Estimated reading time — 15 minutes
This is an update to a story I posted on an internet forum about 4 years ago. In fact, what happened was a direct result of me posting it. I’ve since taken it down, but I need to share what happened to me. God…
Don’t worry about that first story; you’ll find that out as I tell this one.
Let’s get started.
So, a little about myself: I’m 41 years old and currently working as a salesman at a retail outlet that specializes in men’s business suits. The job makes pretty good money but with alimony to my ex-wife and child support on top of that, I seem to just barely get by. I had just finished going through the horror of divorce six months before this last incident occurred. I had started drinking again. Drinking, and looking longingly at sleeping pill bottles and razor blades. I know what you’re thinking but I’ve always been too much of a coward for that sort of thing. Though I will admit it’s always seemed tempting, especially after losing everything like I did.
Anyway, as you can imagine, I was feeling pretty low for a few weeks, so I was quite pleasantly surprised when this elegant, beautiful woman, about my age, came into the store and began to show me some interest.
She was tall and slim, wearing a charcoal jacket and skirt combo, her hair discretely dyed a bronze amber. And she had a very unassuming smile, not too blemished by laugh lines or crow’s feet. I admit I’d noticed her before she approached me; I spotted her the moment she entered through the door. She seemed kind of familiar, but I wasn’t going to tell her that. That’s got be the most obvious non-pickup pickup line in the world, telling a strange woman she looks familiar.
Anyway, she walked up to me with this coy smile, just showing a glimpse of perfect white teeth and said, “You probably think I’m in the wrong store.”
I gave a little giggle, cleared my throat and said, “I’m sorry?”
“This is a men’s clothing store, obviously,” she elaborated. Her eyes were deep brown – almost black – and they were lively and active, looking up at me.
“Well ma’am,” I said. “We do have some pant suits and some jackets for ladies if you’d like me to show you.”
“Ma’am?” she remarked playfully. “Do I really look that old to you?”
I chuckled nervously, breaking eye contact with her and clearing my throat again. God, I must have seemed like a schoolboy! I then told her not at all, that she didn’t look old but that I just wanted to be respectful. Her smile widened, her long purple fingernails fidgeting with her purse strap.
“Well,” she said in a soft, heavy voice. “I’m actually here to find a suit for my son. He wants a tuxedo for prom.”
I furrowed my brow. This was the dead of winter. Proms aren’t usually held until June or late May at the earliest.
“I know,” she said, reading my look. “His school is impossible; they want to hold it early so that the students don’t get too distracted from their studies. My son’s also too busy playing computer games to go get a suit himself and too embarrassed to come with me so, here I am.”
I couldn’t help but grin eagerly. Just my luck, I thought.
I showed her some of our more popular items. She told me her son’s size and measurements and together we found something she thought he’d like. The whole time she sided close to me and I could smell her floral perfume. It was soothing and, I’ll admit, I didn’t make any attempt to distance myself from her.
As I was ringing her up at the cash till, I told her that if anything didn’t quite fit, she could bring it back in and we’d happily have it adjusted to fit her son. She gave a low, almost inaudible laugh and told me that I probably didn’t have to worry about that.
There were no other customers in the store then and the other cashier was on break, so we continued to chat. She asked me what I did in my spare time for fun and I hesitated, thinking of the rows of empty liquor bottles in my apartment and the sleeping pills next to the bathtub. Instead of answering her question, I jumped at the opportunity and asked her if she’d like to get a drink later that evening. She said nothing but tilted her head and scanned me with her sexy, roaming eyes.
“When do you get off work?” she muttered softly.
“At seven,” the words leapt from my mouth. “If that’s not too late for you.”
“No,” she said, her pearly grin flashing at me over supple red lips. “That’s perfect. I know a bar around this area. I’ll be out front to pick you up.”
“Great,” I said. “What’s your name again?”
“Andrea,” I repeated, extending my hand. “I’m Andy, nice to meet you.”
That seemed to put my nagging feeling of déjà vu to rest; I had never known an Andrea – or met any Andreas for that matter. But the name was fitting, and I rolled each syllable over and over across my tongue, waiting for the hours of my shift to wilt away.
By 6:30 we were locking up. Jane, the girl working there, was balancing the cash register while I wrote the day’s records in the books. As I wrote down the total debits and credits, I could barely hold onto the pencil, I was so jittery. I know how pathetic this must sound but it had been a while since I had been with a woman in any way; being older and just divorced, it was hard to build up the confidence to start dating again.
By 7:00 it was dark out. Jane walked out and waved goodbye as I locked up the front door. At the curb in front of the sidewalk was a small blue station wagon, not very fancy but I wasn’t about to complain. I looked through the passenger side window and saw Andrea peering out at me, her hooded eyes meeting mine, that slight smile drawn across her face.
I got in and immediately noticed how cold it was. There didn’t seem to be any heating at all, and the radio wasn’t even on. Strange, I thought. But maybe she lives close by.
As she navigated out of the plaza and onto the road, I prattled on about the tuxedo I had sold her and how most customers said they were really happy with it. She didn’t respond and wasn’t smiling anymore. I didn’t think too deep into it though. After all, she was driving. It’s important to keep concentration. The only thing that struck me as odd was that she had placed her purse on her lap while she was driving.
Since I had had to sell my car after the divorce, I was very pleased to not have to ride the bus, so I just eased back in my seat and enjoyed. I think that’s the reason that I didn’t notice that we had been on the road a long time despite her telling me this bar was close by.
I knew something was up after she had gotten onto a highway interchange.
I looked at her very confused. “Did you say this bar was out of town?” I asked.
She didn’t respond. Her eyes were glued to the road as we cruised up the ramp and onto the interstate. By now I was really getting nervous. I noticed she took her left hand from the steering wheel and began reaching inside her purse.
“You really don’t remember me?” she said, her voice just louder than the car engine.
I giggled a bit, but I didn’t find this funny at all.
“I-I don’t know,” I stammered, looking at her. “You do look familiar but – I know I’ve never met an Andrea before.”
I looked down at her lap – into her now opened purse – and felt my heart freeze in my chest: inside, the taped handle held in her delicate fingers, was a snub-nosed revolver. I squirmed in my seat, as if I was going to fly out from the window, the seatbelt digging into my neck.
“What…what the hell are you doing?” I shouted between panted breaths. The gun was now out and pointed at me.
“You probably don’t know any Andrea,” she said coldly, her voice empty – vacant. “But you might remember Alicia. Alicia Moretto.”
Probably from the panic I felt staring down the barrel of that gun, the name didn’t ring any bells. She then looked at me, those bedroom eyes now burning like hot coals.
“Open the glove box,” she muttered in a staid voice.
“What?” I asked.
“Open the glove box!” she screamed. I shuttered from the sharp change in her voice.
I did as I was told. Gingerly, I stretched my shaking hand and pushed the lock button. The compartment door fell open, and out spilled what had to be hundreds of pages of paper. They were all lying at my feet.
She peered down in a quick glance and instructed me to read the stapled pages printed on red paper. I picked them up and immediately recognized what it was: my post of my stalker story to an Internet forum for true horror stories. I then figured out who she was: Alicia Moretto, the mentally disturbed girl who had stalked me at my workplace and at my home years ago when I was in my late teens.
I pleaded with her and she just hollered at me to read it, her eyes back on the road but the revolver still trained on me. I did as she said. It was all there, my words: how she had come into the coffee shop where I worked, how her hair was constantly tangled and greasy, how her clothes were always in tatters, how she always smelled of BO and Vaseline. It was all there; how she had come in every morning, how she knew my schedule and when my shift started. How my coworkers had told me that she would sometimes come in on my days off and ask where I was.
How one night I had found her waiting for me in my house.
I tried to swallow but I couldn’t. I was trembling and the printed-out pages fell from my weak hands involuntarily. She peered over at me – I could see her from the corner of my eyes – and told me to pick up the next set of pages – the one printed on grey paper. I begged her again to just let me go and she screamed for me to read it.
I picked them up, not recognizing any of the writing on it. Then I realized that these were comments people had written on my post of the story. Comments like, What a crazy bitch or I would have been so freaked by that cow or I’d have still hit it lol. Tears had started streaming down my face by the time I’d realized what this was. She had found my story, recognized it, and had come for me.
“Please,” I said to her, choked up having read all the comments and realized her purpose. “I didn’t know it would upset you this much. I – I never used your real name.”
“Do you think that matters?” her voice cracked. It was like an animal growling at me, all the prior sophistication and sensuality gone. “I knew. I knew that story was about me – about a time in my life I was ashamed of…” She trailed off. It sounded as though she had begun to sob. I looked at her and her mouth was hung open, as if in a silent scream, her eyes squinting closed. Yes, she too was crying.
After a terrifying moment she gave a cough, tossed back her hair and was once again icily composed. I looked close and could just see smudges of mascara under her eyes. She then told me to reach inside her purse. I of course wasn’t about to do that.
“I won’t shoot you if you do exactly as I say.” She said it in a calm but uneven voice. The voice smacked of the psychotic desperation of the girl who had pestered me those many years ago.
I nodded my head slightly then quickly turned to glance out the window. It was now very dark and there were few other cars on the road.
Careful not to brush up against the gun, I reached over and put my hand in her purse. Inside I found what felt like a set of Polaroids. My skin waxed cold, imagining that these were probably photos of me she had taken without my knowledge.
I pulled them out and looked at them. They weren’t pictures of me at all. The first photograph was of a couple standing outside a wedding chapel, the woman smiling radiantly in a white lace gown, the handsome mustachioed man next to her wearing a black tuxedo and cummerbund. They were close and holding each other’s hands. I flipped through to the next photo to see the same couple kissing with their eyes closed, a sun setting above a glimmering ocean behind them. I flipped through and in the next photograph I saw the woman lying in a hospital bed, covered by dark green surgical sheets holding a newborn baby. The child was wrapped in a blanket, the husband standing beside them, smiling. I flipped through and saw a photo of the couple with two pre-teen children, sitting on a beach wearing jean shorts and bright colored shirts, smiling up into the camera’s POV. I then realized these photos were of her, Alicia. She had a family. Or had had a family. But…what did this have to do with me?
“I…I don’t understand,” I mumbled. She shot me a look out the corner of her eye and didn’t say anything. I looked out the window and saw there were no lights on the side of the road. Past the shoulder there was nothing but tall trees and bleak wilderness. We were now far, far from any major city or town. I thought about reaching in my coat for my phone but knew that if I did, she might have shot me. Then I started wondering why she didn’t just kill me already if that was what she intended to do.
The minutes felt like hours in that car. The darkness beyond the roadside seemed to stretch for an eternity like I had woken up in hell. Finally, after God knows how long, she spoke.
“It took me ten years,” she said, her voice straining, quavering like that demented girl I remembered. “It took me three years to get over you. And another seven to forgive myself. I went to counseling, therapy. Eventually I agreed to take the medication. You see – I suffer from paranoid schizophrenia. It sort of runs in my family, but it didn’t appear in me until about five months before I met you. My parents had gotten a divorce. Doctor Walton told me that’s what likely triggered my breakdown. Then, when I saw you, it was like you were there for me. My psychiatrist says I was using you as a misplaced source of love – love and security, which I felt had been torn away from me by my parents’ divorce. You were always there and always so polite, so I mistook your politeness and charm for love and affection.”
At that moment, I don’t know why but I didn’t feel scared anymore. I just felt gloomy – depressed. We often call people crazy but when we actually hear the medical terms it becomes a lot less distant. A lot more real.
She continued, “So for ten years after you, I avoided people. I didn’t see friends. I barely spoke to my parents and I absolutely never went out on dates. First, because I was still in love with you. And then because I was so ashamed. Ashamed and afraid I would become that super attached psycho that I had been with you. I wanted so many times to contact you and to apologize but my counselor and Doctor Walton were adamant that that would be a bad idea. They said it would cause me to relapse.
“So, for ten years I was alone, hating myself. Then I met David. David was a graduate student in university studying Physical Geography. He had approached me first. We met at a bar, or restaurant actually. My parents had insisted on taking me out for my birthday and he’d asked the waiter to put our bill on his tab.” She then gave a sorrowful laugh, a tear tumbling down her cheek. “He barely had enough money to pay for his beer and he wanted to pay for a whole family’s meal just to speak with me.
“We started out just as friends and then with his insistence we became more than that. I loved him and felt so much better. I finally felt well enough to go back to school and complete my degree. We got married shortly after he graduated. He’d been hired on at a consulting firm, so we were mostly stable. I finally forgave myself and forgot all about you. But I never told him. Never.
“A year into our marriage we had Aaron and two years later Cassandra. We were both so happy. I was happy. I got a job as a typist at a law firm. It wasn’t much but it gave me something to do after the children were old enough to go to school. I liked working there; everyone was so friendly and helpful.
“One day, Mark, one of the law firm’s support staff members in Facilities was showing me this website he often goes to, mostly to look up funny pictures. He told me about this page that has scary stories and creepy encounters and I immediately recognized what most of the stories were about. I searched all the posts and it didn’t take me long to find one that was familiar. Too familiar. I knew that it was you who had posted it.”
She then stopped and let out a heavy sigh, her moist eyes rolling up and looking long at the car roof. It was as though she could not believe she was telling me this. Her voice had stopped sounding like a nervous psychotic and more like that of a sobbing, distraught woman. The gloom lingered thick inside the car – over both of us.
“After that my paranoia and anxiety spiked,” she continued. “I tried to fight it by upping the dose of my medication but that didn’t work. Pretty soon I just stopped since they only seemed to make me drowsy.” She then gave another humorless little laugh as though she’d caught herself in a lie. “You know, I thought it was because David had seen the post that he left me and why I couldn’t get even joint custody of the children but that’s not true. The truth is, seeing your post made me act erratic. I started throwing fits, fighting with him for no reason, shouting at the children and beating them over things that weren’t their fault. I had stopped sleeping at night, believing the next-door neighbors were spying on us and plotting to come in and steal everything. It was because of me that David left, and I acted that way because of your post.”
I was now staring out the window. I could just make out open fields in the distance with the slightest smattering of brush. Where the hell was she taking me?
“I couldn’t forgive myself,” she said. “I know now that I never will.”
I gulped and asked, “How did you find me?”
She smiled maliciously in my direction, amused by my discomfort. “One of the criminal lawyers at my firm, Mike Corson, has a team of private investigators. I do paperwork for him, so I forged a memo asking one of the PIs to find your whereabouts. It didn’t take long; I knew your full name, where you had once worked and where you grew up. I was of course surprised you still lived there after all these years.” Her smile was now spiteful and mocking. That and her last comment made me look away, slightly galled. “Of course, when Mike found out about it, I was fired. Misappropriation of the firm’s resources. It didn’t help I was already on thin ice – for obvious reasons.”
The road we had driven on had disintegrated into a rough path of scrappy concrete. It was as though we had gone back in time to when there was nothing but dirt and jungle. I actually started worrying that if we drove any longer that that road would stop, or we’d be stranded in desert. Regardless, she drove on, the car swaying and lurching over the craggy pavement.
I looked at the clock on the dash and the green numbers revealed 12:03. We had been driving for hours. Another hour passed with nothing. Just silence.
I started absorbing what she’d told me and felt this weight form in the pit of my stomach. I had caused this. I had ruined her life. And for what? A little bit of attention on an online forum? Jesus, the episode hadn’t been that much of my life and, for God sake, she was schizophrenic. The whole damn thing now seemed sleazy and – and I no longer felt scared. I wasn’t frightened at all. I just wanted this to end.
By 1:15 she slowed down. We pulled over, parking on a gravel shoulder by a vast, empty field, the car sitting perpendicular to the road.
When she killed the engine, her headlights died, and it went all black beyond the windshield. My eyes adjusted and I could just make out the black shape of the field beneath the lighter shade of the starless night sky. We both sat there, not looking at each other, like we had just fucked for money. She didn’t move, didn’t stir. The revolver still trained on me.
“I’m sorry,” I said. My voice was damp and contrite. “I know that what I did was wrong. When I met you, it was at a moment when you were most vulnerable and it was wrong for me to take advantage, even years later.”
She didn’t look at me, didn’t move. But I knew she heard me.
“Go ahead,” I then said to her. “Kill me. I deserve to be hurt. I deserve to die. I – I don’t want to live anymore anyway.”
Just then, she straitened in her seat, still staring out into the field before us.
“No,” she said, huskily. “You deserve to feel what I feel every day.”
I then heard the hammer click backward and watched as she opened her perfect mouth and stuck the barrel inside.
I shouted and lunged toward her but–
There was a flash and I saw spots. My ears were ringing and blocked like I was under water. After about a minute my eyes adjusted. Then I started, stupidly surprised, by the sight of the woman’s mutilated face resting next to me in the car. The interior was splattered with her blood.
My hand groped endlessly for the door handle, finally finding it, and I fell out onto the pebbled ground from the passenger side. I got on my hands and knees and puked my guts out. After I stood up, I doubled over and dry heaved for several minutes.
From there I walked the shoulder, not thumbing, not trying to get home, just trying to get as far away from Andrea – Alicia as I could.
Eventually, by daybreak, someone driving a rusted pickup pulled over and asked me if I needed a lift. Still shaken and exhausted I approached his passenger side window. Once I was a foot away from his truck, I saw his face drain pale, his pupils shrink in the sockets and in one hyper-movement, he grabbed the gearstick, put it into drive and sped away.
I stared at the fleeing vehicle confused, then looked down at my clothes. I was, of course, covered with blood. I took off my jacket and shirt, wiped down my face, then tossed them, continuing the rest of the way in just my undershirt and slacks. About two hours later, someone picked me up and drove me as far as the next major city. From there I took a bus home and called in to work sick.
About a week after the incident, two police officers came to see me at my home. They asked me about my relationship to the deceased, Alicia Moretto-Lippmann, and I told them the whole story. They informed me that they had found Google map printouts of my address and a P.I. file of my name at the scene.
They tried to get me to go downtown with them, but I refused and called a lawyer. My new lawyer, Mister Michael Corson, who agreed to represent me Pro Bono, told me there’s no chance of a charge of murder being brought against me. The evidence of possible foul play is pretty thin; my story, although incredible, makes enough sense. And the police are happy to write off her death as a suicide rather than spend endless man-hours and OT investigating a homicide.
Corson recommended me to a better matrimonial lawyer, and I got my alimony reduced and received more time to see my kids. I also entered AA where I have started to get over my self-destructive thoughts and behavior.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel horrible about what happened to Alicia. And her last words do stick with me. But, I mean, how far does guilt get you?
Credit : Malcolm MacDonald
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