12 comments

Nov 13, 2020

Suspense Sad Drama

Mature themes. Discretion advised.

 

You saw me, reader.

 

I didn’t realize you’d come back in the bar, having forgotten your wallet in the back room.

 

There’s no evidence. Not a single drop of blood or brush of a fingerprint. Not an ounce of suspicion.

 

No evidence. Except you.

 

You can go to the police right now; I won’t blame you. I won’t do anything. I realize you’d be well within your rights to scoff and roll your eyes at that promise, but I swear on my dead daughter’s grave.

 

Ah, that stopped you, didn’t it? Surely, you connected the dots. You see it now; I can almost hear those gears in your brain clanking away.

 

You always wondered why a middle-aged, balding man came to work in Alfred’s Bar after losing his cushy bank job.

 

He’s probably tired of office life, you told yourself. Or it’s the economy and nothing else was available.... Either way, he’s just another guy with a mid-life crisis.

 

As the months passed, you found yourself relaxing around me. Just a clumsy, lovable man, fresh out of a divorce and looking to find a little joy in the simple life, cleaning tables, sweeping the floor. Laughing with Alfred about that one customer that gets drunk off appletinis every Friday night. 

 

Until last night, when you saw me holding the pillow over Alfred’s still body.

 

I’m sorry you had to see it; I really am. A young person such as yourself should never see such violence.

 

And that’s precisely why I did what I did, reader. You must understand this.

 

I’ve seen what he does to you. Oh, yes, my eyes might dull more and more every day, but I see the way he stares at your chest. I see his hand grazing your arms, your thighs, when you pass him. I see the way you jump and shrink away.

 

Our eyes met the last time it happened. I in no way mean to blame you, but that’s what did it. Those eyes. That fear.

 

I’d seen that fear before.

 

You’re not surprised, I’m assuming, when I say that you were not the only girl Alfred tormented. 

 

Emma would have turned twenty-one yesterday. Emma. Your heart stutters at that name, yes? The hostess you replaced?

 

Emma didn’t see twenty-one. She didn’t even see eighteen.

 

You can feel it, reader. The ice in your veins. The shivers creeping down your neck. You know what Alfred’s doing to you is horrible. Awful, disgusting, perverted.

 

Truth is, he did so much worse to Emma, reader.

 

I should have known right from the beginning, when she would come home with pale skin and wide eyes. She jumped at small noises. She started failing her classes. She came down from her bedroom in the mornings with dark half-circles under her eyes. She became thin as a twig in a matter of weeks.

 

Her mother and I sat her down plenty and asked what was wrong. She’d shake her head and scurry back upstairs.

 

I blamed myself, reader. I really did. I still do. But when I read the note, sitting atop her desk, as my wife screamed and sobbed and held Emma’s body in her arms, something snapped.

 

He said he’d kill you if I told you. I’m sorry, Mom and Dad.

 

I tried to be rational; I went to the police first. And you know what they did? They shrugged. They shook their heads and rolled their eyes, because Alfred had a wife and two boys and why would a loving, hardworking father like that have any interest in a teenager?

 

She’s just a girl suffering from a broken heart, they said. A lovesick, mentally insane girl who slit her wrists when her boss wouldn’t return her advances.

 

I’d forgotten that Alfred gave officers free drinks every Saturday night.

 

You’re feeling sick to your stomach now, aren’t you, reader? I did, too. I felt sick for four years.

 

The first year, I drank. 

 

The second year was the divorce.

 

But the last two years, I planned. 

 

You remember that, don’t you? Watching me quickly become best friends with Alfred. It takes two things to win over a guy like that: compliments and humility. Because a man in power doesn’t just want to hear it; he wants to feel it. To see it. And he saw it, in owning a divorced, overweight man who lost a fancy job and a fancier house.

 

It took two years for me to become his number one guy, to get access to his cameras and cash register. Oh, yes. No better person to have in charge of the money than a former bank worker.

 

And then I started the rumors. You heard them. How Alfred’s wife had met another man….

 

The rumors spread as fast as sickness in a town like this. Whispers in every corner. The people refused to believe a nice man like Alfred would rape my Emma, but they believed in a heartbeat that his wife cheated.

 

The stage was set. I asked him to hang around for drinks after everyone else left for the night. A cheers to two years of working, two years of friendship.

 

It went perfectly. Scribbled a note in his handwriting (I’d practiced for months) to lay atop the cash register. Got him nice and tired with a little magic powder in his drink and used the pillow to finish off the job.

 

And that was that. Job done. The town would believe he’d run off to another city, desperate to escape his whore of a wife, taking all the money he had. The employees would nod their heads as the rumors solidified into truth. The police would scribble away in the notepads and shrug, shrug, shrug as they always did.

 

No evidence. 

 

Except you.

 

I didn’t know he’d given you a key; I should’ve guessed he’d have a number one girl, too. But you ran before I could explain.

 

He’s gone, reader. I won’t tell you where I put him. He could be buried deep within the forest at the outskirts of town, or lying at the bottom of a lake.

 

You can go to the police.

 

But if you've read this far...something tells me you won’t.

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12 comments

Molly Leasure
00:13 Nov 18, 2020

Yes. That's really all I can say. Yes. This story gave me goosebumps. It stuttered my heart. It made me feel sick and loathsome. It made me want to commit a pillow attack on a disgusting cretin of a bar owner. Luckily, the narrator already did it for me. I love the grittiness. The relatability. The horror of reality (for this man and many others). And by god, I love the language. It flows so well! And I love the distinct voice this man has. It's so dry, almost lifeless, and yet, not fully. He still has consideration for a poor girl who's goi...

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Leilani Lane
20:09 Nov 18, 2020

Thank you so much, as always!!! The goal was for readers to come away wanting to commit a pillow attack so I'm happy to hear that worked. ;) Dang it, that's suchhhhhh a good critique! I felt like I tried to hard to put the actual reader in the "reader's" shoes... *sigh.* I will absolutely keep that in mind for more second person stories!!! Always learning, always learning. :) Ahhhh, you're fantastic. <3

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Molly Leasure
22:20 Nov 18, 2020

Haha, it more than worked!!! My anger was boiling! Glad I could help! I've done my fair share of second-person stories and they're weirdly difficult. Certain aspects have to be watched for, aspects that are almost irrelevant in first and third-person stories. Like, if you called us by her name, we wouldn't feel as related, because many of us would be like, "but that's not our name, we didn't do this," in the deep subconscious. But just saying "you" doesn't create that little mental block. It's strange, I don't know. Haha!

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Leilani Lane
22:52 Nov 18, 2020

That's such a great tip, thank you Molly!!! I'm kind of tempted to write a bunch of second-person stories now.... I think I'll get maybeeeee one or two stories out this week but maybe for the next prompts?? We'll see!!

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Molly Leasure
23:32 Nov 21, 2020

Well, if you do decide to write some more second-person stories, I'm so here for it ;)! Hey, that's literally ALL I ever manage in a week, so...

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Ray Dyer
18:56 Nov 13, 2020

Hi, Leilani! This story just blew me away. I love it! The tone is so consistently dire, and so compelling. It delivers detail after detail, but never too many, and so well-written. I just finished reading a second-person short story in the Dan Chaon anthology "Stay Awake," and I walked away thinking, "I want to try my hand at that." It was dark and left me wonderfully conflicted. This story is just as dark, and beautifully handled. And that ENDING. Oh, that ending is just perfection. I don't even want to write "I love it!" in capit...

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Leilani Lane
20:07 Nov 18, 2020

Ray!! I've been taking a bit of a break from Reedsy so I'm so happy to see you here--I need to catch up on your stories. :) Thank you so much!! I have been getting more and more interested in writing second person, it's just fun and challenging all at the same time. Thank you for your wonderful comment!! "This is a story with gravity, and it wouldn't let me go." Even your comments are incredibly well-written!!! Hope you are well! :)

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Ann Rapp
15:09 Nov 19, 2020

Excellent job Leilani, and beautifully rendered in that oh-so-difficult second person voice! I always like to be addressed as the Reader, and it doesn't have to be Dear Reader, so this is done so well. Your prose is smooth and well-paced, you build the suspense and finish the job! Although I think of myself as a non-violent person, I felt elated that this particular abuser got his come-uppance. This story should win the contest. Keep writing, you're good at it!

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Leilani Lane
15:13 Nov 19, 2020

Ann, you just completely made my day!! Thank you so much for your lovely comment. This was a fun one to write! I am adding your stories to the list of stories I need to read--I look forward to reading your work! :)

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Kate M
16:51 Dec 09, 2020

Wow. That’s all I have to say. The way this was written kept me balanced precariously on the edge of my seat. The story made my blood boil and goosebumps crawl up my arms. Great work, great work. Thanks for sharing, Leilani. ❤️

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This is chilling, right down to the very last line. Stellar writing technique.

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K. m. Carpenter
18:40 Nov 19, 2020

This gave me CHILLS. Firstly, I applaud you for handling such complex and difficult themes with such precision. Secondly, you sucked me so deep into your story, into each step the narrator took, into each detail that was slowly brought into the light, that when I finished I realized I'd completely forgotten where I actually was. It took me a few moments to remember. You steered this prompt in a direction I never would have thought of, making me more than just sympathize with a murderer. I agreed with him. Honestly, I loved every word of this...

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