Tag Archives: creepers

And So It Begins

diving-board

That red blob looked more like a flat kidney bean than the gum someone spit out next to the metal trashcan. Vertical lines running across it marked where someone’s shoe leveled the originally gelatinous mass post-chew. Shawna shuddered to think of the saliva and germs encompassing the wad before it fell from the child’s mouth to hit the pavement. Imagining the bacteria triggered her gag reflex so badly she could barely look.

She practically faded into the waffle weave of the fence behind her. The temperature made everything too hot to touch, so she dared not lean back on the metal and just sat staring at the ABC gum regardless of the nausea it induced. Some loudmouthed kids ran around Shawna sitting atop a beach towel and0 nearly fading into the swimming pool sidewalk. No one acknowledged her positioned there, even the boys who leaped over her body in a clumsy game of chase.

“Look out!” a boy yelled, but Shawna didn’t notice. She was oblivious to all the chaos around her, fixated on that nasty clump there by the bin. Angled toward the parking lot, this was the best vantage point to spot their family station wagon when it finally arrived. Otherwise, she’d have waited elsewhere.

Shawna finally glanced up to check the street. “Where is she? I’ve got to get out of here.” Jumping back in the water sounded great, but Mom had a thing about getting the car seat wet with a swimming suit. “Come on, come on.” The minutes ticked by in slow motion.

A dented-up car caught her attention in the search. A long one with four doors and a man sitting behind the wheel who watched the kids through the chain-link. She’d seen the bumper almost hanging off when she entered the pool gate two hours beforehand but didn’t notice the man. Maybe his children were swimming.

Maybe not. The girl got an uneasy feeling when his gaze moved in her direction. Hairs on her arms prickled as if static dried them to rise from beneath a layer of sweat. His eyes locked on hers, and he raised one hand in an undulating finger wave. Shawna could’ve sworn an unnatural smile crossed his face – not at all like one from last year’s teacher, Mr. Swan, or from the man who checked her season pass at the desk. She looked down quickly to avoid his stare.

Just then, one of the obnoxious kids came racing by and tripped across her outstretched limbs. Another boy had pushed him and caused the punk to fall over her legs and onto the concrete, which shocked Shawna back to the moment. “Whoa, watch what you’re doing!” She pushed the kid away, not caring about his skinned knee or the blood dripping from it.

A sharp whistle blast drew their attention to the lifeguard stand. “No running or pushing!” A guy in Speedos and a visor shading his face pointed a finger down at them. “You’re outta here!”

Unsure if the command was aimed at her, Shawna’s fight-or-flight response kicked in anyway. Regardless of her mother being there or not, she was getting away from those jerks and that creepy man’s ogling. To balance herself to stand, she put a hand down on the sidewalk … right on top of the gum splat.

Shawna shrieked, scrambled to her feet, and knocked over the trashcan in the process. It began to roll in a path paralleling her own as she ran to the bathroom and immediately wash her hand. She peeked around the gate afterward to find the station wagon idling in a parking space. Her mother honked the horn to hurry her along.

Fortunately, the saggy-bumpered car and its perverted driver were nowhere to be seen. She loosened the towel wrapped tightly around all the bare skin she could cover, pulled it off to slip under her on the seat, and moved swiftly to the car.

* Two Word Tuesday writing prompt – vociferous or loudmouthed

image: Markus Spiske via Flickr

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Filed under creative non-fiction, writing

Instinct

flat tire.jpgThe gray sky and chilly mist set a sullen mood for car trouble that left Carolyn stranded on the shoulder of Highway 14. As if an impending holiday dinner with extended family weren’t enough, the car dying made her even more uneasy. She glanced at her watch and swore, “Damn, I hate Daylight Saving Time. It’s gonna start getting dark any minute now.”

She drummed the steering wheel with her fingers and kept her gaze fixed on the rearview mirror to watch for a tow truck. Her patience dissolved in direct proportion to the minutes ticking away in wait. Mom expected everyone before 7:00, and Carolyn would never hear the end of it if she arrived late.

An older blue Impala or Malibu, covered in enough rust to almost make it look red, pulled up behind her car. She wondered, “Who the hell is this guy?” Maybe it was the shit-eating grin on his face as he sauntered up to her driver’s door. Maybe it was the worn out blue jeans he held up with one hand on his waistband as he flicked a cigarette into the ditch with the other one. “Sure, asshole, start a grass fire,” she mentally accused. “You’re lucky it’s raining.”

She couldn’t quite place why, but Carolyn didn’t like the looks of the guy. “Hey, there, little lady,” he crooned. “You got troubles? Pop your hood, and I’ll see if I can help.” She rejected the offer for help outright.

Even opening the window only a crack, an overwhelming waft of cheap cologne assaulted her senses. No red warning light came on when the car quit, but an alarming caution went off inside Carolyn’s body, a sharp yellow glow that rushed through her. She’d learned to trust the feeling over the years. It construed a seemingly well-intentioned gesture on this man’s part into a manipulation.

“No, thanks,” Carolyn responded flatly. “Harold’s Roadside Service is on the way.” She shot the guy a blank glare but revealed no sign of the dread building in her stomach.

She didn’t want to feel beholden to him for anything. In fact, she resented feeling like she owed anybody anything. That just wasn’t her style. “How dare he act so familiar with me,” she thought. “I don’t know this dude from the man in the moon.”

Mom’s voice rang in her ear, ”Oh, Carolyn – you are so suspicious. When are you going to let go of all those preconceived notions about people?”

Realizing and even admitting her prejudice, Carolyn wouldn’t try to explain it away. She felt strong in her convictions and just felt how she felt. Some people shouldn’t be trusted.

The man lingered at her window, the rain sliding down his pock-marked forehead. “I could give you a ride wherever you need,” he said. When she shook her head, he waggled his eyebrows at her and asked, “You sure ‘bout that?” Carolyn looked up only far enough to notice pimples nested among the facial hair creeping down his neck into the frayed and yellowed collar of his dirty white t-shirt.

Carolyn shook her head again, vigorously now, and screamed, “No, I don’t need help! Please go away!” The man shrugged and backed slowly to his car. A menacing half-smile rested on his face, a glare locked on the side mirror where she peered sideways at him and, with each step, he glowered at her there. He got in his car, reversed down the shoulder and onto the side road from where he’d first come. She noticed no license plate on the crumpled front bumper.

Harold delivered Carolyn and her ailing vehicle to her mother’s home within the hour. She wanted to forget the scene and the creepy fake Samaritan as quickly as possible. The discord of her family’s loud dinner conversation presented the prefect opportunity to do so. Her nerves repaired by that time, she ate and quickly retired to her warm bed without relaying the earlier events.

The young woman woke late to a similar drizzle outside her window the next morning and returned to the dining room table where everyone else’s dishes revealed she’d overslept. Glad to miss their unruly breakfast time, she was happy to find only a mug of coffee and the day’s newspaper there to greet her.

Carolyn blew on the steaming liquid before taking her first sip. She shook open the paper to read the morning headlines, not expecting much from such a small-town periodical.

She instead gagged on her mouthful of coffee, and its remnants dripped down her chin as she choked when she read the main header. “Victim of Carjacking Missing,” it said. The first line of the paragraph below read, “The driver of a late-model Chevrolet is wanted in the kidnapping of a young woman late last night from a suspected bump-and-rob accident along North Highway 14.”

Carolyn’s hands shook so violently she spilled her remaining coffee on the newspaper and couldn’t read the rest of the article.

*Studio 30+ writing prompt – beholden Studio30

Photo: Owen Iverson via Flickr

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Filed under fiction, writing