by Loc MacGowan
For Susan, the day had been just another ordinary day. She had dropped off the kids at day care, put in eight hours at the bank, bought a few groceries, then she’d picked the kids up on the way home. She´d fed them dinner and put them to bed. Now, she was looking forward to some private time with a good book and a cup of coffee . Yes, another ordinary day. Then the phone rang.
When she answered, a male voice said, “I´m glad you wore your red dress today. You look good in red, and blood doesn´t look so awful on red. I hope you´ll wear it on our special day“.
“Who is this?” she asked.
“Oh, you´ll know all you need to know about me some day,” he replied. I already know all about you.”
“I don´t understand,” she said, “and what was that about a special day?
“We have a date with destiny, one you won´t be able to live with and one I won´t be able to live without.”
Susan racked her brain. Was this someone she knew? The voice sounded vaguely familiar. “Is this some kind of a joke?” she asked, “Who are you?”
“This was just an opportunity for us to get to know each other, he said. “You´ll hear from me again. Good bye.”
“Wait!” she said, “I don´t know who you…” but all she heard was the dial tone.
She stood there holding the phone for a moment. She frowned. Was this some guy´s way of starting a romance? She hadn’t had a date since Brian died, and it probably was time. Two years was long enough…but no! She shook her head. This guy´s voice gave her the creeps. She shook her head again. She didn´t like this guy. She shrugged her shoulders and headed for the kitchen.
A few moments later, she sat down on the sofa, her book in her hand and a steaming cup of coffee in front of her, and tried to read, but her mind kept going back to the phone call. “Who was he, what was that about blood not showing on red, and what did he mean by our special day?”
Two nights later, when she answered the phone, he said, “Taking your kids to the park was a good idea. It´s easier for me to get close to you in a crowd. And I love your perfume. Please wear it on our special day. I want to be able to smell it when you die.”
She slammed down the phone and dialed the police. She asked to speak to a detective. A “nothing will ever surprise me” voice said, “This is detective Kolinshi. How can I help you?“ When she finished telling him about the phone calls, he said, “Most of these people are harmless. They use the phone because they are too timid to speak in person. Others feel inferior and get a sick sense of power by frightening people. The safest place is in your house with the doors locked. If he says anything that leads you to believe he´d act on these threats, call me. I can have a squad car there in under two minutes. I will alert the patrols in your area.”
She had just hung up when the phone rang. “You´ve been unfaithful to me”, he said, “Calling Kolinshi was definitely not cool, Susan! A jerk like that will never be able to protect you. He can never understand someone like me, and he doesn´t care about you like I do. On the other hand, it might make our little game more exciting.
How do you know about that? she screamed, “Do you have my phone tapped?”
“I told you I know everything about you, Susan. Did you actually think you could cheat on me without me knowing it?”
She slammed down the receiver and called Kolinshi. He said, “This puts a whole different spin on things. I´ll be there with a team of officers in thirty minutes.”
“I thought you said you could be here in under two minutes!” she cried.
“I said I could have a squad car there in under two minutes. They are already on the way. Don´t leave your house for any reason. I´ll get there as fast as I can. I´m bringing a communication security team with me.”
As soon as he arrived, he began barking orders to the officers with him. ”I want the entire house swept clean. If there is a tap on the phone, find it. If there is a bug in the house, bring it to me.”
An hour later, they were finished. They had found nothing. Kolinshi sent them away. Then he turned to Susan and said, “You need to be honest with me. Did you really get that call?”
“Yes,” she said, “but you don´t believe me.“
“There´s no reason that you would make something like this up is there?” he asked, “like maybe a need for attention?”
“Get out of my house!” she screamed.
Suddenly, he motioned to be quiet and to follow him outside. “What did you expect, filing a report like that?” he demanded as he shut the door behind him. Outside, he said, “Sorry to upset you, but it was necessary to keep up the illusion. They found the bug inside your phone, but we don´t want him to know that.”
“Inside my phone!” She stammered, “My god! That means he´s been in my house!”
“Listen,” Kolinski said, “We have a tracing device that can pinpoint his location when he calls. Your job will be to keep him on the phone long enough for us to find him, but you´ve got to do it in such a way as to not arouse his suspicions. Do you think you can do that?”
“I´ll try,” she replied.
He had hardly left when the phone rang. “By now you know that I´m going to kill you. “he whispered, “the only question is how…and when. I don´t want to shoot you or run over you with a car. They´re too impersonal, and you mean more to me than that. I want to use a knife, and I want to look into your eyes when I do it. I want to feel your passion when you know death is inevitable. I know they found the bug. I´m going to hang up before they can complete the trace, but you´ll be hearing from me.”
She called Kolinski, He said that they hadn´t had time to set up the equipment, but that it was now in place, and they would get him the next timed he called.
A week later, the call came through. He said, “I want to do your kids first, and I want you to watch. That will increase our passion, don´t you think? I like the gurgling sounds. They make it sound almost sexual: the way they reach a crescendo and then fade away into silence.”
“We need to talk,” she said, “there is so much I want to tell you.”
“We´ll have time for that later, “he said. Then she heard the dial tone.
Kolinski called. “There wasn´t time.” “I know,” she said. “I tried.
She received no calls for rest of that month, and she was almost ready to believe that it was over. Then the phone rang. “I think today would be perfect” he said. You´re wearing black, and that´s my second favorite color. Blood doesn´t show on it either. Our relationship has matured. I feel very close to you. I can hear you breathing. I can almost hear your heart beating. Are your children asleep? Don´t wake them. I want to do that. It will be part of the fun. I´ll see you soon.” Then, he hung up.
The phone rang. “This is Kolinski,” he said. “Get out of the house now! Run!”
“Why?” she asked, “You said that my house was the safest place!”
“We´ve traced the call,” he shouted, “and it´s coming from inside your house!”
Loc MacGowan was born in Fallon, Nevada. He joined the army when he was 17 and served in Germany and Vietnam. Later, he earned a bachelors degree in psychology, a masters degree in counseling and a doctorate in marriage and family therapy. When he was fifty, he earned a second masters degree, this one in English with a major in creative writing. He is an award-winning author and has written twenty-six books and many poems. For the past six years, he has lived in Mérida, Mexico.
Art by Sheila Lanham