Arts & Culture(Archives)

Jan
24
2014
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YMM Short Story Contest: Winning Story

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Hook, Line & Sinker By Mel Campbell

My name is Rod,” he yelled. “Can I buy you a drink?

The throbbing beat of the sound system made it hard to hear. It was Monday night at an uptown bar, and nearly time for last call.

I smiled and pointed to the stool opposite. “Still got one. But sit down and keep me company. My date left earlier.”

Rod plunked his butt down and had the courtesy to say, “My lucky day. Why?”

I shrugged. “It was one of those E-Harmony first date things. I wasn’t his type.” It wasn’t hard to look sad.

He nodded in sympathy. “It happens.”

I had been eyeing him for some time. He was a decent-looking guy, if you don’t mind them short. Light brown hair, with a straight nose and regular features. But short. Good thing I’d worn flats.

This was so out of character for me, being here by myself. But I’d seen others do it. Hooking up at the end of a night was supposed to be easy. This was a Monday, slow day. It hadn’t taken much to get his attention.

I looked pretty hot, actually. Short black skirt, red halter top, and plenty of eye makeup. I’m pretty stacked, so that helped. No one from work would ever recognize me.

But it seemed too good to be true. Here he was, the best looking guy still left in the place, chatting me up. And he was actually very charming. I liked how he asked questions about me. So many guys just talk about themselves.

It was getting on two o’clock when he finally got to it. “So do you live around here?”

That gave me my opening.

“Not far,” I said, with a shy smile. “We could go to my place. My sister is away until Wednesday. The booze is cheaper there.”

He looked a little startled. Maybe I had wrecked his plan? But I could see his mind assessing this new spin.

He had a smile like Rob Lowe. “That would be nice,” he said.

I was excited now, ridiculously so. I guess that probably bubbled out. But I’d never done anything like this before. I couldn’t stop talking all the way to his car, which he said was parked out back. It was actually a small silver truck, one of those Japanese jobs, with a bench seat.

He held the door open for me, just like a gentleman. I strapped myself in. Before he could start the ignition, I reached into my purse. My hand came out with a small silver flask.

“One for the road?” I said.

Again, I had surprised him. Both eyebrows raised, and a wry smile crossed his face. “What is it?”

“Rum,” I said. “The good stuff, high proof. I picked it up in Fort McMurray.” I offered it to him.

“What were you doing in Fort McMurray?”

Rod took it from me, unscrewed the top and took a swig.

“My dad used to work for an oil company.”

He turned back to me, appraising. Really, he had very nice hazel eyes.

“Cool. I’ve never been north of Orillia,” he said. “This is an awesome flask.”

“It was my Dad’s. He died recently.” Don’t think about Dad, I told myself. He wouldn’t approve of me tonight.

“I’m sorry. Mine is dead too.” Rod put the key in the ignition. Nice hands, but small for a man. “So where are we going?”

“Not far. Oh my God! I forgot my jacket in the bar. Hold on a sec. I’ll just run in and get it.”

I pushed open the door and hopped out, leaving my purse on the seat. The night was getting colder. I dashed around the side of the building and in by the front entrance.

They were starting to close up. My jacket was there, just where I had left it, hanging on the coat rack. I grabbed it. Then I made a quick trip to the washroom. This encounter had made me pretty excited, and when I’m excited…well, you know. It wouldn’t hurt to kill a minute or two. He wouldn’t expect me to do a runner, since I had left my purse back in the truck.

I waved to the bartender on my way out. He looked weary, like he had seen it all before. Another man who wouldn’t approve of me tonight.

When I got back to the truck, I went to the driver’s side and opened the door. Rod was slumped against the wheel. The flask had fallen from his hand; I picked it up and replaced the cap. Then I put it in my purse.

I pushed him over to the passenger side. “I’ll drive,” I said for the benefit of anyone who might be in earshot. “You’ve had too much to drink.”

But there was no one around.

I climbed in and put the vehicle in gear. It seemed a little jerky but that could be because I had never driven a truck before. Before long, we were leaving the city lights behind us.

It was rather bizarre, but I found myself humming. Rob was out cold beside me. You can pick up that date rape drug easily in Toronto, if you know where to look. Almost as easily as you can pick up a gun.

Luckily, I knew how to get both. But I didn’t need to use a gun.

I drove the pickup along the QEW to where it meets the junction, then veered right onto the 403 to Hamilton. I was starting to like this truck. It was nimble and easy to maneuver. The gas tank was nearly full; I’d checked that first, of course. No way did I want to stop for anything now.

The road to Caledonia was lonely at this time of night. I passed one other truck, before driving through Jarvis.

Parts of the Lake Erie shoreline can be pretty deserted. I’d scouted for the right spot earlier today. It wasn’t hard to find a vacant woodlot atop a small cliff. A small laneway led to the edge. I climbed out of the pickup, taking my jacket and purse with me. I placed them on the ground, out of the way. Then I walked back to the truck, pulled Rod over to the driver’s side and positioned him, snapping the seatbelt into place

The garden tool was where I had left it, earlier in the day.

This was the tricky part. The truck was in gear with the driver door open. I stood to the side of the vehicle and reached in with the hoe. Once it was positioned over the gas pedal, I shoved hard.

The wheels started to move. I just managed to pull out the tool before the pickup careened over the cliff. Erie is a shallow lake, so I had chosen this spot carefully. It landed with a splash and a thud. I watched it settle into the dark waters.

When we were kids, Dad used to take us fishing in Lake Erie by Port Dover. This was before Mom died, and he moved out to Fort McMurray. Thing is, I know a lot about catching fish.

The bar was the hook. ‘Back to my place’ was the line. And this was the sinker.

I turned away from the lake, bent over to pick up my jacket and purse, then strode to where Emma and I had left Dad’s car this morning.

-----

My little sister Emma lives in a very small condo – one of those 400 square foot jobs in a glass tower downtown. Really, it’s just a bedroom with a small efficiency kitchen and a washroom. It was way past four in the morning, but I knew she would still be up. I used her extra key to unlock the door.

She was huddled in a corner of the overstuffed couch, nursing a mug of herbal tea. The scared-rabbit look was still on her face. I wondered how long it would take for that to fade, along with her distrust of the world in general. The scars would reach long past the nightmare of two nights ago.

“Did it go okay?” she asked. The shake in her voice was something new.

I threw my bag on the floor and nodded. Then I took off the dark brown wig and shook out my blond hair. “Just like I planned. He won’t be raping any more women where he’s going.”

I knew from my training that few rapists ever get convicted. Bad luck for him to use Rohypnol on the sister of a cop.

Hook, line and sinker. Shame about the truck.

Brought to you by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

MEL CAMPBELL

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