Out of the Pit (Short Story, Maybe — Day 4)

Detective Bruce Rivers and Officer Jerry Watts arrived about an hour later.  Bo greeted them at the door.  Bruce reached down and gave Bo a friendly scratch behind the ears.  “You have grown quite a bit since the last time I saw you.”

Bruce’s eyes met Lexie’s and he felt that familiar electrical spark shoot through him.  She was even more beautiful than he remembered from eight years ago.  He knew he had never gotten over her, but seeing her now, awakened all the old feelings:  love, desire, including the desire to protect her.  His arms ached with the desire to hold her and assure her that everything would be all right.

Lexie felt the connection and the electrical current between them as well.  The attraction was as strong as ever.  Bruce didn’t look much different than she remembered, though he had, obviously, built more muscle.  There was no doubt he was strong and physically fit.  Having him here brought all of the memories flooding back, memories that could push her over the edge again, and she didn’t want that to happen.  She was afraid that if she went over that edge again, she wouldn’t be able to find her way back.

Officer Watts went to work at setting up the phone tracing equipment, and Bruce approached Lexie, who was seated on the couch where Bo had returned to lay with his head in her lap.

“Lexie, it’s so good to see you again, though I wish it was under much happier circumstances.  Looks like this brute had been taking good care of you.”  Bruce grinned and patted Bo on the head.

“He’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  I still remember how you showed up that day with him in your jacket, and he wouldn’t quit squirming and yipping until you pulled him out and placed him in my arms.”  Lexie smiled at the memory.

Bruce’s expression grew serious.  “Brad tells me someone’s frightening you with some strange phone calls.”

Lexie’s eyes never left his when she said, “Bruce, I know Kevin is dead, but whoever this caller is seems to know all about it.  He called me ‘Kitten’, said he misses me and said that eight years is a long time.  That’s the part that Brad heard.  I was glad that Brad was here to answer the second call because now he knows I’m telling the truth and not imagining things.”

Bruce reached out and covered one of her hands with one of his, and both he and Lexie were aware of the electricity in that touch.  “Lexie, whoever this creep is, we’re going to find him, I promise.”

Bruce then introduced Lexie to Officer Watts, and Officer Watts explained how the phone tracing equipment worked while Bruce spoke quietly with Brad.

Bruce and Brad both left around 2 a.m., and Lexie and Bo went to the bedroom to try to get some sleep.  Officer Watts bedded down on the couch.  He’d be a permanent fixture for a while as they waited to see if there would be any more strange phone calls.

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Three days passed without incident and Lexie began to relax a little, until Tuesday afternoon.  A floral delivery person came into the bakery just before closing time and asked for Lexie Whitman.  He handed Lexie a bouquet of flowers, said, “Have a nice day,” and left.

Lexie unwrapped the bouquet and when she saw it, her hands began to shake.  It was a bouquet of eight white daisies and six yellow carnations with a single rose in the middle.  There was a card in an envelope.  Lexie was afraid to open it.

After a few minutes, she gathered her courage and tore the envelope open.  The card had been typed.  It read, “Kitten, it is time for you to take your rightful place, at the table, as the queen of my ladies.  I’ll be seeing you soon.  Love, Kevin”  Lexie fainted.

Someone was waving something with a strong odor under her nose and Lexie opened her eyes to find Brad, Patty and Bruce hovering over her.  “Lexie, are you okay?”

“I think so,” she said as she sat up.  “Who would want to do this to me?  That card was signed ‘Love, Kevin’, but I know Kevin is dead. Who else could know all of these details.”

“Is there a significance to the flowers?”  Bruce asked.

“I used to take a bouquet exactly like that to Kevin’s every Friday night to put in the center of the dining room table.”

“I’m going to the flower shop to ask some questions.  I’ll see you later, Lexie.”

“Okay, Bruce.”

Brad and Patty took Lexie home, and Brad called and ordered pizza delivery for dinner.

“Lexie, did Kevin have any close friends?”

“Not that I know of.  He was a loner except for the young women he chose.  That’s why he had his own apartment off campus.”

“What about siblings?”

“No, he was an only child.  His parents are rich.  His dad is a doctor and his mom is an artist.  The only time they spent with Kevin was once a year when they took extravagant family vacations.  The rest of the time Kevin was in boarding schools until he went away to college.”

“Well, those would be the most obvious possibilities.  I hope Bruce will have more ideas.”

“Where’s Officer Watts?  He’s usually waiting for me in the driveway when I get home from work.  He’s never been late.”

Someone knocked and Bo ran to the door, barking.

“That’s probably him now.  It’s too soon to be the pizza,” said Brad, who opened the door to find Bruce instead of Officer Watts.

“Lexie was just wondering where Officer Watts is.”

“I gave him the night off.  I’ll be staying tonight instead.”

Brad gave him a disapproving look.

“What?  It’s strictly in a professional capacity.  Don’t worry.”

“Sis, you okay with that?”

The thought of being alone with Bruce made Lexie’s pulse race, her palms sweat and caused butterflies to flutter in her stomach, but she knew Bruce took his job seriously.  “Yes, Brad.  I’ll be fine.”

The pizza arrived and they sat down to eat.  Brad told Bruce about the conversation he and Lexie had before Bruce arrived, and Bruce informed them that he might have a possible lead from what he found out at the flower shop.

“The clerk at the flower shop said a young man, about college age, made the purchase.  She said he paid cash, so there’s no credit card trail to follow, and he already had the card ready and in the envelope.  So I figure the creep making the phone calls got the kid to do his dirty work.  She had a pretty good description of the kid, which I gave to our sketch artist.  I’m hoping I can track the kid down and get some information from him, but it’s a long shot.”

Out of the Pit (Short Story — Day 3)

A week later Lexie was surprised when she was waiting on customers at the counter and David walked in the door.  He smiled when he saw her and she offered a small smile in return.

When it was his turn at the counter, David asked, “What would you recommend?”

“Well, if you like chocolate and peanut butter, the chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter creme filling and peanut butter icing are delicious.”

“I’ll take two with two cups of coffee, if you can join me for a few minutes.”

Lexie was due for a break, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to spend it with David.  She finally decided it would be a good opportunity to let him off the hook, so she said, “Okay.  I can take ten minutes.”

She gave David the cupcakes and one cup of coffee, collected his money,  grabbed a cup of coffee for herself and joined him at a small table in the back.

“I wanted to come by and check out the bakery since I’d never been here, and it gave me a good excuse to see you.”

“Look, David, you don’t have to pretend you’re interested in me and keep trying.  Brad will understand.  He knows that none of the guys he tries to set me up with ever work out.”

“Lexie, I’m not pretending.  You are a beautiful young woman, and after the discussion last week, I thought maybe you’d like to talk some more.  Maybe I could answer some more questions for you.”

“Didn’t your mother ever teach you that beauty is only skin deep?  You’re a nice guy but I don’t think we have much in common, and I really don’t think your Jesus is for me.”

“I think we may have more in common than you think. We may discover quite a bit, if we take the time to get to know one another.  We already share a love of dogs.  Why don’t we have dinner tonight?  You choose the place.”

“I’m really sorry, David, but I don’t think so.  Even if we found that we have a lot in common, you deserve better than me.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work.”

That evening after Lexie had finished her dinner, she dug in her closet until she found the Bible her mother had given her when she was about ten years old.  She took it to the living room, put it on the coffee table and sat down and stared at it.  Bo sat next to her feet and looked at her quizzically.

“Don’t look at me like that.  It’s not like other books and I have no idea where I should start reading.”

She went to the kitchen and picked up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi Brad.”

“Lexie, how are you?”

“I’m fine.  I was just wondering, if I were to start reading the Bible, where’s the best place to start?”

The line was silent for so long that Lexie said, “Brad, are you still there?”

“Yes, yes, sorry Lex, I’m still here.  I would suggest you start with the book of John.  That book will explain what David talked about last week.”

“Okay.  Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.  Love you, Sis.”

“Love you, too.  Bye.”

“Bye.”  Brad hung up the phone, told Patty about the conversation, and they bowed their heads in prayer.

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Lexie read from the Book of John every evening for the next week.  That Friday evening a thunderstorm hit the area.  Lexie sat on the sofa reading from the Book of John with Bo’s head in her lap, when the telephone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Kitten.  It’s been a long time and I miss you.”  It was a raspy whisper.

Lexie slammed the phone down and began to tremble violently.  She picked the phone back up and struggled to keep it in her grip and dial the number.  Her hands were shaking so badly.

“Hello?”

“Brad, he’s coming for me.”  She was sobbing uncontrollably and the words were unintelligible.

“Lexie, is that you?  Honey, calm down.  I can’t understand you.”

Lexie’s sobs just grew more intense until they sounded like bad hiccups.

“Lexie, I’m coming over.”

Lexie clung to the phone even though the connection was broken.  She slid to the floor and hugged her knees to her chest.  Bo lay down beside her, whining.

Brad drove as quickly as he could in the storm.  His gut was clenched in a tight fist of fear.  He didn’t know why, but his sister was terrified and he knew it was more than the storm.  He prayed that God would protect her, as he drove through the pouring rain.

Brad arrived at Lexie’s door twenty minutes after receiving her call.  He knocked but got no response.  The only sound coming from inside was Bo barking.

“Lexie, it’s Brad.  I’m coming in, honey.”  He used his key to quickly let himself in.  Bo greeted him at the door and turned to run toward the kitchen, stopping, turning and barking for Brad to follow him.

Brad found Lexie sitting on the floor in the corner of the kitchen.  She was hugging her knees and trembling.  She was no longer sobbing but was staring without really seeing.  Brad squatted down in front of her.

“Lexie, it’s me, Brad.”

After a few seconds, her eyes seemed to focus.  “Oh, Brad!”  She threw herself into his arms and clung to him.

“It’s okay, Lexie, I’m here.  Can you tell me what happened?”

He held her for a long time until he could feel the trembling dissipate.  Then she pulled away from him just far enough to look in his face, but still clinging to his hands.

“It’s Kevin.  He’s back.  He called and said he misses me.”

Brad sat looking at her for a long time trying to determine whether or not Lexie was in her right mind.

“I know it sounds crazy, but the phone rang and when I answered, it was him.  he called me ‘Kitten’.”

“You recognized his voice?”

“No.  He spoke in a raspy whisper.”

Anger suddenly welled up inside of him.  Someone was playing a cruel joke on his sister, or was it something more?

“Lexie, it couldn’t be Kevin.  Kevin’s dead, remember?”

“But no one else ever called me Kitten.”

“He must have called you that around other people.  It can’t be Kevin.”

Lexie just looked at him with fear and tears in her eyes.

The phone rang and Lexie’s eyes grew larger in fear.  Brad picked up the phone but said nothing.

“Why’d you hang up on me, Kitten?  Haven’t you missed me?  It’s been eight long years.”

“Who is this?”  Brad demanded, and then he heard a click as the person on the other end hung up.

Lexie looked at Brad questioningly.

“It was that creep again.  I don’t know who it is but there’s no way it’s Kevin.  Kevin’s dead.”

Lexie wondered if he was trying to convince her or himself.

“What are we going to do, Brad?”

“I’m going to call Bruce.  Then I have to call Patty and let her know that I am here and that you are okay physically.”

Brad dialed a number.

“Detective Bruce Rivers please.”

A few minutes passed and then Brad said, “Bruce, it’s Brad, Brad Williams.  Yeah, I know, it’s been too long.  This should be a social call, but it’s not.  I’m with my sister right now.  She’s just received two calls from some creep acting as though he were Kevin.”

“Yeah, that Kevin.  These weren’t simple prank calls.  Do you think you could stop by in the morning?  I’ll stay here for the night.”

“Oh, okay.  See you soon then.”

Brad hung up the phone.

“He doesn’t want to wait until the morning.  He’ll be here with an officer and equipment to set up a tracer on your phone in about an hour.”