The following is from the WIP “Lady Killer” by me, Lisa Beth Darling. It is presented here as-is, warts, moles, grammatical errors and other Earth Shattering mistakes. ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED including the right to reproduce this work, in whole or in part, in any manner whatsoever.
by Lisa Beth Darling
Another long day at work but it was over now. Dusk settled heavily in the cold sky as Desiree climbed into her black Thunderbird. With thoughts of a hot bath and a tall glass of Merlot running through her sandy head, she turned the key.
“Oh, no,” she grumbled in a tone akin to the uncooperative motor, “c’mon, not again.” Taking a deep breath she pumped the gas pedal and cranked the key again only to be met with the same disappointing sound. “You bitch! You goddamn bitch!” Putting the pedal to the metal and gripping the leather wheel tightly she turned the key again with every ounce of strength she could muster.
The loud grinding sound soon began to quiet. She knew if she kept turning the key, in just a moment or two, there would be no sound at all from the 1986 engine. “Shit!” Leaning her head against the driver’s window she looked up to the darkening sky and let her blue eyes travel around the parking lot to see there was only one other car insight and it belonged to Jimmy, the night watchman. That was par for the course, she was always the first one in and the last one out at Sentinel Bank and Trust. Except for Jimmy, he was in there. But, like her with her set of keys, he couldn’t open the door without setting off the time sensitive security alarms. All it took for the Higher Ups at the bank to fire a person was setting off the damn alarm just once. He needed the job as much as she did if not more with his two children and another one on that way. If she went up there, all he could do was feel bad for her from the other side of the bullet proof glass. There was no sense in ruining his quiet night.
As she stared at the bank small drops of rain began pattering against the window. “Figures,” she murmured as she became resigned to this fate. Fishing her cell phone from her purse she called the Auto Club only to be told they’d be glad to help her but they were busy tonight and the wait for a tow was two hours.
Without heat in the car she couldn’t sit here with the rain settling in soon to turn to snow. The idea of walking in the muddy slush didn’t appeal to her but she’d be home in far less than two hours so long as she was careful and didn’t twist her ankle in her high heels. Back in school her friends hadn’t nicknamed her ‘Dizzy’ for nothing. Opening her wallet she saw she had two whole dollars on her and that wasn’t anywhere near enough for a cab. While she worked at Sentinel Bank and Trust with its well-lighted drive-thru ATM just across the way looking so inviting she didn’t bank here. Sentinel Bank and Trust was, by and large, only interested in ‘big fish’ and garnered quite the reputation for its high class clientele. There wasn’t a single branch located in something as mundane as a mall or shopping center. Certainly there were tiny branches settled on busy corners of working-class streets. No, every single branch of this band was located on no less than an acre and a half of manicured land quietly covered by the most State-of-the Art security.
While she was an employee entitled by contract to open her own accounts with them it was quietly discouraged if one couldn’t open said accounts with less than $45,000.00 in a basic checking account. If she had $45,000.00 she’d quit her second job at Wally’s World of Goods. She didn’t have that kind of money—so far as she was aware neither did Jimmy—so she banked elsewhere and her little Open-To-Everyone local bank didn’t electronically talk to this one which meant that her ATM card was no good here. Taking a quick glance as the clock on her phone she knew that, what few friends she had left in this world were either still at work or just making their dinners. Looking down at the shiny pumps on her feet, the black stocking running from her them to her exposed knees and she shook her head. Sentinel Bank and Trust had a very strict dress code for its employees, especially the female employees who were never, under any circumstances whatsoever to wear pants/slacks to work. Dresses and skirts only, preferably ones that hung just above the knee but certainly no higher than two knuckles above that. Bright colors were deterred with black, blue, and in the summer, white, were most recommended. Flats were looked down upon as shoes with heels between three and four inches were most preferred. Long hair was, at all times, to be kept either in a neat braid, in a bun, or ponytail.
So, sitting here in her dead car, her attire was better suited to attending Sunday Service than walking three miles in the freezing rain. But, her choices were limited. Gathering her will, she spoke to the Roadside Assistance operator, “Look, I’ll leave the keys in the visor you just tow it to my place, ok?”
“If that’s what you want, Mrs. Martin, but I should advise you to stay with the car.”
That advice was part of the operator’s script and Dizzy knew it was designed to help the Auto Club guard against litigation should a member fall into something foul should they decide to leave the car, “Yes, thank you, you’ve done your job. I’ll walk and you tow.”
“We’ll have someone out there as soon as we can. Have a good night, Mrs. Martin.”
“You too,” she clicked off the line, stuffed the cellphone back into her purse and grabbed the umbrella from under the front seat before putting the car keys in the visor wishing she’d worn her full-length coat today instead of this one which only covered her thighs. Dizzy let her dark blonde hair out from its braid letting it cascade over her shoulders to the middle of her back in the hopes of keeping her neck warm. “Mrs. Martin,” she grumbled letting herself out of the old car and giving the tire a hefty kick for good measure. A move for which she was instantly sorry as the bright bolt of pain from her big toe shot up her leg. “Ow!” Hopping around on one patent leather clad foot she slipped off the other to see she’d busted the toenail wide open and it was no oozing blood. Her walk home just got a little more difficult. “Great, what else can go wrong?” Slipping the shoe back on before the toe could begin to swell she straightened her small body and drew in a big breath. She was going to go up to the bank door and let Jimmy know not to call the police if he saw the tow truck but he was probably in the back room watching Netflix and her foot hurt too much to waste the time and effort on such a small endeavor. Throwing the strap of her purse over her head she tightened the collar of her wool coat, popped the umbrella and limped out of the parking lot leaving the car behind as those two words echoed in her mind.
Dizzy knew the time had come to change that, she was Mrs. Anyone anymore and it was time to stop pretending. In two days, when she got another night to herself, she’d change the name on the Auto Club account at least the next time she called—and with that car there certainly would be a next time—she wouldn’t be reminded of a life that was no longer hers.
At the end of the parking lot, as the raindrops fell fatter and colder, she turned right in order to begin the ascent up the steep hill with its two blind curves. It wasn’t long before her throbbing bleeding big toe began to tingle not with pain but cold as she plodded her way in the slush on the side of the road wishing that the Town of West Lyme would put a sidewalk on this darkened street. There were hardly any streetlights! How could the members of the Town Council live with themselves when so many pedestrians, like herself, had been killed on this road by some rich drunken monkey going too fast in their fancy car to be bothered with anything as mundane as a lowly person huffing it on foot? The answer to her question lay within the question itself; they were rich—most of them beyond belief—and, in this world, their money put them far above everyone else.
The curvy hill was at such an incline that the last twenty steps to the crest were torture on her wounded toe and her stretched hamstrings. With a bit of effort, she made it to the top where she paused for a moment to catch her breath knowing it was mostly downhill from here to her lonely condo. Still, that trek was two and half miles away, the wind was picking up and even now she could feel the pavement icing below her Payless pumps. There was a big puddle of slush up ahead. Having to step well into the road to avoid it, she carefully gave it a wide berth before coming back to the shoulder. At the crest of the hill, just past the second curve, she noticed a small river of water running down the other side where it collected in another big puddle of freezing slush its journey blocked by a two foot snowbank.
The good news was, in a mile and a half, she’d hit Paddy’s Package Store where they took her debit card with a smile. She only had half a bottle of Merlot left at home, Dizzy had the distinct feeling she was going to need more than that to get her through the stormy night. Since they did take her debit card she’d ask for twenty dollars in cash-back so she could call a cab to take her the rest of the way home. With a bit of renewed hope and the sting of cold air hitching in her lungs, Dizzy began walking again.
Just then, a Maserati came screaming around the corner mindless of its share of the road, ripped through the puddle she’d worked so hard to avoid and drenched her nearly through to the skin. It just kept going even as she pursed her lips and blew them out as hard as she could to clear the dirty salty water from them. “Asshole! Watch where you’re going you fucking dipshit!” She cursed at the top of her lungs to no avail the driver didn’t hear her they never even noticed her standing there. All that answered her was their fading tail lights rounding the bend below until they were out of her sight.
Wet, cold, and with her inappropriately clad feet beginning to go from prickling to numb, she held one arm out to her side in an effort to balance herself as she made her way down the steep hill sideways trying to get the most traction she could on the quickly hardening slush. It wasn’t easy but she managed to make it to the bottom of the big hill without further incident and, most importantly, without twisting her ankle. Here, at the cloverleaf intersection, the icy running water stopped to form a very large patch of ice that covered the road from side to side. Hitting the WALK button, Dizzy waited for the traffic lights to turn red and the WALK light to flash with its little 10 second count down. When it came on, she looked left and then right before crossing the treacherous patch of ice. Halfway across she was caught in glaring headlights nothing more than an unsuspecting deer. Instinctively, holding her hand up to her closing eyes her body cringed turning into a tight ball of muscle as the other hand dropped the umbrella and wrapped itself around her midsection as it turned to the side waiting for the impact that would knock her off her feet, send her flying across the road, and end her life.
Go to Chapter Three