Words from the Warehouse

I have combined three thinkingten entries on this particular post.  They are part of a continuing story about Eric and Beth…..a story I have not told from the beginning yet.  Enjoy.

Beth laughed to herself a bit nervously as she parked her car.  It wasn’t dawn yet, but she could see the foreshadowing along the horizon.  He had chosen a waterfront warehouse because it was…prosaic.  And he knew Beth would think so as well.  Unfinished business, that is what he had said on the phone, his accent thicker than she remembered.  Meeting him was probably not wise, but after all this time, curiosity had clouded her judgment.

What makes a sociopath exactly?  After reading several books and studying the subject at length, Beth still felt as if there was a crucial piece missing from her understanding.  Movie and television portrayals were so two dimensional and predictable.  And one cannot interact with a television screen.  But he was not only a sociopath, but a highly intelligent one.  It was too good an opportunity to dismiss.  And despite the coldness in his voice on the few occasions when she had poked a bit too closely at the hornet’s nest, Beth felt certain he would not harm her….physically.  And the other types of harm had already been done.

Eric wasn’t yet at the designated meeting place, but then she had known he would not be.  It was not in his nature to be the one waiting; that was Beth’s job.  It stung a bit, this knowledge that he again had her waiting, but she was not really surprised.  He would control the outcome. That would be essential.  Especially since Beth knew that her understanding of who he was – and wasn’t – had surprised him.  He did not like surprises.  She wasn’t certain how long he would have her wait, so she took out her iPod and placed one of the buds into her left ear.  And then, instinctively, Beth scrolled down to the song that made the most sense.

Depeche Mode: Enjoy the Silence

“Hello belle,” I heard the voice before I saw him.  He was standing casually at the corner of the warehouse, smiling just slightly.  And even though I knew to be guarded, I was struck again by his presence, and it surprised me.

He wasn’t all that intimidating or even overly handsome, objectively speaking.  About six feet tall, lean build, not muscular, his brown/gray hair cut very close and slightly receding.  His ever-present sunglasses were perched on his somewhat sharp nose.  Just the hint of unshaven jaw line, something he knew I liked.  And yet I always felt something in my heart drop to my stomach when I saw him.  For a moment – and only a moment – I felt that familiar ping-pong in my chest.  Then I remembered what had brought me here, and my gaze became as cool and detached as his was.

“Hello Eric, and my name is Beth.”  I walked past him into the empty warehouse and sat down on a discarded wooden box.  “So why am I here again?”

He walked in and pulled an old folding table over next to me.  Leaning against it, he lit a cigarette.  For a few minutes neither of us spoke.  I wrinkled my nose at the smell of the smoke even though he was polite enough to blow it away from me.  “Ah yes,” he smiled, “You do not appreciate this habit.  I had forgotten.”  He dropped the cigarette onto the floor and extinguished it with the toe of his shoe.

“Very charming, as always,” I remarked.  “But you didn’t forget.  And I have other places to be today.”

I saw the flash then.  That bit of ice from his eyes that managed to make me shudder for just a second or two before he recovered himself and smiled again.  He stood then and offered me his arm.  “Walk with me.  The fog on the water is lovely.”

“Eric, I am not walking with you.  I am not riding with you.  I am only here out of curiosity.  You will say what you need to say, and I will go about my day….and my life.  And you will not be in it.  Neither will the rest of them.”

At this, his smile disappeared, and he grabbed my arm, pulling me up roughly to face him.  “I am afraid that is not how this day will go for you, belle.  And as for the others, you have nothing to say to them, nor will you.  Because you will not be leaving this waterfront.”  He paused and chuckled a bit at my expression.  “I’m disappointed, Beth, that you did not see this coming.  Did you really think that I would let you live?”

There were small alleys between each of the old warehouses.  Most of them had been piled with assorted junk items, or chains had been attached to the side of neighboring buildings to prevent entrance.  After a short walk with Eric, during which he held fast to Beth’s arm, they stopped in front of a somewhat smaller cinderblock warehouse. One of Eric’s cars, an old Jeep, was parked in between it and the next building and the restrictive chain hung from the building’s side wall.

Beth looked around and tried to wrench away from Eric.  “I’m not going in there.  If you do something to me, you’re going to have to do it out here.  Not like a coward inside that building where no one can see or hear.”

“Interesting idea, belle,” Eric answered, his hand grasping her more forcefully.  “But I am afraid that you are going to spend some time with me.  Some private time.  You told me it was what you wanted.  Remember? You wanted it to be our secret.”  He took a small key out of his pocket.  “I need some company.  And if I cannot spend time with you, I will have to find someone else with whom to spend my time.”

And then Beth froze.  Because she knew what he meant.  And she allowed Eric to lead her through the rusted door.  She was surprised to see a light hanging overhead, along with a small table.  On the table were a basket and a bottle of wine.  Noticing her expression Eric laughed.

“I would have preferred a pleasant picnic under a beautiful tree, perhaps an old oak.  I know how you admire those.  But you have made that impossible.  I did want to romance you belle, but you wanted it to be on your terms.  And you wanted to control the circumstances.  Unfortunate, actually, that it had to be that way.”

“My terms,” Beth spat, now able to pull away from his arm.  “God you’re an arrogant bastard aren’t you?  Narcissistic.  But not nearly as intelligent as you thought, apparently.  If you had chosen better you could have kept your pathetic little self-aggrandizing charade going.”

“I’d like to make this a pleasant day.  Do you think I wanted this? “He pulled out a metal chair and motioned for her to sit.  “And bravo, Beth.  You have been coached very well.  But your new teacher doesn’t know you’re here.  So perhaps neither of you is as intelligent as you think either.”

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