Mystery Drama Speculative

This story contains sensitive content

Sexual themes, crude language.

“Skinny Cap, please!” I said to the overworked girl, trying to keep up with the long waiting queue of customers, each morning. She always struggled, sometimes alone, but always with a friendly smile, the whirlwind of arms and hands playing the barista coffee machine in perfect allegro time like a musical maestro, but without the rapturous watching awe of the listening audience, except, that is, until the cup of the frothy nectar was placed on the counter.

“Here’s to my number one best follower, and customer, stalking my best asset!” She twisted and wriggled and then slapped her shapely backside teasingly, giving me the longest suggestive wink. It woke me up, even before a sip of coffee.

“As long as you can orchestrate this wonderful concoction each morning, I will continue stalking, and be faithful to the end!” I said trying to sound witty, I failed because my morning coffee temptress went off to shake her shapely assets at another customer, where’s the loyalty; I thought.

I stood at the high stube table, to grab a sachet of sugar, and that’s when I noticed the unobtrusive slip of paper, folded twice. Those small details I noticed, it’s my job.

I unfolded the scrap of paper, it had been ripped off the bottom of a page from a magazine, it had that shiny glossy slippery finish, and there was a telephone number scribbled on the scrap of paper in blue ink.

I was shocked to recognize the number. It was my telephone number!

The first instinct was to look around the busy coffee shop, which I did, trying to see if someone was staring at me, and then I looked at the girl behind the counter, but she had her back to me, working her magic on the barista machine. No one was staring, everybody was minding their own business, in the morning mayhem.

Did I write it myself? And perhaps it dropped out of my pocket onto the table – No! I would remember something like that. So, who wrote my number on the paper, and why? More importantly, what the hell is it doing on the table, like it’s been carried here by the wind.

Why would I write my telephone number on a scrap of paper anyway, I have business cards to share that information.

I wandered onto the street, clutching the coffee, thinking hard, who had I spoken to recently and given away my telephone, lost in my thoughts, I moved on autopilot along the street to my office.

The shared receptionist at my building of small offices woke me out of my thoughts.

“Mornin’, you have a delivery; a small note, I pushed it under your door.” Said another vision of beauty, but equally as efficient and necessary to my day as the barista girl.

“Thanks Trudy, what would I do without you, did anybody leave a package, I was expecting a manuscript back from the printers?” I asked.

“No, but I can call them and find out when it will be delivered, if you want?” The girl of my dreams looked up, she had one of those tight knit tops that made her breasts look like she was topless, the shadows of her nipples lingered invitingly under the knitwear, I just couldn’t look at anything else, finally I did move my stare to her smiling, knowing face, with that twinkle in her eyes, saying, “gotcha buddy, looking at my beautiful breasts! It will cost you, but I’m interested.”

The last part “I’m interested” I imagined. I was busy thinking --- Why do I think I notice all these small details; I could have been mistaken by the subtle signal from Trudy, but I do like tight knitwear worn by young ladies, and Trudy wears it so delightfully.

It did stop me thinking about the scrap of paper, which contained my scribbled telephone number for a moment. That is until I opened the small notelet, and out dropped a plastic magic key for a safety deposit box, a physical drop box in a nearby shop. Just the key, and nothing else. The shop address and box number were written on the magic key.

The day was getting stranger and stranger. Bizarre.

Get your priorities together I thought. I must concentrate on the promise I made last night to Marlene. What a night!

Marlene needed my help, she always needed my help, I am such an easy acquiescing guy to her requests, I can never say no to her - never. She knows it. She knows that she is my dream girl, but unfortunately, she is everyone’s dream girl. Trust me to fall in love with the woman of every man’s wet dream. The whole town wanted some action with that girl, and she knows it. Total manipulation. I know that I’m on a diet of crumbs with her, and like everybody else in this hunger-driven ambitious wasps’ nest of a town, you either get eaten, or you eat. Out of my league, so I live on the crumbs I receive from Marlene and in exchange, do her bidding.

“Can you put me through to Bert Craven – thanks.” I know if I call early, he will be available on this number; for tops; thirty minutes, I know he’s just out of the gym, sweating out the night-before excesses.

“Hi Bert, it’s Toni, how’s life? (before Bert could answer and get a chance to tell me his yawn fest, I took the whole conversation to him, and answered before he could speak) Yeah same here. Taxes and dying are the only constants in life – eh?”

“Look Bert – the script, the part in the musical that Marlene signed up for? Is there any chance we can change the contract, and I could help and amend the script for Marlene’s part?”

I had to pause here, that was a lot of information for Bert. I had pondered all night, or what was left of it, after the attention of Marlene; how to phrase it to Bert. Marlene’s request started over dinner, and continued afterwards sharing her exotic body and bed, Marlene knew how to manipulate, to charm, weak men like me. The invading memories of the night would linger for weeks, making me close my eyes to get the full technicolor version with my heighted inner darkroom senses. I wanted to relive the memories and daydream it all again - forever. But now it was repayment time. Women can be so cruel, to people like me that are happy to live on her crumbs, with no self-respect, I feared losing her, and those nights of passion. The truth: there was nothing to lose, she had already taken it.

“Why? What for?” said Bert.

“She doesn’t want to sing!” I said, it was the snap of the crocodile’s jaws – the catch. There was no good hiding it, get it out there, the reason for the call, the truth.

I remembered the conversation at dinner and knew and felt that I was being set-up well before dinner, Marlene was more attractive, more beautiful than ever, but she was so attentive, with so many little touches, soft caresses on my hand, a soft hand on my leg at the bar, walking together, closer than normal, it felt like a dream, I was completely mesmerized. Then she said,

“I want you to get the studios to take the singing part out of the script, and I don’t want any amended contract, same money, same terms and conditions.”

That was going to be difficult in a musical movie where she had the leading part.

Why I asked, Marlene had a decent voice, considering her lack of training.

“I’m NOT getting upstaged by Josh; I’m not getting upstaged by anyone!”

That’s a star for you, I thought. I promised I would try and speak to the studios on her behalf. Her gratitude was littered and spread over most of her apartment floor, my gratitude, senses, and memory wouldn’t recover in a lifetime.

“How the hell can we make a musical without the female lead NOT singing? Are you crazy Toni? Marlene’s got to you and taken your manhood!” Bert had got it now, I thought.

“She’s willing to do the sex scenes, as elicit as you want. With modern technology, I’m sure you can dub over the singing part. Fake it, most women do, didn’t you know.” I was clutching at straws now.

“But there’s a live singing tour, how the hell are we going to do that with dubbing, or maybe we could hire the Chipmunks to cover it!” Bert was really getting it now.

“She signed a contract to sing for fucks sake!” He ended.

There was a pause on the line, Bert was thinking, calculating, assessing all the options.

“Tell you what, I’m going to the island this weekend, tell Marlene I’ll pick her up, and we’ll discuss it over the weekend, contract and all.” He proposed.

I knew that was coming, Bert was always horny about Marlene, joining the millions in the queue, in real life and those that saw her on the screen.

“If she’s a good girl, we’ll see, I’m promising nothing!” Bert ended. “Gotta go; and make a buck or two!” “Take it easy, and where’s that script you promised me, late as always! No understanding of deadlines, you writers.”

I sat and pondered for a while. The girl of my dreams having to whore her way through life, but Marlene always got her way, giving out was part of the job. She didn’t want to sing; it was a small sacrifice, a trivial inconvenience of her time away with Bert on his island. Just to get what she wanted. You needed crocodile skin, and the appetite of a crocodile to eat and survive and prosper in her business, in this town.

I can hear Marlene saying with a shrug of one of those delicious shoulders, with the strap slowly moving along her shoulder, and upper arm, tantalizing, defying gravity, together with a wink of her eye. “What can a girl do?”

I was fingering the plastic key of the safety locker in my finger and thumb, thinking about Marlene, she would always come out on top, this town was custom made for an artful, clever woman like her. The best I could get were crumbs from her banquet table.

I guess I need to find out what’s in the locker, and that scrap of paper with MY telephone number – this continues to be a bizarre day.

“I’m going to pick-up something; I won’t be long.” I shouted at Trudy, the receptionist with the ski slope shaped breasts and heavenly valley, but this time she had her back to me, I would have to wait for the return trip to get another delightful look.

The process of unlocking the safety box in the shop was holding my key, and another clone key owned by the attendant in the shop, to unlock the small door of the locker. The door flicked open, and the attendant from the shop moved away to serve another customer. I slowly opened the door to peer inside and find out what unknown treasures lay inside.

In the safety deposit box was a pair of expensive black lace knickers with an anonymous typed message.

---Find the owner, or your finger will be next. Sometimes I wear these, but they are never on for long, seems a waste---

Plus, laying on the surface at the rear of the box a man’s index finger of the left hand cut off at the hand, and a small puddle of blood just visible in the dark interior of the locker.

Suddenly, the bizarre day took a horrific turn for the worse.

March 03, 2024 06:46

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Jessie Laverton
11:06 Mar 15, 2024

This has so much personality. I love how you just tease us in the way you handle the prompt, and then do completely your own thing, keeping the mysterious piece of paper as just one element of an increasingly chaotic day that we share a part of with him. It stays a mystery for us like it does for him, and he can’t even give it his full attention, this really pulls us in to his crazy world. Well done 👏🏻


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Natalie Laharnar
08:14 Mar 14, 2024

This is like a Raymond Chandler story (with Humphrey Bogart narrating) meets the film Memento. I can hear the film noir rhythm in the narration (most of the time, misses a beat occasionally) and this, along with the release of strange 'clues', much like the crumbs Marlene leaves the protaganist, kept me reading. You've got me. I want to know how the finger and his telephone number are connected!


John Rutherford
14:05 Mar 14, 2024

Natalie - you have captured the intended style, brilliant. Now you will have to wait, there are lot possibilities and outcomes here. Thank you for summarizing.


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03:39 Mar 10, 2024

I like the way you’ve used the prompt for this story. I am curious - are all of these women genuinely overly sexualised beings, or does your main character just see them that way? It’s clear Marlene uses what she has to get her way, but I still found myself asking who is exploiting who. Clearly ‘the industry’ encourages this behaviour and therefore attracts vulnerable people who are ‘willing’ to be exploited.


John Rutherford
06:12 Mar 10, 2024

The MC's opinion, but his narration sets the style and pace of the story. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the questions. Somethings people want to be exploited; it is the way it is.


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Uncle Spot
12:49 Mar 06, 2024

Not sure I got the ending, but I liked the story. You did a very nice job of blending a handful of budding situations into a single read. But, there must be more coming.


John Rutherford
13:39 Mar 06, 2024

Yes - there is more coming. It was intentional to leave the discovery in the balance, especially as there are a number of flirtatious threads in the story.


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Joseph Mir
16:48 Mar 04, 2024

I love the style. This was a great read!


John Rutherford
17:52 Mar 04, 2024

Thank you Joseph..


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Trudy Jas
15:04 Mar 04, 2024

Chilling. Has a "Hollywood in the old days" feel to is. But then, what do I know, it may still be the same. Can't wait for the sequel. tiny typo, I think: "She willing to do sex scenes, as explicit (instead of elicit?)


John Rutherford
15:14 Mar 04, 2024

Right - you got it, like one of those film noir movies. I checked the typo, "She's willing... is OK right? Thanks for reading Trudy, really appreciated.


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16:53 Mar 03, 2024

Femme fatale


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Mary Bendickson
14:40 Mar 03, 2024

Gotta be more a comin'...


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John Rutherford
11:05 Mar 03, 2024

Thanks Stella, I tried to change the style, make it more pacey.


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Alexis Araneta
10:57 Mar 03, 2024

Oooh, that twist ! I was caught off-guard ! Great job, John. Beautifully-crafted tale.


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