shower. I would be changing again after my morning ride the next day but I would need the clean panties for sure, if nothing else.
My panties weren’t nearly as dirty, since Ari wasn’t screwing me anally so I could go a full day without changing them. Still I had gotten into the habit of showering twice a day, and I planned to continue. When I finished my shower, it was too late to do much of anything except visit a chat room and go to sleep. I slept on one of the living room sofas wrapped in a quilted comforter. The comforter was feather filled and extremely warm.
By 5 AM the stove had gone cool, but the fire was not completely out. Before I dressed for the ride I put two split logs in the stove and turned on the gas ring under the quirky water heater. By the time I had all the insulated clothing on, I looked like a snow woman. I almost waddled, but fortunately it didn’t matter so much on the bike.
I rode it down to Helen’s. Once I was inside the small cafe I ordered the special. Helen saw me through the window to the kitchen. She made a gesture, so I went to the kitchen door, while she fixed my food. “Did you hear from Rachel?” she asked.
“Yes I did. She left a message on my voice mail. I have been out of town a few weeks. She sounded as thought she were in trouble,” was my answer.
“Did she ask you for money?” Helen went on.
“Yes, she must be pretty desperate, since I hardly know her. She had to know that I wouldn’t send the money.”
“Why not?” she asked.
“Because last I heard she was hanging out with a bad boyfriend. The thousand could be for drugs, or bail. Either way, I don’t want to get involved,” I replied.
“You’re not near as dumb as you look convict. The two of them were in jail in Tennessee. She wanted me to bail her and the no good boyfriend out. I also refused, so now you know why I didn’t drop everything and go looking for her. Most ex cons go right back to the life.”
“Yeah, but they always seem to get caught and are right back in. I guess crime doesn’t pay for real,” I said.
“That’s establishment bull shit. If crime didn’t pay, there would be no criminals,” Helen said. “Go eat before it gets cold. It was nice of you to go look for her skinny ass regardless.”
I was glad Helen and I made peace since I enjoyed her breakfast more than any other. I especially enjoyed her cellblock coffee.
When I got back to the Country Store, I went directly into the shower. Since the house had warmed up some, I was able to stay with the old routine. I washed myself paying special attention to my ass. I washed inside the canal. I had come to enjoy washing there, so I spent some extra time with it.
I had pretty much finished with my reading about the camera mounts, when I decided to call Joan and face the music. “Sorry I had to leave town before the portrait was done. And I know I have fallen behind on my lessons, but I am trying to catch up now,” I said to the phone. I waited a full minute and then asked, “Did you hear me?”
“Yes and I’m still waiting for you to say you missed me and are sorry you didn’t call me before you left,” she said
“Of course I missed you,” I said trying to sound as enthusiastic as possible.
“You know you should have called before you left,” she said.
“Joan, I had to leave in the middle of the night.” Yeah that was my first lie. “I didn’t think your husband would appreciate a call at 2 AM from your ‘model’.”
“Alright, but couldn’t you call for the whole two months,” She said.
“Honey I was on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. You know I told you when I go, I usually can’t contact anyone that’s why the job pays so well.” I was within one more bullshit story of telling her to go fuck herself.
“I must have called you a hundred times. Then your voice mail got full and all I could do was try and let it ring until it just shut down.”
There were tears in her voice. I knew then that I needed to break off the affair before it was an affair. “Joan are you okay? Honey this isn’t about a forever relationship. It’s about a sharing and caring relationship between to really good friends. One with no strings attached or it isn’t anything,” I said
“You bitch,” she said and broke the connection.
I instantly felt more alone and my sense of well being was damaged. “Thanks bitch,” I said to the empty room.
Carlos stopped by to leave me an invoice and pick up his payment for clearing the drive and keeping an eye on the house. He also had the bill for some member of his extended family who did my laundry. I paid both and got him to hang the wall mounts for the camera. I didn’t tell him what they were for and he didn’t ask.
It was after noon when I started on the new super computer. Well to me who used disposable laptops for the last couple of years it was a super computer. It had a processor so fast it just had a bunch of unfathomable number instead of a name. The ram number was like thirty something gigs. The hard drive was something that sounded like a double serious disease, like 2TB. It reminded me of Doc Holiday and the shootout at the OK Corral for some reason.
The idea was to buy the biggest, baddest MF I could find on line for under two grand. It was preloaded with a bunch of crap, so it came with directions to delete all the bullshit. I decided to go ahead and delete it, since I had all afternoon and evening to kill anyway.
I got lost in all the bells and beeps coming from the computer as I cleaned off games to make room for the camera and editing software. My TV studio might not be state of the art, but it would produce high quality films. Most important it would give me an interest outside the work I did since the store was finished.
When I finished the computer scrub, and before I installed the software and tested my cameras, I ordered the business cards. They should come in with the Tag Line ‘ROSE SEABOLD’ documentary creator. I didn’t think the addition of ‘and pornographer’ would be a good idea. I thought that with a laugh. I had intentionally not ordered the hand held camera until I could operate the remote cameras and edit the files.
It was almost 10 PM when I got the new computer onto the Internet. I still didn’t have the camera and edit software loaded, but there was always tomorrow, I decided. Since I was on line, I slipped into a chat room for an hour before I ate a peanut butter sandwich and went to bed.
On the second morning I was up at 5:30 AM looking for a clean thermal over shirt. I had eight of the bastards. They had to be stacked somewhere, I thought. I found them in the clear shoebox rack that made a kind of wall in the living room. If it hadn’t been for the search I would have been gone when the phone rang. “Don’t leave yet, I’ll be there in ten minutes,” then it went dead.
“What the hell does Joan want that is so urgent it can’t wait till she gets to school,” I wondered. Since the old men around town said not to sit around the house in your outside layer of clothes then go out in the cold, I sat by the stove in my sleep tee and soft flannel sweat pants.
I managed to get the coffee ready before Joan came to the door. When I opened it to her knock, she almost knocked me down. She pushed herself against me so hard. At the same time she pulled my mouth to her and kissed me with more passion than I could remember her ever showing before.
She pinned me against the wall and tried to squeeze herself inside me. It was quite the feeling. She lowered herself against me as she raised the sleep thermal tee shirt. Before I realized it, she had my breasts in her hands, then moved to take my right nipple in her mouth. She was all about making love to me, which was absolutely out of character for her.
She removed the hand from my breast, but not her mouth from my nipple. Her hand crept down to the band of my fleece pants, then into the band and my panties as well. She rotated and tweaked my clit as I moaned for her pleasure. I wanted to touch her as well, but she would have none of it. She pinned me against the wall with a deep wet kiss while she brought me to an orgasm. She should have stopped then but she didn’t. She moved her finger to the opening to my vagina and began to pump me. I was totally helpless. When I had the huge orgasm that followed she stepped back.
She went to the door and just walked out without a word. I was leaning weakly against the door trying to figure out what had just happened. I made it to the door in time to see her back out of the drive. I went back to sit by the fire and drink the coffee that was sitting on the stove to keep warm. I stayed there basking in the glow, as it were, for several minutes. When I finally left on my bike, I was already tired and my muscles had a slight pain. Joan had done a number on me.
“If she is that aggressive with her husband, he will probably kill me, if he thinks I’m a threat,” I said to no one since I was alone on the bike. Joan was a human sexual dynamo for sure, at least she had been that morning. Because of what happened at the store, I spent more time inside Helen’s. I had a hard time going back out into the cold for some reason.
After my shower with a very thorough washing of my butt, I dressed for the day. I was pretty clear headed when I loaded the software for the camera into the new computer. I began testing everything well before noon. I was well into it by two when I knew Joan had labs.
“Hello,” I said into the phone when she answered.
“Hello,” she answered rather coldly, I thought especially for someone who had almost raped me only hours before.
“Are you going to bring your pencils over?” I asked.
“Not today,” she answered very much in control of herself.
“Very well then I’ll finish loading my new computer and start Christmas shopping. Anything you especially want?” I asked.
“Yes, but you can’t get it into a box,” she said slightly more relaxed.
“That’s a shame. I don’t suppose you can get away to help me shop?” I asked.
“Well Saturday is day after tomorrow, I expect I have some shopping to do as well. We might as well do it together. Cathy and I could do a sleep over at your house and we could leave from there. Mark is going home to his family. He is going to help decorate the house or some such bull,” she said.
“What, aren’t you going?” I asked.
“I have to go spend the long Christmas weekend there. Two visits in the same month is cruel and inhumane punishment,” she said.
“So he would be okay with you coming here?” I asked not wanting to get her in trouble.
“He will be fine. He has decided I need more friends. Then too he has no idea who you really are,” she said and laughed. “Are you going to be alright with me staying there. You are so worried about commitment.”
“Alright, you convinced me you can walk away, if it gets to weird for you,” I said.
“Yes I can,” she said then added. “I never would have guessed it. I spent hours crying then realized that when it is really over I won’t cry any more. Since I lived through it, I felt better. I decided I was not ready to let you go just yet, so I came to see you.”
“Well I for one am glad you did,” I said.
“Yes I understood that it could be great just to live in the minute,” she said. “I didn’t need to be so clingy.” She waited a moment then added, “So I’ll get Cathy from the sitter tomorrow and then come to your place for the weekend.”
“Yes, but you have to promise you will go shopping with me, and that you will finish that sketch, so I can see it,” I said.
“The shopping I can promise, the other I can’t. A true artist must be inspired,” she informed me.
When we broke the connection I went back to testing the cameras. The motorized platforms worked flawlessly. Each camera could be panned left or right and tilted up and down. They were a marvel to me whose best efforts to date had been with a cell phone. I decided to save the editing software for the next day. I could work most of the daylight hours the next day before Joan arrived.
I downloaded a movie just to see how long it took. The so called comedy/drama was terrible and I have no idea why I watched the silly thing, but I did. It was midnight when I went to bed.
I slept very well with Joan on my mind to replace Ari.