The court documents in my hands inform me that a temporary restraining order has been granted against me — well, against my current identity, anyway. I could be arrested right now, just for sitting in my car across the street from their house.
They didn’t really need to go to all the trouble; I won’t be bothering them again. I suspect the husband might actually be a bit regretful about that — I was wearing his resistance right down at the end there, and he wasn’t at all far off the point of allowing me to have my wicked way with him when it all got out of hand.
Bet he wishes he’d given in at the start, now. So much grief and upheaval in his life, and he didn’t even get to enjoy the sin that usually goes before the punishment.
Although not many people, his friends and family included, truly believe that. His wife does, I think — just — but everyone else looked at the wreckage I left behind and thought there’s no smoke without fire.
He’s been married for seven years with an eighteen month old baby, and everyone knows what that does to a marriage. He called me crazy but I was stable enough to get a good job at his firm, and I clearly knew a lot of intimate details about his private life. And the clincher, of course, the one that made it gospel as far as a lot of people were concerned, is that I’m beautiful. Beautiful and available. They looked at him, at his frazzled and exhausted wife, and then they looked at me. Case closed.
When it started to get nasty, they looked at me again and they didn’t see a crazy woman, a fantasist; they saw a spurned lover. Hell hath no fury, right?
The high point, as always, was getting inside the house. Knowing that I’d been there, drinking her wine and rolling around in her bed, drove her insane. I didn’t even do any damage, just let him a present on his pillow: a watch, one so much more elegant and tasteful than anything she’s ever given him. Stolen, of course — I have a finite budget for expenses — but he still doesn’t know that yet. He told her that he threw it away, but I’ve seen him put it on once he’s in the car, waiting at the stop sign.
At that point, after the home invasion, is when it always turns legal. The police, the attorneys, the brand new state-of-the-art security system. By then, the wife doesn’t care what it costs. She just wants to keep me out. Out of her life, preferably, but at the very least out of her house.
Her friends get worried, too, seeing her so shaken at just how easy it had been for me to walk in and out as I pleased. It frightens all of them. They might not think themselves vulnerable to obsessive stalkers — although you never know, right? It’s not like her husband was even that much of a catch — but what about burglars, vandals, opportunistic street gangs? They’ve got children, these women, babies. They’re so often alone in their big old houses — houses filled with the temptations of cash, jewelry, precious possessions. You hear such terrible things on the news these days.
They would have said they were safe, before, that nothing could ever happen to them, no, surely not — but look what happened when I blew into town. Before they knew it, it had happened, and to one of their own. It wasn’t just on the TV any more, it was on their street, in their living rooms. It wasn’t a random stranger on the screen, it was their friend, crying in their arms.
She’d had a lucky escape, everyone said so. It could have been so much worse. They were able to stop me, frighten me off, in time — but just think about all the awful things I could have done. It came out of the blue, this storm I brought into their lives. It happened to her, but it could have been any of them really, couldn’t it? It still could.
With all that, what was a measly few thousand bucks for a proper home security system? What was money, against peace of mind?
And luckily enough, a security company was running a promotion in the area. Generous discounts, especially on the full service package. How was that for good fortune?
It’s not the number one security firm in the Northeast, but it’s getting there. And thanks to my unsung sales force of terrorized housewives, it’s getting closer all the time.
I watch the wife load their SUV with bags and baby paraphernalia, enough for maybe a week. They know the house is protected, now, so they’re off on a little vacation, a refreshing break to help them put all this behind them.
I make a note in my file to look into the travel and vacation industry. Cabins, beach houses, maybe spa breaks? Could be an investment opportunity. A real full service package.
She drives away, and I pull up the latest sales figures on my phone. Massachusetts is having a disappointing quarter. I pull up another list, then smile at my reflection in the rear view mirror. “Hi, I’m Carla Greenberg. It’s lovely to meet you.”
I practice saying that until it feels natural, then call the airline and book Carla a flight to Boston. I’m sure she’ll meet lots of exciting people there.
Michelle King is 43 and works in the insurance claims industry, which provides plenty of inspiration for murderous short stories.