Monday 6 April 2015

Too, close to the truth

Finally dropping off my manuscript to my publisher, I could finally relax for a month or two, a new idea was already forming in my brain, I kept pushing it back far in my cortex trying not to let it form, I needed the space in my head to be clear.

I wanted to catch up on many things that I had let slide in my personal life. My house needed painted  inside and out, the garden had that abandoned look. Male friends had stopped calling to ask me out. Only my close girlfriend understood when I was writing nothing else existed for me.

I would call and invite Jill out to lunch to celebrate the finishing of my fourth book. Then get busy finding a painter, plus a gardener to cultivate the ground for a vegetable garden. A rockery for flowers built before summer arrived.

Stopping on my way home I shopped for groceries, the inside of my refrigerator had only seen yogurt and a few slices of cooked meat for the last month. The bread usually stale by the time I got to it. Positive side I always lost a few pound going into the last stretch of my writing. Picking up a few bottles of wine, I headed home.

Arranging to interview a painter in the morning, I looked for a gardener that could start right away. His voice sounded young at the other end of the phone but he had references and could start in two days after finishing with another client. Now if the painter works out my place would be looking spiffy in a month’s time.

Sitting drinking coffee I picked up the local paper, my publisher had a whole column devoted to my book, giving a preview of the covers introduction of what my story was about, she certainly did not waste time, the book would not hit the shelves for another two months at least. I had told her I would not promote this one as I had a huge following and my summer was mine. If she wanted to wait until fall, I would gladly travel promoting it. She agreed saying to wait and see how the sales went.

A hard sharp knock to my door startled me out of my thoughts, there stood a slim tall dark haired man with a slender nose he had the greenish eyes I had ever seen. Introducing himself as Tom, he waiting for an invite in, I stood back and let him pass as he did the smell of Ivory soap filled my nostrils. I did not think anyone used Ivory soap any more.

He had a paper in his hand with all my information of the size of rooms, the colors I had told him I wanted. With a price and time, it would take to finish the inside. Then he would give me an estimate for the outside as soon as he walked around the perimeter before he left. I could hear him open the gate at the side of the house and his boots on the wooden patio, I wiped down the counter putting my cup in the dishwasher and he was back. His only suggestion was the laundry room color to go with a lighter shade it would enlarge the look of the room, I agreed as he handed me a price for the inside and out. I asked when he could start.

Jill picked me up we headed towards the ocean to Bart’s, the seafood was the best in the city, cool outside we sat near the sliding doors with the  beautiful vista of water mountains and greenery, ordered our favorite wine. Food and a view what more could one ask for. Jill had a newspaper under her arm spreading it out to the page where my face looked up at me. Dam, Martha for putting a picture in beside a blurb of my new book. I liked my privacy and hated to be recognized everywhere I went. I never would agree to have my picture in any of my books especially after being stocked by a man when my first book hit the shelves, he thought my book was about him

“I thought you had agreed with Martha to go ahead with the picture” or I would not have brought it as I can see you are upset”Her eyes filled.

Excusing myself from the table I went outside to call Martha, they told me she was out the office until Monday, the bitch just was not going to take my calls, as she knew I would be furious with her.

Jill had been my savior, I spent two months hiding in her apartment until the police caught him climbing up Jill’s trellis at her condominium. Finally being put away for six years for attempted murder, then the police found  evidence connected to the killing of his wife he was now serving a life sentence, he blamed my book for his capture.

My book had nothing to do with him.

Jill dropped me off, as I went up to my door I saw a paper stuck under the mat, a note from the gardener saying he had a look around, and here was a diagram of his plans for the work plus a price, if I agreed he would be here on Monday morning at seven. It all looked fantastic the price was agreeable, I would e-mail him to go ahead. Things were working out perfectly.  

Sunday morning, the sun shone through the curtains woke me from my reoccurring dream. Shaking off the feeling I always had after this nightmare, His face appeared each time with a gun to my head, my face bloody exploding all over the walls. I could see myself lying dead in the pool of blood him laughing down at me. Jumping up I opened my bedroom window to breath in the cool air to catch my breath. When would they ever stop?
My doctor promised they would fade eventually and just get on with my life. Easy for him he was not the one having them.

Making coffee I opened the kitchen door the sun was starting to warm the earth, Putting on a sweater I sat outside the kitchen soaking the rays of sun on my face. I was anxious to get my plans for the house started. I roamed the house making a list of what curtains needed replace. Taking down all the old ones. Then headed outside with gardeners plans and walked visualizing how it would all look when done. My depressed mind vanished.

Monday morning the gardener arrive at seven as promised introducing himself as Jimmy, he had two workers sitting in the truck. They would be building the rockery while he started in with the machine for the garden. They look older than there boss, he called them over introducing one as Luke the other Joe. Luke’s eyes darted back and forth, from me to Jimmy, he almost looked nervous meeting me. Leaving them to get started they unloaded their truck.

From inside their voices traveled and someone was singing, happy workers were my thought. About an hour later, Tom arrived pulling his van into the driveway-unloaded ladders, buckets and paint a full box of brushes lay beside the buckets. Going to the door, I greeted him and again taken aback with his handsome features. He must have just showered as his hair was still wet and again I smelled ivory soap.

I had some errands to do so told Tom I would leave him a key if he had to leave to lock up, as the three gardeners would use the bathroom in the basement. I had locked the basement door leading to the kitchen. Why, I trusted him, and not the three amigos I did not know.

A radio was playing as I entered my front door, Tom had the halls done and he was working on the living room. He hoped I did not mind him turning on my radio as he worked better with music in the background.

As I wandered through the yard to see what had been done after they left they had made a good start on the project, Tom had left and the house was quiet, pouring a glass of wine. I examined the material I had chosen. Ginny a neighbor would sew them for me. I would call her tonight to tell her I had the material.

After a leisurely bath, I felt relaxed and contented how the first day worked out. Jill phoned we chatted as I poured a second glass, looking to see what I would cook for my dinner. Hanging up saying, I thought someone was at the door.

A noise outside the front door, I saw a figure turn at the end of my sidewalk. Opening the door, I saw a note under a rock, why had the person not knocked.

Reading the note a chill went down my spine, that was why no knocking.

 Who are you going to put in prison with your new book BITCH.

 Should I phone the police or was it some sick joker, trying to scare me?

I had tossed and turned most of the night, when I woke I could smell the aroma of coffee had I dreamt it? Slipping into my housecoat, I headed towards the kitchen there sat Tom with coffee at my table. He jumped up his face breaking into a grin, his power had gone off through the night laughing, and he told me he was sure he had paid his electric bill.

 “Where did you find the gardeners”? He had seen the note on the counter

He thought he recognized one of them from a picture in a newspaper from a few months back, a woman who had work done by this person was found severely beaten and robbed, the one called Luke was a suspect, they let him go as he had a solid alibi from a co-worker. Tom wondered if I had checked his references. Explaining I had hired Jimmy and he had brought the other two with him and no I had not checked, but Jimmy had told me he had some if I wanted to check up on his work.

Getting up washing his cup out he stared to get to work, telling me to keep an eye on the three of them.  

Jimmy and his crew arrived shortly after, I met them in the garden asking how long did he think the project would take him to finish, he told me at least two to three weeks if I wanted him to plant too, he would have to come back for the vegetable garden. My thought right away could I stand the stress on them being around here for that long.

Tom had finished the living room and one of the bedrooms before he washed up his brushes, asking if he wanted a beer, he accepted sitting down at the table. I put out some snacks pouring his beer. He sat looking at me then shaking his head he told me he knew all about what had transpired when my first book hit the stores. Showing surprise when he said he had read them all and was looking forward to the next.

The next week flew quickly the rockery was finished, the garden taking shape. Jimmy was on his own now so would come for a beer after work, the weather was getting warmer. Sitting outside he opened up about his personal life his girlfriend wanted to get married, he thought they were both too young. He wanted to have money in the bank before he committed to a marriage, I told him he was smart for a young man.

Tom had finished the inside starting to prepare the outside. I could tell neither liked each other, never a conversation went on between them. Jimmy seemed to watch him from afar. Tom was aloof.

Leaving to do some shopping I asked Tom if he would like to join me for dinner tomorrow night  as I was making a stew and always made a big pot. I asked Jimmy too but he had plans. Smiling Tom accepted, would it be all right if he brought clean clothes and showered downstairs. Could I be interested in a relationship with this man?

I was, about to pour the last of our wine, dinner a success, the phone rang a muffled voice I did not recognize, told me I was going to pay with my life for upsetting peoples life’s with my trashy books. Not to publish any more or I would not be around to enjoy my money or possessions.

Tom right away knew I was upset as I trembled putting the phone down. He wanted to know if that was the first call since the note, starting to tremble I told him of the others usually one most nights with threats always saying I would die soon. Did the police know? Saying I thought it was a hoax, I never involved them, but I would call them tomorrow.

Tom asked, “Did I think Luke had anything to do with the calls.’’ I had completely forgotten about him, as he had only been around to see Jimmy for his pay. Tom asked if I would like him to sleep, downstairs to feel safer until I got the police involve.

Thankfully, I said yes.

My dream woke me a sound, wondered if it was in my dream or for real, I sat up listening. There was someone here, I recognized the voice as he came closer,” bitch you will pay now.” Then a rag stuffed into my mouth, my hand held tight against his body.

Even in the darkness, his dark hair lit up from the moon shinning through the bare windows. Ivory soap permeated the room, a sneer as he switched on the bedside lamp. He rocked beside my bed his dark green eyes showed  hatred , then he introduced himself as the son of the man who he said I was responsible for sending to jail for killing his stepmother who deserved to die. He had wanted to frighten me longer but if the police were to get involved, his identity would come out.

Trying to get the rag out of my mouth, he shoved it in harder the smell of paint on it was making me gag. Then the stew and wine erupted spewed out through the rag, choking, I was going to die in my bed. He pulled the rag out I continuing to throw up as he backed away.

If I could reach my drawer beside my bed I would have a chance, it had lay there loaded for over three years untouched. Retching “I need a hankie” opening my drawer before he had time to react in one motion the safety off a shot exploded into him. His face look astonished as he fell over.

My door crashed open then running footsteps and Jimmy stood at my bedroom door looking concerned and surprised. He told me later he drove past to see if he could take me up on some of the stew. Heard the shot saw Tom’s truck and came to see if I was okay.

 “I can find you a painter to finish the outside” Jimmy laughed as the police lead Tom away. 

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