Sadly, this will be the last entry for this book this week, as there are only four parts. But take heart, loyal readers (few that you may be) tomorrow is Free Book Friday, and a new book shall be offered. Stay tuned! And if you want to full story, just follow this link and enjoy!
He’s been staring at me since the last stop. I admit he’s a cut above the others. At least he’s not some bug-eyed freak with no hair and bad skin. I just don’t know how they can even pick me out of a crowd. It’s not like I have some big tattoo on my forehead declaring I’m the daughter of the so-called Savior. I’m just plain old Larissa Corba, wage slave by day and woman of mystery by night. It’s not my fault my old man founded some crazy church and it’s really not my fault anyone with less than half a brain believes him. I heard the story from my mom so many times before. She just didn’t want me to forget about him. Kind of hard since he stepped out on us before I was even ten. I have to admit, what I do remember of him is good, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that he chose his church over his family. How long before we get to East Fifth Street? This train is taking forever.
He’s still staring too. He’s kind of cute actually. Nice face. Good hair. Hard to believe someone that well put together would fall in with the cult crowd, but then you can never really tell how dumb people are by just looking at them. It would be such a nicer world if you could, though. I could take him out. Maybe even have some fun. No. Stop. No way. I’m not going through that again. Once, a year ago, I let my guard down and it just turned into a big bloody mess. I still don’t know what I was thinking. You see a stalker so, of course, you invite him in for coffee and before you know it, you’re lashed to your bed with dried pig intestines and surrounded by a bunch of Goth priests waiting for him to come and make you a vessel for the next Savior. I was so lucky the intestines broke and I had that knife under my pillow. These days, you can’t be too careful. Another lesson from dear old mom.
I can feel the train slowing to its stop and finally the doors slide open. I push through the people in front of me. Not that I’m scared, but experience tells me to put as much distance between this freak and me as I can. I zigzag along the platform toward the stairs. There are too many people to stop and look around to see if I did lose him, but I’m pretty sure I have.
I walk out onto East Fifth Street and the cool air hits me hard. The sky is as dark as ever. A thick, billowy cover of gray and black clouds has floated over New York and apparently likes it so much it won’t leave. I’m just glad the rain has stopped. It was raining since I got up this morning. It’s actually been raining for several weeks now. Days and days of solid rain with a few breaks in-between. I noticed a couple weeks ago how it’s affecting people. Normally Herb, the guy I get my paper from, always has a smile for me, but three Mondays back, he was as sour and angry as most everyone I know. It was too bad. I myself skew a bit on the dark side and it’s always comforting to have a few smiling faces around. Takes the pressure off me to be happy.
I feel a drop of chilled liquid hit my cheek and soon it’s followed by all his friends. I whip out my umbrella quickly just as the icy water crashes down on everyone. A few slowpokes are still struggling with their umbrellas as I walk by. Must be tourists. Only someone who’s just visiting would let their guard down that easily. I turn my head a bit to get a better look at how bad the poor sucker gets soaked, but instead, I see my train buddy a few yards behind. I turn back quickly and focus on getting through the crowd. My building’s just a few blocks away. This guy isn’t good enough to keep up with me that long. I disappear into a flock of commuters. I purposely cut through the middle to ensure my friend has as difficult a time as he can possibly have in tracking me. I’m tempted to run, but if I run, he runs. I can get more distance between us if I just keep cool.
I’m just a few steps from my building and I feel a wave of relief. I quickly brush past my doorman, Will. He tips his hat to me as I walk by, as he always does, and I blurt out a ‘thanks’ out the side of my mouth, as I always do. I make a snap decision to take the stairs. I’m only on the third floor and I don’t have any heavy luggage. I can make it. I veer a sharp right just before the elevators and find the entrance to the stairwell. I start up, feeling a wave of comfort as I think about my stalker, stuck out in the miserable rain while I am safe and dry. I get to the third floor and open the door. The coast is clear. Not a soul in sight. I start down the hall to my door. I pass the elevator and as I do, it opens. There he is! I feel my spine stiffen. I curse myself just a little bit. I thought I was playing it safe with the stairs. Either I’m losing my skill at avoiding psychos, or this guy is one of the best. He’s closer behind me. I can hear his footsteps. I think I can even smell his aftershave. There’s my door at the end of the hall. It’s so close. Don’t run. Just keep walking. Eyes forward. Pretend you’re a laser burning through a wall of butter. Just cut through. He’s getting closer. I can hear the rustle of his pants as he steps. Okay. There’s no more time for running.
I stop suddenly and pivot fast. I barely recognize the look of surprise on this nutjob’s face. I grab his arm, spin him around and slam him into the wall. He tries to speak, so I shove his face hard in order to impede speech. I don’t really want to hear how I don’t understand and he didn’t mean anything by following me all the way from the subway. He bucks a bit under my grip. Pretty cheeky, if I do say so myself. I throw him to the floor and grind my knee into his spine.
“I live here!” He screams out.
“Three twenty three! Over there! I’m Mike Barnes!” He barks, looking over to the door a few away from mine. I feel sudden coolness erupt in my heart. I jump up from him quickly. I see he’s got his keys in his hand.
“Oh my god. I am so sorry! I didn’t know!”
“It’s okay.” He picks himself up and smoothes himself out nicely. He looks at me and smiles a bit. He seems to be a better sport than I would be if the tables were turned. “I’ve got a couple younger sisters. I know what kind of world it is.”
“I just thought you were following me. In my defense, that happens a lot.”
“I’m sure. Considering who you are.”
“What do you mean by that?” My guard goes back up quickly.
“Well, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t know about your father. I saw you on that bit on the news a few months back.”
“Oh. Right. I was hoping that would have put an end to all of this. Just because my father is the founder of the Great Church of Corba doesn’t mean I’m any closer to God’s ear. Their editor chopped the whole piece up so badly though, now I’ve got more people coming up to me, hoping I can deliver them to The Savior.”
“It’s not your fault. I just got dealt a lousy father and now I’m paying for it.”
“That’s a little harsh.”
“What do you call a father who would rather run off and start some crazy church than be with his family? I don’t think I ever spent any time alone with him after they started filling his head with crazy ideas. He always had that creepy advisor with him. Couldn’t make a move without him. Mom couldn’t take it anymore and asked for a divorce, which he gave her just like that. No arguments. No fights. He just bolted out the door and never thought of us again.”
“Okay. Maybe it wasn’t harsh.”
“So, you live over there? I can’t believe I’ve never seen you in the building before.”
“You may not have seen me, but I’ve seen you a couple times. You always seem so focused and in your mind. I’d say hi, but you never replied.”
“I understand. If my life were like yours, I’d be exactly the same way.” He smiles again. Seeing him closer up, I can see how good looking he really is. His eyes are deep and a crisp shade of blue and his hair looks soft.
“I still feel bad about this. Maybe, if you want, you could come over for a drink sometime? We could get to know each other. I don’t really know any of my neighbors.”
“I’d be honored to be the first. Would tonight be okay?”
“Tonight? Uh, sure. Yeah. Why don’t you come by around eight?”
“Perfect. I’ll see you then.” He smiles again and trots off to his door. I watch him closely as he puts the key in and pushes the door open. Just had to be sure he really did live there. As his door closes, I feel satisfied and I go on to my home.