It was an unbelievable experience and not one I would like to repeat. Common sense should have told me not to, but sometimes I must learn the hard way. I remember running; running like my life depended on it and it did. My lungs felt like they were on fire, but still I ran. It was a sweltering summer evening; the type of evening that feels like a sauna is wrapping itself around your skin over and over. Despite the heat and humidity, my skin was cold and clammy.
Tom, my boss for eleven years, was dead. Everyone, the police, even my best friends believed I was the one who had pulled the trigger. A person without a face kept drifting into my confused mind. Who? Who could have killed my boss, my friend? Who would have done this after I was the last one to leave his office? Why would they do that to him, to his wife, to me?
There is a crowded strip mall a block away. Instinctively I head for the crowd. Every breath of air that I force into my lungs feels like knives stabbing. The hot, humid air of the night isn’t helping. The strip mall is more crowded than usual. Loud carnival music blares from unseen speakers above the din of a couple hundred merry making partiers. Everyone is dressed gaily in bright costumes and the smell of spicy Cajun cooking is heavy in the air. Tonight is the Mardi Gras fundraiser for the children’s home. Dressed in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt, I stand out from the crowd. The police have a warrant for my arrest, a warrant for murder, the murder of my boss, a murder I did not commit and have no intention of being arrested for.
I quickly head for the side street beside the bowling alley. The raucous noise of the fundraiser party fades slightly in the distance and someone has kindly broken all the streetlights. The darkness envelops me in a deep hug like an old friend. I lean against the rough brick wall, not caring that my arms are getting scratched as I gasp to draw air down into my lungs. Sweat is pouring off my forehead like a mountain stream. As my breathing returns to normal, I realize that I am not alone. I ease my body away from the wall and strain to hear a sound, any sound to give me a clue where my unseen companion is. I try so hard not to make a sound by forcing my breathing to become very shallow and hold every muscle tense in an effort not to move. My heart is beating so loudly I am sure everyone within ten miles can hear it. Anxiety painfully prickles my skin like needles, and it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest. Someone is in the dark alley with me and it is Tom’s killer.
A sudden noise at my left elbow startles me and I jump towards it slightly. I feel the cold point of a knife against my neck and hot, fetid breath accosts the left side of my face.
“I’m gonna kill you, girl. Just like I killed your lying scum of a boss.” The deep, gravelly voice growls into my ear.
My entire body jerks upward and I gasp. I am soaked with sweat; the sheets are soaked with sweat. I whirl blindly in the dark searching for my attacker, the attacker I left behind in my dream. That was the last night I enjoyed spicy black bean burritos and a Patricia Cornwell murder mystery as a bedtime treat. Experience truly is the best teacher.
Hope you enjoyed this short story. Due to technical difficulties, the scheduled blog post was not available. DYG Coaching will return next week with tips and tricks to help you along life's journey. In the meantime, what creative pursuits are you interested in this summer?