Body Bag Barry

Submitted into Contest #182 in response to: Write a story where someone’s paranoia is justified.... view prompt


Crime Horror Mystery

Recently, I was searching an online dating site. Don't ask me why. I'm happily married. Perhaps I just wanted to see if I was as invisible as I felt. After the first fifteen minutes with a current photo on my profile, fifteen eager fellows were sending me hearts and asking to chat. Wow. After an hour there was a steady stream of requests to meet or chat.

Overwhelmed by all the attention, I tried to comment back politely to everyone, then realized it was impossible to keep up. So, I chose to only reply to actual messages, which was enough to keep me busy for the morning. Who knew there were so many single guys out there? It did give me hope that should something happen to my husband; I would only be lonely if I chose to be.

Not totally understanding how to fill out my information on the site, I clicked on the 'dating life wants to know your location' button. Despite typing a nearby large city on my profile, my little town was boldly shown instead. I didn't notice this until a particular fellow, Barry, contacted me and asked if I lived in such and such a town.

Holy cow! After I found my error and quickly corrected it, I took a closer look at Barry, who had sent me a heart, and flowers and asked to meet up. Oh, dear. There was a problem with Barry's photograph that should have caused him to be sifted out of the dating site altogether. Nothing wrong with Barry. However, it was his companion on the park bench that concerned me.

Barry was seated casually on a non-descript park bench next to what looked like a large, black body bag. I know it's hard for people to take me seriously because I'm always making jokes. This was for real. Barry brought his favorite body bag to the dating site to show off.

I wondered if the contents of that bag came from his last dating site connection and if the flowers, he sent me were for my funeral. Of all the people on that site, Body Bag Barry was the one to point out that my real location had been outed.

Since no one knows the location of my little town, even locals who have lived in the area are not quite sure where it is, I decided not to sweat it. The first couple of days after blocking Body Bag Barry were uneventful, so I chalked him up to someone who had gotten bored with me, then moved on to his next future corpse.

About a week after my embarrassing foray into the underbelly of mature adult dating sites, I noticed a strange car driving by our house slowly in the evening. It would make a pass, turn around in our neighbor's driveway and slowly make another pass. Since I seldom leave the house in the Winter, no one could have seen me outdoors to connect me with our home. I didn't use my real name on the dating site, so there was no way anyone would be able to track me down. I dismissed the slow-moving car as an error by a well-intentioned google map voice.

"Redirect. Redirect. Redirect."

On my next trip to visit with my neighbor Dottie, I noticed a car driving past me slowly and did what all country folk do. I waved. That's what we do out here. We wave- with all our fingers.

"Tina, have you seen that car before?" Dottie asked after I got settled at her kitchen table with my tea.

"I'm not sure. I saw a green car driving down the street slowly a few nights ago. But I think they were just lost."

"No, I think this was the same car."

"We should probably keep an eye on it and see what they're up to," I suggested, not even considering that it might have been related to me dipping my toes into the bottomless pond of available men.

As we finished our chat, Dottie pointed out the same car passing her house slowly. "There it is again. I'm not comfortable with you walking home right now. Let's wait and see if he comes back this way before you leave."

We both crowded behind the drapes at her front window and peered out at the road. Nothing. After five minutes I decided it was foolish to wait around. All our neighbors were armed to the teeth and our town was not exactly a deserted strip of highway. I was not concerned.

"Call me if you see the car again tonight," I said on my way out the door.

Even though I had dismissed the possible threat posed by the person driving by constantly, my heart was pumping faster than normal as I jogged quickly to my house and fumbled with the key to the front door. I'd made it inside safely and decided it was time to hang those light-blocking drapes I had ordered a few months ago. I hated hanging drapes but couldn't put off the chore any longer. Everyone in the neighborhood could see right through the lacy sheer curtains I loved so much.

'Ah, goodbye, precious sunlight,' I thought as I stumbled around on the stepstool while trying to reach over my head, fitting the drapery rod through the pockets of the heavy, dark curtains.

The next few days were quiet with no unusual cars driving by. I had shared the strange car's appearance with my husband, skipping over the fact that I'd been looking on a dating site. Hal would not understand my need to feel visible. He was used to being out and around other people, male and female, all day long. I, on the other hand, seldom left the house and certainly did not regularly chat with people of the opposite sex. The life of a hermit writer.

On the following weekend, after Hal had pulled out of the driveway for a quick trip to the supermarket, the suspicious car drove down the street and turned around once again, then parked almost directly across the street from my office window. I pulled the drapes closer together and watched to see what this fellow was up to. The car remained in that spot until Hal returned from his shopping trip. Probably after seeing Hal's car coming down the street, the questionable vehicle drove off.

Now I was officially creeped out. What was wrong with that guy? Who was he and why had he chosen our neighborhood to haunt?

The phone rang. It was Dottie, "Tina, that car we saw was back again and it was parked across the street from your house for almost an hour. Did you see it?"

"Yeah. He drove off when Hal got home. Did you see license plates or anything?" I asked.

"No, he was parked at an angle, and I couldn't see anything."

"Should we call the police?"

"I don't know. They don't even show up for speeders on our road." Dottie complained, '"let's just keep watching for this guy before we do anything."

We hung up, after promising to keep an eye on each other. Hal walked in with the groceries and said, "Was that the weird car you and Dottie keep seeing?"

"Yeah. Did you get a license plate number?"

"Why? Because he was parked on the side of the road? Nope."

"Hal, this guy has been driving up and down past our house all week. Today he parks right across the street from here for an hour and drives off when you come home. That's not normal. That's scary."

"I think your imagination is working overtime. What? Are you writing a horror story or something?"

"No. I'm writing a story about something stupid you did." I retorted.

"Sheesh. Why am I always the clown in your stories?"

"Sorry, I don't know any other men well enough to make fun of them."

Little did Hal know; I did know other men now- at least fifteen of them. One of them was a nutcase who dragged a fully loaded body bag everywhere he went. But I blocked him, so he wouldn't bother me anymore.

The rest of the weekend was quiet with our car in the driveway and Hal being home. Then, on Monday, the green car slowly drove past our house again, and, like clockwork, the phone rang. "Tina, did you see the car? That guy is doing it again. What did Hal say when you told him?"

"He said not to worry about it."

"Right. Easy for him to say. The guy probably isn't looking for another man to kidnap." Dottie cried.

Hmm. To share or not to share. I do have a large mouth and every time I open it unwisely it bites me in the butt. It's a stretch, but I'm flexible like that.

"Dottie, you have to swear on your mother's grave you will not tell anyone what I'm going to tell you."

"Oh, boy, what have you done now, Tina?"

"What does that mean? I don't do crazy things."

"Right. Right."

"A few weeks ago, I went on a dating site and was talking to some men- nothing serious. Just wanted to see if they would even notice me. In the first couple of minutes, I had fifteen guys wanting to either talk online with me or meet up with me."

"You didn't?"

"Oh, but I did. I guess I was just depressed and wondering if I was as invisible as I felt." I confessed.

"Well, you weren't invisible. Did you get out of that site?"

"Hell no. I paid $30. and want to get my money's worth."

"Tina, Hal will shit a brick if he finds out. You'd better cancel out of there and erase everything. You aren't really thinking of meeting anyone, are you?"

"No. No. It was just nice talking with guys who thought I was attractive. It made me feel good. That's all. I even made a match with one of the guys and a friend of mine. Hope they meet and like each other."

"Seriously, Tina. That is the weirdest thing I've ever heard. You went on a dating site and found a match for your friend? You are such a nerd."

"Well, he was a nice fellow, and she’s been broken up with her boyfriend for three years. All I did was put two and two together. It's up to them to do the math."

"So, do you think the car has something to do with your dating site? Where did you say you were from?" Dottie asked.

"See, that's the problem. When the site asked me if they could find my location I pushed that button, not thinking it would change my fake location. Some weird guy asked if I was from here and I blocked him. I don't know. I changed the location after that though."

"Wow. That's bad. You might have to tell Hal about your dating site hijinks."

"No way. Uh uh. He wouldn't get it and I know how I'd feel if he said he did the same thing. I wouldn't blame him for being mad at me."

"Okay, but just make sure you keep your doors locked when Hal isn't home, and don't go walking around the neighborhood without letting me know. At least you'll have someone who can identify your body."

"Thanks, Dottie. I can always count on you to brighten my day."

Hanging up the phone I peered out of my front window again just in time to see the strange green car speed past the house. The rest of the day was quiet, but my nerves were rattled after making the connection between my online men and the car stalking me.

I quickly opened up the dating website and canceled my subscription, not caring any longer about the $30. I'd just lost. I barely got any writing done. My mind was on the suspicious car and its driver. Who had zeroed in on me? There were at least fifteen possibilities that I knew of.

When Hal got home that evening, he asked if the car had been past our house again and I told him it made just one pass right after he left for work. Chewing that information over he said, "Maybe we should keep a record of when the car is on the street and try to get more information about the make and model. You know, to be on the safe side."

That evening, as I sat at the computer, unable to concentrate on the next chapter in my book, I heard a car idling across the road again. Then, a car door squealed open. I could barely make out a dark figure walking around to the back door of the passenger side. With a quiet creak, that door opened. The car blocked whatever activity was happening on the other side of the vehicle.

The driver climbed back into the front seat, slammed the door, and sped off, leaving me shaking with apprehension. What the heck was that guy doing on the other side of the road?

I ran upstairs to wake Hal and tell him about the man's strange behavior. "Hal, Hal, that guy just parked across the street and left something on the side of the road."

"Did you see what it was?"

"Of course not. It was dark outside, and he was on the other side of his car. We should go out and see what he left behind." I begged.

"No. Not with that idiot driving around. I'll look in the morning, Okay? Come to bed before you have a nervous breakdown."

All night long I dreamt of cars chasing me down the street and cornering me in snowy parking lots. I always outran them, and I was always lost. I woke up drenched with sweat- at least I hoped it was just sweat. I don't know though. I was pretty rattled.

Just as Hal was putting on his jacket to check the other side of the road, two police cruisers and a van with 'CORONER' stenciled on the side parked across the street. More vehicles appeared, with people piling out of them. Some people were laying down little yellow markers around where the car had been parked the night before. Others were taking pictures and pretty soon a gurney from the coroner’s van was set up and rolled down into the roadside ditch.

My mouth went dry as I viewed a bulky, black body bag resembling Body Bag Barry's companion from the park bench being rolled up the incline, strapped securely to the gurney. Hal exited the house to see if he could offer the police help by describing the shady-looking vehicle that had been stalking our street for the better part of two weeks. I watched him talk with the officers while they scribbled away on their notepads.

When Hal came back inside, he said, "Well, they found a body bag on the other side of the road and are going to set up a watch around the clock to catch that guy."

"What was in the body bag?" I asked.

"What do you think?"

"Oh. Yeah. Wow."

Then, from behind his back, he flourished a bouquet of red roses at me, "You have an admirer, Tina. Who is it?"

January 22, 2023 19:46

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KT George
14:34 Jan 31, 2023

You had me at the title. I loved that the MC was a writer, that it was a small town, and how she and her neighbor watched out the windows from behind the curtains. Classic busybodies not seeing what was going on in their own house.


Jeanne Kiesinger
20:49 Jan 31, 2023

Gladys Cravitts, the sleuth!


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Wendy Kaminski
18:22 Jan 29, 2023

Aieeeee! This prompt was my favorite one for creepy stories this week, and yours did not disappoint! So much great humor in this, too - you have a real knack! - "No. I'm writing a story about something stupid you did." and "Sorry, I don't know any other men well enough to make fun of them." LOL Dry wit and I love it so much! - It's a stretch, but I'm flexible like that. I also learned something extremely important from your story! I can never figure out how to introduce motive in a story of these short natures without just spelling it out....


Jeanne Kiesinger
20:50 Jan 31, 2023

Most of this was true, except for Barry showing up at my doorstep with his body bag and a bouquet of funeral flowers.


Wendy Kaminski
20:59 Jan 31, 2023

Ok really upping the YIKE! :)


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