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The Secret Admirer
Jack W. Mueller - 10:14pm Feb 12, 2008 PST

Part 1 of 4

Although there is an element of mystery in this story it does not fit the normal categories. it does however contain references to definite criminal activity. I hope you enjoy it.

Charles was in Denver the first time he found a small present in his hotel room. He thought it was a nice gesture from the management but when he opened the attached card he was really surprised. It said, "Lots of luck on your performance, you're going to slay them."

It took a minute for him to recognize the emotion he felt. He was not capable of fear so it wasn't that. Annoyance? Maybe but stronger. Anger? Yes, definitely anger but he had repressed that part of himself for so long he didn't recognize it at first. Fear and anger were excess baggage that he couldn't afford.

Who had sent this? The card was not signed but the meaning was clear. Or was it? It could've been a mistake. Maybe it belongs to another guest and they put it in the wrong room. The front desk confirmed that it had been delivered by a local vendor with his name on it. He called the store and all they could tell him was that they received directions to deliver it to the hotel with a money order that more than covered the cost. Then they asked if he wanted the change. It was only a few dollars but they felt guilty about keeping it. For some reason he said yes and they assured him it would be at the hotel within the hour. He didn't know what he was going to do with the money. He certainly didn't need it and he was no closer to finding out who sent the gift.

The whole thing put him on edge. He was always very careful but this time he took extra precautions. As it turned out they were not necessary. There was no hint that anyone in Denver knew about him and he completed his task without any complications.

When he was back on his own turf he went to see his latest client. After a considerable amount of money changed hands Charles said, "Thank you. As always, it's a pleasure doing business with you but next time don't be so cute."

It was obvious from the blank stare he received that the person he was talking to had no idea what he meant. Our hero quickly recovered and brushed off the confusion. He wisely decided to keep the incident to himself.

The mystery gnawed at him every once in a while and he finally convinced himself that it was all a big mistake. There must've been someone else with the same name in Denver and the store clerk got confused. He even smiled at the thought of that poor soul trying to explain why he never acknowledged the present. His satisfactory explanation of the event fell apart on his next trip.

He stopped short as he entered the hotel room and saw another small parcel on the desk. He didn't even take his coat off before ripping the tag from the package. His hands were shaking with rage as he stared at it. "Welcome to Cincinnati. I hope you enjoy your stay but I know there's someone who won't."

This job was for a different client and it was highly unlikely that both shared the same charming idiosyncrasy. It had to be someone else but who? Who could possibly know what he did? Certainly not a friend for the simple reason that he didn't have any. It was imperative that he not become too close with any other human and it was unlikely that his cat was the perpetrator. That gave him an idea. The woman who lived across the street knew about his trips. She fed the cat when he was away so she and her husband knew he traveled a lot. Then he discarded the notion. Even if they kept tabs on his comings and goings they could not know where he went or why. He had to shove the problem aside and concentrate on the business at hand but it kept sneaking back into his thoughts from time to time. Eventually, he was able to work it into a simple distraction. A minor enigma to occupy him in idle minutes.

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Jack W. Mueller - 10:16pm Feb 12, 2008 PST(#3 of 4)

He laughed, "No I don't think you're crazy but definitely foolish. Most people in my profession aren't keen on outsiders knowing what they do."

They both sat in silence for a minute while she thought about his last comment. "What he means is he doesn't want someone like me knowing what he does and living to tell about it." At last she took a deep breath and asked the question that had been lurking in the forefront of her mind since she first heard his voice. "Are you going to kill me?"

He tilted his head to one side and asked, "Why would I do that?"

She swallowed and answered, "Because that's what you do. Murder people."

He sat up straight and puffed out his chest. "Please. Murder sounds so ordinary. I prefer to think of it as assassination. It's more noble."

Then he leaned forward and lowered his voice. "I'm sorry. I'm being flippant. You are right. I don't take any pleasure in it but that's my job and I'm very good at it. Does that bother you?"

She looked up at him. "No, if it did I wouldn't have sent you those presents."

He interrupted her, "That reminds me. You overpaid for them and I got the change. I put it on the kitchen counter."

She was completely confused. "I don't understand you. Why are you being so nice? You're a professional killer and I'm a threat to you. I even have a scrapbook with newspaper clippings of your exploits."

He chuckled, "I know. I found it and you can keep it if you like. I'm sure the authorities have already made the connections between those incidents."

She wondered why she was arguing but she said, "What if I go to the police with the book and tell them about you?"

He shook his head. "I don't think you will. All you'd be doing is creating trouble for yourself. They'd consider you to be my accomplice and would question you for hours. Besides, if you were going to go to the police you would've done it by now."

Again silence moved through the room and her voice was very quiet. "So what happens now?"

He waited a minute. It was as if he was having his own mental debate. At last he said, "Nothing. I just wanted to meet the woman who discovered my secret and then kept it to herself. Now I go away and leave you alone. I'm sorry if I scared or upset you."

After a short pause he continued. "Actually, I want to thank you. I thought I covered my tracks fairly well and you've been a big help in showing how I could be compromised. I hate to do it but I better change my sleeping habits. I prefer the west side so I can sleep with the window open and not have the morning sun in my eyes."

She was still coming to terms with the idea that she might live to see another sunrise. "I never realized it before but my bedroom window faces that direction too so I know what you mean. And you're not the only one who likes to be bundled in warm blankets and feel cool air on their face."

He brightened as he replied, "I gathered as much. I've been watching you and noticed the open window. You're good at keeping it locked during the day but it makes you very vulnerable at night. I invented a little gadget I carry with me that sits on the window sill. Anyone who tries to climb in gets a hefty electric shock and it wakes me up. I made one for you and it's in your bedroom. Just plug it in and the switch is on the cord. Be careful not to touch it when it's on."

The idea of someone like him taking time to ensure her safety was almost too much to fathom. She stared at him speechlessly.

After another uncomfortable silence he said, "I should be going."

There was almost a touch of sorrow in the way he said it. He stood up but she remained seated. She looked up and said, "You know all about me but I still don't know who you really are. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to but maybe your first name?"

His voice was very gentle as he answered, "Charles."

She rose from her seat, crossed the room to shake his hand as she said, "That's a good name. It's been nice to meet you Charles." Her knees were still a little unsteady as she walked him to the door. When he opened it she said, "No. There isn't."

He turned and asked, "Isn't what?"

She looked directly at him and answered, "A man in my life. Is there a woman in yours?"

Fear and anger weren't the only emotions he had repressed for far too long. He had lived alone most of his life and never regretted it before. He reached up and stroked her cheek. Their eyes were locked together and he said, "I hope there is now."

She put one hand to her cheek and let it rest on his while her other one reached past him to close the door. Then she smiled.

Fran Hinkel - 02:41am Jun 23, 2008 PST(#4 of 4)
You can check out anytime you like...but you can never leave!

THis is very good! I think a couple of sentences got lost in the posting limit. If you'd like to send them to me, I can edit the missing sentences in.

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