Dr. Meg and I are writing a little novella we hope you will enjoy and keep you in suspense. I wrote the first chapter, she wrote the second. The third is here. To read the fourth, go here. The fifth installment is here. Read the sixth installment by clicking here. The seventh is below.
Chapter 7 – Texting
David cursed aloud as he read the email from Mel. He pulled a beer soaked blur of a memory from his mind, recalling his rant on that bitch’s blog. He didn’t break character often, but he had there, and the revelation in Mel’s mind could ruin his plans. He immediately felt a shudder of anxiety. He felt exposed.
The Facebook question surprised him. He had assumed she would attempt to “Google” him, but he didn’t realize she knew how to do a reverse image search. Clever. But the image was easy to explain away. The comment would be harder.
“Think,” David spoke to the bare apartment walls as he paced,”I need to pretend I am being completely open and honest with her. Disarming. Give her no cause for fear or alarm.”
Good to hear back from you!
I’m sure that comment sent you into overdrive, it did me too. I didn’t make it – or the other hateful comments I’ve managed to get deleted. Here’s what happened:
Someone, I don’t know who, got upset with me for some reason. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but when you try to make a comment on WordPress and you are not logged in, you can put in whatever name, domain and email you choose. This person decided to “get back at me” by making hateful comments on other people’s blogs claiming to be me. I’m actually surprised they didn’t make any similar comments on yours. When it was brought to my attention I contacted the bloggers and told them it wasn’t me but someone posing as me and they deleted the comments.
He had actually done this to another blogger who had angered him. It was the perfect excuse. He was the victim, not the perpetrator. Mel would feel sorry for him rather than run from him.
Now to “thank” her for bringing it to his attention:
It’s a bit horrifying you thought it was maybe me who had made the comment. I’m glad you brought it up so I could give you the truth. I’ll contact B&R and let her know so she can delete it as well.
Now on to the Facebook sketch.
The Facebook sketch is NOT me. I probably shouldn’t have lifted the pic I found online, but I was just starting, had no readers and wanted to preserve my anonymity. I’m sure you understand.
She offered to “talk,” David thought it was the perfect opening to move along their faux relationship.
Your empathy means a great deal. I too have felt a kinship with you and feel as if I know you despite us never having spoken and barely exchanged emails. I would love to “talk”. And though I suspect by “talk” you meant “email”, I’m going to give you my cell number. Feel free to use it or not. A friend right now to give me perspective would be welcome, but I’m cool with just email if that’s what your comfortable with. It is (484)555-1922.
Use it or not, it’s up to you.
David hoped she would call. He imagined late night sexually charged conversations moving her. But he needed to do one more thing to alleviate any fear she might still harbor.
Based on what you found online, I wanted to give you my “real” identity as well. I’m sure meeting someone online can stir up all kinds of fears in a woman – especially one who is smart, attractive and single. I don’t have a Facebook. But I have attached some pics of me. My real name is David Ridgeway. As you can understand, please don’t connect my name to my blog publicly. I want to remain anonymous.
He attached a few of the pictures he had pilfered from the obituary. Not all of them – he would dole those out to her over time. He wanted her to think they were “new” not taken of a dead man years ago. The idea of luring a victim using pictures of a dead man made him smile.
I hope you’ll respond with with email, text or call. I’ll be looking for it.
Within moments of hitting send, David’s phone chirped a text.
Mel: Hi David, it’s Mel. I just read your email. I’d love to talk in a few. Have to deal with something here at the house. 20 min ok? 9:29 PM
The trap was sprung and Melody Rivers was caught in it. David responded immediately.
David: Wow, thanks for getting back to me. I appreciate you sharing your phone. 20 min is fine. 9:30 PM
Mel: Ok 9:30 PM
David: I’m here whenever you get back. Excited to hear from you. 9:32 PM
Charming. Gracious. 21 minutes later, his phone lit up with another text.
Mel: I’m back! Heard a crash outside, had to check it out. It’s all good. Anyway, thanks for letting me know what happened with the comment, that’s terrible. Also, I appreciate you giving me your personal info. I know you’ve been trying to stay anonymous. Thanks for sharing that. 9:53 PM
David: I figure you probably aren’t a serial killer. What’s the chance of TWO serial killers meeting online? 9:54 PM
Mel: You’re such a smart ass! So I’m sorry to hear about S. Are you ok? 9:56 PM
David: Thanks. It’s hard right now. I thought after a year of mostly ups and a few downs, she felt pretty much as I did – as I do. 9:57 PM
David: BTW her real name is Joan. She’s from Savannah. Moved to Allentown a few years ago. 9:57 PM
Mel: She wasn’t being honest with you. I know how that feels… 10:00 PM
David: You do? 10:02 PM
Mel: I think I’ve mentioned that I’m divorced… he cheated. 10:02 PM
David: I’m so sorry. But like I have been telling myself the last few days, it’s in my past. My future is going to be awesome. It’s a bump in the road. 10:03 PM
Mel: That’s a great attitude! I’m glad to see that! Your post really made me sad… 10:04 PM
David: Now I can find another amazing woman who finds me amazing too. It will happen. My life is always good. 10:06 PM
David: amazing is rare, but I seem to find it in many people. Like you, for instance. You’re pretty amazing. 10:06 PM
David: What was your big 20 min crisis? 10:12 PM
Mel: Something crashed outside. Twice. I had to check it out. My firewood pile toppled over and hit the trash can. Probably squirrels. It made a mess though 10:15 PM
David: Wow, do you live in a wooded area? 10:16 PM
Mel: Well… Sort of. It’s an older neighborhood with lots of mature trees. But I am still in the city 10:18 PM
David: If you don’t mind my asking, where do you live? You don’t have to share. I live in Allentown, PA. 10:21 PM
Mel: No it’s ok. I’m in Bryn Mawr, not far from the college. 10:22 PM
Mel: You ever go to the Allentown Fair? 10:22 PM
David: I have, several years ago. I’m drawing a blank on where Bryn Mawr is? What’s it near? 10:23 PM
Mel: Seriously? It’s just outside Philadelphia, north and west on the way to Valley Forge. You should know that! Allentown isn’t that far! 🙂 10:25 PM
David: I haven’t gone to Philly much. I just tell my chauffeur where I want to go and he takes me. Don’t you do the same? 10:26 PM
David: I figured your 20 min crisis was you getting finished with your latest boy toy 10:27 PM
Mel: Ha! You’re funny! 10:27 PM
Mel: I need more than 20 min… 10:27 PM
David: Well, if he knows what he’s doing. I can assure you, I always know what I am doing. 10:28 PM
Mel: Do you now? 10:28 PM
David: To make love to a woman properly you have to cherish her. Sex is banal. Making love means cherishing, savoring her completely. Taking over mind before body 10:29 PM
David: Captivating, teasing, being in control of her experience and eventual release. It takes time. Hours. 10:30 PM
Mel: Well…. You do have my attention! 10:30 PM
David: Women are typically unaware of even their own body. They never give it much thought and men certainly don’t. I studied to learn techniques that are unusual 10:31 PM
David: It’s hard to think about giving up sex, but I also won’t have sex with someone I’m not in love with. Been there, done that. 10:34 PM
Mel: And that’s how I feel too. I’m not shy but I didn’t expect that… Not yet anyway. 10:35 PM
David: You’re single single? No man in the shadows? 10:35 PM
Mel: Not really. Ha! Unless you count my friend Anton. He’s just about my only RW friend right now. 10:36 PM
David: I love full-out. I want to cherish someone again. I know it will happen. Finding “amazing” once again. 10:36 PM
David: How long have your been divorced? 10:37 PM
Mel: I can’t keep up with you! 10:37 PM
David: “That’s what she said…” 10:38 PM
Mel: I’ve been officially divorced for a few weeks, separated for 18 mos. it was a nasty divorce 10:38 PM
Mel: Lol!!! 10:38 PM
David: Wow, so did the decree sting? 10:39 PM
Mel: He tried to ruin me financially as well as emotionally. I’m all right tho. Getting back on my feet! 10:40 PM
David: Now that it’s official, is Anton going to be more than a friend? 10:40 PM
Mel: Ha! No, it’s not like that! 10:41 PM
David: A smart, accomplished woman like you deserves to have someone cherish their every breath. You need to find that someone. 10:42 PM
Mel: Thank for that. Maybe someday… 10:43 PM
David: Life is short. I grab it by the balls and hold on for the ride. You should try it. It’s liberating. I asked you a Q you never answered… 10:44 PM
Mel: I celebrate life, now that it’s my own again! What Q? 10:45 PM
David: May not matter now, but I’m curious: What would make a romantic day for you? 10:46 PM
Mel: Oh! From the email! Sorry, forgot! Mm, let’s see… Depends on the time of year. Maybe a day hiking? Dinner at home later, cooking together, wine, and um dessert…. 10:50 PM
David: “Dessert” is the best part after a wonderful, intimate, joy filled time. I’m missing the idea of “dessert” 10:51 PM
Mel: Haha! Sweet tooth, huh? Me too! 10:52 PM
David: Yeah, something like that. We’re sexual beings but we’re also mental/emotional ones. The only way sex is great is when there is the other connection, ya know? 10:53 PM
Mel: I hear that. 10:53 PM
David: Right now my chest aches as I think about how it felt to wake up with Joan’s head pressed against it, my arms around her soft body… 10:54 PM
David: Sometimes, most times, that was better than making love. Tho it usually lead to the latter. 10:54 PM
Mel: I’m so sorry. 10:54 PM
David: Have you experienced that in your own life? Did your husband, at least for a time, cherish you? Your mind? Your heart? Your body? 10:55 PM
Mel: I thought he did. But looking back I’m not sure 10:56 PM
David: If you’re not sure I wonder if he ever did. Tho I can’t speak for your relationship. When one is cherished soul and body, one would know. 10:57 PM
Mel: Do you think so? I’ve been fooled once… 10:58 PM
David: If someone cherishes you, it’s more than words, more than sex. It’s how they hold you, touch you. It’s how they make your coffee. Listen to your words. 10:59 PM
David: It’s knowing, without them even saying, you can trust them to never betray you, to have your back. 11:00 PM
Mel: But I do want that again 11:00 PM
David: Are you a bit jaded now? I refuse to be. 11:00 PM
Mel: I guess so. I’m trying not to be. I want to be in love again, to be loved and to give love. Maybe it’s just too soon. 11:01 PM
David: Based on what you write. Based on who you are. You deserve to love and be loved in the way you’ve always dreamed of. We both do. 11:02 PM
Mel: You’re amazing, David. 11:03 PM
David: What does Anton advise you about men? 11:03 PM
Mel: Anton wants me to be careful 11:04 PM
Mel: I can take care of myself! 11:04 PM
David: I know I’m amazing and that’s why I won’t settle for less than. Anton is right, you should be careful. You’re a catch in every way. I’ve thought about it… 11:05 PM
David: And I’m sure you can take care of yourself. 11:05 PM
Mel: Stop! 🙂 you’re making me blush! 11:05 PM
David: It’s just this: When I was in my recently ended relationship, I still appreciated other women’s attributes. I am not a cheat, but I still said to myself “someone would be lucky to be with that person” 11:07 PM
David: I recognized your amazing a long time ago. 11:07 PM
Mel: “That person” meaning me? 11:07 PM
David: Of course. If I had been single, I would have certainly tried to get to know you personally. Kinda like we are now. 11:08 PM
Mel: What are you thinking? 11:08 PM
David: I’d like to get to know you better. See if we click IRL as well as we do on the blogs. This is a good start. We’re both attractive in many ways and we find each other so. Not anything serious, but we should talk. Get to know one another. I have a sexy voice… 11:10 PM
Mel: Then you should call me next time. Now you have my number… 11:11 PM
David: Honesty: I’m not sure I’m ready. My emotions are a mess right this minute. Despite my bluster, I’m hurting pretty deeply. But I think I might like that. 11:13 PM
Mel: I get it. Believe me. Whenever you want, then. I’ll wait to hear from you. 11:14 PM
David: I’ve enjoyed texting with you. Thank you for connecting. We’ll do this again soon. Maybe something even better. I need to go get some things done. 11:16 PM
Mel: Ok goodnight! 11:16 PM
David: Sweet Dreams ; ) 11:16 PM
Mel: 😉 11:17 PM
Dr. Meg and I are writing a little novella we hope you will enjoy and keep you in suspense. I wrote the first chapter, she wrote the second. The third is here. To read the fourth and comment, go to Meg’s blog by clicking here.
Chapter Four: Switch
Something wasn’t right. Mel had tossed and turned all night worrying about it. Thinking she would get a little background on David before things went any further, she Googled him. She began by searching the e-mail address he’d given her. It led back to his blog. No surprise there. Next, she searched “Fictional David” and again she was directed to the blog. But as she scrolled down, she discovered the list also included comments he’d made on other blog posts, and mentions other bloggers made of him. Interesting. He was a frequent commenter. Mel soon realized she wasn’t the only female blogger David had been flirting with. Not cool.
And then… (Click here to read on at Dr. Meg’s blog)
Chapter 3 – Bait
Google has a motto: Don’t be evil. Unfortunately the saying didn’t apply to David.
David learned how to track down almost anyone’s complete personal details with the most meager information. He looked on it as a puzzle-I have this person’s name, what else can I find out about them?
He had her full name – Melody Rivers. From her blog he knew she was a Chiropractor, divorced, liked to run. Lived alone. Worked from home. Now with her email, he could find out far more.
He typed her email address into Google. Four pages of results, all about the “right” Melody Rivers. He had Googled her name previously, but the name was common enough it was difficult to figure out if he had the “right” one.
Google gave him insight into Mel. She lived in Philly, right on Bryn Mawr Ave. That was a surprise. His tiny apartment was in Olney just a half-hour from her. He found her LinkedIn. Seems she just started a new practice a couple years ago. According to public records she was married to “Jack” and they got divorced about the same time.
All useful information.
He then moved over to Facebook, using her email to find her profile.
Her profile was private, but he was stunned by her profile picture. Long, brown hair. Pretty face. Her cover picture showed her along side a group of women at Stonehenge. She looked athletic.
“She’s hot” David said to the empty apartment.
He had learned enough to proceed and she was attractive enough for him to enjoy the effort. He called up her email and read it again. It sounded a little like notes girls pass to guys in high school. Guys they like and wanted to like them.
She was vulnerable. David began setting his trap.
It’s great to connect with you personally and privately . I’ve enjoyed our back and forth on the blogs, but it’s nice to be able to send messages just the two of us see.
“…personally and privately…” “…just the two of us…” These would communicate ideas he wanted to inject into her mind in a non-threatening way. She was captivated at this point, their covert flirting made that obvious, but she could also be scared away.
You know, from what I’ve read and the comments you’ve made, you’re impressive. Smart. Funny. Accomplished. There aren’t many people like you – I suspect you know that already, even though you’d never admit it.
He thought about adding a smiley face then decided against it.
I’d be interested in learning more about you. Where did you grow up? When and why did you start writing? Do you enjoy travelling?
For my part: I grew up in New York. I started writing fresh out of college and ended up writing advertising. Now I get to do that most days. I work from home so I can live anywhere and chose to live in Pennsylvania.
I enjoy travel. I’ve been to Machu Picchu, Moscow (long story there), The Virgin Islands, Paris, Italy. My next trip is to visit my ancestral home in England.
While he did live in Pennsylvania, none of the rest was true. The “England” reference would capture her attention and get her talking about her trip to Stonehenge.
I enjoy running a few miles several days a week, lift weights. For fun I write music, play guitar and hang out with my friends. Savannah keeps me busy as well.
David could barely “run” to his refrigerator, and the heaviest thing he had lifted recently was a beer. He did play guitar for a few weeks in High School, decided it was too hard and quit. There were no friends and certainly no “Savannah.”
Speaking of S, I could use some advice. I am planning a special day with Savannah. In truth, you seem to be very similar personalities. She’s pretty, smart, funny…
He threw the “pretty” in there as a concealed way to say Mel was pretty. He was sure it wouldn’t be lost on her.
…but also sensitive and empathetic. She enjoys romance. So here’s my question: If I…
No, that’s not going to work. Too threatening. He needed to say “someone”.
…if someone were to design the perfect romantic day for you, what would you want him to do? I’d be interested to know, might give me some ideas!
Well, I have to run. Literally, I haven’t run yet today. I just don’t feel right until I’ve gotten in my 3 miles.
Thanks again for connecting, look forward to hearing back from you.
David was proud of himself. He hit all the high points. She would be drawn in. He was especially proud of the question-Mel would now tell him exactly what she finds romantic.
That was information Google couldn’t provide.
Now it was time for him to set up an identity, complete with phone number and pictures, he could share with Mel when she inevitably took the bait.
He finished his last beer and went blearily to bed. He thought about her long legs and lithe body as he drifted off.
Dr. Meg and I collaborating on a suspenseful, possibly romantic novella. I wrote the first chapter, she published the second (below) today and we’ll alternate until we’re done. You’ll hate David; you’ll love Mel. Comments disabled here, go comment on her blog. My next will come out in a week.
Chapter 2 – Loneliness
Divorced. It was final. After eighteen long months, the dissolution of Dr. Melody Rivers’ marriage was official. Mel sat back in her leather armchair and sipped her merlot. She would allow herself one glass of wine in celebration. She wasn’t however, feeling very celebratory. Jack had… (click here now to read on Dr. Meg’s blog.)
Dr. Meg and I are writing a little novella we hope you will enjoy and keep you in suspense. I’m writing the first chapter, she will write and second and so on. We’ll post a chapter a week. Anxious to hear your comments and feedback.
A disclaimer: If someone murders Meg during the writing of this piece it will not be me. That weekend I have an iron-clad alibi. – Kevin
Chapter 1 – Seduction
Victims had to be seduced.
David Twichell’s thoughts had been informed by that idea. If he were going to write compelling prey, they had to be seduced. Not to the bed, to the slaughter.
Like most aspiring writers in the 21st century, David had a blog. He used a pen name, of course, hiding his “real” identity. That’s where he met Mel.
Melody Rivers was a writer with a blog as well. Three books to her name, all Amazon bestsellers. He didn’t have to read them to know her writing was pedestrian. He knew the type: She saw how E. L. James or Stephanie Meyer found fame and fortune and thought “I could do that.” Tripe. Written for the consumption of sexually frustrated, middle-age women. He loathed the idea she called herself an “author” – she was just a self-published hack.
He knew he was not a “hack”. On the contrary he would take the publishing world by storm. His ideas, his characters, his intricate plotting would be a bestseller. From a “real” publisher. His Great Novel.
But his Great Novel was yet to be completed. It was yet to be started. He had been “thinking” about it for a decade now. David wasn’t good at starting, let alone finishing.
Sunday through Thursday, 6:30am found the great novelist driving to his $11.48 an hour customer service job.
What David lacked in perseverance, he made up for in charm. In person he was a pudgy, pale, ill-dressed nobody. Talked too much and made bad jokes. But on the phone he was smart, funny, warm, attractive. The company actually used recordings of his calls to train new reps. The customers who popped on his screen loved him, gave him top marks in surveys.
“Merchant Services, this is David, who do I have the pleasure of serving today?” Smiles and sunshine.
“Name’s Jim Fuller. Dave, can Y’all help me figure out this bill? It ain’t right.” David stifled his initial disgust. His name was DAVID, obviously too hard for this inbred.
“Certainly Jim, I’d be happy to assist you today. Let me look up your account. Can you read the account number on the statement?” He resisted calling him “James”. The thought made him smile.
“Where do I find the account number? I’ve gots the bill in front of me.”
God these customers were imbeciles. “If you look at the upper right corner you should see the statement date. Just beneath the date is the account number. It will say ‘Account’ followed by six digits. Can you read those for me?” If you can read.
Jim read off the numbers. David located his account. “James” owned a small farmer’s supply in southern Georgia. Of course, thought David.
“It’s this here ‘Processing Fee’ – I get charged it every month, but it’s usually a hundred bucks or so. This month it’s over $500. I think y’all musta made a mistake.”
“Of course, Jim, let me look at your statements and see why it is higher this month.” David prided himself on being smarter than the other reps. He knew how to use the system and found the information quickly.
“Jim it looks like you had much higher sales last month. The fee is a percentage of total sales. Did you have unusually high credit card activity last month?”
“Well, yeah, we started sellin’ used farm equipement.”
“Good for you! That sounds like a smart move. How is that working out for you?” David’s mind pictured a row of used manure spreaders.
“Aw, it’s been good. Did over $60,000.00.”
“That’s amazing! Since the Processing Fee is a percentage of your sales, that’s why it was higher this month.” 1+1=2, numb-nuts.
“Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks – sorry I forgot your name.”
“DAVID, and you’re welcome, Jim! Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
The call was typical, one of 30 or 40 each day.
He would get off work at 3:30 and return to his 2 room apartment. David’s ego needed constant stroking. He craved attention. He craved admiration. He would walk in the door, get himself a craft beer, plop into his Goodwill recliner and see who had liked or commented on his posts from last night.
Over the last few years on his anonymous blog he had developed a following. His charm and wit made for humorous posts. He portrayed his life as fabulous. His faux career in advertising. Imaginary sex scenes with his imaginary girlfriend.
As a child David’s mother doted on him and gave him unearned praise. Lying about his achievements at school got the same praise as actual achievement. He followed the pattern through to the present. It worked for his ego.
He began formulating a plan. A plan of seduction. He wanted to write his Great Novel about a serial killer. How would a serial killer lure victims online? He wondered. He saw how people were disarmed by his online personality. Especially the women.
David “met” Melody the way he met most women online. He visited her blog, made a witty comment or three and she responded. She revealed far more about herself than she intended. He could tell she was bookish. The kind of woman who has a richer fantasy life than real one. He could tell she was lonely and filled the romantic void in her life by writing romance into her meager books.
She was smart. A professional. Running her Chiropractic practice out of her home. But he also saw her vulnerability. She was too openly trusting. Naive. Saw people in their best light. Always a word of encouragement and kindness. She probably chose her profession because she was overly empathetic.
He would use that to trap her.
After a few weeks of banter in comments, he wrote a little fiction piece, featuring her. She responded as he knew she would. Flattered by the attention. Charmed by his wit. She already found him compelling. He asked in a comment, politely, disarmingly, if he could send her an email.
People can be betrayed by the slightest mistake. Replying to his email was hers.