By Craig A. Ruark
Craig laid in bed, fitfully trying to sleep after his encounter earlier that Friday evening. As he replayed the conversation in his head, he was startled by a chirping sound from his smartphone, indicating that he had received a text message. He looked at the nightstand for a moment and the large numbers on the clock read 2:03 am. “Do I really want to read this message,” he thought to himself. “Maybe something has happened,” his mind quickly answered. He fumbled in the dark to find his glasses and then picking up the phone, he read the text.
It was from Simone, and the message read, “Please don’t contact me again!”
Craig put the phone and his glasses back on the nightstand and rolled over. But no matter how hard he tried, his eyes would not shut, all that he could think about was the course of events.
It all started on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Craig was working on some text for a client’s website when an email from a dating site indicated that he had received a message. Taking a break from his work, he opened the message.
It was from “SoCoolTheKiitten.” Her profile indicated that she is 45, friendly and ambitious, really good at interior design and is an abstract painter. She had a beautiful smile and a little longer than shoulder length hair that started out medium brown at the crown of her head and gradually lightened to blonde at the bottom. Her hair was straight and parted on one side but came down peek-a-boo style nearly covering the left side of her face.
“Hello, I read your profile and would like to know more about you,” her message read. She left her number and suggested that the best way to communicate would be by text messenger.
Craig worked a little longer on his client’s webpage and then pulled a frozen lobster tail from the freezer, opened the top of the plastic bag so that air could get in and submerged it in a bowl of cold water, keeping the top draped over the side of the bowl so that the bag did not fill.
Knowing that the lobster would take about half an hour or so to thaw, Craig decided to send a text message to Ms. Kitten and see what she was all about.
“Hello, this is Craig, from OK Cupid, thank you for your message, I look forward to chatting with you, can you tell me a little about yourself?”
It was only a matter of moments when a reply came through.
Well, my name is Simone, I am 4’10”, I have a degree in interior design, and I also paint on canvas. My mother is from India, and my father is Scottish.
“Indian and Scottish sounds like a beautiful combination, and talented as well, very impressive. I live near the Red Rock Hotel; what part of town are you located?”
“I live near the Stratosphere Hotel. What sort of work do you do,” she replied.
“I am a freelance writer and write a lot of stories about businesses as well as, corporate newsletters and blogs to pay the bills. I published a book called Marketing Your Green Side, and currently working on a romance novel.”
“Don’t be, I am just an OK journalist, mostly a good storyteller and qualify for the term starving artist.”
“Modest too I see.”
“No just honest.”
The text messaging continued for the next forty-five minutes, both had been previously married, neither had children; they both seemed to like the same type of music and movies—all of the usual small talk.
“Well, I have a lobster that is thawed and about to cook my dinner. I would invite you over, but I only have one. However, it might be too premature given that we just met (virtually) and only about an hour ago at that. You can look me up on LinkedIn or Facebook or just Google my name to see what sort of person I am. Would you consider meeting tomorrow or this weekend?”
“Friday is good,” came her response.
“Great, shall we say 6 pm? Do you have a favorite spot nearby?”
“How about meeting me at McCall’s in the Stratosphere?”
“Great, see you then.”
The next day, Craig was back working on his client’s website text and watching the time when he had to get ready for his date. Thinking that the traffic might be heavy on a Friday night, he left his house at 5:15 pm and managed to catch every green light on Sahara Avenue, arriving at the Stratosphere at 5:40 pm. Walking through the casino in a pair of dress slacks, polished loafers, and a striped dress shirt under a thin pullover V-neck sweater, he felt quite overdressed compared to the shorts and tee shirt crowd that filled the gaming tables and bars.
Just before 6 pm, Craig walked into the restaurant, and after checking with the hostess to see if any single women were waiting alone, decided to wait in the bar.
He was sipping a Black Russian when he saw Simone approach the hostess desk and her attention was directed to his direction.
Though Craig is not very tall, standing 5’8”, he was a little concerned that 4’10” might be too short. However, as she approached, he could see that she was not as short as he had imagined. She was wearing a wool-looking grey dress with a black accent pattern that tightly hugged her body. The top of the dress had a heart-shaped cutout that exposed her cleavage which was pushed tightly together by her bra. Under her dress, she wore thick black leggings which tucked into the top of her black half boots with a two-inch heel. Throughout the evening, as she moved, the heart-shaped cutout would stretch downward, exposing the top of her pink bra and she spent quite a bit of the evening pulling and adjusting her dress back into place.
Time passed quickly, and the evening was quite pleasant. As first dates go, there was a lot of small talk; places lived, and favorite foods and Simone talked about her passion for decorating. Although she does not do it professionally, she is currently decorating the historic little railroad cottage that she is renting a couple of blocks from the Stratosphere. She liked living downtown because she enjoyed the older buildings and walking to various places.
The food was quite good; seared Ahi Tuna served on lobster mashed potato for him and a combination of crab cakes, skewered shrimp, and slipper lobster for her.
Craig had settled the check, and they were finishing their wine when Simone asked about the premise of his romance novel.
“Well, it is a modern story that starts in Ruidoso, a small little town in the mountains of New Mexico. Travis and Rebecca are in their late 20’s, married with a two-year-old daughter. Travis works with his father as a horse trainer, and Rebecca is a veterinarian who treats horses. I open with a prolog, Travis and Rebeca had left their daughter with the grandparents to go for a picknick this beautiful spring day. They rode their horses to a secluded meadow where the two of them begin to enjoy their alone time and become quite frisky.”
“Wow, you jump right into the romance don’t you.” Commented Simone.
“Yes! But as they start making love, they here a loud crack of thunder from just over the mountain ridge and their cell phone sounds the severe storm warning alert. The two of them quickly dress, saddle their horses and start back home. On the way home, they must cross what is normally a dry creek but has now begun to swell with water as the rain started falling quite heavy. Rebecca’s horse stumbled, and she falls off, hitting her head on the rocks and is swept downstream. Travis rides along the bank trying to catch up to her and then ties a rope around the horn of his saddle and jumps into the current to catch Rebecca. When he finally gets to her, she had been lodged against a rock and submerged underwater. Travis gave the command, and his horse dutifully backed up, pulling Travis and Rebecca to shore, where he tries to revive her, but her head injury and the water was too much. The chapter ends with Travis standing in the rain, holding Rebecca’s limp body in his arms, tears mixing with the raindrops on his cheek, staring at the front door of the house.”
“That is not a romance story, that is terrible,” Simone growled as her face became red with anger.
“But wait, that is only the first chapter…”
“I don’t care, you don’t kill someone in the beginning of a romance story, that is terrible…,” her voice increasing in volume.
“But the second chapter picks up eight years later, Travis has been grieving and still has not taken off his wedding ring and…”
“I don’t care,” Simone began ranting even louder. “I would have thrown that book into the fireplace after that! No woman is going to read past that chapter!”
“But in the following chapters, Travis and his daughter move to Del Mar, California where he begins to find romance…”
“I don’t care; you don’t kill someone…,” Her eyes glazed and her voice even louder yet.
“But I didn’t kill her; it was an accident,” Craig glanced around the restaurant, and people from other tables were beginning to notice and turn their heads toward their table. “Shush,” Craig said trying to calm her down.
“This is nothing to Shush about,” she exclaimed in a voice that carried to the neighboring tables. “Have you ever experienced death, have you ever tried to commit suicide,” Simone ranted.
“This has nothing to do with suicide or murder.”
Craig looked once again around the room, took a final drink of wine, “Are you ready to leave?”
“Yes!” She stated emphatically, her voice growing angrier and angrier.
As they exited into the casino, Craig asked, “where did you park?”
“I walked,” she replied and then began yelling once again, “Have you ever had someone you know die?”
“Yes, I have lost my father and mother, and a sister-in-law that I was very close to and…”
Now standing in the middle of the casino, Simone began shouting incomprehensible sentences, and the only thing that he could do was to remove the cause of her aggravation—himself—from the situation and reached out his hand to her, “Goodbye!” he said and walked away.
All the way through the casino to the parking garage, Craig kept wondering, “What in the world just happened?” As he left the parking garage, he drove around the casino and up a few side streets to make sure that Simone was Okay, but didn’t see any sign of her.
It was eight thirty when Craig arrived home. He poured a glass of wine and sat down on the sofa where Mocha, his companion dog, jumped into his lap.
Watching a little TV before going to bed, his phone chirped at 10:08 pm, it was a text message from Simone, “Thanks for dinner, that book is the work of a serial killer!”
“Wow,” he thought to himself, “Just Wow!”
Craig turned out the light and went to bed, but sleep proved to be difficult. Then, at 2:03 am; another text message. “Please do not contact me again.”