It's that time again. My favorite day, the first Sunday of the month, which I have declared Free Short Story Sunday! This is where I'll publish a short story of mine to thank all of you for registering on my webpage and supporting The Blood Prophecy Series. Some of the short stories will be horror and some won't.
Hope you enjoy this month's horror story, Text Message from a Stranger. A story of how tables can turn on texting predators.
All the other short stories I've posted are always available in my past Blogs, so be sure to check them out!
Hope you enjoy the stories as much as I do writing them.
Edited by the talented Liane Larocque at Mystic Canyon Publishing.
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READER DISCRETION ADVISED, this may not be suitable for all audiences.
If you enjoy my short stories please consider trying my books, The Blood Prophecy Series, a vampire adventure extraordinaire, and Inferno of Secrets my first mystery.
Text Messages from a Stranger
At first, the unfamiliar ding on the tablet made Carman jump. She had been daydreaming of happier times, gardening in her large yard, where she had many exotic flowers. She’d joined social media a few months ago. Her husband hadn’t approved of such things, but now that he was dead, she was free to do as she pleased. She needed to make some new friends and start anew, so Carman moved to the other end of her hometown of Harlingen, Texas. Her new house was much smaller, and it wasn’t the best side of town, but it would do. There were moments or two when Carman missed her husband of 30 years. But that was until she remembered what living with Walter was truly like. But that was the past, and it was behind her now. Even though he had been legally declared dead six months before, she was still getting the occasional calls from the Texas PD, and then there were the attorneys pressuring her to get out of her home, which had left her with little choice but to move out. Even so, she stayed positive, always believing that dead memories should stay buried in order to clear the way for new happier ones—lessons she had learned from her garden.
Tonight, she was finally unpacked in her new little house with its yard barely big enough for a tiny garden, unlike the massive one she used to have. Everything in her new home was at last in its place, and she was settling in on her new beginning, which was also the password she had chosen for her Wi-Fi on the new tablet she bought with the small life insurance policy she and Walter had. A bit of excitement and trepidation coursed through Carman’s body as she clicked on the incoming text message from Kevin Higgins, the man she had just accepted a friend request from not but five minutes earlier. The thought of how quick and easy this was to invite potential new friends into her life truly amazed her. She understood now why Walter had been so against her using social media. Walter had been the jealous type, or more that he wanted to divert his wife from knowing about what he had been up to behind her back.
Carmen had been lonely for a long time. Way before her husband passed away. Her only faithful friends who would keep her secrets were the flowers in her garden. Walter had been as loving and attentive as a rattlesnake in the rain. But she had made a vow until death do they part, and she had been determined to honor that vow, if but for the only reason being their son. It became harder once Walter Jr. left home for the Army two years earlier, and it was at that time the realization had hit that she was truly alone, even with her husband sitting on the sofa, watching endless hours of sports and sucking down beers.
With two clicks, the message opened, “How are you doing tonight?”
“I’m okay. Nice of you to text me,” she answered.
“Was easy. Your beautiful picture caught my attention right away.”
Carman didn’t know how to respond. It had been years since anyone had called her beautiful. She stared at the tablet for a long time, wondering what to say next. This was too long for her new friend. “Are you still there?”
Carman felt the pressure and didn’t want him to disappear, but she still didn’t know what to say.
“Hey, are you there? Why the silent treatment, baby? If you didn’t want to chat, why did you accept my friend request?”
A strange feeling of obligation filled Carman’s mind. She found it a bit off-putting, but she didn’t want to lose this new friendship before it had even begun.
“I’m still here,” she replied in a rush.
“Are you married, beautiful?”
That was a question she wasn’t prepared to answer. Should she tell him she was a widow or simply single? She didn’t know, and with a quick decision, she answered.
“Where are you from?”
She realized that she had no idea what kind of yahoo this guy was, “Boston,” it was the truth, after all, even if she hadn’t lived there in years.
“How old are you?”
This question struck a nerve.
“Does it matter?” she replied.
“No, I guess not. Unless you’re seriously old, like over thirty?”
Carman was in her late fifties and found this comment downright offensive, but still, she wanted to keep the conversation going.
“Hahaha, no, not that old,” she replied.
Somehow a little dishonesty didn’t seem so bad since he had no way of truly knowing.
“Didn’t think so. You look pretty young in your profile picture, LOL.”
What he hadn’t known was the picture was from ten years earlier, and she did look much younger than her years even now.
“Do you have kids?”
Again, she paused, unsure if she should get into the story of her now estranged son. When Walter Jr. returned from duty, he was no longer the sweet boy she had kissed goodbye after he had been sworn in officially to the Army. He had returned a cold and distant young man as if it were Carman’s fault for all the horrors he had witnessed while deployed. Then again, the boy’s behavior may have simply been that he had become like his father. Genetics could be a cruel fate.
“No, my son never returned from the military.”
“Sorry to hear that, beautiful. You don’t look old enough to have an adult son, LOL. You must have had him in your early teens. No worries, I’m here to make you feel better.”
There was a long silence, and she wondered if she had scared him away with her sob story. She stared at the screen, willing it to ding once more for several minutes before it finally did.
“Come on, sweetheart, let’s talk about something that’ll make us happy.”
“Like what?” she replied.
“Like, why you don’t send me a naked pic. of you? That would sure cheer me up.”
This statement gave Carman an uncomfortable feeling.
“Why don’t we wait on such things? I’d like to know more about you first.”
“Aww, you’re no fun. What do you want to know?”
“Are you married?”
“Oh, baby. I only got eyes for you.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“No worries baby, my old lady don’t care if I chat with you. She be at work for the rest of the night.”
Thoughts of Walter’s discretions danced through her mind when she decided there was no good in dwelling on the past.
“What do you do for work?” she asked, in hopes of taking his mind off naked pictures.
“My job is to make a pretty lady like you happy.”
Carman wondered if Walter had used such cheesy lines on his mistress. She hadn’t known about his affair with Laura until she showed up for the memorial service with her attorney.
“Doesn’t sound like a lucrative job.”
“Oh, baby. You don’t need to worry about such things. I’ve got plenty for you. I’ve got a nice big house with a two-car garage.”
The thought of Laura walking off with the deed to her house of thirty years burned in Carman’s gut. Walter had left it to this woman in the Will, along with all of her furniture and both their cars that Carmen had worked years to afford from her part-time job at the meat packing plant. It took a lawyer to get the life insurance payout away from this woman’s greedy little hands. In the end, Carman relented, not wanting the house since the mortgage had been refinanced three times, and they owed more on it than it was worth, as well as the constant pressure from Laura’s attorney. Carman would be content with the life insurance money. It was more money than she had ever had in the past, but the memory still chafed.
“Where are you from? Carmen asked, wanting to change the subject.
“I’m a good old Texas boy.”
“Oh, I have family in Dallas. Whereabouts are you?”
“South, not far from Mexico. Little town called Harlingen.”
Carman couldn’t stop herself from gasping.
“I’m familiar with it. Nice place, I hear.”
“LoL, it’s a pit. Just moved into a new house here. The house is pretty nice, even came with a couple of cars.”
An uncomfortable thought ran through Carman’s head that she quickly dismissed. There was another long silence, and Carman felt sure he had lost interest. Ding.
“Hey, baby, you sound nice. I want to help you out. Why don’t you inbox me with your $Cashapp tag or Paypal address, ima bless you with an amount by God’s grace.”
Carman had no idea what any of that meant. She wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to send her money or was asking for some, more likely the latter.
“I guess those cars need fixing. Sorry, don’t have any of those accounts.”
“Ya, the Toyota needs brakes and the Subaru needs a whole new front-end replacement. Lady that owned it smashed the shit out of it in some accident. They were free, so it’s not so bad. But no, Ima going to send you a little sum, sum.”
Again, Carman didn’t understand as the thought rolled through her mind that Walter’s old car needed new brakes too.
“Why would you send me money?”
“I told you, beautiful, I want to make you happy. I send you sum, and you can send me a pic of you pussy.”
Anger rose inside Carman as if she had been set on fire. Walter used to make her angry. Carman snapped a picture of her black cat and sent it.
“LoL, funny. Not what I meant, beautiful. Don’t you want to get to know each other better?”
“Not yet. You have to tell me what color those cars are first.”
“The T- is blue, and the Sub is a custom yellow. I told you, give me your PayPal or Zell, and I’ll show you how grateful I am for the pic.”
Carman used to own a custom yellow Subaru with the front end smashed from her accident, and Walter used to have a blue Toyota with bad brakes, and he’d make her promises too. He had promised to be faithful, take her on a trip to Italy, and more, but none of it was ever the truth.
“You have a garden?” she asked.
“Ya, a great big one. You like gardens, pretty lady?”
“Love them. Great place to focus and bury problems.”
“LoL, not much on digging in dirt. Going to fill it all in and put in a swimming pool once I fix up the cars and sell ‘em.”
Carman was horrified by the thought.
“I used to have a nice garden, had all kinds of silver pinwheels and dozens of little ceramic gnomes in it.”
“LoL, the garden here had those, but I threw them all in the garbage. Creepy little things.”
Blood rushed into Carman’s face as the anger inside her took over, and her recently acquired boldness kicked in.
“I think we should get together, and I can show you all of me.”
“All right! Send me an address, and I be there, beautiful!”
“No, why don’t you send me yours, and I’ll come to you?”
Carman didn’t want the stranger to know where she lived. The address he sent her made her blood boil.
Carman put the spare car keys into her purse along with her favorite gardening shovel. The ride to his place only took fifteen minutes. She knew the neighborhood well. She parked her car further down the street and walked a short distance to his house. She quietly got behind the wheel of the yellow Subaru in the driveway and texted her new friend.
“Hay baby, I’m in the driveway. Come outside and play.”
Carmen watched the back door light come on, and a short, fat, balding man came lumbering out the door. As soon as he was standing in the driveway, Carman started the Subaru and hit the gas, smashing the already crumpled front end over the man. Carman dragged his lifeless body into the backyard and began digging in her garden. An hour later, she stood over the perfectly leveled dirt.
“There you go, Walter. Now you’ll have a friend who was just like you to keep you company,” she said as she carried her shovel down the street to where she left her car.