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No Scams

No Scams

 

A short story by

Donnie J Burgess

 

Copyright © 2016 Donnie J Burgess

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

August 13, 2016

 

 

It was just past ten on Saturday night. I’d just applied a very liberal amount of Drakkar Noir –which I’d long ago decided to be the cologne which screamed ‘douchebag’ the loudest. Axe body spray was a close second, but it was used by frat boys fairly exclusively, which was not the message I was looking to send. The message I wanted to send was ‘middle-aged man with misplaced sexual confidence’. Drakkar Noir sent that message loud and clear. In my experience, that was the best way to pick up prostitutes. I needn’t worry about that tonight, but I put it on anyway –if only for the sake of consistency.

I had a very specific girl in mind tonight, and for a very specific reason: I was going to kill her. I wasn’t going to kill her for an ordinary reason like jealousy or anger though; I was going to kill her because she had done the same to me, and I am the type of man who holds a grudge…

*****

July 7, 2016

 

 

I awoke with a start. I’d been sleeping very deeply when the idea came to me and its stark simplicity had jarred me to wake. After weeks of toiling over what to do (a decision made infinitely more difficult by approaching the police when it all began) I’d finally found a perfect solution.

I looked to my alarm clock: 8:19am. I got out of bed and started the water for the shower. While I waited for it to heat up, I picked up a can of Barbasol, squeezed out a golf ball sized amount and spread it out over my scalp. I hadn’t shaved my head in a few days and I wanted to be sure it was completely smooth before I got started. Once my head was shaved, I continued shaving my face with the razor. Satisfied with the shave, I jumped into the shower. I was careful to scrub my face, arms, and hands vigorously to remove the dead skin and hair.

I toweled myself off and made my way into the bedroom to get dressed. As I stood before the rows of pants and shirts hanging in the closet, I tried to imagine which would draw the least attention. I decided on a pair of tan chinos and a navy polo. I laid them on the bed along with a pair of plain-toed dress shoes to complete the ensemble. After a quick stop at the dresser for socks and underwear, I put everything on.

I made my way back to the bathroom and looked at the selection of wigs adorning the foam mannequin heads on the vanity. I had a total of five wigs of varying color and style, but I rarely ever wore them. At six feet tall and just over two hundred pounds, with skin a bit too dark to be white but too white to be Hispanic, I could pull off the bald look fairly well. I was content to take my balding gracefully, but my wife -ex wife, I quickly reminded myself- had insisted that I wear them when we went out. Those had been the days.

I took stock of the wigs only for a moment. In this case, I thought wearing the short, black wig would be the best. When wearing the black wig, I was frequently mistaken for being Hispanic, which could only serve to help me. I put it in place and adjusted it until it looked right.

I ran through the plan one more time in my mind before making my way to the door. Next stop: The library.

*****

James sat in his chair at work staring at the computer screen. The blinking cursor seemed to be mocking him. He had read over the text a half a dozen times by now, and each time he would delete the last two words, reread the text, then add them back in.

He read the text one more time: ‘For sale: 2004 Hyundai Sonata GLS. One owner. Garage-kept. 86,000 actual miles. Automatic transmission, power steering, power windows, power door locks, power seats, power mirrors, power moon roof, cruise control, leather, tilt wheel, aftermarket stereo w/auxiliary, ice-cold AC, premium speakers, alloy wheels, too many features to list! All service records since purchase. The interior is flawless. The paint is perfect. Just look at the pictures! Priced to sell at $5400 – negotiable within reason. No low-ballers. You won’t see another car in this condition for this price. Please respond via the “reply” button in the top left. Serious inquiries only.’

After reading through his ad again, he added the two words back in, ‘NO SCAMS. He had seen the words in Craigslist ads before and would often muse at their author’s intention. Placing them at the end of the ad seemed to leave a question as to whether you are stating that the ad is not a scam or that you don’t want to be contacted by scammers. Either way, it didn’t seem like adding them in was going to make a heck of a lot of difference. It’s not as if someone was going to try to buy the car with a third-party check drawn from a Nigerian bank, but back out because the ad said ‘no scams’.

He had never been a fan of Craigslist. It seemed like there were more scams than legitimate offers on that website, at least if the frequent scam stories on Facebook are to be believed. He wouldn’t be listing the car there at all if he hadn’t been trying to sell it for almost three months without getting any takers. He expected he would have sold it within the first day or two of putting up the sign, but no one seemed interested. The few people who were interested had all offered him $4000 or less, which was way less than what it was worth.

It was only after the first couple of low offers, not to mention a couple of months of trying to sell it, that he finally decided to look up the car’s actual value. Kelly Blue Book listed the price at $4200, but his had to be worth more than that. His was in pristine condition and had very low miles for the year. He was sure he could get at least $5000 for it, if he could just find the right buyer. He just needed more people to see the ad. The newspaper ad was drawing very little interest, and the ‘for sale’ signs in the windows didn’t seem to get noticed in the bustle of his daily commute.

He was vaguely familiar with Craigslist, in that he knew a lot of people go there to buy and sell cars, but was hesitant to use it because of the horror stories. After doing a bit of research, he found that he could use their anonymous email feature to keep from giving up any personal information until he was able to determine if the buyer was legitimately interested. That’s what sold him on creating the ad: He could shoot down the low-ballers and scammers before he had to give out his name or phone number.

He looked over the ad once more. He had included sixteen photos along with the text, and everything appeared to be displaying the way he wanted it to. He clicked the link to ‘create ad’. All he could do now was wait.

*****

August 13, 2016

 

 

I walked across the street to the parking lot of the church where I’d left the car parked. I sat my small duffle bag on the hood and removed the gloves from it. I put the latex gloves on and then covered them with the leather driving gloves I had also packed. I started the engine of the 1999 Chrysler Sebring and listened to it idling with a bit of trepidation. From here I could just make out my house across the street and see the Corvette parked in the driveway. How I wished I could drive it instead of the Chrysler. I knew I couldn’t; it would attract far too much attention.

[* The Chrysler seemed to run just fine, but I’d only driven it about six miles so I couldn’t be sure. I bought it a couple of weeks ago after seeing it sitting on a vacant corner with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window. I called the number on the sign, met the owner in the parking lot of a nearby strip mall, paid him cash, and then drove it to the church where it now sat. The only considerations I put into the purchase were that it had a leather interior and the owner had a notarized title already in his hands. I gave him a handful of one hundred dollar bills and he handed me the –already signed- title. *]

[* The paint was badly oxidized, the tires were fairly bald, the air conditioning didn’t work, and there was a huge dent in the passenger door. In short, I’m probably the only person who had expressed any interest in the car at all. He gladly handed over the title -without asking any questions. In his defense, I didn’t ask any questions either. For all I knew the title could be fake. I considered that a calculated risk. It didn’t seem like anyone would be in a hurry to report this car as stolen anyway. *]

Heaving a final, deep sigh, I put the duffle bag on the backseat, got inside, and pulled out onto the road. I turned on the radio to give me some background noise as I merged onto the freeway. The drive to Van Buren and 20th street was about a half an hour from my house in Chandler, but it was one which had grown quite familiar to me over the last several months. Tonight would be the last time I would make it.

As I drove, I thought back over what had led me to this point. I never set out to pick up a prostitute. In fact, I’d never even considered it as a possibility. I would never have the nerve to approach a woman and ask her if her body was for sale. Even if I did have the nerve, I have a (probably irrational) fear that every woman wearing a short skirt at night is an undercover cop looking to bust men on the prowl. For that to be true, the police station must be such a swirling mess of anorexic women that it would be difficult to wedge a pudgy chief of police into it. But there didn’t really have to be thousands; it only takes one.

*******

It all began back in January. I had picked up my friend Bill at the airport and driven him to his house in Paradise Valley. From his house, it had been a quicker drive to get onto the 51 freeway to go home than to take my usual route on highway 101. Just after turning from Shea Boulevard onto the 51, the light on my dash came on to remind me that I was almost out of gas. Being unfamiliar with the area, I decided to wait until I was back on I-10 to find a station. Shortly after being back on I-10, I saw a Circle K sign on the corner of Van Buren. I took the next exit and backtracked to get to it.

My Corvette seemed horribly out of place here, and I was nervous as I stood at the pump gassing it up. I quickly finished filling it, hung the nozzle back on the pump, and got in to drive away. As soon as I was inside and closed the door, I heard a tap on the passenger window. I looked over to see a girl leaning over and looking at me though the window.

She was a youngish woman, probably in her early to mid twenties. She had bleached-blonde hair with black roots and her hair appeared to be crimped. She was dressed in a red miniskirt that was obviously made of some sort of faux leather. She looked pretty much like I would have expected a prostitute to look in about 1985 –which seemed odd considering that was thirty years ago and she clearly wasn’t old enough to have been alive back then.

I thought about just driving away, but when she tapped on the window again, I had a compulsion to roll it down just a bit. I can’t really say why. I knew that she was a prostitute before I opened the window, at least all signs pointed to it, but the urge to see what she had to say overwhelmed me.

As soon as the window was cracked, she smiled and said, “Hi, my name’s Lacey.”

In another circumstance, I might have doubted that was her real name, but considering the way she was dressed and where we were, it seemed reasonable enough.

I didn’t want to give her my name, but I also didn’t want to be rude. “Hello, Lacey,” I replied.

I didn’t have any personal experience in regards to prostitutes. The only interactions I had ever seen involving them were from movies and undercover cop shows. There was always a carefully choreographed dance as the hooker and the John both tried to determine if the other was a cop. There would be suggestions of ‘dates’ or perhaps ‘parties’, but never any mention of sex. Lacey apparently had a different experience with the craft.

“I’ll suck your dick for fifty bucks,” she said, still smiling.

My reaction was stone silence. Lacey seemed to take my silence as acceptance of the offer and opened the door. I’d like to say that I tried to stop her, but that would be a lie.

She sat in the passenger seat and closed the door beside her. “I’ll do fifty-fifty for a hundred. If you want my ass, it will cost a lot more.”

[* I was still having trouble finding the words to say -or the ] word[, really, which should have been no. Somehow that simple two-letter word escaped me.*]

She shrugged and began to unzip my pants. “I’ll start with the BJ and we can figure it out from there.”

As she began to lean toward my crotch, she said, “So, are you going to drive away? People might see us here.”

I did drive away. And that was how it all started.

*******

July 7, 2016

 

 

I pulled into the lot of a convenience store a few blocks away from my house and turned off the engine. I sat in the driver’s seat, hesitating to go inside. I knew I would need a disposable cell phone to execute my plan, but as I thought about it, I grew concerned about it being traced. It would have to have a serial number, wouldn’t it? If it did, and it was a certainty that it would, they would probably be able to track exactly which store the phone was purchased at. I was concerned that buying the phone this close to my house would come back to haunt me later. I needed to find a store much further from my house, and preferably one without cameras -If such a place still existed.

Thinking through my next moves carefully, I decided I should use the ATM to get cash here and find somewhere else to buy the phone. Regardless of where I bought the disposable cell phone, colloquially called a ‘burner’ I would need to pay with cash so I couldn’t be placed there.

I got out of my car and walked through the door of the store. I looked to the clerk and said, “ATM?”

The pimple-faced kid behind the register pointed to the back of the store without looking up from his cell phone.

“Thanks,” I replied. I walked to the back of the store and withdrew two hundred dollars. That should be more than enough.

I was back in my car a minute later. I took out my (real) cell phone and pulled up Google Maps. I zoomed in on western Phoenix. I ultimately zoomed in further on Buckeye and searched for convenience stores. I live in Chandler, so buying the phone in Buckeye should be good enough to deter suspicion. I picked a random convenience store, tapped the button to navigate to it, started the car and pulled back out onto the road.

This unscheduled detour would take me longer than what I had planned, but I considered it necessary. I didn’t have anything else to do anyway. Besides, after a month of toiling with no plan at all, an extra hour or two to make it perfect was hardly a sacrifice.

I pulled onto I-10 and started west. I selected Foreigner’s Head Games album on my mp3 player, and tapped my thumbs on the steering wheel in rhythm with the songs as I fought the rush hour traffic.

In the morning traffic, it took just over an hour to reach my exit. While I waited for the light at the off ramp intersection to turn green, I saw a tiny, rundown little store on the opposite corner. The front of the building was a liberal mix of graffiti and beer signs, the top was covered in rusty tin, and one of the windows was boarded over. This place looked like it might not even have electricity, let alone cameras. What it did have was a large sign posted in the parking lot which read, ‘prepaid cell phones $20 and up’. The serendipitous sighting of this little dump caused me to change my destination.

I pulled into the lot and got out of my car. I used the key FOB to lock the doors and set the alarm, but did so with little confidence that it would make a difference. The shiny, blue Corvette looked horribly out of place here, and it didn’t seem like an area where Samaritans were likely to come rushing to respond to a car alarm. I put aside my apprehension, and entered the store.

Unlike the store in Chandler, where the clerk couldn’t even be bothered to look at me, the attendant in this store kept his eyes glued to me from the moment I walked in. As I turned down the first aisle looking for the phone display, the clerk moved over a bit so he could see me down the aisle. Feeling uncomfortable with all the attention, I asked, “Where are the phones?”

“Behind the counter,” the clerk replied. “Cash only.”

“Okay, thanks,” I replied, turning toward the counter. “Can I have a look at them?”

“They’re all the same,” the clerk replied. “Fifty for a flip-phone or a hundred for one with a screen.”

“The sign says, ‘twenty dollars and up’,” I said.

“I’ve got a flip-phone for fifty or a smart phone for a hundred.”

Wanting to get out of the store in a hurry, I chose to let it go. “Alright, give me two of the fifty dollar ones, I guess.”

The clerk typed into his register and hit the total key. “One hundred and nine nineteen,” he said.

The tax rate didn’t seem right, but I’d never bought a disposable phone before. I was also a bit leery that the clerk hadn’t produced a phone before giving me the total. Still, I just wanted to get the phones and get the hell out of there. I took out my wallet and laid six twenties on the counter.

The clerk snatched up the twenties, turned slowly to a small display of phones behind him, quickly grabbed two, and turned back around. He flipped the boxes over and typed some numbers into the register, presumably the serial numbers, then handed them to me. As the clerk looked to his register to make change, I turned toward the door.

“You know what? Just keep the change,” I said as I walked out.

I got back into my car and drove to a nearby grocery store. I parked at the far edge of the lot and began reading the packaging for the phones. Following the activation instructions required placing a call from a different phone or using the internet, which was something I hadn’t considered. I couldn’t use my phone to do it. That would defeat the purpose of buying the prepaid phones. A payphone would be ideal, but finding one of those in 2016 was going to be harder than getting the phone had been. I used Google to see if I could find one nearby, but there didn’t seem to be any.

As I stared out the window thinking, I saw a skateboarding kid on the sidewalk near the edge of the lot. The kid had a cell phone in his hand with earbuds coming out of it. He didn’t look like he could be much over fourteen, but that might work to my advantage.

“Hey!” I yelled.

Skateboard Kid continued past, either not hearing or just ignoring me.

“Hey, you!” I tried again. “On the skateboard!”

The kid looked up briefly, but still didn’t stop.

“I’ll give you ten bucks to use your phone for two minutes!”

This seemed to get Skateboard Kid’s attention.

Skateboard Kid put a foot down to stop and turned toward the Corvette. I got out of the car as Skateboard Kid approached. I had the cell phones and packages in my hand.

“I left my cell phone at home and I need to make a few calls,” I said. “Just let me use your phone to activate these and I’ll give you ten bucks.”

Skateboard Kid pulled the earbud out of his left ear. “What?” he asked.

I sighed, irritated at the thought of having to repeat myself. I waved the phones at Skateboard Kid. “I forgot my cell phone,” I repeated. “Can I use yours to activate these? I’ll give you ten bucks”

Skateboard Kid smiled a knowing smile. “Look, Gramps, if you want me to spark your burners, it’s gonna take more than ten bucks.”

“What?” I asked. “How much?”

Skateboard Kid shrugged. “Dope ride like that?” he asked, looking at my car, “Thirty.”

“Thirty dollars to use a phone for two minutes?”

“Yep,” Skateboard Kid replied, smiling. “Fifty if you don’t want me to remember,” he winked as he finished.

I sighed again. This interaction reminded me why I’d chosen not to have kids.

“Fine,” I said, pulling three twenties from my wallet and holding them out in front of him. “All I’ve got is twenties, do you have change?”

“Nope,” Skateboard Kid replied, snatching the twenties from my hand and sticking them in his pocket.

“Alright, you’ve got the cash, now let me see your phone,” I said.

Skateboard Kid laughed. “I ain’t got all day, Gramps. Just let me see your burners.”

I handed him the phones. Skateboard Kid popped the covers off and typed a web address in his phone. A minute or so later, he popped the SIM cards into them, turned the power on, fiddled with the screens for a few seconds, and handed them back.

“Good to go,” Skateboard Kid said.

“How do I know they’re going to work?” I asked.

Skateboard Kid let out a small, annoyed laugh (which was audible to me only as a grunt, but I knew what it was intended to mean), put a foot on his board and left me in the lot.

Disrespectful punk, I thought to myself as I turned to my car to open the door. Just as I reached for the handle, I realized that I should have asked what the phone numbers were. I turned back to the street, but Skateboard Kid was long gone. I flipped the phones open to see if I could find the numbers, but quickly realized I wouldn’t have to. Somehow, in the brief time it had taken to activate the phones, Skateboard Kid had managed to make a display scroll across the screen on one which read, “Gramps’ Burner 520-815-0163”. The other one also had its number, but read “Gramps’ Other Burner.”

‘A clever, disrespectful punk,’ I amended my prior thought.

Back in my car, I put one of the phones in my glove box and the other in my pocket. I would need to use one now and the other one later for another part of my plan. I pulled up Google on my (real) cell phone to search for a public library that didn’t require a library card to use the internet. I was able to find one fairly close, but it was going to take another twenty minutes to get there. I was again annoyed by the additional time it was taking, but I knew it would all pay off in the end.

*****

August 13, 2016

 

 

The drive to Van Buren was going impossibly slowly tonight. Perhaps it was because of what I was about to do, or perhaps it just seemed longer because I was nervous about the car I was driving. Whatever the reason, I had a lot of time to think. I tired listening to the radio as a distraction, but I had to turn it off almost as soon as I had turned it on. It had been so long since I listened to an actual radio station that I’d forgotten just how many commercials there were. After what seemed like six minutes of the paid announcers trying to sell water pipes and accessories, strip clubs, and cheap car insurance, I decided silence would be a better alternative. It may have been, but it gave me far too much time with my thoughts.

*****

It should have ended with Lacey after that first night in January. I gave her fifty dollars and dropped her back on the street corner. She told me to come back anytime, but I didn’t have any intention of doing so. I was a happily married man and had never given a thought to cheating on my wife. The fact that I did just cheat on my wife didn’t change that.

Immediately after dropping Lacey on the corner, I began to feel a sense of foreboding. I felt guilty about what I’d done and I was certain my wife would find out. I didn’t know how she would find out, but she would. That feeling stayed with me for weeks after.

But nothing ever came of it.

By the end of January, I realized that my fear was baseless. Unless I came right out and told my wife what I did, there was no way she would ever know. Lacey wasn’t going to tell her. The transaction had been in cash. There was nothing to indicate to her that it had ever happened. That was a terrible realization to have.

Having been married for ten years, my wife would scarcely consider oral sex anymore. Maybe she would do it on my birthday -if she had enough drinks in her- but otherwise it wasn’t even on the table. Not only had Lacey done it, but she considered a lesser act than traditional sex, at least so far as price was concerned.

The problem I faced was that I’d forgotten how different the experience was, and just how much I liked it. There was a visual element to it for sure; looking into the eyes of a submissive woman as she performed the act stirred something primal. Perhaps hundreds of years of human evolution and, more recently, equal rights had placed men and women on too level a field. The balance of power had shifted in ways that can’t be quantified, but this was the ultimate form of control.

By the beginning of February, any feelings I’d had of guilt were long gone. They had been replaced by a yearning to feel that sense of power and control again –even if it was a false sense.

On the first Saturday in February, I found myself driving back to the same Circle K on the corner of Van Buren and 20th street. I was hoping to find Lacey there, and not sure what I’d do if I didn’t. Would I get the same feeling with a different woman? Would I even be able to ask another woman?

When I arrived at the Circle K, Lacey was nowhere to be seen. I pulled into the parking space furthest from the doors and sat waiting. Within twenty minutes, I saw a car pull up in front of the store and Lacey got out of the passenger side.

She smiled when she saw my car and ran up to it. She jumped right in this time and we went for another drive.

*****

July 7, 2016

 

 

I stood in front of the computer screen in the library. I typed Gmail into the address bar and used the ctrl-enter shortcut to automatically go to the .com for the page. Once there, I quickly found the link to create a new email address and filled out the short form:

First Name: Fakey.

Last Name: McFake.

Desired Address: [email protected].

Date of Birth: January 1st, 1974 (I only chose a year because I knew from past experience that the system would reject a submission with the current year for the birth date). I smiled as I typed in the date, wondering how many Gmail accounts claim January 1st as a birth date. It must be a lot.

The next question threw me a bit, and I found it a bit too personal for my liking: I am a man/woman. Why would they need to know that? Well, Fakey McFake sounded like a woman’s name to me, so I checked the box for female.

Password (case sensitive): Abc123456789.

Repeat Password (case sensitive): Abc123456789.

I hit the submit button and was greeted by a welcome screen which read “Welcome Fakey!”. That was easier than I had expected, which was welcome after the prepaid phone fiasco. I clicked the sign out button in the top corner.

I typed craigslist.org in the address bar and clicked on the cars and trucks link. I began scrolling through a seemingly endless list of cars and trucks. This is the one part of my plan that I hadn’t really put a great deal of thought into. How was I to choose which one? This was a decision with very real consequences and I would need to study it carefully.

There were a couple of considerations which had to be made: It would have to be at least a mid-sized car, and it would have to have a trunk. It would also have to be a car that was very unlikely to sell. I clicked the options on the left of the screen to search only for sedans. I then further refined it to search only for mid and full sized cars. That got me a list of just what I wanted, but there still seemed to be an endless number of them. How would I choose?

I clicked through a number of used car links for Chevy Impalas, Ford Crown Victorias, Chrysler 300s and other assorted cars which fit my criteria, but nothing jumped out at me.

While scrolling past the listings, one in particular caught my eye. The listing had the title, ‘Stop looking, you’ve found it!’. No make, no model, no year, just that. Perhaps it was a sign from God? Or maybe the guy was just some douchebag… Which, come to think of it, was kind of a sign from God, too.

I clicked on the link and began to read the listing. Someone was certainly very proud of their car. The listing ended with, ‘The interior is flawless. The paint is perfect. Just look at the pictures! Priced to sell at $5400 – negotiable within reason. No low-ballers. You won’t see another car in this condition for this price. Please respond via the “reply” button in the top left. Serious inquiries only. NO SCAMS.’

I chuckled at the last part. If only he knew. Still, I needed to be sure this was the right one. I clicked the browser’s back button and searched for ‘Hyundai Sonata’. The search brought up way too many listings, and most of them were far newer than the one in the previous post. I further refined the search by putting in model year 2003-2005. There was not another listing over $3000.

I opened a new tab and navigated to the Kelly Blue Book page to search for the value of the car. I entered the make, model, mileage, and trim, and then clicked every available option for the interior. The value in very good condition, even with literally every option selected, was just under $4000. It sure looked like he was trying to rip someone off. That was a good thing. The car wasn’t likely to sell –even though the posting was brand new, the price was so far beyond reasonable that it didn’t seem likely to get any bites- and, since the price was so ridiculous, I didn’t feel quite so bad about what I was about to do.

This was the guy… If it was a guy… What if it was a woman? It wouldn’t work if it was a woman. But, there was only one way to find out.

Back on the Craigslist ad, I clicked the reply button, highlighted the auto-assigned email pass-through address, and hit ctrl-c to copy it. I went back to Gmail and typed in my new fakeemailaddress74 address and password. Once in my email (‘Welcome Fakey!’) I hit the ‘compose’ button.

‘I’m VERY interested in the Sonata. It sure is beautiful! Where can I meet you to take a test drive? Please respond ASAP. I’d like to see it this afternoon if possible. 520-815-0163. Regards, Ed’

I looked over the message quickly. Seeing no typos, I hit the send button. I then logged out of Gmail, closed Craigslist and left the library. I made my way to a sports bar across the street, ordered a burger and a beer and started watching the ESPN Classic baseball game they had on TV.

*****

James had just come back from lunch when his computer alerted him to a new email. The origination address was an indecipherable series of numbers and letters, but it ended with @reply.craigslist.org. He opened the message tentatively, expecting to see either someone offering him a ridiculously low price for the car or some convoluted scheme. He was surprised to see a message from Ed, who seemed genuinely interested.

He was still a bit wary of giving up any of his personal information, but he felt like he would be more comfortable if he spoke with Ed before arranging a place to meet. Since he was at work, he could call Ed from his phone there without risking too much personal information.

*****

I finished my burger and beer, but the game was still on. I ordered another beer and continued sipping at it. One beer turned into another as I watched the game. It had been about ten thirty when I sat down and was now approaching noon.

I felt a vibration in my pocket at the same time as I heard the annoying stock ringer of the prepaid cell phone. I pulled the phone from my pocket, but quickly made my way outside before hitting the answer button.

“Hello?”

“Hi. You messaged me about the car?” the voice on the other end asked.

“Yeah, I sure did. It’s a beautiful car,” I replied, trying to sound as cheerful as possible.

“It is. I’ve taken great care of it,” the voice replied.

“I’d like to look at it today if I can. Maybe take it for a test drive.”

“You’re not going to try to low-ball me, are you?” the voice asked, sounding flustered.

“No,” I replied laughing, “nothing like that. My daughter just turned sixteen and I’m looking for a car for her. I want something reliable that’s been very well taken care of. I’d buy her a new one, but don’t want to spend that much in case she gets into a fender bender.”

“This is definitely the car you’re looking for!” the voice replied, enthusiastically.

“Can I see it today?”

“I can show it anytime,” came his reply. “I’m driving it to and from work so people will see the ‘for sale’ signs.”

“Perfect,” I replied. “What part of the valley do you work in?”

There was a noticeable hesitation from the other end of the line. I smiled as I continued to speak, hoping he could sense it through the phone. “I know,” I said, “I’m not too keen on meeting a stranger from Craigslist either. I was thinking we could just meet up in the parking lot of a grocery store or mall or something.”

“That would be perfect,” the voice responded after the moment of silence. “There’s a Fry’s at McDowell and Dysart. Do you know where that is?”

“I can find it. What time can we meet?”

“I can be there anytime.”

“How about one thirty?”

“That works. There’s a Chase bank in the lot. I’ll park near that so I’m easier to find.”

“Okay, great. I’ll see you in a bit, then,” I replied, hanging up the phone.

I went back into the bar and sat back down. I pulled up Google maps on my (real) cell phone to see what stores were near the meeting place. There was a Lowe’s right across the street. This was going to be easier than I’d expected. I downed the rest of my beer and left the bar.

*****

August 13, 2016

 

 

It was about ten thirty when I pulled into the lot of the Circle K that night. I didn’t see Lacey anywhere around, but I did see a number of other women who probably shared a common vocation. Thankfully I was driving this piece-of-shit Sebring instead of the Corvette. No doubt the streetwalkers would have formed a line to the door of the Corvette. None of them seemed to take any notice of the junky Sebring. It was a fortuitous accident, but one for which I was thankful.

I pulled the car into the parking space furthest from the door of the store and turned off the engine. All I could do now was wait to see if Lacey was still working. I honestly hoped she wouldn’t be, but if she was, my choice had been made for me.

*****

After that weekend in February, the cheating got a lot easier. I still limited the sexual contact to only receiving oral, but not because I had some devious definition of sex as a penis in a vagina which would make the act ‘defensible’. For me, it all came back to the feeling of power and control when your partner is in complete submission.

I had gone a month between my first and second meetings with Lacey. After the second meeting, it took only two weeks before I was back with her again. After that, I’m sad to say, I was there every weekend -sometimes twice. Like the addict who needs more and more to get the same level of satisfaction, my desire grew ever more insatiable.

As Lacey was cleaning up after our meeting on the twelfth of March, she seemed to sense this and voiced the question, “Why do you always stop at BJs?”

I wasn’t quite sure how to answer the question. How would she react if I told her it was because it made me feel like she was my sexual slave? Given her chosen profession, it didn’t seem like it would matter to her a great deal, but I still chose to go with the more timid answer of, “Because that’s what my wife’s not giving me.”

“Well, if she’s not sucking you off, I bet there’s other stuff she’s not doing, too,” she replied, smiling.

I cocked my head sideways and raised an eyebrow.

Seeing that I didn’t understand, Lacey pushed her legs to the floorboard and her back to the seat. She arched her back up so she could turn her hips toward me and smacked herself firmly on the butt.

“I bet she ain’t giving that up either,” she said and then relaxed back down into the seat.

She was correct: my wife wasn’t offering up her backside. I had asked her about it once, shortly after we were married, and she had told me it was off limits. I hadn’t pressed the issue. Mostly because I wasn’t entirely certain if I would like it either.

“Tell you what,” Lacey said, “I’ll throw you one for free next time. You know, so you can see if you like it.”

While engaging in sodomy with a street walker wasn’t something I had ever considered (although oral sex is technically sodomy as well, so I guess I had actually not only considered, but also engaged, in it –multiple times) I found it suddenly intriguing. I didn’t voice my thoughts at the time, instead opting to thank Lacey for her time, pass her the money (after our second meeting, I began giving her a hundred dollar bill with every interaction. It still seemed a paltry sum for her dignity, but it at least made me feel like I was better than those other perverts), and drop her back at the Circle K.

During our next meeting on the nineteenth of March, after performing the usual act for a few minutes, Lacey stopped and slid her dress off. She positioned herself in front of me in what was clearly an attempt to make good on her previous offer to ‘throw me one for free’.

After our previous meeting, I’d had some time to think about the proposition though, and I’d talked myself out of it. Thinking about doing something like that –really considering which parts of the human anatomy were involved- was enough to sour me to it. If I were ever going to consider it, it would have to be with someone I knew a lot better than a hooker.

From a visual perspective though, it was completely a different story. I was finally able to understand why women’s bottoms were frequently described as ‘heart-shaped’; from my vantage point, with her backside in the air and her torso bent down to rest on the seat of the car, there was a widening of the hips and a narrowing of the waist that made the comparison quite clear.

I didn’t voice my reservations about performing the act. After a few moments, Lacey seemed to take the hint and went back to doing what we’d always done.

When we’d finished, I gave her a hundred dollars, dropped her at the Circle K, and told her that I would see her on the following Saturday. She seemed fine with it.

I met her on Saturday night the next two weekends, as usual. On each of those meetings, the interaction remained the same. Lacey seemed to understand and respect my decision not to do anything more, and never brought it up again. Kissing and other signs of affection were also off the table. We both knew what this was: She gave me a sense of power and control, while I gave her cold, hard cash. It was a perfect relationship.

When I met her again on the second of April, we repeated the same process. The next day, I found myself still in desire and made the drive up again. It was the first time I’d made the drive up on Sunday, but I still found Lacey outside the same Circle K. She didn’t question my appearance on a different day of the week or the fact that I’d been there the day before; she just got into the car and started the encounter as always.

 

*****

July 7, 2016

 

 

You’d think that having beer on your breath would deter someone from renting you a car, but it didn’t. You’d also think that pulling into a rental car place at a strip mall in a fifty thousand dollar car would raise some eyebrows, but that didn’t happen either. The clerk made eye contact with me as I pulled into the lot of the strip mall, but when I walked in and asked to rent a car, she didn’t question why. I was thankful for that. I signed the paperwork to rent a Cadillac XTS and left the building.

Walking around the car, I was disappointed that it was so obviously a rental car. There were barcodes on a number of the windows as well as a ‘Fleet’ sticker on the license plate. I’d just have to hope the guy didn’t look too deeply into it or ask too many questions.

Leaving my Corvette in the rental car parking lot, I drove the Cadillac to McDowell and Dysart, found a fast food joint near the meeting location, parked the car and waited. While waiting, I took the second key from the rental car keychain and added it to my own key ring. At least it wouldn’t be quite so obvious without the rental car identification tag hanging from it.

I waited until one thirty before I pulled out of the lot to go to the meeting place near Chase bank. I wanted to make sure he saw me drive in so he knew I had the keys to the car if nothing else. I wanted to be just a couple of minutes late; late enough that he’d see me drive in, but hopefully wouldn’t be too irritated. I could just play stupid and claim I got lost; this was near his work, not mine.

I saw the Sonata parked near the street by the Chase bank and pulled up next to it. It was only then that I realized I never got the guy’s name. As I got out of the car and walked toward the Sonata, I realized it didn’t matter.

The sonata door opened. “Ed?” the man asked as he got out.

“That’s me,” I replied with a smile. “I never got your name.”

“James,” he responded.

“Nice to meet you, James,” I said, reaching out to shake his hand. “Sorry I’m late. It took a bit longer to get here than I thought it would.”

“It’s no problem,” James replied, shaking my hand.

“It looks even better in person,” I said, mustering up all the fake enthusiasm I could.

“It sure is,” he replied with a sense of pride. “Good thing the air conditioning works so well. It’s hot as balls out here.”

He opened the door and waved his hand around inside as if to show that the air was icy. I peeked my head in through the open door and feigned interest in the stereo and other equipment. The engine was running and it did seem to be nice and quiet. If I were actually in the market for a cheap car, I might have cared a bit more.

“Well,” I said, “it definitely runs very well. Do you mind if I take it for a drive?”

“Not at all,” James replied walking toward the passenger door.

This was where it was going to be tricky.

“If you don’t mind,” I said, “could you keep an eye on the Cadillac while I take it for a spin around the block?”

James’ enthusiasm began to fade.

“I’d be in a world of trouble if anything happened to it,” I continued, smiling as sincerely as I could. What I said was certainly true, and the deception was easy since I didn’t claim ownership.

“Well…” James trailed off.

“Here,” I said, tossing my keys to him over the hood of the Sonata. “I just want to give it a quick spin around the block to make sure there aren’t any weird vibrations or anything. Feel free to wait in the Cadillac.”

“I don’t know…”

“C’mon, James. You’ve got to trust me for just a minute if you want to sell the thing,” I smiled again.

“I guess… You won’t be long, will you?”

“Nope. Like I said, just a quick spin around the block.”

“Alright,” he replied after a moment of thought.

“Thanks,” I replied as I got into the driver’s seat. “I’ll be back in two minutes.”

James stood beside the Cadillac and watched me as I signaled the turn and pulled out onto Dysart. I’m not sure if he knew the Cadillac was a rental, or if it even mattered. His trepidation at letting me drive the car alone made me think I’d find him standing in exactly the same place when I got back a few minutes later.

Wasting no time, I made the turn onto McDowell road and immediately into the lot of the Lowe’s next door. I walked quickly inside and found the key duplication area. While the attendant worked on duplicating the key to the Sonata, I ran to the homecare section and found a box of disposable latex gloves and a small package of cleaning towels. I would have preferred to buy singles but each was only offered in multiple packs.

With the supplies and duplicate key in hand, I paid at the register (cash) and left the store. Outside, I pulled one pair of gloves from the box and one towel from the package before throwing the rest of them in a trash bin. I walked back to the car with the gloves and towel in hand, got back inside and put the gloves on.

I opened the glove box and quickly dug my way through the junk (it seemed odd that there was so much junk considering how clean the rest of the car was) to find the registration. I took out my burner phone, snapped a picture of James Henderson’s address on the registration, verified the address was legible on the image, and replaced it in the glove compartment.

Before I pulled back out onto the road, I rolled down the window, took off the disposable gloves and tossed them outside. With the window down, I used the cleaning towel to wipe down the exterior door handle and then quickly wiped down anything else inside the car that I might have touched before I put the gloves on. Once I had everything wiped down, I held the cleaning towel between my right hand and the steering wheel as I pulled back out onto McDowell. I made sure to only use my right hand as I drove back to the Chase bank.

I pulled up on the passenger side of the Cadillac when I got into the lot. To my surprise, James was actually inside the car. This was fortunate because it gave me the couple of extra seconds I needed to give the steering wheel one more quick wipe down and stash the cleaning towel in my pocket.

I could see James get out of the Cadillac in my peripheral vision, and I feigned interest in the center console as he approached. When he reached the car, I could feel him watching me. I ignored him, hoping he would open the door for me. It took a few seconds, but ultimately he did open the door.

“So, what do you think?” he asked.

“It drives like a dream,” I replied, my fake enthusiasm back in place.

James smiled. “It sure does. So, you’re still interested?”

“Very much so. I’ll just have to run it by my wife.”

“Oh, I see. If it’s a matter of the price, I could come down to an even five, but I can’t go any lower.”

“Well, that will probably help. I’ll talk to her tonight. Why don’t you give me a call tomorrow and I’ll let you know.”

“Alright,” James replied, clearly a bit disappointed.

“Thanks for bringing it out,” I said, holding the keys out to swap with him.

We exchanged keys and I walked back to the driver’s side of the Cadillac. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, then?”

“I’ll call you in the morning,” he replied.

I got back into the Cadillac and drove it back to the rental place at the strip mall. Once I dropped off the car, I went back to the sports bar I had been in earlier and ordered another beer. I didn’t want to drive all the way to Chandler and back today.

I nursed a couple of beers over the next few hours. At just after five, I got back into the car and pulled out the burner phone. I took a scrap of paper and pen from my glove box and pulled up the photo of the Sonata’s registration. I scribbled down the address and then deleted the photo.

I made my way back to the library and did a Google search for the address. It was in one of those newer subdivisions with lots of convoluted curves and confusing street names. I knew the surface streets well enough that I’d be able to find the entrance to his subdivision, but it might take some time to find his actual street. I made mental notes of the street names and turns, but didn’t want to write anything down.

Thirty minutes and a lot of wrong turns later, I found the Sonata sitting on the street in front of his house. That was the crux of my plan, after all: when someone has a car for sale, they always park it on the street.

*****

When the phone rang the next day, I answered and apologized for not being able to buy the car. My wife, I told him, said we couldn’t spend that much on our daughter’s first car. She bought her parents’ old Corolla for her. If she wanted a better car, she’d have to get a job and buy it herself. James was obviously disappointed at the news but said that he understood.

When the call was completed, I pulled the SIM card and battery from the phone. I drove to a Jack in the Box in Mesa, cracked the SIM card in half, and put it in the dumpster behind the building. I then drove west to Tempe, stopped at a Bar, smashed the phone on the ground, and put it in their dumpster.

*****

August 13, 2016

 

 

I sat in the parking lot of the Circle K for nearly two hours. If I thought the drive up had given me time to think, it had scarcely prepared me for how active my mind would be without the distraction of the freeway stripes to break the monotony. Time inched forward impossibly slowly.

Eventually, through my rearview mirror, I saw Lacey walk around the corner from Van Buren. She was still working. If I’d ever had any doubt about what I was going to do, that was now erased.

*****

My meetings with Lacey from April 2nd on were now every Saturday and most Sundays as well. The process remained the same for all of these encounters.

On the third of May, I went to see my primary care physician because I was experiencing some flu-like symptoms. Curious if an STD could be the case of the malady, I asked that they run a standard test for common STDs. This led to my doctor questioning my recent sexual history. When I told him the truth, he suggested I also be tested for HIV. I explained that I didn’t think it was necessary since our encounters were limited to her performing oral sex on me. The doctor’s reply was, “If you’re not wearing a condom, there is no safe sex with someone who has HIV.”

I expected he was being dramatic and probably just trying to get me to pay for an extra test. But since I couldn’t be sure of that, I agreed to the test.

I got some of the test results back in just a couple of days: I was definitely free of Syphilis and Gonorrhea -which had been my primary concerns- so I saw Lacey again that weekend. The scare should have been enough to stop me, especially with his suggestion that oral sex wasn’t the free pass I thought it was, but it didn’t.

It was nearly two weeks later when I got an unexpected call from my doctor’s office: “Dr. Davis would like to get you in to go over your test results,” the receptionist said.

“Umm… I don’t really have time to make a trip down there. Can you just tell me what he wants to say?” I asked.

The receptionist hesitated. “Dr. Davis was very insistent that you see him in person.”

Just like a doctor to make you come in to get test results. Probably so he can charge the insurance company for another consultation.

“Tell Dr. Davis that I’m a busy man. He can call me if he needs to talk to me,” I said, hanging up the phone.

Much to my surprise, Dr. Davis did call me. Less than an hour later.

“I’d really like to get you in the office to cover the results,” he said.

“Look, Dr. Davis, I’m a very busy man and I don’t have the time to come down right now.”

“It will just take a moment, and I’d really like you to be in my office.”

“If you need to talk to me, you can do it now. I don’t have the time to-”

“You tested positive for HIV,” he interrupted me.

The words hit me hard in the chest. This was the type of news he should have told me face to face. I suddenly saw his point. I wanted to react to the information, but I was currently having trouble drawing a breath.

After a moment of silence, the doctor continued, “I hate to give out such news over the phone.”

“Are you telling me that I have AIDS?” I asked.

“No,” he said flatly. “You tested positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is the precursor to AIDS, but you definitely don’t have AIDS.”

I shook my head trying to take the information in. “But I will have it eventually?”

“This is why I wanted to get you in my office,” he replied. “We have much literature available on the subject.” He breathed deeply before continuing, “HIV is not AIDS. It does lead to AIDS, but most who have HIV –even AIDS- can now live very normal lives with the correct regimen. It isn’t the death sentence it was thirty years ago.”

I scarcely heard him. Whether or not the disease killed me, my life was definitely over. How could I tell my wife that I had somehow contracted AIDS –or even just HIV but could live a normal life- without telling her that I’d been banging hookers?

“But you can’t get it from oral sex!” I shouted, louder than intended.

Dr. Davis sighed. “It is uncommon for the virus to spread through oral sex, but it’s not unheard of. The most common ways to transmit the disease may be through shared needles and anal or vaginal sex, but it can be transmitted orally. If the woman has an open sore in or around her mouth, for instance, it’s not difficult to transfer the virus. Most documented cases of oral transference happen in that manner.”

I hung up the phone.

I was furious with Lacey for giving me the disease, but uncertain if she even knew she had it. When I saw her again, on the 21st of May, I asked her if she knew she carried it. To my surprise, she said she did know, but that she thought she couldn’t spread it by performing oral sex. I told her what the doctor told me, but she seemed indifferent. I left her that night without having any sexual contact.

It was on the drive home that I started to really get angry with her. She said she didn’t think she could spread the disease with oral sex, but that wasn’t all she was offering. On our first encounter, she’d offered me any type of sex I wanted. Later on, she’d actively tried to persuade me to engage in anal sex. Even if I believed her story that she didn’t think she could spread it one way, she was still offering up the others. She was knowingly spreading the disease. She was killing people.

I told my wife about my HIV results on the 22nd of May. She moved out of the house and filed for a divorce the same day. I can’t say that I blame her. She took her own test for HIV the next day, and a week later it came back negative. The doctor was quick to point out that the result didn’t necessarily mean she didn’t have it; some people can carry it for months before it can be found through testing. I was glad that her result was negative (so far) and respected her decision to leave.

The divorce process went as quickly as state law would allow. Because I had contracted HIV while we were married, there was nothing I could offer in the way of a defense. The divorce was finalized on July 7th, after the state-mandated 60 day waiting period.

*****

 

June 17, 2016

 

 

I sat in the police station with a dizzying array of lights and sounds overwhelming my senses. The fluorescent lights glowed as bright as day while phantom phone rings and angry, unidentifiable shouts filled the background. It was quite unnerving.

I’d been speaking to an officer for a few minutes. I gave him my name, address, and other such personal information, as well as all I could think of regarding Lacey. He took all the information down in his notebook, but I was slowly realizing that he wasn’t going to help me.

“I don’t think you understand,” the officer said. “You are confessing to a crime right now. If we bring her in for prostitution, we will also have to charge you with solicitation.”

“Solicitation? Seriously? She gave me AIDS!”

“I understand your frustration,” he said, clearly not understanding my frustration.

“But she gave me a terminal disease.”

“Twenty years ago, I would have agreed with you,” the officer said, taking a sip from his coffee. “Now, it’s not much different than any other STD. Everything is ‘terminal’ eventually.

“Are we going to argue over semantics?” I shouted. “It has to be illegal. What if she had accosted me on the street and injected me with a vial of AIDS-infected blood?”

“Well,” the officer said, his obvious disinterest making me ever angrier, “if she had done that, you’d probably have something. But she didn’t do that, did she?”

“Basically, yes!”

“So she held you down and raped you?”

“Well, no. But she didn’t tell me she had AIDS.”

The officer made a shrug, but only with his mouth and eyebrows. “Did you ask if she did?”

I sat in silence, unsure how to respond. I hadn’t specifically asked if she had AIDS, but that hardly seemed the point.

“Look,” the officer said, opening a desk drawer and taking out a bullet (which I hoped was a prop). He held it in front of his eyes and rolled it in his fingers as he continued, “Hookers have diseases: Gonorrhea, Syphilis, HPV, HSV, HIV, you name it, they can carry it. Would you agree?”

I nodded.

“They’re like this bullet,” he went on, rolling the bullet around some more.

I watched in silence, still unsure of where he was going with this.

He stopped rolling the bullet in his fingers, and in one quick motion, he leaned forward and stood it on the desk in front of me.

“That bullet could kill you, right?”

He stared at me for a moment. When I didn’t respond, he flinched his eyebrows to signal that he was waiting for my input.

I remained silent another moment, searching my mind for a response. “It would if someone put it into a gun and pulled the trigger.”

“Exactly,” the officer said as he leaned back his chair with a screeching sound. A smug look crossed his face as he went on, “There is a bullet in front of you. You know it could kill you, but only if you fire it from a gun -the bullet’s intended purpose...”

He sat silent for a moment, the smirk on his face becoming ever more maddening. “Just like there was a hooker in front of you. You knew she could give you diseases, but only if you used her for her intended purpose. Do you see where this is going?”

I did see, but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of a response.

“If you put that bullet in a gun and shoot yourself, is that my fault? The gun’s fault? The bullet’s fault? Or your own damn fault?”

I didn’t answer.

Now certain that the police weren’t going to help, I got up and left the station without another word.

*****

Later that day, I was in my attorney’s office signing some financial paperwork related to my divorce. There was maddening amount of paperwork to be signed and each time I thought I had finished, he would call me back in to sign some more.

While he was flipping through some paperwork to find another signature line, I asked if the officer was right regarding Lacey’s culpability: “What laws is a prostitute breaking if she is knowingly spreading HIV?”

He stopped flipping through the pages and looked up at me. “Well, that depends on a lot of factors. State laws vary. Does she know she has it?”

“Yes, she does.”

“Are there test results to back that up?”

“Um…” I thought back to our interactions and wasn’t really sure. She said she knew she had it, but not that she had necessarily been tested for it. For all I knew it could have been another guy she gave it to her who told her about it.

“Let’s say there aren’t any test results,” I said.

“Well, in that case she can’t be convicted of anything more than prostitution.”

“Let’s say there are results.”

“Well, in some states, that could be a felony. Arizona isn’t one of those states. In the state of Arizona, she would still only be charged with prostitution.”

“Really? Why?”

“There isn’t a federal law in place to define it, so the states were left to legislate it themselves. Some of the more progressive states made it a criminal offense of varying degree. Some of the more…” he paused looking for words, “I’d say conservative, but the word doesn’t really fit.” He sighed and continued. “When AIDS first came to light, there was a stigma attached to it. Most who contracted it were either homosexual or intravenous drug users. Some states simply didn’t see that as a problem. Sadly, some states actually thought of it as a good thing. By the time we became more educated about the spread of the virus, there were treatments available. States which had already passed laws kept them, while states which hadn’t passed any laws just forgot about it.”

“But knowingly spreading a terminal disease should have some consequence,” I said.

He shrugged. “Cigarettes kill people. Everyone knows that they kill people, yet they still line up to buy them. It’s not much different.”

“The thing is we know cigarettes will kill us. We know all cigarettes will kill us. We don’t know which prostitutes will.”

“Isn’t it safer to assume that all of them will?”

He had me there.

With both my attorney and the police agreeing that Lacey bore no responsibility, I began to feel helpless. Helpless and angry. If you shoot one person, you got to jail. If you kill dozens of people by infecting them with a slow-acting virus, you walk away. It didn’t seem fair.

*****

Just over five weeks. That’s how long I waited after first driving the Sonata before I considered putting my plan into action. I now realized how big of a mistake I made when I spoke to the police. I had given them way too much information: my name, her name, my address, and, worst of all, I’d been fairly angry that they wouldn’t or couldn’t do anything to help me. I’d painted myself into a corner.

The first thing I needed to do was make sure the car was still there. I considered checking to see if the Craigslist ad was still up, but it just seemed easier to drive by his house to see if the car was still outside. With his outrageous asking price, I was sure that it would be. At just past seven on a Thursday night, I drove by his house once more to see the Sonata still sitting there. The ‘for sale’ sign which once read ‘$5,400obo’ now read ‘$4,750obo’, but the car was still there.

It was time.

*****

 

August 13, 2016

 

I watched Lacey through my rearview mirror for a few minutes. She was pacing back and forth on the street in front of the Circle K. Each time a car would slow down, she would approach it with a smile. Each time, the car left by the time she arrived. Maybe the driver was just gauging whether it was safe to stop in this area for gas, or maybe the John just got cold feet, but either way, Lacey was still doing her best to reel them in.

I reached into backseat and rifled through the duffle bag until I found my belt. Not my belt, but the belt I had purchased this afternoon at Walmart. I removed the belt from the duffle, sat the duffle onto the rear floorboard, and put the belt on top of it.

I started the engine and backed out of the parking space. I pulled up beside Lacey and honked the horn. She looked over her shoulder, saw the shitty Sebring, turned back around and kept walking. When I honked the car again, she didn’t even look over. Eventually I just rolled down the window and called out her name: “Lacey!”

She recognized my voice and stopped walking. She turned toward the car and slowly approached, the furrow of her brow was very pronounced.

“Where’s the ‘vette?” she asked when she neared the window.

“It’s in the shop,” I replied.

“What shop is giving out this piece of shit as a loaner?”

I smiled. “The shop didn’t give me this piece of shit. I borrowed it from my sister, just for tonight.”

“Why the hell did you want to borrow this?”

I’d rehearsed my response to this question carefully. “Well,” I paused, “I was thinking of taking you up on your offer to ‘throw me one for free’. There’s a lot more room in this car than there is in the Corvette.”

Seemingly sensing the opportunity to make a bit of extra cash, Lacey responded, “That was a onetime offer. If you want it now, you’ll have to pay the full two-hundred.”

I smiled again. “Get in.”

Lacey smiled back. “Alrighty,” she said, as she opened the passenger door and got in.

As I pulled out onto Van Buren, Lacey reached over and began massaging my crotch. Once we were moving down the street, she began to lean her head down toward me.

“Don’t,” I said. “I want to wait until we’re there.”

“Until we’re where?” she asked.

“Anywhere,” I replied. I’m just looking for an empty lot or something where we can be alone.”

She smiled a twisted smile. “I know a place. Just up the road a couple of miles.”

“That’s perfect. Just tell me where to turn.”

She led me down Van Buren, then off a side road without a nameplate. Down that road a bit, she directed me to make another turn. This side street also didn’t have a nameplate, but it also lacked pavement. After driving for two or three minutes, she said, “Stop. This is it.”

Being unfamiliar with the area, and having only seen what the headlights could illuminate for the last several miles, I was surprised by just how remote this place seemed to be. We were still in Phoenix, but there didn’t seem to be any buildings.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“We’re by the zoo,” she replied. “Well, kind of in part of the zoo.”

“Oh, that explains the silence.”

“So,” she started as she reached again for my crotch, “what changed your mind?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Curiosity, I guess.” I pushed her hand away. “Why don’t you get in the backseat and get ready? I’ll be there in just a minute.”

Rather than get of the passenger door and back in through the rear door, Lacey climbed between the seats to get there. She seemed to take an extraordinarily long time to do so, during which I’m certain she was actively trying to find an angle to rub her crotch against me. The bucket seats prevented that –which was thankful. I needed all the blood in the correct head right now.

After she had been in the backseat for a few seconds, her skirt came flying over the top of the passenger seat. A moment later, she said, “so, are you coming or what?”

With that urging, I opened the door and got out of the driver’s seat. I went to the back door on the driver’s side and opened it. Even in the darkness of the night, I could see her posing with her butt high in the air and her torso on the seat. Her head was turned to the left. She would have been looking at the back of the passenger seat if her eyes hadn’t been closed. She was completely naked. Once again, I made the connection to the ‘heart shape’ which is so often bandied about. I shook my head to try to shake the primal thoughts which were slowly taking hold.

I began caressing her hip with my right hand. With my left hand, I picked up the belt from the top of the duffle bag. I held it with the buckle hanging down and moved it slowly forward.

“Aren’t you going to take off your gloves?” she asked.

“No I’m not,” I replied, still caressing her as I continued slowly moving my hand and the belt forward. The belt was above her shoulder now. I lowered the buckle until it was lying on the seat beside her neck. I moved my right hand slowly along her side, taking care to make the touch seem light and sensual.

“Ooooh,” she moaned, “kinky. Tell me what you’re going to do to me.”

“Well,” I replied as my right hand went past her breast then up over her shoulder, “I’m going to kill you.”

There was a moment of stunned silence as she tried to process the words. That was all I needed. I grabbed the buckle from under her neck with my right hand and quickly slid the other end through the opening. Before she had a chance to react, I pulled hard on the belt, cinching it down around her throat.

When her mind had finally processed what was happening, she began to fight it. With her arms flailing wildly and her legs kicking out, she was more prone on the seat than she had been at the start. I used that to my advantage and put the weight of my body on top of her. From this new position, I was able to wrap the belt around her neck a second time. Once I pulled it snug, the fight left her quickly.

I continued holding the belt long after it was no longer necessary. Whether it was seconds or minutes, I couldn’t say. When the time finally felt right, I let go.

Once I let go, I gathered my thoughts and continued with the steps I had laid out. I gathered her clothing and the belt I had used and placed them in a garbage bag (which had been in my duffle bag) and moved the duffle bag to my trunk. I pushed her legs back inside the car and closed the door.

The next twenty minutes would be the most intense twenty minutes of my life, and for good reason. Not only was I driving with a corpse in my car, but I was doing so with the murder weapon in the trunk. I was also doing so in a car that I had driven only a handful of miles prior to tonight. What if a light was out? What if a tire blew? What if a random cop stopped me to check the registration?

The negative thoughts all swirled through my mind. They all told me that I should have moved her body to the trunk before I started the drive. I had to fight these thoughts back. I was right to not put her in the trunk; when you move the body, you risk transferring fiber evidence. Each time you move it, the chances that you will be caught increase. The leather seats wouldn’t transfer fibers nearly as well as the lining of the trunk would. And I only had to make it twenty minutes.

After an unnerving twenty minute drive, I pulled up in front of James’s house. I saw the Sonata still parked on the street in front. It was now nearly midnight, and there weren’t any lights on inside the houses along this cozy drive. Still I made a circuitous drive of the roads twice before stopping behind the Sonata.

Once I did stop, I moved as quickly as I could. I used my key to open the trunk of the Sonata and transferred Lacey’s body into it. I pulled the blue tarp (still in the factory wrapping) from my duffle bag, opened the package, and covered the body with it. This way, whoever found the body would be the only one to leave fingerprints on the tarp. With a bit of luck, they may be the only one to transfer any fibers, too.

I then closed the trunk very slowly –so the noise wouldn’t attract attention- got back into the Sebring and drove away.

I had the window of the Sebring down as I drove home. After I had put a good five miles between myself and the Sonata, I pulled off one of my leather gloves and tossed it out the window. After another couple of miles, I tossed the other one. Still a few more miles and I tossed one of the latex gloves. A few more miles and I tossed the other. I then stopped at a Goodwill donation center near Warner and McQueen and dumped my belt and Lacey’s clothing inside.

My final stop that night was at a grocery store on Ray road. I turned off the car, gave the interior a tentative wipe down (I hadn’t touched anything inside the car without gloves on) and put the key into the glove box.

*****

 

August 22, 2016

 

 

It was nine days later that I finally saw the headline: James Henderson had been arrested for the murder of a prostitute named Carol Bronsky. The body was found inside the trunk of a Hyundai Sonata that he had sold earlier that week (for four thousand dollars).

I felt a little bad that he would ultimately be convicted for the crime. A little. Since I had gone to the police, I had to make sure someone else was convicted of the murder, otherwise I was going to the only one with motive, opportunity and means; If they had found the body but didn’t have someone else on the hook for it, I would have been their prime suspect. In my eyes, James was an unknowing martyr. He would never know how just many lives he had saved.

*****

 

August 24, 2016

 

I made my final trip to the library today. My only purpose was to list an ad on craigslist. That ad read: “Free car. 1999 Chrysler Sebring. Leather interior. Runs good but needs some TLC. The keys and title are in the glove box. Pick it up at Fry’s on Ray and Dobson.

I read the ad over a final time. Almost as an afterthought, I smiled as I added the words ‘No Scams’

***

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The idea for No Scams came to me while I was looking to buy a car through online classified services. The car I ultimately bought was a 2004 Hyundai Sonata. It was a wonderful car. I put about 70,000 miles on it before passing it on to my mother, who still drives it today. While I was searching for the car, nearly all of the ads for this make/model car in that year range were just as described in this story: under $3,000 (this was several years ago and the price has been dropping steadily since). One ad, though, was just ridiculously overpriced. When I saw the ad, I wondered if the owner was just a bit too proud of his car or if there was some sort of a scam involved –caveat emptor.

I searched for a Hyundai Sonata in this year/price range for almost two months before I finally purchased one. The entire time, this one overpriced ad was still posted and updated regularly. Where one might see an overpriced car, I saw a potential target: what’s the worst that could happen if someone knew where your car was parked and had a copy of the key (the method the character uses to duplicate the key and get the owner’s address have been used by car thieves for years). While my story involves murdering a prostitute, the story could just as easily have been about using the car in the commission of any crime –caveat venditor.

 

 

 


No Scams

  • Author: Donnie J Burgess
  • Published: 2016-07-14 16:05:08
  • Words: 13742
No Scams No Scams