Carpooler, LLC by Tyler Marable
Hear this story read on the Kaidankai podcast here.
Dora Beasley sat in the reclining chair across from her psychiatrist in a small office. “Yes, I have homicidal ideation. Doesn’t everyone from time to time? Isn’t it normal?”
Dr. Blankenship typed something into his computer. “How often do you have these thoughts?”
“Whenever someone wrongs me.”
“Do you have a plan to hurt anyone in particular?”
Dora shook her head. “I told you before, I’m not going to act on them. I could never hurt a fly let alone a human being. It’s just, I’m so depressed. The medicine you gave me doesn’t help at all.”
“It takes two months for the meds I prescribed to show their full benefits.” Dr. Blankenship didn’t even bother to look up from the screen. “When you have these thoughts, do you have a specific method in mind as to how you would kill someone?”
“No, I’m just angry. I don’t think about actually carrying it out,” Dora lied.
“Do you mind going to the hospital for me? I think you may need inpatient care.”
Dora sat up in her seat and leaned forward. “Are you asking me or telling me?”
“I’m asking. I think you would benefit from a stay at the hospital.”
“I don’t have a plan to hurt anyone. I just get mad that’s all. My father’s a lawyer. If you commit me, I’ll sue you for false imprisonment. I haven’t threatened anybody. I’ll lose my job if I go to the hospital.”
The psychiatrist grimaced at the mention of a lawsuit. “My clinic has a crisis call center. If you feel you are going hurt yourself or others, can you call right away?”
“Of course, I will,” Dora said.
“Great, we’re going to change your antidepressants. I think this may be the reason for the homicidal thoughts.”
Dora laughed. “Antidepressants can cause homicidal thoughts?”
“Yes, and suicidal. I’ll need you to check in with me more often, twice a month. The medicine you’re on can cause these types of ideations. Kiesha will give you your next appointment date at the front desk.”
Dora left Blankenship’s behavioral health clinic with a smile on her face. Finally, she had let someone else in on her little secret: She wanted to assist assholes in their journeys to the afterlife.
Monday came around. Dora received a rebuke from her department manager, Stanley Wood: Be late for work three more times and she would be fired.
It wasn’t her fault. Dora had grown up in the countryside, a little town called Eastcliff, Georgia. The city traffic ebbed and flowed like an unpredictable tide. One workday, it would move along steadily, the next a crash would have traffic halted for an hour. Being from a small town, navigating city traffic proved to be a new challenge for her. Dora’s department manager had been more than fair, seeing her tardiness had occurred during her ninety-day probation.
If only she could use the carpool lane.
While stuck in traffic, Dora had seen the ease with which commuters in the carpool lane navigated the congestion. She asked coworkers would they like to carpool with her. They all declined. Dora knew it was because she wasn’t exactly the social type, not as popular at the office as Faye. Determined not to be fired, Dora googled an Uber service. Surely there were others she could ride with, strangers even. She found just the thing she was looking for.
An Uber would stop by her apartment each morning, carrying two other riders. Dora arrived at work fifteen minutes early each day, paying a dollar each mile. She was happy with the service until one day she received an email from an unknown user. Normally, while using her work email, she would delete such junk messages which somehow did not find the spam folder. But the subject made her pause: Spending too much carpooling on Uber? Just pay a one-time fee and never worry about driving in the slow lane again.
The drive to work was twenty-five miles from her apartment, costing Dora fifty dollars a day. She made plenty, but the two hundred and fifty dollars she spent a week just to carpool with Uber added up yearly. The email said only a one-time payment of ninety-nine dollars was needed. A rider would be sent out to commute with the customer. The math was simple and convincing. Think of the money she would save, cash she could use for upscale purses and dresses.
Of course, the email seemed too good to be true. Scams ran rampant on the Internet, but Dora paid for the service. The site seemed to be legit, and she could always report the charges as fraudulent to her credit card company if she had been bamboozled.
That Saturday a knock came at her door. Nobody stood on the other side when she opened it, though. Instead, a package, much taller than her, sat outside her apartment. Her name was on the label; the return address said Carpooler LLC but did not offer a physical location such as a street name or PO Box.
Dora pulled the package inside. Although the box stood at nearly seven feet it weighed essentially nothing. She went to work opening it and cussed in dismay. The package contained a male mannequin, a generic one at that. The tan mannequin didn’t even have any hair much less a face. It was simply six feet of plastic, molded into a humanoid figure. Ninety-nine dollars. She cussed again; your first hunch is always right. She had been scammed.
There was no way to send the package back as it did not contain a return shipping address. And she probably couldn’t report it as fraud to her credit card company as she actually did receive a product after purchase. She sighed. Might as well use the damn thing.
When Monday rolled around, Dora drove her Nissan to work with her “passenger” beside her. She had fitted the mannequin with cheap clothing she had bought from Goodwill. A hat pulled down over its head hid the fact it lacked a face. When she arrived at work, she hid the mannequin as best she could by pushing it down forward in its seat.
A year went by, and then another. Dora always arrived at work forty minutes early, using the extra time to get started on the day. Her department manager was impressed with her dedication, beginning her shift thirty minutes early. Dora promptly received a promotion. She grew so fond of her carpooling friend she gave him a name: Brian.
Her friends from Eastcliff were jealous of the money Dora was pulling down. Her social media accounts always showed her wearing the most exquisite dresses complete with handbags made by Prada and Gucci.
Dora’s country friends wanted to see the city and her newfound success. She bought a car with her raise in salary, a brand-new Dodge Charger Hellcat just to take her friends out on the town when they said they were going to visit.
It was a Saturday night when the doorbell to her swanky studio apartment rang (she ditched her old shabby apartment once she had received the promotion).
Her four best friends burst into the living room when Dora opened the door. They hugged her one-by-one kissing her on the cheek.
Amber wrapped her arms around Dora, squeezing her like a python. “It’s so good to see you, girl.”
Next Jamie came in for a hug. “Your place looks amazing! Can you show us around?”
“Damn, girl,” Kendall said, walking around the living room. “This some nice digs.”
Tracy was the last through the door. She was wearing a white leather skirt that barely contained her ass and a strapless white tube top that was so tiny her breasts flirted with popping out altogether. She held a purse complete with a little chihuahua popping his head out of the top. Poor little bitch, Dora thought, and she wasn’t thinking about Tracy.
Whereas the other girls looked great that night, Tracy was stunning, gorgeous. Tracy had been the most popular chick in high school. With the body and face of a supermodel, all the guys gushed over her. Even after all these years, her beauty was still breathtaking.
“Wow, Dora, you have such an amazing place!” Tracy’s acting skills were worthy of a Razzie. “Is this coffee table made of pine?” She rubbed her slim fingers across its top.
Seeing her friends for the first time in years caused a smile to grace Dora’s face. It completely vanished when Tracy walked through the door and opened her trap.
“Yes, it’s pine,” Dora said.
“But pine is so cheap. Surely you could have afforded something more luxurious with the money you are making.” Tracy’s eyes fell on the TV. “A thirty-two inch? How quaint. Cody bought me an eighty inch with his Christmas bonus last year.”
The room fell silent; the girls waiting for Dora to rebuke the alpha female.
“I don’t watch TV too much or lay about in the living room, so I saved my money decorating in here. I’d rather wear my success.”
Tracy chuckled. “Oh, and that’s what you’re wearing for our girls’ night out? Sweatpants and a t-shirt? You look like it’s laundry day, honey.”
“Actually, no,” Dora replied. “You gals got here early. Let me get my things and we’ll go.”
Dora left the living room and went to her bedroom. She reappeared minutes later, draped in an all-black Prada sheath dress, complete with black Prada pumps, and a Prada handbag to boot.
“My goodness, Dora,” Jamie said. “Your outfit is worth more than my car.”
“You look amazing!” Kendall echoed.
“It definitely beats my outfit,” Amber said.
“Aren’t you a little overdressed?” Tracy asked.
Such a thick quiet enveloped the room one could hear a mosquito buzz.
Dora feigned indifference to her friend’s remark. “Are you ever really too overdressed when you look this stylish?” She struck several poses as if she was on a fashion runway.
Tracy flashed one of her trademark fake grins. “That dress is too dark for you, girlfriend. A guy couldn’t see you six feet away in the night.”
A gasp slipped from Amber’s mouth. The other ladies said not a word. They all looked to Tracy, whose gaze was fixed upon Dora like a female lion sizing up a rival.
Dora was the only African American of the bunch. Durnig high school that detail had weighed on her mind like a black anvil atop of snow. Did they really like her? Amber? Kendall? Jamie? Tracy? Four white chicks who lived in the affluent neighborhood of Eastcliff? Or was she some screwed-up pet? A little plaything like the gremlin chihuahua in Tracy’s knockoff purse?
“Oh, girl” Dora gave a flip of her wrist. “I wanted to wear white like you, but it’s past Labor Day. Now let’s be going.”
Kendall and the rest snickered as Tracy crossed her arms.
Dora continued, “The evening is young, but we are not. My, God, it’s been so long girls! But the Fabulous Five is back together, and we can take the years away with a few drinks. I’m buying!”
The ladies all squealed as Dora led them out of the apartment. They freaked out even more when she showed the girls her brand-new car: a pink Dodge Charger Hellcat.
Kendall ran her hand over the hood. “Sweet ride, Dora.”
Tracy was the first to look inside. “Ew!”
Dora sighed. Couldn’t Tracy just be happy for her? She had always been the alpha female, leading the group about. The life of the party. The one that always got the hot guy. Dora knew she should have gotten the paint and seats in red instead of the tacky pink. Tracy was going to point out any flaw she could find.
“What, you don’t like my car?” Dora asked.
“No, I love it, but what’s this grotesque thing in the passenger's seat?” Tracy asked.
“Oh, that’s …” Dora stopped short of saying the mannequin’s name. You didn’t need to give Tracy any ammunition. “A mannequin I use for carpooling.”
All the girls chuckled; Dora lowered her head.
“Dora Beasley breaking the law. Look at you!” Amber exclaimed.
All the girls laughed again, and then Tracy started flapping her lips. “You don’t have friends at work you can carpool with? Maybe a man even?”
Dora shook her head.
Tracy placed her hands on her hips. “In fact, how many guys have you dated since moving here?”
Dora suppressed a sigh, lowering her gaze to the pavement. “None.”
“You better not still be a virgin. At your age, it’s so bizarre.”
Dora knew what she wanted in a man: good manners, great sense of humor, charming, and warming. As a young black woman, she didn’t care too much for the thugs that threw themselves at her. She desired a good man above all else. Unfortunately, those men were few to none in Atlanta. But Dora would not settle for less when it came to a life partner. She’d rather be single than living life in a bad relationship, rather wait for the right partner to lose her virginity to.
“Of course, I’m not a virgin,” Dora said.
Tracy crossed her arms again. “That wasn’t too convincing. We’re getting you laid tonight. But first thing first, this dummy has got to go.” Tracy pulled the mannequin from the passenger side and let it fall to the ground with a thud.
Dora was going to roll with it and let Brian remain there on the pavement until their night was over, but Jamie stepped in. “Tracy, don’t just throw people’s property on the ground like that.”
“That’s where it deserves to be. Dora needs to get out of her shell and make some friends. Instead of riding around with a dummy.”
The only dummy here is you, Dora thought. She didn’t dare say that.
“She has friends. She has us,” Kendall interjected. “Besides, her landlord doesn’t want her leaving such things in the parking lot. Maybe you should take it into the apartment for her, Tracy.”
Tracy made a moue. There was no way in hell she was lugging around Dora’s garbage.
“That’s alright. I’ll get it.” Dora rounded the car and picked up Brian carefully; she had paid a hundred dollars for him after all. Once she pulled the dummy into the living room and sat him in the lazy boy, Dora spoke, “Sorry, Brian. Tracy can be a bitch sometimes. You’ll be back in your rightful spot when that trick leaves.”
Why doesn’t she just leave now?
Because Tracy has been my friend since tenth grade.
She seems like a frenemy
You said it. But she was the only one who showed me kindness and actually wanted to be seen with me in high school. Because of her, I made even more friends. Kendall, Jamie, and Amber came along.
I’m your only true friend. I don’t treat you like dirt.
I know, Brian, but they’re the girls, you know?
The car horn honked. It could only be Tracy.
“I’ll see you when I get home, Brian.” Dora left the apartment and hopped into the driver's seat. “Where to girls?”
“Neon Lane,” Tracy said. Of course, she would be the one to pick the venue for the outing. “I’ve been there once. From what I hear, it’s always vibing. Picked up of a couple of guys there.”
“A couple of guys?” Amber asked. “How many times have you been there?”
Tracy smiled. “I said once.”
All the girls chuckled except for Dora. Jamie said, “Don’t tell me you had a threesome?”
“You know it,” Tracy replied. “One white and one black. I think their names were Chad and Tyrone, but that was years ago. I don’t remember their names, but I can’t forget their bods and what they did to me.”
Dora sighed as the next thirty minutes consisted of Tracy divulging in gratuitous detail her escapades with the opposite sex. Dora wondered if her “friend” did so to make fun conversation on girls’ night out, or to surreptitiously bully her for being a virgin. One never knew with a “frenemy.”
Finally, they pulled into the parking lot of a club, bustling with patrons. A lavender sign on the building’s façade flaunted the name of the establishment: Neon Lane.
“Man, the scene is lit tonight,” Kendall said from the backseat.
Nervousness doused Dora like a cold shower as she looked at the throng of people in the parking lot. The lot barely had any empty parking spaces. Men (boys really) stood about smoking blunts, their hands on their crotches, managing their bad boy impression while women ( girls really) gallivanted about with their breasts smashed together in their tops and their asses hanging out of their skirts. Damn, Tracy was the only one dressed for the occasion.
I’ll kill that frenemy. Dora’s heart raced; her grip on the steering wheel tightened. This was a bad idea, like the first time she went to a high school party with Tracy—it was the last time she went to a high school party.
Everyone eyed the pink Hellcat as it eased through the parking lot. Crap, all eyes were on her. But isn’t this what Dora wanted? To impress her friends and the world with her newfound success? As the Hellcat crawled through lanes of cars, Dora realized she was no different than the thugs leaning against their vehicles with their hands on their junk—she was managing an impression—and she was not used to such.
“Over there!” Tracy pointed. “There’s a spot.”
Dora pulled her Hellcat in between a Mustang and a Chrysler 300. They all exited the vehicle, giddiness overflowing throughout them. Tracy left the gremlin of a dog in the car. Dora cursed in her mind--that oversized rat better not take a dump on the carpet.
Dora and the Fabolous Five marched through the lot to the long line at the door, all eyes on their hips as they ambled by in their best Saturday attire. From there, it took waiting over thirty minutes until the bouncer let them enter the club. Every so often, a quick breeze would chill their bones causing them to curse and shiver. The night just began and already Dora hated it.
Finally, they set foot in the club. The fragrance of body sweat mixed with cheap cologne and perfume wafted through the air. It mingled with the fetid scent of alcohol and cigarette smoke. Dora wrinkled her nose in disgust.
Amber, Kendall, Jamie, and Tracy sauntered through the club like it was their playground, a familiar watering hole that the lionesses frequented often, so much that they were indifferent to the other predators at the pond. Men stared at them with hungry eyes as they walked by; women stared at them with judging eyes. Dora felt out of her element as she tagged along through the club. Why did she think to invite her friends to a girls’ night out? She thought they’d go to a bar out of the way, get drunk and see a movie, then order crappy food at a Huddle House afterward.
They finally made it to the bar. Dora was the last to sit down. Rap music thumped a rhythmic beat on the speakers, music so loud Dora could not make out what her friends were saying.
“You said you are buying, didn’t you, honey?!” Tracy said over the noise called music.
“You know it. Get what you want!”
The girls all ordered cocktails, each one costing nearly ten dollars each. The price shocked Dora beyond belief. A few drinks into the night, Amber grabbed Kendall’s arm and pulled her on the dance floor. Soon Jamie followed while Tracy and Dora watched from the bar.
“Why don’t you get out on the dance floor with them?” Tracy asked.
“I’m not much of a dancer.”
“You can’t come to the club and not dance. What’s wrong with you?”
Dora shrugged. “I just came for the atmosphere.”
“Well, buy me another drink, honey, and we’ll talk.”
When Dora turned to the bartender Tracy pulled out a small container from her purse and poured a brown liquid into Dora’s glass of Brandy. The bartender sat another cocktail on the counter for Tracy, a Moscow Mule. It was her third of the night.
“You know the real reason why I wanted to come here?” Tracy asked.
Dora shook her head.
“It’s the best spot in town for a chick to get laid. In fact, I see two prospects across the way.” Tracy gestured with her head.
Dora turned her gaze across the bar to two guys sitting opposite of them. Both were ungodly handsome, GQ, wearing stylish tailored dress shirts. Tracy waved to the two beckoning them to join Dora and her.
“Don’t tell them to come over here!” Dora exclaimed.
Tracy stared at the eye candy walking their way. “Too late, honey.”
Both men stood over five-eleven, one had brown hair, sporting a faux hawk, while the blond-headed guy wore a quaff haircut.
“Do you mind if we sit with you?” the blond asked.
“Of course not. That’s why I called you over,” Tracy said. The blond sat by Tracy while the brown faux hawk took his stool beside Dora. Dora’s heart pitter-pattered in her chest. She had to steady her breathing to keep from hyperventilating. “My name is Tracy. This is my friend Dora.”
“I’m Lucas,” the blond said. “My friend, here, is Cody.”
Tracy smiled. “It’s nice to meet you two.”
Cody stared into Dora’s eyes with a confident gaze. “The pleasure is all ours.”
Dora smiled and took a quick gulp of her drink, trying to show she was cool. She struggled to suppress coughing and nearly made a moue in disgust. The Brandy tasted awful all of sudden.
“Let us order you ladies a drink,” Lucas said.
Tracy shook her head while playing with her hair. “We had enough to drink. We were thinking or maybe getting a VIP room in the back.”
Lucas raised a brow. “Oh, and what do you have in mind?”
“I was thinking of getting my virgin friend here laid tonight.”
Tracy! Dora shouted in her mind.
“Is that so?” Cody stroked his chin stubble. “I think it’s admirable to be an adult virgin in this day and age.”
“I think it’s cute,” Lucas said.
Drunken laughter erupted from Tracy’s mouth while she elbowed Dora. “You hear that, Dora? He thinks it’s cute.”
“How old are you?” Cody asked.
Dora took a sip of Brandy. It tasted even more terrible. She struggled not to grimace as she swallowed. “Now, you know it’s rude to ask a lady her age.”
“Oh, please, Dora,” Tracy said. “Don’t be so old-fashion. You look good for twenty-nine.”
Cody leaned backward, surprised. “It takes a lot of discipline to be a virgin at twenty-nine.”
A pleasant smile drew across Lucas’ lips. “Since you’ve waited so long, maybe you should stay a virgin until you’re married.”
Tracy gave a dismissive flip of her hand. “Nonsense. Dora came here with one goal, and that’s to get laid. It can be your buddy over there or another guy. You see, Dora and I are part of the Fabulous Five. We can have any man in this bar, but we have chosen you two. So what’s it’s going to be? You going to take us in the back and drill us or what?”
Both of Lucas’ eyebrows rose in surprise at Tracy’s aggressiveness. He never met a woman this easy in all his twenty-two years. He leaned forward and gave Cody a nod. “Let’s get a VIP room in the back.”
Tracy took Lucas’ hand and led him through the club. Cody and Dora followed along, her heart somersaulting in her chest. This couldn’t be happening. Being an incel, she always wanted to have sex, but until recently Dora had always been invisible to men. No, she wasn’t saving herself for marriage, so when Cody took her hand into his, interlocking fingers, Dora did not object. She just hoped he didn’t care about clammy palms. For the first time since they’ve known each other, Dora genuinely appreciated Tracy’s friendship.
They arrived at the back of the club, a section containing four rooms. Signs on the door stated if the rooms were occupied or not. Each door contained a debit scanner.
“Me and Lucas are going to wait right here,” Tracy said. “We’ll use the room right after you two are done, that way we don’t have to pay twice.”
“Damn, you’re a bad chick aren’t you?” Lucas asked.
Tracy planted her lips on his. “The baddest.”
Dora slid her debit card through the scanner. An audible click signaled the door unlocked. Tracy told Dora and Cody to have fun. Dora loved the smile on Tracy’s face. The grin was full of elation. Dora was going to make love for the first time courtesy of her best friend in the world.
Club music whispered through the cracks in the door. The VIP room smelled much more pleasant than the bar, like fresh citrus actually. Or was that Cody’s cologne? The room was lit with blacklight and only contained a single leather couch. Dora had never clubbed at Neon Lane before, but during the ride there, Tracy explained the VIP room was nothing more than a sex lounge, costing a hundred dollars per use.
Cody leaned in and kissed her, his tongue searching the inside of her mouth. Dora’s first kiss tasted of alcohol and cigarettes, but she didn’t mind. They sat on the couch making out for what seemed like an eternity. Then Cody pulled his shirt over his head and helped her out of her dress. He let Dora’s dress fall to the floor in an expensive puddle. At that moment, she didn’t give a damn. Cody pulled his pants down; he was already erect. His hand rested on her head, guiding it down towards his penis.
Dora never performed oral sex on a man before. She only hoped she was doing a good job. Cody’s moans suggested she was doing something right, though. Out of nowhere, nausea seeped through Dora’s stomach. Was it the alcohol she drank earlier? No. She wasn’t drunk, she didn’t even have a slight buzz. The nausea bubbled up her throat.
She blew chunks all over Cody’s junk.
He jumped from the couch, yelling and cursing. “You stupid drunk bitch.”
Dora vomited again on the floor. Her stomach heaved. She regurgitated until her stomach had nothing left to empty.
Cody picked up Dora’s Prada dress and cleaned himself, tossing it back to the floor when he was done. He cursed Dora, calling her every derogatory word in the dictionary. He threw on his clothes and left the room infuriated.
Tracy entered with a feigned gasp. “What happened, honey?”
Dora stood to her feet, sobbing. “I don’t know. I feel very sick all of sudden.”
She vomited again, the Brandy burning her throat on its way back up.
A sly grin slid across Tracy’s face. “Oh my word. Did he use your Prada to clean up your throw-up?”
Tears fell down Dora’s face. This was the most humiliating moment of her life. “I just want to go home.”
Lucas peeked into room; his face twisted in revulsion. “Drunk sluts.” He shook his head and made his way back to the front of the club.
“Let me go get the girls,” Tracy said. “We’ll get you some clothes.”
“I don’t want them to see me like this.”
But it was too late. Tracy was already on her way to alert the rest of the gang. Dora lowered her head in shame while she stared at her stomach’s contents on the floor. The worst day of her life.
Dora walked in the door and collapsed on the couch. Her friends went to the nearest clothing store and bought her a shirt and jeans, using her own money of course. She flung her Prada purse on the floor, the bag with her vomit-stained sheath dress followed. Dora covered her face with her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks.
How did it go? You look upset. Brians voice rang in her head.
Awful, Brian. Just awful. She thought
I vomited on a guy’s junk while giving him oral sex.
That bitch Tracy slipped something into your drink.
You’re just trying to cheer me up. I had too much Brandy, that’s all.
Dora shook her head. She was losing her damn mind, talking to a mannequin.
Dora decided she needed to get something on her stomach. She went to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, finding a T-bone steak. The raw steak was completely brown instead of red. She opened the pack, the stench of the spoiled meat hitting her nostrils. Who gave a shit the steak was past its expiration date? After pan-frying it, she tossed the steak on a plate and sawed through it with a knife.
How Dora wished the steak was Tracy’s neck, wished she had the courage to do what she always contemplated. She cut through the meat, the knife scratching against the plate, imagining it was her friend’s throat, fantasizing about the knife scraping bone. A smile crossed her face. She did have the resolve to go through with it. All she needed was a bottle of liquid courage. Just another shot of Brandy or two or six. She didn’t give a damn if she puked her lower intestines up her throat. As long as Tracy got what she had coming.
Tracy finally made it back home to Eastcliff. It was a long drive and an unpleasant one as well. Rain fell hard; although her windshield wipers slid back and forth furiously, Tracy could barely make out the road in front of her. White beams from headlights mingled with the rain on the windshield blinding her as other cars passed. Tracy hated driving in the rain, but she absolutely loathed Dora’s newfound success even more. Tracy had it all in high school: looks, popularity, social capital, and here was Roseanne Bar sitting on top of the world, her fat ass smothering the north pole.
Tracy snickered to herself. Roseanne, that’s what she used to call Dora in high school, which was constructive criticism of course. Back in the day, Dora had a body like Eggman Robotnik from the stupid video game she liked to play. What was it? Son? Son something. A woodland critter who could run faster than sound. A teenage girl playing video games. What a loser. Tracy took it upon herself to get Dora out of her box. She only joked that Dora had a body like Roseanne because she wanted her to lose weight so she could gain some confidence about herself. A lot of fat women didn’t know how truly attractive they could be if they dropped a few pounds. Tracy wanted the best for her friend.
Back in high school, Tracy would try and persuade Dora to lose weight through active encouragement. Once, when Tracy’s parents went out of town on vacation, she threw a party at her place. Tracy drank her ass off (she had seduced the forty-year-old neighbor next door when she was fifteen simply so she could extort him into doing her bidding; Charles bought alcohol for the party, a whole keg, and several bottles of liquor). While she was tore up on Tequila, Tracy brought her best friend in the living room
Tracy stumbled around, her arm wrapped around Dora’s massive waist. “Cut the beat.”
Rap music blasted through the room. Everyone kept dancing and grinding on each other.
“I said cut the music!” Tracy shouted.
The DJ ended the track in the middle of the chorus; he had to be courteous to the host of the party after all. The partygoers groaned. They were feeling the music. That was mainly due to the fact they had never consumed so much alcohol before.
“Are you all enjoying my party?” Tracy asked with a drunken, crooked grin.
“Hell yeah!” Jerome Webb shouted. The school’s star quarterback was quite enjoying himself after he led his team to victory over Red Bay with four touchdown passes. He took another swig of his Budweiser. “This is the best party ever!”
Everyone shared Jerome’s sentiment with whoops and hollers.
“Hell yeah it is!” Tracy raised her shot glass to her lips and swallowed the Tequila like a pro.
The party guests cheered her on. “Go Tracy,” one shouted out.
Tracy wobbled on her feet, struggling to keep her bearing. “I got a special friend here. Her name is Dora Beasley.”
At the mention of the name, the crowd reacted in mixed cheers and jeers.
Dora’s eyes fell to the floor.
“Oh come on, guys,” Tracy said. “Dora is my best friend in the world. And this party is in her honor.”
Again, the drunken teens didn’t know whether to celebrate or mock the obese loser standing beside the school’s most popular chick.
“You all know I’m going to the University of Georgia next year.”
“Hell yeah,” someone said. “Go Tracy!”
Tracy belched loudly and chuckled with drunken mirth. “Let me finish. I’ve decided I’m going to be a biology major, and I have the first animal I would like to study right here in this room.”
Behind Tracy stood a white erase board about half the size of one a teacher used in the classroom, draped in a bedsheet. Tracy ripped the silk cover away. The board contained the poster of a humpback whale with a headshot of Dora photoshopped in place of the whale’s head. “I will be studying the American Land Whale!”
The drunken teens burst into raucous laughter. Dora turned, her eyes falling on the poster. She tore from the room, tears streaming down her face.
Yes, her methods were a bit harsh, but they produced results. Dora dropped two hundred pounds after graduation. And now Dora sat on a rung much higher than Tracy on the success ladder.
And the bitch didn’t even thank her for it.
Tracy’s hand tightened around the steering wheel, shaking in anger. Dora had never thanked her for being her friend in high school. After everything she had done for her.
Memories glided through Tracy’s mind as rain pelted the windshield, as the wipers slid back and forth, a montage of her shoving an index finger down her own throat, vomiting the school lunch up in the bathroom. At five feet five and a hundred and ten pounds, Tracy had been a fat fuck her entire life. Dieting and vomiting was not even enough to keep her from being plus-sized. She befriended Dora to help a fellow classmate with weight issues, not because she wanted a land whale around to remind people she herself was fat. It wasn’t because having Dora around showed others how beautiful and fit Tracy was by comparison. Of course it wasn’t.
Now Tracy’s teeth ground against each other, more tightly than her hands wrapped around the steering wheel. Dora was an ungrateful bitch. That’s why she slipped ipecac into Dora’s drink at the bar. And the results were marvelous. That unappreciative bitch vomited on the guy she was to lose her virginity to.
As hatred consumed Tracy’s thoughts, the headlights of her car fell upon something standing in the middle of the road—a human being.
Tracy cussed and cut the steering wheel hard and slammed on the breaks. Her car hit a puddle, spewing it in the air. The Honda Civic hydroplaned across the road. It crashed into a guard rail, skidding against the steel with a metallic screech. The airbag deployed, punching Tracy in the face. Her head snapped backwards.
She groaned, disoriented. The rain still fell hard. The windshield wipers were still going, although a crack snaked its way across the glass. She cussed. What in the word had happen?
The door flung open. Thank God someone came to help. Before she could react, a hard hand wrapped around Tracy’s hair, pulling her head back. Something sharp bit into her throat, ripping through her flesh like a steak knife through a tender cut of beef. First, her body noted the unbearable pain, then shock and panic flooded her.
Tracy’s head fell forward as a geyser of blood spurted onto her new, white dress. She had bought it for Dora’s girls night out. To show she could afford swanky outfits as well. In truth, paying for the dress had emptied her entire savings.
“That’s why you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day,” a soft voice whispered in her ear. “It might get stained.”
Damn, Dora had drunk too much. Even after regurgitating her entire stomach at the club, she still managed to knock down six shots of Brandy. The next day, while nursing her hangover, Dora’s phone rang. She groaned and grabbed the phone off the coffee table. It was Amber.
What could she want? She’s never called me before, not even once after graduation.
Amber’s voice was high-pitched and slid through the phone in a rapid burst. “Dora, Tracy’s dead!”
“Yeah, last night. She died. We don’t who could do such a thing.”
“Slow down, Amber. What happened?”
“Tracy crashed on thirty-eight. You know that bad curve?”
“So, she died in a wreck?”
“No, someone slit her throat after she crashed.”
A smile spread across Dora’s lips as she remembered ripping through the steak with her knife. Serve the bitch right. It was a long time coming. She nearly chuckled when she said, “My, God. Who could do such a thing?”
“We don’t know,” Amber sobbed. “She was so young, so full of life.”
So full of shit also. The shit was bloodletted through her neck. “She was the best friend I ever had.”
“Yeah.” Amber blew her nose. “The police are going to hold her body for a while for forensics. I’ll call and tell you when I hear anything about the funereal.”
“This is so sudden, Amber. How’s the rest of the girls holding up?”
“Jamie and Kendall are devastated. It’s just … who would do such a thing?”
As far as Dora was concerned, the world was done a favor. “I have no idea. They’re so many sick people in this world.” She thought of the conversations she had with her psychiatrists.
“You sound so calm about this. Aren’t you upset?”
Dora’s smile widened. “I’m in shock, Amber. I need a minute to be alone and process this. I think I may have a break down.”
“I understand,” Amber sniffled. “I love you, girl.”
“I love you, too.”
Dora ended the call. She collapsed on the couch in a fit of laughter. Tracy was dead, and Dora freaking loved it.
The funereal was lovely. Mourners packed the church from wall to wall; hell, some stood by the walls since the pews were full. Dora knew her own death would never draw a crowd so large, not even half its size.
The preacher spoke pleasant platitudes, scripture as the pious called them. Ironic, really. Tracy had never lived a life of righteousness and honesty and decency, and yet here were good people shedding tears over the pastor’s words as if Tracy had been some innocent lamb. Death doesn’t make one a saint; it doesn’t erase the evil one had done, the pain they had inflicted on those surviving them. And yet people behaved in such a way at a funeral as to suggest deeds somehow became cosmically omitted when the deceased was returned to the earth. Maybe they should have never risen from the earth to begin with.
The girls all wanted to do something special to mourn Tracy after the funeral ended. They all asked Dora could they ride with her in her sumptuous Hellcat, maybe grab a bite to eat and drinks at the local bar; it’s what Tracy would have wanted, for them to party in her honor. Dora declined, explaining she had to go to work the next day, leaving her friends silently fuming. Truth be told, Dora wanted to be alone that night, not to grieve but to celebrate her friend’s homegoing … to toast her murder.
It proved to be a special night. Dora consumed enough alcohol to put down a sorority. She turned on pop music and danced around the apartment with Brian, embracing him tightly as they waltzed around the living room.
Oh, Brian, how my life has been since you came in it.
How has it been, my love?
Like a dream I wish to have every night.
And so, let’s have it every night.
They swung and swung around, dancing the night away, Dora smiling the widest she ever had. She didn’t care if she was crazy. Waltzing and whispering sweet things to her mannequin lover.
Dora awoke the next morning when the alarm clock went off. She groaned and rolled over off the bed. Damn, she shouldn’t have stayed up all night drinking, no matter the wondrous occasion. She cussed again after glancing at the clock once more. She didn’t even have time to take a shower.
Dora quickly threw on a pants suit. She looked back at Brian, laying on the bed, the toy she placed on his pelvis still fully erect … and still vibrating. Damn, how wasted did she get?
Sorry, Brian, I forgot to turn you off.
That’s fine. I like being on.
Dora’s hand wrapped around the still throbbing toy. I have to turn you off to save your battery for when I get home. Thank you for last night.
No need for thanks. I’m just doing a mann’s job. I’m looking forward to the drive to work.
Me, too, honey.
Dora dragged Brian out the front door and placed him in the passenger’s seat. Even though she used the carpool lane, she still was thirty minutes late to work. She hustled into the building lobby, entering the elevator.
An overwhelming flowery smell hit Dora’s nostrils: Faye Burton’s perfume. Faye was what Dora called an Indifferbot. She looked like the stereotypical hot blonde chick, a Jessica Rabbit with golden hair. Lacking individuality and personality, Faye was a fembot through and through, but due to her beauty, her male coworkers let her skirt the rules (most likely due to her skirt). Dora was pretty sure Faye had maxed out her points months ago, but Stanley wouldn’t fire her. They were indifferent to Faye’s lack of work ethic simply because the twenty-three-year-old woman looked like an Instagram model. (Indifferbot).
Faye smiled widely when Dora entered the elevator. “Dora Beasley, late for work? You see something new every day.”
Yeah, you’re late for work every day, so why you’re talking, trick? “I went to my best friend’s funeral yesterday.”
“Really? Sorry to hear that. You’re hell of a worker to not take the rest of the week off for your friend’s death. That’s what I would have done.”
When you look like a movie star around the office you can do that with the sleezy male leadership here. “Yeah, my friend’s gone but the world is still spinning which means my bills still need to be paid.”
“Is there a favor I can ask you?” Faye said.
“Can I ride with you to and from work for a few weeks while my car is in the shop? The transmission went out. It should be ready by the twenty-eight of this month.”
“Of course, just text me your address. I’ll pick you up tomorrow.”
“You’re awesome, Dora.”
The elevator dinged and they both got off on their floor. The rest of the day consisted of Dora nursing her hangover while finishing paperwork. Faye never talked to her again, not at the water cooler, or in the breakroom. Some habits died hard. Kill them with kindness they say. If you’re too kind, the only one who will die is you. Dora would not make that mistake. She wasn’t the one who deserved death.
The day came to an end. Faye followed Dora back to her car after making sure no one would see them together. A baffled look crossed her face when she opened the passenger door. “What’s this?”
“Oh …” Dora couldn’t tell a coworker her secret to getting to work early every day; everyone at the office would know she was committing a crime on her daily commute. “That’s Brian. He’s a CPR training dummy.”
“What is he doing in your front seat?” The look on Faye’s face turned into disgust. That, you’re weird face, Dora had seen many times growing up.
“One of my friends is in nursing school. She left Brian here in the car. He’s a CPR dummy. I was going to drop the mannequin off at her place after work.”
Faye giggled. “Brian. That’s a cute name for such an ugly thing. College students …”
“Yeah, college students.” Dora faked a chuckle.
“Well, Brian, has to move. I’m riding shotgun.” Faye pulled the mannequin from the front seat and sat him in the back.
Dora drove Faye home, a forty-five-minute drive that felt like an eternity. Indifferbot proved to be the correct term. Faye got away with anything at work due to indifference driven purely by her male coworker’s sex drives, and here, as Dora drove Faye home out of courtesy which would be ignored in the future, the bitch could not talk about anything but herself. You’d think she’d reciprocate Dora’s considerate nature, and at least listen to her when she tried to speak.
Finally, after what seemed like forty years, Faye told Dora to pull into the driveway of a Tudor-style home. The house featured a façade that looked to belong in old England. It was two stories with a chimney covered in ivy vines. The damn thing had to cost over a million dollars. Dora gripped the steering wheel tightly, gnashing her teeth. This was Faye’s home? THIS?!
Faye saw the look on Dora’s face and said with a sly grin, “So what do you think about my new house?”
Dora cleared her throat, trying to hide any disdain, any jealousy. “It’s beautiful.”
“It is, isn’t it?”
“How could you afford such a house being single?” Dora asked.
“With my salary of course.”
“Just what do you make?” Dora asked.
“You know it’s against company policy to ask a coworker what her salary is,” Faye replied. “I appreciate the ride. Can you pick me up tomorrow?”
Faye left the car and ambled up her driveway. Dora didn’t bother watching Faye enter the home. She reversed back into the street, put her Hellcat in drive, and punched it home, all the while thinking of how the Indifferbot owned a multimillion-dollar home while she was stuck with a studio apartment … even though she was ranked higher on the corporate ladder than Faye.
Dinner time came. Another cheap steak was on the menu. Dora softened the steak up with a tenderizing hammer. She slammed it down into the meat. I work twice as hard as that bitch and yet she makes twice as more. And for what? For sleeping with the bosses! Yes, that has to be it.
She banged the hammer down again against the steak, imaging the beef was Faye’s skull. How wonderful it would be to hear bone crack against that hammer. She brought it down again and again and again, the dishes on the counter rattling with each strike. That bitch has to die.
Jake Aubrey loved his wife’s looks but didn’t like her lack of enthusiasm for sex. Sure, she had no problem spending his money, but when it came to spending quality time in the bed, she always had a headache, or was tired from work, or was on her period. That wasn’t a problem, though, because prostitutes always put out.
“No cuddling,” Faye said. “You may sleep in the guest room. Leave the three hundred on the dresser on your way out.”
Jake’s heart dropped. He thought Faye actually liked him. She was so sensual in bed, for a prostitute anyway. At that moment, Jake realized he not only craved sex, but deep intimacy as well. Maybe his marriage was on its final leg. He left bed with a sagging heart and tossed the money on the dresser on his way out.
Faye took a shower after Jake left the room. You couldn’t be too safe with a part-time job such as hers. She prided herself on being the cleanest call girl in the city: no kissing on the lips, no oral sex, no condomless penetration, and a ten-minute shower afterward to boot.
It was the oldest profession in the world because it paid well and there was always someone willing to buy the product. Faye laughed to herself as she lathered antibacterial soap across her breasts. Men like Jake couldn’t see their wives didn’t want to put out because their husbands simply were horrible at lovemaking. You show a woman you love her in bed and make her reach climax over and over, and she’ll want you every night … Men … so blind to their own mediocrity.
After the shower, Faye threw on her nightgown and locked the three hundred dollars Jake left on the dresser in the safe under her bed. One man a night, three hundred bucks each. Being a sexy twenty-three-year-old beats any diploma.
She lay in bed in her nightgown after rolling a nice blunt of gas weed, listening to music. The high hit her quick. Yeah, it was gas, alright. The musical notes of Chopin’s wonderful Nocturns washed over her. She closed her eyes savoring the beauty of melody. Damn, her life was good.
Something hard smashed into her skull.
Faye would have cried out in pain, but the blunt force knocked her into a hazy stupor. Her eyes opened. The silhouette of a human stood over her in the darkness. Streetlight gleamed through the window, shining on the tenderizing hammer the intruder held. Faye could not tell if the figure was male or female. But then a horrible thought streaked through her shattered mind. Jake. It was Jake.
The tenderizing hammer struck against Faye’s skull again. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head. Then another blow came and another until darkness consumed her consciousness.
Dora pulled to the curb outside of Faye’s luxurious home. Police cars filled the driveway. Yellow tape wrapped around the home, blocking all the exits. Dora exited her Hellcat and walked up the driveway. Two policemen stood at a squad car, its turret lights spinning about and about.
“What happened here?” she asked the officers.
“This is a murder scene,” one replied. “We need you to get back in your vehicle and leave.”
“My God, is Faye alright?”
The officer lowered his head. “She’s dead, an apparent homicide. A suspect has been apprehended.”
Dora’s heart jumped in delight upon the words. “My Lord. I can’t believe someone would do such a thing.”
“It happens more often than you think in this city,” the officer said. “We need you to return to your car and vacate the premises.”
Dora didn’t argue. She sauntered back to her Hellcat with a grin on her face. The sun shone brightly. A gust of wind played with her hair, bringing with it the scent of the city. Such a lovely day.
Dora cranked up and left the murder scene. After a few blocks, she pulled over to the curb and retrieved the mannequin from the trunk of her car. Placing him gently in the front seat, Dora whispered, “Sorry, Brian for the inconvenience. Making you ride in the trunk like that. It’s just some people wouldn’t understand our relationship. Don’t worry, though. That Indefferbot Faye has been taken care of. You won’t have to ride in the trunk ever again.
Thank you, sweetheart. I hated it back there.
Dora hugged the mannequin. I know, honey. I’m so sorry. It won’t ever happen again.
Even though she went miles out of her own way to pick up a deceased woman, Dora made it to work with ten minutes to spare. Her Hellcat scooted right along in the carpool lane. The day turned out to be the best eight hours at the office Dora had ever experienced. Word of Faye’s murder filled every cubicle, occupied every conversation at the water cooler. Dora feigned sorrow; she couldn’t let people know she celebrated the thot’s demise. But once Dora got home, Brian and she danced around the apartment all night long until they went to bed, her riding his vibrating penis, orgasms washing over her until she fell by Brian’s side, falling into blissful sleep. Brian was the best antidepressant one could buy.
The next day, Stanley, the department manager, entered Dora’s cubicle. A lanky man, incredibly thin in his dress shirt, with rainbow suspenders entered after him. He stood a little over six-two and wore thick glasses.
“Dora this is Maurice Clinton. He’s a new hire here. He’ll be working alongside you in your cubicle.”
Dora feigned a smile. Being extremely introverted, she preferred to work alone, but her workspace was a two-person cubicle. She dreaded the day when another person would be assigned the computer adjacent to her. “It’s nice to meet you, Maurice.”
Maurice extended his hand. It swallowed hers. “Likewise.”
“Dora is one of our best workers,” Stanley said. “You’ll be in good hands with her.”
The compliment made Dora smile. Yes, she was a good worker. She had earned all of her accolades, unlike the Indifferbot Faye. When Dora received praise from upper management, it was authentic; it was due to hard work and conscientiousness, not based on how many penises she had blown at the office.
“I’ll leave you two to it,” Stanley said. He left the cubicle.
Months went by. Dora enjoyed working with Maurice. The prospect of having another coworker sitting adjacent to her worried Dora at first, but Maurice turned out to be as introverted as she. He rarely spoke but when he did, he said things of substance. During the slow mundane downtime, he and Dora chatted about everything from science to politics to video games. Maurice was ecstatic to meet a woman that appreciated video games as much as he did. He invited her to play Call of Duty with him on Xbox Live and was impressed when she outperformed him.
And that’s how their relationship started, friendship born from common interests. Soon Maurice was taking Dora out to see Marvel movies, eat at her favorite restaurants, visiting interesting museums around the country.
And then one night, he popped the question. He asked Dora to marry him in the privacy of her own living room, Brian being the only witness. The mannequin had always unnerved him, not because Dora used it so she could drive in the carpool lane, but something else entirely. Maurice couldn’t put his finger on it, but the mannequin creeped him the hell out for some reason. She said yes when he proposed, and they made love for the first time in her bedroom. Maurice spent the rest of the weekend with her, with his fiancé, bestowing presents on her, everything from Gucci purses to new video games. Dora told him never to buy her anything again. She had his love and that was enough. They would be wedded someday and rear children; she told him to spoil them instead. Dora never thought she would ever find peace and happiness. She did so when Maurice came into her life.
Maurice entered his apartment and had himself a beer. His life was amazing. He made good money, had good friends, and met the woman of his dreams. He had been a nerd all of his life and thought he would never find a woman he had so much in common with. Not only was Dora sexy, but she had personality as well. Not only did she laugh at his lame jokes, but she listened when he spoke about politics, science, philosophy, and provided her own opinion on the subjects that keenly interested him.
She was his soulmate; popping the question to her was a no-brainer.
Maurice made himself a ham sandwich, drank a beer, and decided to go to bed. A woman who excelled between the sheets was the best sleep aid. Damn, if it wasn’t enough that Dora was an intellectual, she was a freak in the bedroom as well. He thought it odd. She claimed to be a virgin, saying she never had slept with a “human.” That’s how she put it. But Dora knew how to please a man while engaging in the horizontal tango. Shit, he couldn’t talk. He had never slept with a woman himself. They had lost their virginities together to each other, in their earlier thirties to boot … He absolutely loved her with all his being.
That night, peaceful visions visited Maurice, dreams of Dora and him getting married, rearing children, and living a life of bliss.
In the middle of the night, nature called, the beer running straight through his bladder. Maurice used the bathroom and decided to raid the icebox for another sandwich. The home was darker than the countryside at midnight. Maurice kept the lights off in the rooms not in use to preserve energy and keep the bill down. As Maurice entered the dark living room he stopped in his tracks. An odd vibe suffused throughout his body, a feeling that he was not alone in the home. Being a nerd, Maurice knew the presence he felt in the air could most likely be due to low-frequency noise inaudible to humans, such as the hum the air conditioner emitted. But the AC was not on.
That’s when he saw something.
He could vaguely make out the outline of a human. “Dora?” he asked.
When he flipped the light switch, Maurice’s heart lunged into his throat. Brian, Dora’s carpooling buddy, was sitting on the couch. Laughter erupted from Maurice’s lungs. Damn, he had never been pranked so good in his entire life.
“Dora, where the hell are you?” He chuckled. “You got me good.”
No reply came. Then a thought streaked through Maurice’s mind: Dora doesn’t have a key to my apartment. How did she get in?
“Okay, Dora, you can come out now,” he said.
Again, no reply.
She’s not here, a shrill voice said. Only the words were not spoken. They slid through Maurice’s mind, mingling with his own thoughts.
Maurice spun around, looking for the intruder. “Who said that?”
Why, me, Brian, of course.
Maurice turned back around, his sight falling on the mannequin. The dummy’s head twisted, its neck turning until its blank face met Maurice’s. No mouth, no nose, no eyes. The dummy was an abstract version of mannequin.
The supposedly inanimate object rose from the couch. It stared at Maurice with invisible eyes as it strode forward. In its right hand, the dummy held a butcher’s knife so large the blade was practically a machete. “You made a big mistake, Maurice.”
Maurice had seen enough horror movies in his time. This was the part where the main character engaged in dialogue with the monster haunting his house, asking what it wanted, being paralyzed where he stood with overwhelming fear.
But this was no movie.
Maurice sprinted for the front door. Somehow, even with its stiff legs, the mannequin was faster. It dashed across the room, blocking the exit. Maurice couldn’t even be sure if he saw the damn thing move or not. One minute it stood by the couch, the next it was impeding his escape route. The dummy held its blade tightly in its plastic fingers and swung it at Maurice’s neck. He somehow managed to dodge, the blade scraping his Adam’s apple.
Blood dribbled down Maurice’s neck as he fled. The kitchen gave way to a backyard patio. He could escape the monster through the patio’s double French doors. Maurice ran into the kitchen and thrust the patio’s doors open. On the other side stood Brian, the dummy’s butcher’s knife ready to rip flesh. Maurice slammed the double French doors and sprinted for his bedroom, quickly locking himself in. He grabbed the pillow on the bed and tossed it aside, revealing a handgun. The cold chrome pistol shook in his hands as he pointed it towards the bedroom’s door. The door’s knob turned and stopped. Then it shook furiously, back and forth as the demon outside jiggled it.
Maurice’s breaths filled and emptied his lungs in a fast unsteady rhythm. The powerful adrenaline rush, initiated by his fight or flight response, made his legs gelatin. He kept the sights trained on the door … it rattled with a bang … then another … and another, as the intruder threw its weight against the wood.
This had to be a nightmare. Wake up, wake up.
Then a shiny point slid between the door jamb, the tip of a butcher’s knife. It pried the locking mechanism back. The door swung open, slowly creaking to a stop. Maurice fired his handgun. Deafening gunshots filled the room. He pulled the trigger again and again, until the pistol clicked, signaling it had spent its ammunition.
When the smoke cleared, nothing stood in the doorway.
Sorry, Maurice, but you made a mistake I won’t forgive.
The voice seemed to emanate from everywhere at once. From the ceiling, from the walls, from the Chester drawer. Maurice spun around the room, aiming his pistol at thin air.
“What do you want from me?”
I want you to die, the air said.
Maurice reloaded his pistol and fired in all directions as he fled for the window. He dropped the gun, slid the window open, and launched his body through it, falling into the thorn bush below. He had bought the thorny shrub to deter burglars from trying to enter the home through the windows, now he felt the bite from their spikes as he fled for his life.
Pinpricks of blood dotted his limbs, where the shrubs had punctured. But yet the pain did not register. His Kia Soul was parked across the street, only a few yards away. Maurice dashed to it and jumped into the driver’s seat. He cussed in terror when he realized the key fob was still on his nightstand.
Maurice slowly turned his head, horror consuming his mind. Beside him, in the passenger’s seat, sat Brian … the mannequin’s featureless face staring at him.
In his terrified stupor, Maurice managed to speak in a cracked voice. “What do you want?”
I want Dora, came the reply.
Maurice gazed into the blank face of the dummy. “You can have her. Just let me go.”
You didn’t let me finish, a piercing voice sounded in Maurice’s mind. I have no complaints about you sleeping with my woman … I like to watch … But no one takes my seat. I ride shotgun. Always.
The mannequin sunk its knife into Maurice’s side. He let out a blood-curdling scream as the blade found his flesh over and over. The car shook back and forth violently as the dummy struck. Maurice tried to block the blows, but they came too fast. The knife tore into him over a dozen times until terror gave way to placid acceptance. This was it. He was dying. And there was nothing he could do to stop it. His arms went limp to his sides as the knife plunged into him twenty more times.
The news hit Dora like a ton of cinder blocks falling from space. Maurice had been murdered. Stabbed to death over a hundred times in his own car. Who would do such a thing?
The wake was awful, the funeral even more horrid. To stare at the man who was the first to show you true love in a casket, your fiancé. Dora had handled what life threw at her with considerable grace, but the death of Maurice proved too much. She didn’t know how she would survive this turn of events. Only Dr. Blankenship could offer assistance that could put such a bizarre life in perspective.
“I think I’m a jinx,” she told the psychiatrist.
As always, Dr. Blankenship’s attention was directed at his computer screen, his fingers working the keyboard. “Why do you say that?”
Dora thought deeply about the people in her life who had died a horrendous death by homicide: Tracy, Faye, her love Maurice. “Everyone I think of too strongly dies.”
“Everyone dies in this world,” the psychiatrist said. “I’m going to die, you’re going to die. All the people that have ever walked the earth are dead, and the ones walking it now will die. Do you agree?”
Dora leaned back in the chair, contemplating the question. “Yes, I do.”
“All the people who died before you were born, was it your fault?”
Dora shook her head. “No.”
“All the people who will die after you’ve left this earth, will you be responsible for their deaths?”
Dora smiled. She didn’t think of it like that. “No.”
“Bad things happen …” Dr. Blankenship stopped typing on his computer and turned to look Dora dead in her eyes. “You didn’t hurt any of the people who died did you?”
Dora was appalled by the question. “Of course not. I would never harm anyone.”
The psychiatrist smiled. “The medicine you’re on now seems to be helping with the depression. But because of all that has happened in your personal life, I want you to meet with my social worker twice a month now.”
“Twice a month?”
“Yes, for grief counseling. I know Maurice meant a lot to you. I think it’ll be beneficial for you to talk to Darlene twice a month.”
“That’s not necessary.” I can’t miss work that much, Dora thought. “I have a good friend who’ll help me through everything.”
“Really, that’s great!” Dr. Blankenship sounded elated. “What’s your friend’s name?”
Dora smiled big and wide. “Brian.”
Tyler Marable studies creative writing at Google University. He enjoys good food, good beer, and good people. He is an African American and aims to write fiction with protagonists that are POC, but also aims to write fiction that appeals to all races and ethnic groups. He writes in many different genres, but this is the first horror story of his to be published. His fiction has appeared in The Scarlet Leaf Review, Fabula Argentea, and Bewildering Stories.
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Linda Gould hosts the Kaidankai, a weekly blog and podcast of fiction read out loud that explores the entire world of ghosts and the supernatural. The stories are touching, scary, gruesome, funny, and heartwarming. New episodes every Wednesday.