No, it never does.
Arlan Truss moved quickly to answer his cell. “Hello. Shit!” He caught it just as it was about to slip out of his hands.
“Really, that’s not the reception I hoped for!” Catherine’s smooth purring kind of voice held laughter.
“Yea. The damn thing almost got away from me. What’s going on, Cat?”
“The seeds are planted, my love. Claire and Jaycee fell for it hook, line and sinker. I had no idea it would be so easy!”
Arlan laughed roughly. “Jaycee scared me, she’s got street smarts. But Claire? She’s so trusting it’s nuts. So I’m glad it went okay.” He paused to better situate himself in his chair and light a cigarette. “What’s next?”
Catherine sighed. “It all depends on just how much revenge you want to get on Claire.”
“Both of them, Cat. Both of them!”
“Yes, of course. If you say so.”
“I want to proceed as planned. Be sure Claire or no, wait, both of them, believe that the monster lives through me and is now in love with Claire, and that he could be vulnerable.”
“You realize that Der Blaeu Teufel is not really vulnerable. And that by initiating contact with him it usually spells one thing: someone gets hurt. So, are you really sure, Arlan? Claire’s trifling little magic spell, that didn’t completely work after all, was all that damaging?”
“Hell yes I’m sure! That damn witch, no those damn witches, caused me to get attacked, make a damn ass of myself, and break up with Vera. OK Vera wasn’t that important but the rest of it was! And stop saying it’s only Claire! It’s not!”
“But it really is, you know. It’s her. Been her all along. You didn’t spy on her because you are some weird peeping tom. You spied on her because you are enchanted by her and she touched a place in your heart that no woman ever can. It shook you up. So, there’s no need to hide it from me. I already know the truth.”
Arlan crushed his cigarette into the ashtray with more than a little irritation. “That truth as you call it stays between us, Cat. It goes no further.”
“I don’t carry tales, Arlan. I can be silent as the grave.”
“Jeez, Cat, that’s not a great way to put it! It gives me the creeps!”
Catherine laughed, this time with a strange undertone to it. “I will be in touch with you then, Arlan. We will begin that revenge scheme of yours very soon.”
Arlan grunted a quick good-bye and hung up. This should feel great. This was his golden moment. The time to put little Miss Sweetie Pants in her place. Give her her due. So why did he feel like crap??
One Week Later
It had been raining hard that morning, but aside from the puddles on the side of the road, the weather was so clear it was almost hard to believe all the rain that came down earlier. Arlan took a big step to get over one of those puddles and made his way into the bar where he was told the meeting would take place.
As he walked in, Arlan felt something tighten in his chest, and had to force himself to look cool and confident. All last night he couldn’t sleep, and he blamed that on his current condition.
She had been on his mind. That dark-haired green-eyed witch who made him feel like a total idiot. Today would be her day of reckoning and that was all that mattered.
Arlan soon saw the man in the red shirt he was supposed to meet. The guy would bring something to Claire’s house. A package. A very special package. Its contents were crafted from pure evil and it’s power undeniable. God help the person who opened it.
And there the package sat on the table in front of the man in the red shirt. Deceptively small and unimportant, it was wrapped in plain brown paper, with a blank delivery label attached to the front. Arlan had been instructed to fill in Claire’s address on that label himself as that would seal the spell and guarantee the end result. He put his hand in the righthand pocket of his jeans and felt the pen he had brought in with him. That was part of it too. He was required to use a pen he himself owned.
As he neared the table, the man in the red shirt looked up at him without saying a word. With a swift movement he slid the package across the table until it sat directly in front of Arlan.
This was the moment. The time was now. Arlan had his pen in hand and took the cap off. And then something very odd happened. A rush of warmth came to Arlan that he couldn’t explain or even want to question. It was like the freshest of breezes blowing off the ocean. He snapped the cap back on the pen.
“Here’s the payment as promised.” Arlan handed an envelope to the man in the red shirt, and gestured toward the package. “Destroy that thing. Burn it to ashes.”
Without a hint of surprise, or speaking a single word, the man in the red shirt put the envelope in his pants pocket, picked up the package, nodded to Arlan, and walked out.