Suggested Audio Candy
 Talk Talk “Life’s What You Make It”
 Bryan Ferry “I Put A Spell On You”
 Japan “Ghosts”
Jodie was besides herself with nerves about her upcoming blind date. She had been single for four years following her ex-husband’s unforeseen departure and woefully out-of-sorts when it came to meeting people. It hadn’t helped that Deryn had acted unceremoniously upon his departure; his duplicitous ways caught up with him and instead of staying and attempting to work through the couple’s numerous problems, he simply upped and left without so much as an explanation for his sudden about-turn. The whole sorry mess had left Jodie shell-shocked; she had been devoted to Deryn ever since they met when she was barely twenty-one and she had been raised to not be a quitter but there was little she could do as he packed his belongings while she was at work and left nothing more than a scrawled note to denote his departure. She hadn’t heard a word from him ever since that fateful day; which made it particularly hard to gain any sort of closure but, after three years of shutting herself away and feeling sorry for herself, her best and only true friend Maya had suggested it was high time she began living her life once more. Reluctantly she agreed and, before she knew it, she had signed up for an internet dating site in an endeavor to finally put the past behind her.
She was 28 years old, attractive and athletic, although you wouldn’t know such from her sheltered existence. It had been a long time since she had worn make up or bought a new evening dress and, instead, she sat around in her pajamas for most of the day every day, stuffing junk food down her neck in an attempt to shut out her heartbreak. Maya had met her fiancé Dirk through the same method and swore that it could work if she just opened yourself up for opportunity rather than discounting it. Jodie hadn’t felt particularly at-ease when snapping pictures for her profile; it appeared almost dishonest to guard her imperfections but her friend insisted that this was the correct way to go to snag herself a keeper. At first it looked as though nothing positive was likely to come from such seemingly desperate self-advertisement but, after a couple of rather cringeworthy interludes with men whose intentions were anything but honorable, she had met Lawrence. He was a well-to-do businessman with more than his fair share of savings but didn’t boast about his financial situation. Instead, it took Jodie three months to prise the information from his lips and, when he confessed, he appeared almost embarrassed by his riches.
During the time that they had spoken online, Jodie’s attitude towards internet dating had softened. In many respects it appeared to be the best way of meeting your mate as it afforded you time to learn a little more about your suitor’s temperament, ideals and lifestyle choices before it was necessary to fast track things to the next level. He was attentive, always logged on when he said he would, and had also been jilted by his live-in lover so appeared to understand what she had been forced to endure and was only too aware of the impact it would have had on her confidence. She had been understandably a little wary upon commencement and played her hand close to her chest for the first month or so; but Lawrence never pushed her as he was more than content to take things slowly and allow their relationship to develop organically. In the last week alone she had spent half her waking days talking to the bachelor and it had just felt like the right time to take that next step. She had considered inviting Maya to tag along as a back-up but decided against it at the 11th hour as, for once in her life, she felt it was okay to take a leap of faith.
Of course, considering it was nine years since her last public date; she was incredibly nervous, to the point where she actually vomited ten minutes before she was due to leave. Jodie very nearly called the whole thing off but Lawrence was making a thirty-hour round trip via Greyhound to come and meet her so she bucked up and soldiered on with any final preparations. For twenty-eight years old, she looked somewhat haggard, an impromptu outbreak of grey hair had been her reward for having her life torn asunder by Deryn’s philandering ways and had taken their toll on her natural beauty. Mercifully, Maya had been on-hand to assist with a rigorous three-day makeover which included manicure, pedicure, and extensive spa treatment to help her feel confident about her appearance. She even donated her very best Prada dress in an endeavor to make Jodie appear hip and edgy. Jodie resisted at first and was convinced that the best course of action was not to conceal herself behind eye-liner and foundation, but eventually agreed more out of being whittled down than anything else. As she took one final glance in her full-length bedroom mirror and barely recognized the person looking back at her, she felt like a sham; but a message from Lawrence, who was currently an hour away from their designated date spot, put her mind at ease.
He really did seem different from the droves of unruly reprobates populating the online hangouts and, most critically, his intentions seemed honorable. He hadn’t rushed things along or demanded she do anything she wasn’t already comfortable with, and the idea of meeting up had ended up her idea. She could hardly believe it herself; as she propositioned Lawrence about meeting in person it was actually he who held back, citing a lack of self-esteem as the reason for his lack of being forthcoming. He too had also been double-crossed although he also had to suffer the injustice of catching his bride-to-be in their own bed with not one guy but two. In ten harsh minutes he learned that his trust had not been rewarded which made it nigh-on impossible for him to desire putting himself back on the market. Like Jodie, he had considered internet dating an undignified pursuit although ultimately he had come around to the idea out of fear for ending up alone and a lack of opportunity otherwise. If she had the unenviable task of meeting a virtual stranger with nobody there to regulate; then his commitment was even more extreme. He despised traveling for long periods in enclosed transportation and, should she stand him up, then it would be a long ride back home to make sense of things.
Jodie had suggested The Velvet Room for their rendezvous; partly because it was considered the best eatery in state and secondly because it was always well populated and only a seven minute drive from her home should things turn awry. Being the lady, it was customary to arrive a little later than planned just to keep the gentleman keen but, considering his cross-country pilgrimage to come see her, she decided to cut him some slack. She knew what to expect; indeed he had informed her of exactly what he would be wearing and there was only one guy present clutching lilies. He knew full well that they were her absolute favorite and picked up a bodacious bouquet near the bus station just to set a strong first impression and thank her for her kindness. Had she not been duly impressed by his appearance, then she could just as easily have turned and left before he even knew she was present as the restaurant was heaving as it invariably did on a Friday evening. However, the pictures didn’t lie; while not exactly the ultimate catch, he was at least tidily groomed and presented, more so considering he had spent most of his waking hours in transit. Jodie ordered a quick short at the bar and knocked it back as a final calming tonic; before making her way over to Lawrence’s table for formal introductions.
“Lawrence is it?” she asked timidly “Hi. I’m Jodie. Do you mind if I take a seat?”
Lawrence leapt straight up and pulled the opposing chair back to accommodate her arrival “Yes. Hi. It’s great to finally meet you in person. Can I take your coat?”
In years of marriage Deryn had never once acted so chivalrously. This was a promising sign and she hardly knew how to react to his conduct “That’s…okay. I need to warm up a bit anyway. It’s freezing out there tonight”
She hurriedly sat and he handed her a menu although she had eaten here on numerous occasions with Maya and Dirk as third wheel and already knew what she would be ordering. Their London Broil was exquisite; the best around “That’s okay. I’m kind of a regular here”
“Great choice. This place I mean” Lawrence’s nerves were clearly showing as the need for small talk had been facilitated “I really like the decor. I wonder how much they turn over in an evening” He didn’t really care about state of their financial affairs and consequently neither did Jodie.
“Can I just say something straight off the bat?” she inquired.
“Of course. Anything. Please do” he bumbled.
“We have been speaking for a while now and I know more about you than I think I ever did about my ex-husband so I’d rather keep the polite chit-chat to a minimum if that’s okay”
There was a momentary silence as Lawrence processed the information and she elaborated to put him at ease “God. That sounded awful. It wasn’t meant to. I’m just as nervous as you. What I meant was that you can just be yourself as you don’t have anything to prove. You’ve done that already just by taking the trip to come meet me”
“I know right? You don’t know how relieved I am to hear you say that” Lawrence instantly began to relax “It’s not like we’re strangers is it?”
“No it’s not. We speak for like seven hours a day or something like that”
“It was eleven on Tuesday”
“There you go. That’s practically our entire waking hours spent talking about every topic under the sun. It’s not like we’re still getting to know each other. When you think about it, this is just a formality.”
Jodie was more used to being submissive but could sense that Lawrence would struggle to impose himself if she didn’t give him a vague nudge in the right direction “So how’s your mother’s hernia? She up and about yet?”
“Yeah she had a good day yesterday and the nurses are pleased with her progress so it’s a big relief. I didn’t want to trek halfway across America when she needs me but she has home help and her next door neighbor said she will check on her while I’m away”
With that, their waitress approached to take their drink orders. Jodie ordered a glass of water while Lawrence perused the wine list “What’s the house wine like here?” he asked.
“It’s good. Full-bodied and with a faint tang of forest fruits” Jodie replied.
She watched him intently as he handed back the menus. Their server couldn’t have been a day over twenty-one, had a flirtatious manner, and backed it up with a pair of shop bought 34 D’s which defied the laws of gravity. She was far easier on the eye than Jodie and she wasn’t under any misconceptions there, thus she watched their brief exchange like the proverbial hawk. Deryn had made no attempt at hiding his roving eye when they were out in public and flirted outrageously with anything in a skirt so old habits were proving hard to break. To Lawrence’s eternal credit he barely gave her even the customary glance and evidently had no interest in eye candy, no matter how delectably decorated. Jodie rolled her eyes as she discerned that their waitress clearly wasn’t wearing a bra but felt vastly relieved that her suitor had traversed the first obstacle in her emotional assault course.
“So…tell me…” she pulled her seat closer and whispered the remainder of her sentence as it wasn’t for public consumption “what brings a man like you to a place like this anyway?”
Lawrence was more than aware of her playful side and the pair often enjoyed role-playing as their chosen line of verbal foreplay “Well. That’s a funny story”
She leaned in a little closer “Really? Well it just so happens I like funny stories. Try me” She was clearly flirting, a decision buoyed by faint inebriation since the shot of whiskey she knocked back upon arrival.
“Well you’ll love this one” Lawrence reciprocated her advance “You see I met this rather feisty chick online”
“No! Online. Really?”
“I kid you not. They say nothing good can come of plastering yourself over dating sites but I would have to disagree”
“So what changed your mind?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes shamelessly.
“So I met this girl right”
“A girl you say?”
“Yes. A real live-wire”
“Okay I shall. Her name is Jodie and she’s unlike anybody I have ever met in my life”
“Good or bad?”
“I’m assured it’s all good. She’s not like the others you see. She’s vaguely nuts but I actually kind of find that endearing”
“Nuts? Watch it sunshine”
Lawrence laughed and Jodie’s warm smile confirmed that she hadn’t taken offense “Yeah this one is nuttier than a squirrel’s boudoir”
That was it. She knew there was a reason she was here and his turn of phrase was exactly it. Whether trying to be funny or not, he had a way with words which she found fascinating. It was as though he wasn’t even trying to be funny and his deadpan delivery just made it all the more gut-bursting when he came out with one of his doozies.
“So what’s the real reason you’re here then. Joking aside, why me?”
“You shouldn’t even have to ask that. You’re awesome, it’s as simple as that. I know you won’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say this, but I’ve never met anybody like you”
He was within his rights speaking with frankness as the pair had already engaged in long, sweaty sessions of phone coitus on numerous occasions and they evidently shared a rather unique bond. Nevertheless, this was a different ballgame entirely, and any chemistry reconvened here would likely decide where Lawrence would be sleeping tonight. neither were taking anything for granted.
“Do you think I’m as irresistible in person?” Jodie asked.
“More so” Lawrence’s rejoinder was both swift and decisive “You’ve actually never looked so resplendent dear”
“Now I know you’re a date rapist” she jested.
“You got me. What was it? It was the chloroform rag wasn’t it?”
“No, you use brylcream. That’s a tell-tale sign”
“Damn my love of Eddie Cochran”
They both laughed out loud and Jodie let out a mild snort of amusement although this didn’t faze her as they had shared many a joke about her unladylike demeanor.
“You’re a real dick, you know that?”
“Guilty as charged. They don’t come more phallic than I. One simply has to adopt a sense of humor when named Lawrence”
“I actually think it makes you sound regal. King Lawrence”
“And tonight my dear, you shall be my queen. If you come up short then I will think nothing of ordering you to the gallows”
“Off with my head right?”
“Indeed. I have pre-loaded the guillotine just in case you turn out to be boring or fart during hors d’oeuvre”
“Looks like I’d better hold this one in then”
“Nah. Let her rip. It’s time I smell what all the fuss is about anyway. You’ll only slip one out while you’re sleeping later anyways”
It spoke volumes for their exclusive connection that Jodie was comfortable excavating her bowel on primary contact but they had both been refreshingly open during their communications and he hadn’t bolted thus far so she raised one cheek from the chair and forced free a faint rectal exhalation just to test out the waters”
“Is that all you’ve got?” Lawrence mocked, returning the favor in no uncertain terms with a full-bodied rasp of his own “Actually, I think I just received Intel. Oh my word Jodie dearest, I think you may need a visit to the girl’s room you know. That stings the polyps. It’s a real heady blend you’ve got there girl”
“A lady never farts and tells although I did have leek and potato soup for brunch” she replied.
The couple at the next table looked mortified by their distinct lack of awareness but the truth was that Jodie and Lawrence were nothing if not aware of their surroundings. They just didn’t care about being politically correct, not when they were together. It seemed as though the stars had aligned when bringing them together and it felt good for both of them to just be themselves rather than concealing any blemishes.
“I think we may have just put them off their soup of the day” joked Jodie.
“Speak for yourself. That shouldn’t be legal you know. Like a little miniature Chernobyl facilitated by your asshole. I don’t know whether to chastise you or applaud you”
“Just remember to take large sniffs as it will clear the air much faster”
Again they fell about in rapturous laughter much to their nearby onlookers disapproval.
The next ninety minutes flew past and, as Jodie visited the restroom while Lawrence footed the bill, she was wearing a smile which had long since become shelved. In many respects Lawrence was her perfect man; attentive and generous on one hand, while actually possessing a sense of humor and the ability to be self-effacing when necessary. There was no false pretense whatsoever; he seemed every bit the man she had started falling for far in advance of this formal introduction. Jodie was more than aware that three dates was customary before the woman would consider giving up the fanny but, considering they already knew each other intimately, she saw no violation in inviting him back to her pad for a quick night-cap. She was under no illusion where this was headed; in little over half an hour she planned to have both her lips curled around his cock and no inclination towards wasting a precious drop. It had been inevitable from the offset and she saw no reason to feel liable for her mind’s stoop into the gutter.
“All settled” Lawrence reported as he handed Jodie her denim jacket “So then…my place or yours?”
“Well considering I didn’t pack a toothbrush or compass I’d say it’s back to mine wouldn’t you?”
“Works for me”
“Lawrence. Would you like to come in for a coffee? I’ve always wanted to ask that”
“That sounds delightful. I trust you will be keeping your wandering hands in check madam”
“In that case I would be honored”
He threw down a tip which was far more generous than the customary percentage and they departed, holding hands for the very first time.
“This is a nice place you have here” Lawrence mused as Jodie went to the kitchen to retrieve two stems of Rosé.
“You think?” she asked.
“No it’s like something out of The Money Trap. Is your staircase up to regulation standard? It looks fit to disintegrate”
“That’s why there’s a handrail dearest. If you don’t like it you can piss in the sink”
“I would but it’s full of dirty dishes. Shit girl, do you live with a Sasquatch? Seriously, how does one amass that many plates without giving it the old college try?”
“I’ve shattered your illusion now haven’t I? You were convinced you had met the woman of your dreams but instead you have found a fourth for poker nights”
“I can handle it. What I’m more concerned by is the ominous thump coming from your basement”
With that, Jodie returned to the room.
“Yeah it sounds like you may have bats in your belfry you know. It’s pretty persistent”
“That would be my boiler. Stupid fucking thing. I keep meaning to get it looked at”
“I can take a look if you like. I’m no expert but I’m no slouch when it comes to fixing appliances either”
Jodie made her way over and plunged her tongue deep into his throat, before pulling back and illuminating him with her decision “I’d rather you stay right here. Make yourself comfortable, when I get back I’m planning on misbehaving just so that you know”
Crystal clear; Lawrence settled back into the couch with his glass of wine, raising it momentarily to offer his “cheers”
Jodie had been meaning to fix the stairwell light and had to navigate the darkness as she searched around for the pilot switch. After a few seconds blindly feeling her way through the customary cellar clutter, she finally found it. Before her, restrained with rubber hosing, was Deryn. He looked weak and riddled with sickness. Years of hanging like a slaughterhouse hog had taken their toll on the man and he had dropped to around 100 lbs during his extended hiatus from civilization in her sub-level lair.
“Are you being petulant again?” She picked up a rusted blade from the work bench and began running it along his already-lacerated chest. Deryn had to rely on his other senses as sight had been considered superfluous to requirements some time ago. Jodie had callously cut out his peepers as punishment for straying the path with such regularity during their tenure as husband and wife. She wanted to ensure he never again looked at another woman in the way reserved for his spouse. Her plan had worked; Deryn had remained faithful from that point forth and, it appeared, had finally learned the importance of fidelity.
“Honey, you picked a bad time to throw your rattle from the pram, you know that?”
His labored groans were stifled by the unsanitary-looking gag strapped across his jaw.
“You see my love…” She pushed a little more forcefully, this time breaking the skin around his heart and causing him to hemorrhage “…I have met someone else. I’m really sorry. It was never my intention to string you along but I think you would like this new one. He’s smart, funny, handsome in a Hugh Grant kind of way, and put together better if you know what I mean. I’m hopeful that he will know to keep his eyes in check as a lady doesn’t like to feel like second best”
She looked over to the shelf, where an unlabeled glass jar housed Deryn’s plucked out and pickled eyeballs “I know I may have acted out of turn but I refuse to keep you hanging any longer. That would just be cruel. Therefore it is with heavy heart that I bid you goodnight my darling Deryn”
Jodie nonchalantly plundered the serrated blade into his heart cavity and gave it a final twist just to feel its final beat against her metal. She then wiped off the business end of the knife and returned it to its allotted space amongst the tools and watched on as the blood drained from the fresh fissure.
“Is everything alright down there? It sounds like some fairly hefty vermin down there. Are you sure you don’t want me to call the exterminator?” Lawrence quizzed.
“No need. I’m actually pretty good with rats. You just relax, I’ll be with you in just a minute”
Lawrence sat content and smiled to himself, knowing that he wouldn’t be needing that chloroform-sodden rag after all.
Truly, Clearly, Really, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015