The Chance of a Lifetime
By Louise Dragon
“I’ll bring the kids, then and pick you up at your place, say . . . sevenish?” Monty’s rich, sweet voice oozed like caramel from the phone.
Suzanna hesitated, biting her lip. “Um.”
“Are you afraid of me, sweetheart?” Those soft rich tones – smooth in her left ear.
“A little, I guess,” Suzanna admitted. “All of my friends keep telling me -- Be Careful. They say that I haven’t known you long enough. They say I’m too naive. They say I could get hurt.”
“But what do YOU say?” the buttery voice asked.
Suzanna sighed. She took a huge breath. The fear of telling a complete stranger about her troubles was intoxicating somehow. Exhilarating! After all, she hadn’t divulged her address. She was still safe in her own little apartment connected merely by phone and Internet wires.
“I say . . .” she began, enjoying a man’s full attention for the first time in years. “I say -- I’m tired of being alone. I say -- it’s hard to raise two kids on my own. I say – it’s not wrong if two people with similar circumstances want to meet and talk.” Suzanna took another deep breath and fought to hold back tears.
“I just wish I knew more about you,” she said sadly.
Monty’s musical chuckle was like trilling lovebirds in Suzanna’s ear.
“There’s only one way to do that,” he whispered sweetly. “Meet with me. We’ll take the kids for ice cream. If you don’t like me, I’ll take a hike with no regrets. If you do like me, we’ll talk. Nothing wrong with talking is there? Honey, I’m lonely too. Somehow I get the feeling that our meeting in that chat room for single parents was fate. Pure fate; the chance of a lifetime.”
“244 Dove Hill Road, apartment 13,” Suzanna blurted and then clasped her hand over her mouth.
What have I done? Immediately came to mind.
Another silvery chuckle from the phone. “You won’t be sorry, sweetheart,” Monty crooned. “See you at seven.”
An icicle of fear trailed down Suzanna’s back and she shivered slightly.
“He’s right,” she said out loud to the empty room. “No harm in two lonely people just talking. This could be my chance of a lifetime.” She hugged herself briefly, looked at the clock, smiled shakily, and rushed off to get ready.
In a darkened apartment about twenty miles from Dove Hill Road, Monty flipped closed his cell phone and smiled.
A naked dead woman dangled from the ceiling beams before him like a slaughtered animal. Her raped body, just beginning to cool, bore the brutal marks of recent torture. Her swollen purple face above a bloody and knotted silk scarf gazed sightlessly at her killer with a sereneness that told him her death had been a blessing.
“Hope you enjoyed your chance of a lifetime,” Monty sobbed as he turned and briskly left the apartment by the back door.
He dodged children’s toys in the back yard, but did not what to think about those right now. He knew he was a monster and he was on his way to prove it yet again.
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