The unsettling incident
The three-story building first opened in 1996. The bar and restaurant occupied the first floor, two floors of empty hotel rooms were above, except for the managers apartment that was converted into suitable living quarters on the second floor. It was August 1990. I had endured living with my father for nine long torturous months.
Now, I had to get us out of there. My little brother, had only moved in with us a month ago and he was already in grave peril. Dad had begun hitting him for just about anything. This convinced me even more that I had to plan and the plan had to succeed. I started squirreling away money from tips I made in the restaurant and bar downstairs. I finally gathered enough to buy two bus tickets back home.
The plan would be; we would run to the bus station seven blocks away and catch the last one leaving for . I could not wait to get down the stairs and outside the hotel. I couldn't wait for my sweat to touch the cool night air. I knew I had to do this. I had to take this risk. I was going to get my little brother and me far, far away from that monster.
The plan was so fail safe, I could almost see my heart thumping through my shirt! Dad would be working downstairs and would not know we were gone for several hours! I was so excited; I could not keep the smug grin off my face. I tucked Baron, my tiny dachshund into my black leather jacket. I zipped it up until only his head was sticking out. He was used to this; we traveled like this all the time.
Then the door opened. I could not believe it. I would not let myself believe that the squeaky knob on the door was turning. It was as ifully short. How could he have known?
Where do you think youre going? The look came over his face. That is when the real insanity began.
The outcome however, must have been positive in her eyes. I must have passed muster in some indefinable way. Because she came and sat at the next table to me, glancing over at me as she took her seat. It gave me the opportunity to nod to her, in a friendly manner, while taking in the fact that she was a very pretty woman. Dressed in a conservative style, which wasn’t unusual in this area, with its large business community, she could easily have passed as any of the mid level managers that haunted coffee bars like this one, during working hours. Her hair was short and blond, the style reminiscent of old photographs that I had seen in magazines and old portraits.
Her skin was similarly pale, almost translucent, but flawless. But it was the eyes. They were the focal point of her. They seemed to draw you in, to suck something from you, probing, searching, asking questions and delving into those hidden places that you wouldn't like other people to see.
After only a couple of seconds of this intense scrutiny, I began to feel more and more uncomfortable. I tried to ignore her and to concentrate on my paper; I took another sip of my cooling coffee. But this did nothing to dispel the feelings of intrusion that I felt. She seemed on the verge of speaking to me, but either something distracted her, or she obviously thought better of it, changed her mind and concentrated on her drink.
So, it was with some relief when she abruptly stood and seemed to leave. One minute she was there, and the next she had vanished, but her effect on me remained. So much so, that when I left the coffee bar myself, a few minutes later, I caught myself scanning the immediate area for her. I looked all around, expecting to see that puzzled face, that intense gaze, staring at me from a new vantage point. I was still unsettled by her scrutiny; I still had the feeling that those eyes were studying me.
The rest of the morning was spent re-scheduling my first assignment. This should have been a meeting, that was due to have taken place earlier that day but for which the other party had inexplicably failed to turn up. It apparently wasn't unusual in my line of business for meetings to be sprung on me with very little, or no notice, and for others to be cancelled at the last minute. That was something that no doubt, given time and experience, I would become accustomed to. A need to be flexible was certainly one of the prerequisites for my job.
As the morning passed, the unsettling incident gradually started to get pushed to the back of my mind, other priorities were taking precedence. That is until I popped out for a sandwich at lunchtime. I was stood there, waiting my turn to be served in the queue in the sandwich shop, when I saw her.
She had re-appeared, and was peering in through the shop window at me. There was no mistaking the fact that I was the subject of her scrutiny, and she made no effort to disguise the fact that she was staring straight at me, or was that through me? Why was I of so much interest to her? Had I become the target of some crazed stalker? What the hell did she want from me? Why wouldn’t she just come up to me and talk to me?
I abandoned my place in the line and rushed out, all thoughts of lunch gone. I was determined to find out what was going on, to find out what she wanted from me. But, by the time I had got through the doorway, she had vanished yet again. I looked both ways up and down the street, but there was no sign of her anywhere. The street was not too busy, and I should at least have glimpsed her hurrying away, but nothing. The fact that she had disappeared so suddenly and completely was confusing, almost scary. How could she do that? Seconds before, she had been stood there at that exact spot, and now was no-where to be seen. Again it was as if she had just vanished into thin air.