“What movie would you like to see this weekend?”
Dawn and Edwin have been friends for more than a year. They met at a coffee house that he always stopped at on his way to work.
This was a routine he’s done for years; some things just never change. She was sitting alone at a table sipping a cup of coffee and
reading what he found out later to be a manuscript she was getting ready to submit to her agent. She was going over each line, word for
word to make sure it was perfect.
He felt brave that morning and walked over to her and asked if he could sit down. She looked at him and nodded. They began a
conversation and that’s when he found out she was an author. He told her that his ex-wife used to want to write, but he didn’t have any
idea if she ever pursued it. He asked for her number and she readily gave it to him. She told him up front that she wasn’t interested in
romance, but she was sort of new to the city and it would be nice to have friends. He asked her why she said ‘sort of’ new to the city.
She told him she was away for quite a while and just returned. A lot of things changed in her absence, including her family and friends;
she felt like she was in an entirely new place than what she remembered.
Just recently he started seeing Dawn on a regular basis. They insisted they weren’t ‘dating’ and labeled themselves as ‘movie buddies’.
Each time they went to the movies, he always chose what they saw.
“You choose, Edwin. There are so many good ones to watch, I can’t make up my mind.”
“You can never make up your mind about anything. Can’t you make a decision for once?”
Edwin asked this question with disgust dripping like venom from his mouth. It was true though; she never made decisions. The fear of
doing so came from a bad relationship she was previously in. Her ex never could make up his mind about anything. Then, when she
made a decision—at his request—he would mock her and tell her what a stupid idea it was. She finally stopped making them and left it
up to him. Everyone was right; old habits do die hard.
Dawn was cradling the telephone on her shoulder when spat back, “That’s not nice! Why do you talk to me that way? I’m mad and I’m
hanging up now.”
Dawn slammed the receiver back on its hook. She didn’t like just hanging up on people when she was mad. To avoid being rude, she
simply told them first.
A few moments later, the telephone rang. She let it ring a few times; threatening not to answer it. She knew it would be Edwin. She
gave in.
“Hello?”
“Dawn, I’m sorry. You’re right; I shouldn’t speak to you that way. Forgive me?”
“This time, Edwin; but let’s not make it a habit.”
Since their ‘dating’ began, Dawn started to become outspoken and often told him off. Sometimes Edwin didn’t know why he took it
from her. He did like her; she has some great qualities he was looking for in a woman, despite her short temper. She was smart,
independent, supportive and certainly pretty. He wouldn’t call her a raving beauty, but she is kind looking, meaning she has an amiable
face. What she isn’t is clingy—he hates that in women—egotistical, self-serving or anti-social. She is very outgoing; she belongs to a lot
of writer’s workshops and critiquing clubs, she hosts events and is avid in leading conferences. She has her fingers in every pie she can
find. Most of all, he liked the fact that he could have his own time; nights out with the guys and time to do whatever he chose and she
didn’t make him answer for it.
When she is mad though, watch out. She will certainly tell the person off and explain why she’s upset. She gets over it rather quickly
however, and doesn’t hold a grudge. The good thing about it is you know where you stand with her.
She is the exact opposite of Karen; another major reason he liked her. His ex-wife was dominating and had to know where he was, who
he was with and when he’d be home and if he was late, he better have a good explanation. It was worse than having a mother. He
couldn’t take it anymore and moved out of the house, refusing to see her for any reason after that. He always wondered what it was
about women that they needed to make life so difficult.
“Can we start this conversation over?” he asked.
“Sure.”
“What movie do you think you want to see this weekend?”
“I’m not sure; there are several. How about when we meet there, we can look at the titles and decide then?”
“That’s not a bad idea. I have a better one; how about I come over tonight and we can look at the movie ads in the newspaper
together?”
“Edwin, I know what you’re thinking and…”
“I’m not thinking that.”
“Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking! Now, as I was saying, I know what you’re thinking and I’m actually thinking the same thing. How
about I get us some wine, make some supper and see where the evening leads?”
“Your place?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
The indecision was killing Edwin. When would she ever make a decision about anything? He thought.
“I’ll come over to your place. What time?”
“Oh, I don’t know; you pick.”
He was ready to scream.
Trying not to show his frustration, he asked, “Does seven o’clock sound good?”
“Fine; I’ll see you then.”
Almost immediately after hanging up, Edwin’s phone rang. He thought it was her calling back about something and quickly answered it.
“Did you forget something?”
“No, but I think you did,” a female voice just above a whisper answered him.
“Who is this? Dawn, is that you?”
“You should know who this is,” the voice said. “I’m hurt you don’t remember.”
“Who is this?” he repeated. “What do you want?”
“You, and soon I’ll have you.”
The line went dead. Edwin sat back and shook his head. It had to be Dawn playing a joke on him. Who else could it be? He knows but
a handful of people and can’t imagine who would be accusing him of not remembering them. He shook his head again and went back
to work.
Edwin is the store manager of Food Castle, a grocery chain. It isn’t much, certainly not award-winning like Dawn’s fiction novels, but it
keeps him busy and his rent paid.
After his shift was over, he went home to get ready for his evening with Dawn. He felt tonight would be the night they cross over from
being friends to lovers. He couldn’t wait; he’s secretly wanted her for some time now.
After showering and shaving, he put on his favorite cologne. He knows Dawn likes it as she’s said as much before when they’ve been
out. He smiled thinking of the evening that lies ahead. He got dressed in loose fitting trousers and a semi-casual shirt.
Just as he headed to the back door to his car, his front doorbell rang. He reverted his direction and went to answer it. When he opened
the door, no one was there. Instead, there was a long, narrow package sitting on his door mat. He picked it up and brought it inside. He
opened it and found six long-stemmed, red roses with baby’s breath sitting atop white tissue paper.
“What? Who would send me flowers?” he asked aloud.
It was completely out of character for Dawn. He didn’t have any idea where they came from. Instead of mulling over the few
possibilities that existed, he reached for the card.
You should have sent these to me; now you’ll have to make up for that. There’s still time. All you have to do is meet me tonight at our
usual place.
The note was unsigned and he was completely perplexed. He didn’t have any idea what place the person was speaking of, nor did he
care right now. Thinking Dawn was playing a trick on him, he set the box of flowers on the dining room table and left. As soon as he
got in his car, all thoughts of them were gone; only the visualization of what the evening may unfold with Dawn was etched in his mind.
The evening with Dawn went well; actually better than he expected. He arrived at her place to find she set the table with her nice china
and uncorked the wine. They talked for a while about her day and his. His was pretty uneventful so most of the talking was about her.
She heard back from her agent who told her that he was able to sell her manuscript with good terms. She was excited and in a very
jovial mood. They looked in the paper and decided to see an action film on Friday evening. Dawn was the one who actually made the
decision; it completely took Edwin by surprise.
When dinner was ready, he helped her bring it to the table. She made stuffed manicotti, salad and garlic bread. Edwin ate her manicotti
before and had to admit it was the best he ever tasted.
After dinner, they sat on the sofa chatting. The conversation once again revolved around her world. She began to tell him what her
mystery book was about and he was only half listening. Apparently, she could tell that he was not giving her his undivided attention and
became angry.
“Edwin, are you listening to a word I’m saying?”
“I’m sorry, Dawn. I am, but I guess my mind was drifting because I’m tired.”
Just as quickly as she became angry, she calmed down.
“I suppose I can understand that.”
She nestled closer to him and he put his arms around her. She tilted her head back and he kissed her. It was only the second time he’d
done so, but for some reason it struck a chord of familiarity. He started to get a bit more amorous and gently kneaded her breasts
from the outside of her blouse. She pushed his hand away and stood up.
“I’m sorry, Edwin. I thought I was ready for this, but I guess I’m not.”
“I understand.”
He didn’t, but knew it wouldn’t do any good to get upset and make matters worse.
“It’s just…well, I guess my ex is still on my mind. I realize it’s been many years since I’ve been with him, but I’ve not been with anyone
else after him. I’m sorry, Edwin. I guess I need more time for you and I to become more than friends and we’re just starting that part
of our relationship.”
“I understand,” he repeated, standing up. “Let’s call it a night and I’ll see you on Friday.”
“Okay; you’re not upset, are you?”
He was and now he would have to go home and take a cold shower, but he wasn’t about to start an argument tonight.
“No, Dawn. Everything’s fine.”
She walked him out and he drove home. Just as he got into bed, the phone rang. He grabbed the one on his nightstand.
“Hello?”
“Did you miss me?”
It was the same soft, whispery voice that called him before.
“Who is this?”
He was getting annoyed and his voice reflected it when he said, “Look, I don’t know what game you’re playing, but I’m not into it. You
must have the wrong number.”
He hung up the phone before she could say anything further. It rang again.
“What!” he bellowed.
“You shouldn’t have done that. That hurt my feelings. Why would you do that, Edwin? Now, it’s your turn. I’m going to hang up now
and when we speak next, I expect you to be a bit more pleasant.”
She hung up and he sat there for a minute still holding the receiver against his ear. He shook his head as if he was trying to wake up
from a bad dream and hung up the phone.
What the hell is going on? Who can it be? He thought.
Friday afternoon he was getting ready to leave the store to go home and prepare for his date with Dawn. The phone on his desk rang
and he almost didn’t answer it; he didn’t want to be late.
As soon as he did, he regretted doing so.
“Edwin, I see I caught you before you left.”
The voice was never above a whisper and he knew immediately it was her again.
“Who are you and what the hell do you want?”
“Do you really want to know? You may not like what you find out.”
“Look, whatever I supposedly did to you, I’m sorry. Get over it and leave me alone.”
“Those are some harsh words. You’ll have to pay for them.”
“Lady, you’re really starting to piss me off. Will you just tell me what you want?”
“Meet me tonight and we’ll settle it then.”
“No, I have plans.”
“Break them.”
“No. Why would I do that for someone I don’t even know?”
“You’ll understand everything tonight. Meet me in the parking lot of the mini-mart on Tenth Street at eight p.m. sharp. Don’t keep me
waiting, Edwin. Good-bye; I’ll see you there.”
She hung up before he could tell her he wasn’t going to be there.
“No way!” he exclaimed out loud. “I’m not meeting some psycho anywhere.”
He drove home, firm in his resolution that he wasn’t going. He jumped in the shower and started thinking that maybe he should just go.
He could end whatever it is this whack-job started.
After toweling off, he called Dawn.
“Hello, Edwin. Why are you calling? I thought we were just going to meet.”
“I can’t make it, Dawn. I’m sorry, but I have to go back in. The night manager is out and I need to fill in.”
He hated lying to her, but felt it was necessary to get whoever was stalking him off his back.
“I can’t say I’m not disappointed, but I understand. Tell you what—I’ll bring you dinner. What time would you like to eat?”
Quickly, he said, “No, that’s alright. I appreciate it, but I’ll be fine.”
“Okay. Call me tomorrow and maybe we can go see that movie over the weekend sometime.”
“Thanks for understanding, Dawn. I’ll call you in the morning.”
Grumbling the entire way, he drove to the mini-mart and parked his car just before eight o’clock. He got out and stood by the driver’s
door. He looked around and didn’t see anyone. There were a few cars parked in the lot, but none he recognized.
Suddenly, there was a tap on his shoulder. He quickly whipped around to see a homeless man standing there.
“Excuse me. Do you have any change?”
“No, now beat it.”
“I’m supposed to give you this. The least you can do is spare a quarter or two.”
The man handed him a piece of paper and held his hand out. Edwin turned his back on him and the man shuffled away. He opened
the note.
I see you showed up. That’s a good thing. Now, go around to the back.
That was all there was to the note. He hesitated, not knowing what he was getting himself into. What if it was some crazy bitch thinking
I’m someone who broke her heart or some such shit? He wondered.
Sighing, he walked around to the back hoping he wasn’t making a mistake. Just out of the reach of the light that was shining down from
above the delivery bays, stood a woman. She watched him walk up.
“I see you can take directions.”
Because she was still half whispering, he didn’t have any idea who it could be.
“What do you want?”
“Revenge. You shouldn’t have left me, Edwin. I warned you about what would happen.”
“What? Who are you?”
“Do you remember all the times we would sit out on the front porch and dream about our future?”
“What?”
He desperately searched his memory. Something was nagging at him, but he couldn’t quite grasp what it was.
“You must remember; we had a lot of dreams back then. That is, before you became a mean, good-for nothing husband.”
Suddenly, it all came back to him. No! he thought. It can’t be. I haven’t seen or heard from her since I left.
“Karen?”
“I see you finally remember. Yes, dear, it is me.”
“Why are you whispering? What the hell is going on?”
“I suppose I can reveal myself to you now. It’ll only be a few minutes longer anyway before I get my revenge.”
She started walking toward him and he could see something in her hands. As soon as she came into the light, he gasped, stumbled
backward and fell down. She lifted her hand over her head as she came closer. He put his hand up to ward it off. It was too late.
The hammer came down on his head as he uttered one word, “Dawn?”
Movie Buddies
by
Starr Gardinier Reina