John sipped his coffee contentedly. It was shitty burnt office coffee but he didn’t care. He’d not only managed to turn in his report to Bill last week with 5 minutes to spare–and be on time ever since their little “chat”–but they’d also managed to land a big order from their new client partly as a result of John’s analysis. He was back in Bill’s good graces, for now. And he’d even rebuffed another invitation to a rendezvous with his ex. He felt pretty good about himself.
“Hey John,” Derek whispered urgently, “There was a third victim over the weekend.”
John sighed. Leave it to Derek to bring him down with his tidings of bad news and gossip.
“What are you talking about?” John asked.
“The head-splosion killer, man!” Derek whispered urgently. “I knew it wasn’t just a couple of freak accidents. There was a third victim. A dog-catcher this time. The cops are investigating it as a possible homicide. I’m telling you it’s some kind of freaky serial killer.”
John rolled his eyes, “Uh huh. A serial killer who blows up his victim’s heads.”
“Dude, don’t cry to me when you’re head’s blown into little bits. This is serious man. It’s making national news now.”
“OK whatever. Listen, I’ve got work to do. You know that thing adults are supposed to do when they’re paid by someone else. A job I think it’s called?”
Derek snorted, “Yeah, OK guy. Mr. Dedicated Employee, John Wilson, over here. Heaven forbid I distract him with the fact there’s a freakin’ terrorist on the loose blowing people’s heads off for fun.”
John ignored him and got back to work.
That night found John staring at his phone, thumbs hovering over a text message he was about to send. He’d rewritten it five times. He didn’t want to admit to himself how bad he wanted to see Jeanie. Not just for the sex either. He missed her. She hadn’t texted him since he’d refused her last invitation.
She was the first one he thought could be The One. Sexy, smart, classy but fun, great job, great apartment, great family. She was everything he’d wanted in a girl. And they’d been in love. Or at least he thought they had. It had started falling apart when they moved in together. Maybe it was too soon. Little spats over leaving the toilet seat up or leaving dishes unwashed turned into bigger fights and finally shouting matches about how inadequate and shitty each of them thought the other was. Now he couldn’t remember exactly why they had broken up, just that it had happened.
“Ah fuck,” John mumbled as he took a deep breath and hit send.
A few minutes later the reply came back.
Sure! I would like that. See you soon. 🙂
When he entered her apartment, John found she had shacked up with another man. Or a dog anyway. It was the cutest little lap dog, probably some kind of Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Shih-Tzu mix that yapped at every little noise and made John want to punt them like a football when them wouldn’t shut up. This dog didn’t make a sound though. Just stared at him as he walked into the kitchen of Jeanie’s apartment.
She picked the dog up and smiled. “And what do you think of little Johnny boy?” she asked the dog, scratching him and talking in a baby talk voice into it’s ear.
“New pet?” John asked, “I didn’t think you were much of a dog person.”
She set the dog down, sighing, “And what is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing, just never knew you wanted a dog.”
“That’s not the only thing you never knew about me, John.”
He shrugged, letting it go instead of launching into another argument with her.
“I’m sorry,” she said, putting a hand on his chest, “I didn’t mean anything…”
He wrapped her in his arms and kissed her, “I know. It’s fine, I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean anything either.”
She laughed and looked down. She was just so damned cute it hurt.
“So what’s his name?” he asked.
“Not sure yet. I’ve been calling him Fido since I haven’t thought of anything better yet. I found him outside my building with no collar. I was going to take him to the Humane Society shelter but haven’t had a chance yet. And now he’s sorta growing on me.”
“Sounds like someone I know,” he joked, referring to how they had first met when they literally bumped into each other on the street outside her building.
“Yeah except I didn’t spill my coffee all over him,” she laughed.
They kissed again and quickly found themselves in her bedroom, undressing each other.
Later, John had his arm over his forehead while Jeanie stroked his chest.
“Mmm,” she said, “I kinda like this friends with benefits thing. We haven’t had sex this hot in months…”
John stopped her hand and looked at her fiercely, “Seriously? What the fuck?”
She returned his anger in her gaze, “Well sorry but it’s true. At the end we weren’t having sex at all. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings but just saying, maybe this is better for us right now.”
John threw her hand away from him and got out of bed in a fluster, grabbing his clothes and pulling them on.
“Oh John, don’t be like that. Come back to bed. Come on, I’m sorry. I was trying to give you a compliment.” She realized how bad that sounded right after she said it.
“Oh well thank you so much your highness for the wonderful compliment. Perhaps you’ll deign to give me a tip as well? Since you like me as a man-whore and all.”
“Fuck you, John!” she said loudly. There was a scratching at the door.
John flung it open and found the dog gazing at him with that same dead-eyed stare. It was rather unnerving and stopped him in his tracks for a moment. The dog ran into the room and jumped on the bed, curling up with Jeanie.
“Yeah, fuck me!” he shouted, “That’s all you really want right? Normally I’d be down but I actually still have some feelings for you like the stupid fuck I am! Well curl up with your precious poodle there and have a great fucking night!”
“God you’re such a fucking dick sometimes!”
“Yeah I know, that’s why you had me over right?”
Their shouts had escalated into one of their classic fights. He didn’t even know why. The dog was still staring at him. It was adorable but John wanted to strangle it by its little neck. His head was pounding. Jeanie was about to retort but stopped, suddenly concerned.
“John, you’re bleeding. Are you OK?”
He checked himself and realized his nose was bleeding like a faucet. The blood trickled down his chest and spattered on the carpet.
“I’ll be fine. Thanks for the concern. Go to hell.”
He stormed out of her apartment half dressed and clutching his bloody nose, slamming the door behind him. He could hear Jeanie crying. His nose seemed to have stopped bleeding, for now. He hurriedly finished dressing as best he could and put on his shoes, then stomped down the hallway. A neighbor peeked her head out her door at him as he passed by.
“What?” He shouted at her, “Never heard a fight before? Mind your own business!”
The neighbor hurriedly shut and locked the door and John took the elevator down to the garage where he had parked. He got in his car and started bawling. I’m so fucking stupid. What the fuck was that about? God dammit!
He sobbed heavily and got himself under control enough to drive home. When he got home he took a long hot shower, drank a bottle of wine as fast as he could and crashed into his bed. He fell into a deep sleep, the best sleep he’d had in weeks.
In his dream, he saw Jeanie’s dog. But it wasn’t just a dog, it was a demon. It leered at him silently, it’s sharp demon teeth slobbering in anticipation of devouring his soul. But then an old lady, the old lady with the dog from the bus stop he’d seen a week or two before, rose up to defend him. She told the dog, “No! Bad doggie.” The demon dog promptly ate her face. John could hear the bones crunching in it’s teeth. Then it stared at him again, stalking him, blood and slobber dripping from it’s little jowls. It lunged for him…and John awakened screaming, drenched in sweat.
To be continued…