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A Game of Cat and Mouse: Mystery Short Story

IN THE September 14 ISSUE

FROM THE 2019 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andTerrific Tales
SECTIONS

by Gary Hoffman

This story has never before been published.

He had the patience of a cat watching rain drops run down a window pane. But, at the moment, he was making no attempt to pounce. He had all the time he needed. He had been stalking her for over a month now. When he did pounce, it would be only once, and it would be the only time needed.

She has no idea I’m even watching her.

Jada Slater worked as a sales clerk for Bardos, a high-end boutique in the Central West end. She also worked part-time at Kelldon’s Inn, a restaurant and lounge in the county. She only worked at Kelldon’s when they catered a special event or when one of the waitresses called in sick on a weekend. The man stalking her, Dave Peen, first saw her at Kelldon’s when he worked there briefly as a busboy. Dave only lasted two weeks at that job because he refused to follow orders. Being fired didn’t bother him. There were a jillion other low-end jobs he could find. Of course, his best find at Kelldon’s was Jada.

When he first saw her, she reminded him of his sister—his greedy, ugly, overbearing, bossy sister. The main difference was Jada wasn’t ugly. She was beautiful, but she demanded things be done her way while serving people. She reported Dave for not getting tables cleaned in a timely manner one night, and he vowed to pay her back. It would also be a way to punish his sister and all the other women in the world who gave him trouble. All the damned women in the world who gave him shit!

Dave watched Jada on this sunny Saturday morning in May. He sat on a bus stop bench across the street from where she lived. He was supposed to be at his job washing dishes at a diner, but Jada was more important. She left her apartment and walked with that prissy step of hers down the street towards several small shops and specialty food stores. She was wearing cut-off blue jean short-shorts, a T-shirt printed with the words “Nova Scotia” on the front, and sandals.

Stupid bitch! Thinks she’s so uppity. Look at her bouncing inside that shirt. Bet she’s not even wearing a bra!

Jada stopped at a produce stand and started picking out fresh vegetables.
At one point, she saw herself in the reflection of the store window and stopped to adjust her long brown hair. vegetables

Look at that! Can’t even pick out produce without worrying about her looks! Don’t worry, bitch. I’ll help you not to worry about your looks anymore. When I’m finished with you, no one will want to look at you. You won’t be able to stand looking in a mirror!

She left the stand carrying three bags of produce. She intended to fix a large salad for her supper. She also wanted some fresh fruit, but didn’t like the looks of the fruit at the first stand. She walked another half block to another produce vender. Dave stood up, stretched, and started to amble down the street towards Jada. When she was absorbed in picking out oranges, he crossed the street and went into the other side of the stand. He kept his eyes down pretending to look at apples, even though he knew it was the wrong time of year to buy apples. He didn’t intend to buy anyway. He had no money. He picked up almost every apple in the bin. In-between looking at them, he would glance up at her. The man running the produce stand walked up to her.

“Good morning, Miss Slater. How are you this fine morning?”

“Oh, just fine, Greg. Just trying to find some oranges.”

He smiled. “Let me get a case out of the back. You might be happier with those.” He winked at her and went to the rear of the store. He returned within a few seconds, set them on another table, and pulled off the lid. “Those look better?”food

Jada picked up a couple of oranges. “Yes, they really do, Greg. Thank you.”

Look at that! She even demands special service at produce stands.

He continued watching as she picked out half a dozen oranges. When she finished with the oranges, she glanced up, and they were looking into each other’s eyes. Dave quickly looked down and walked to the street.

He took a left and walked away from her apartment. He didn’t like the idea of being seen, but he felt he had enough information on her movements. He decided Saturday mornings were perfect. She always left about nine to shop. Saturday nights were iffy because she sometimes worked, went on a date, or stayed home.

Next Saturday around eight-thirty, he would be at her apartment. Also, since she didn’t have to be at her regular job, she would not be missed for a couple of days. He would be long gone by then.

The week crept by like a cat sneaking up on a mouse. On Friday night he went over the things in his tool box: duct tape, rope, two hunting knives, two straight razors, and a bottle of acid. cat house

Everything I’ll need to take care of that bitch.

He smiled as he thought about his plan. It was so simple, yet foolproof. He knew how to get into the basement of her apartment building. He would get to the main breaker box and flip the breaker of her apartment three times. This would happen about eight-thirty. Then, wearing his fake electrician’s uniform, he would knock on her door and announce he was sent by the management to check out her apartment for electrical problems. Once she opened the door, she would be his.

Saturday morning, everything went as planned until he got to her door. He knocked on the door and heard her inside, talking through the door. “Who is it?”

“Electrician. Management sent me to check out your apartment.”

“Great. Listen, just a minute. I’m just getting ready to jump in the shower. I’ll unlock the door. Give me a few seconds to get back in the bathroom.”

Dave smiled.

She was really going to make this easy. And she was going to be naked!

He heard the lock being opened. He heard her say, “Ok, come on in.” He heard the bathroom door close. He opened the front door and stepped in. The shower was running. He relocked the door. The mouse had now entered the trap. It was only a matter of time before the spring snapped!
knifeDave walked to the door of the bathroom. His heart was beating faster, and he was salivating furiously. He slowly turned the door knob. The door swung open. He could barely see for all the steam. The shower was straight ahead of him. He took a hunting knife from a pocket of his overalls. He slowly stepped towards the shower. He gripped the side of the shower curtain. He yanked it back. At the same time, a fully clothed Jada stepped from behind the door. She was wielding a wooden baseball bat. She swung and hit Dave in the kidneys. He screamed and bent forward, but did not fall. Still in a crouched position, he turned back to face her, holding the knife. She pepper sprayed his face. He fell to the floor.

What happened to him next was a blur. His eyes were burning and his lungs were screaming for air. He knew she was still in the room, but had no real idea of exactly where she was or what she was doing. He felt her grab one of his arms and tried to pull away, but got a knee in the crotch. His next recollection was of water being thrown in his face and that the shower was no longer running.

When his eyes cleared, Jada was kneeling down by his feet and going through his tool box. He started to move towards her, but discovered he couldn’t. His hands were taped behind him, his feet were taped together, and tape was across his mouth. A rope was knotted around his neck and tied to a radiator. His eyes opened wider when he saw her looking at one of his straight razors.

“And just what did you have in mind for this?” she asked when she realized he was looking at her. “Oh, I forgot. You can’t talk, can you?” she said sweetly. She turned the razor around so the light glinted off of it. “Well, I can think of a couple of things I could cut off with this thing. Probably make a nice clean cut, though. That would be too easy.” She picked up the bottle of acid and wiggled it back and forth to make sure he saw it. “Maybe just take this little bottle of acid and pour it down the front of your pants.” Dave started to squirm, but felt the knot tightening around his neck. “If you get that rope tight enough and think I’m going to take it off, you’re crazier than I think you are. I’ll sit right here and watch you strangle yourself.”

Dave was lying on his side. Jada stood up. “Just in case you’re wondering, I noticed you stalking me a month ago. Of course, the police aren’t much help at that time. They need something to happen first. Well, I guess something has happened.” She kicked him as hard as she could in the crotch. He passed out from the pain. Jada walked into the kitchen and dialed 911.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our mystery podcast!

Gary R. Hoffman has published over three hundred short stories, non-fiction articles, poetry, and essays in various publications. He has placed over one-hundred and fifty items in contests. He taught school for twenty-five years and lived on the road in a motor home for fourteen years. He now resides in Okeechobee, Florida.

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