“Is it really hot in here? Or is it just me?”
Nancy looked at her vintage Pink Flamingo Swatch. If the timepiece was vintage, so was she, getting the watch as a tenth birthday present.
She wore a fitted, low cut blue top and a pair of smart dove gray trousers. Despite her odd choice in watches, she looked lovely. Sexy, but not slutty. Her hair set in shoulder-length, mousy brown curls.
Nancy emitted a low chuckle, “Well, would you look at the time? I didn’t realize it was so late.”
“It’s only 9 o’clock,” whispered Bill.
“Yes. Unfortunately, I have a big presentation at work tomorrow and I forgot about Phil,” replied Nancy, taking one last sip of her merlot before rising from her seat.
“Phil?” Bill stood, bumping into his wineglass. “Who’s Phil?”
“My ten-year-old bulldog. I’m sorry. I thought I mentioned him.” Nancy grabs her coat from the back of the richly appointed chair and backs away from the table.
“Well. It was wonderful to meet you”, mumbled Bill, reaching out for a handshake.
“You too”, said Nancy, ignoring the outreached hand.
She exited the restaurant with a quickness that didn’t go unnoticed by the maître d’.
“Will that be all, sir?” he asked.
“I guess so”, admitted Bill, feeling dejected.
Nancy slipped into a faded gray coat and let out an audible sigh. She opened the door and slid into the driver’s seat of a car that had seen many years and too many miles. She rested her head on the steering wheel for a moment, the cool plastic easing the headache beginning to rear its ugly head. As she started the car, Nancy let out an extended groan that mimicked the roar of the engine. Feeling a little better, Nancy raced home.
“You have got to hear this!”, Nancy screams into the cellphone. The gray coat hanging off one arm. On the opposite side, a cell phone wedged between her cheek and shoulder.
A few blocks away, Nancy’s best friend Cheryl, cell phone in hand, listened. Her husband Mike, reclining on the couch next to her, flipped through a men’s magazine.
“Was it really that terrible, Nance?”, asked Cheryl.
Nancy entered a sparsely decorated living room. The furniture outdated and shabby. She dropped her coat into an empty armchair and flopped onto a threadbare couch. An old brindle and white English bulldog plodded into the room. He nudged Nancy’s leg with his nose. She reached out with her free hand, gently lifted the dog and placed him next to her on the couch.
“It was awful!”
“Are we talking ‘Crackhead Larry’ bad? Whatever happened to him?”
“Not that terrible. I stand corrected,” admitted Nancy.
“Start at the beginning,” said Cheryl. “And don’t leave out any juicy details.”
Mike dropped his magazine on the coffee table. Feigning a yawn, he mimed he was going to bed and swiftly left the room.
Careful not to disturb the dog, Nancy sank deeper into the couch cushion, curling her long legs behind her.
“Buckle up and keep in mind, you asked,” laughed Nancy. “His name was Bill. Thirty. Five foot eleven. Short brown hair.”
“So far so good”, chuckles Cheryl.
“The problem was not his looks, but his personality. Or should I say personalities,” corrected Nancy. “He had multiple.”
Cheryl bolted upright. “Multiple?” she exclaimed.
“It was so weird. It started right after I got to the restaurant.”
Nancy sat alone in her car, twirling her hair as a tall, dark-haired man strolled by. As she opened the door, she stumbled, practically ejected herself from the car.
“Bill?”, she called out.
With his back to her, the man paused. “Excuse me?”
“I’m sorry. I’m supposed to meet someone here, and I thought you might be him.”
“You’re Nancy?”, asked Bill. “Nice to meet you.”
“So you are Bill! Thank god,” Nancy gushed.
“As nice as this parking lot is, I bet inside the restaurant is nicer. Shall we?” directed Bill as he ushered Nancy into the restaurant.
“What do you do for a living?” inquired Nancy as they sat.
“I work for a law firm in town” replied Bill, taking a sip from his wine glass.
“A lawyer? I thought you were a teacher. I must be mistaken.”
“No, you’re correct. I am a teacher. And a pilot.”
“Wow. How do you find time to date?” inquired Nancy, as she peered over the top of her menu.
“We manage,” Bill smiled. “Now, what will we be having tonight? The lobster? Or perhaps the steak?”
“Actually, I’m a vegetarian,” replied Nancy.
“I wasn’t talking to you!”, growled Bill.
Nancy recoiled in her seat. This was unlike any date she’d ever been on, and the evening had just started.
The maître d’ sauntered over to the table. “Are we ready to order?”
Nancy, glancing at the menu, said, “I’ll have the spinach quiche.”
“Excellent.” The maître d’ turned to Bill. “And for you, sir?”
Bill glanced from Nancy to the maître d’ with an expression suggesting he was seeing both for the first time.
“Um. We’ll have the filet mignon. Or maybe the salmon. You know what? We can’t decide. Surprise us,” laughed Bill.
“Um. Bill. Tell me about your family.” asked Nancy, as the maître d’ stepped away from the table.
“Sure. I’m the oldest of six children. I have three brothers and two sisters. There’s Jim, Bob, Michael, Jessica and the baby, Suzy,” explained Bill.
“Wow. That’s a big family,” exclaimed Nancy. “I only have…”
“I’m NOT a baby!”, yelled Bill, in a perfect imitation of a preteen girl. “I’m 9 and ¾!”
“Oh god”, murmured Nancy under her breath.
“Wanna hear a joke?”, asked Bill, who clearly thought he was Suzy. “What did one birthday candle say to the other? Is it really hot in here? Or is it just me?”
Cheryl, riveted to the couch, asked, “Then what did you do?”
“What do you mean? This guy was a psycho! I made an excuse and got the hell out of there!”
“Oh, hun. I am so sorry. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I guess so,” sighed Nancy. “I think I’m going to check on Phil, then try to forget this whole thing.”
“Well, if you need anything, I’m here for you.”
“Thanks, Cheryl”, sighed Nancy, hanging up the phone. She stood up from the couch and glanced down at the dog. “Come on, Kirby”.
The dog jumped off the couch and followed Nancy out of the living room. They made their way down a darkened hallway and into a small bedroom. The room was bare. Devoid of furniture. Nothing hung on the walls. There was a plastic tarp laid out on the floor. Nancy entered the room, closing the door behind her. On the back of the door, hanging on a nail, was a yellow raincoat. Nancy slipped into the coat as she approached the closet door. She pulled a small straight razor from her coat pocket, opening it to reveal a rusty but sharp blade. She lifted the hood over her head as she threw open the closet door. Inside, suspended from the closet bar, was a naked man. His mouth covered with a dirty piece of duct tape. Minor cuts coated his body in a mixture of fresh and congealed blood.
“Hi Phil”, Nancy cackles. The man, upon seeing Nancy, struggled, but it was pointless.