Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The theme this week, for Valentines’ Day, was My Steamy Valentine. We were supposed to write a story about love and romance. Ah, love. Such a misunderstood and elusive emotion. I offer a glimpse into the romantic exploits of a couple on the edge of commitment.  Well, definitely on the edge...


Sylvia was feeling quite apprehensive about this evening’s possible outcome. It was her fifth date with Burt Downy, the Stockroom Manager at Tilson’s Market, and if the past was any indication, tonight would be when he made his move. At the conclusion of the fifth date had been when all the others before him had made their moves on her--all eleven of them, in fact. But, she had been alert, aware, and on guard as Mother had instructed her to be, and she had escaped their clutches unscathed. All eleven times. She hoped with all her heart that Burt was different, but considering that he had requested she prepare a home-cooked meal that the two of them could enjoy privately in her dining room, the prognosis was dim at best. He wanted to be alone with her in her home on their fifth date. Oh, how history repeats itself. Yet, still she hoped…

Burt was ten minutes early, but he knew how important punctuality was to Sylvia. He did not want to disappoint her--not tonight. He needed her to be completely at ease and without suspicion. One opportunity was all he would have, and everything about tonight must be flawless. He had already experienced this evening over and over in his mind, meticulously planning every word, every action. All that was left was to fit Sylvia into the scene. She didn’t know it yet, but soon it would all be very clear. Soon. Burt rang Sylvia’s doorbell.

When Sylvia opened the door, Burt noticed her blouse was buttoned up all the way to the collar. Her sleeves were long, with folded cuffs covering her wrists, and her skirt completely hid her feet. All this time we’ve been together and she’s still so proper, he thought. Interesting. Sylvia pulled Burt in and pushed him into the dining room.

“Dinner’s all ready,” she said, shoving him into his seat. Best to just go along and try to throw him off his game. “You see, it’s all on the table, nice and hot, right from the oven. I made roast chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, rolls, apple pie, and my special iced tea that you love so much. You can’t get a more home-cooked meal than that, can you?”

Burt was impressed and knew he had made the right decision.

“Sylvia, before we have our meal, there are a few things I need to say to you and something I’ve wanted to do since the first time I saw you. I don’t want you to say anything until I’m finished, okay? I’m already more nervous than I thought I would be.”

So now it begins, Sylvia thought, giving orders, and the desire for complete control. Textbook typical.

“Sylvia, the first time our eyes met, I felt a stirring in my soul that I’ve never felt before. I will admit I’ve dated a few times, but it generally didn’t turn into anything. I’d pretty much given up on finding the perfect woman. But then, I met you, and I knew you were the one.”

So, she thought, I wonder what it was about me that slotted me in--made me fit the pattern--made me THE ONE.

“I know this is only our fifth date,” Burt continued, “but I am certain I want to look no further. I don’t want you to look any further either and tonight, I’m going to make sure that the thought of seeing anyone else never crosses your mind.”

Oh my God, she thought. It’s really true. He’s going to do it. This is really going to happen. Again.

"I’m rambling, I know, so let me get to the point. Sylvia Potter, I have a surprise for you that I’m sure you never expected. Now, just close your eyes and…”

“And WHAT? You’ll tie my hands behind my back and drag me to the bedroom and ravage me and then slit my throat from ear to ear? Or maybe you’d rather strangle me with my own pantyhose? Well, brother, you can’t kill me with those because I’m wearing sandals. Outsmarted you on that one, didn’t I, mister man?”

Burt was confused. What was Sylvia going on about?

“Sweetheart, what are you saying? All I want to do is…”

“I know what you want to do. You came here to kill me in my own house just like all the others wanted to do. But I figured them out and I figured you out too. ‘I’m the one’ and “you’re going to make sure I don’t want to see anyone else’. I know what that means. Choose, then stalk, then murder. What kind of a fool do you take me for?”

“Murder? How can you think such a thing? Why, I would never harm a hair on your head. I don’t understand you at all.”

Burt drank half his glass of iced tea.

“Please, let me explain. I…” Burt grabbed the table to stop himself from falling off the chair. Why was he suddenly dizzy.

“I mean, I wanted…“ Why did his head feel like it was going to explode. He’d never had a headache in his entire life.

“What is hap…” Burt was finding it impossible to get a breath.

Burt clutched at his heart, slid from the chair, and when he collapsed dead on the carpet, a small box fell from his shirt pocket. Sylvia picked it up and opened it.

“Oh my,” she said. “What a beautiful sparkly ring. The stone isn’t quite as large as most of the others, but it’ll do. Splitting it would make a pair of lovely earrings. Imagine him thinking that I’d wear jewelry that belonged to his dead mother or whoever while he was making me breathe my last breath. Where on earth do these men get their crazy ideas?”

She hoped Stan Burgess, who re-shelved books at the downtown branch of the library wouldn’t get any crazy ideas. Their first date was scheduled for tomorrow night and he was planning to take her out for burgers and fries and then to a movie at the Multi-Plex. She’d have to tidy up the house, especially the dining room, so she could invite him in for coffee and cookies after. There was plenty of time though. First, she’d enjoy the delightful meal she’d worked all afternoon on. Of course, she’d put on a pot of coffee for herself as a beverage. After all, the cyanide she’d mixed in with the iced tea wouldn’t go too well with apple pie…


  1. Dear Lord in Heaven, dating in this day and age is a cutthroat affair.

    Great story!

  2. Beach, Thanks so much for your comments. Glad you enjoyed this. Yes, indeedy. This whole love and romance thing can definitely at times be hazardous to your health!

  3. Loved the beginning - who is stalking who on this date? And I do agree with Sylvia, cyanide is not the best pairing with homemade apple pie... Great one!

  4. Ingrid, So happy you enjoyed this one. What a blast this prompt was. I realize I didn't get all lovey dovey, but what's that they say about being in the eye of the beholder? One does have to wonder who the stalker actually is and what happened to the other eleven? Some things are best left unsaid, I believe. At least she made him dinner. He never got the chance to eat it, but still... Perhaps her next date, who is actually number 13, maybe he'll luck out. Hope so, for his sake!

  5. Oh, this is so, so dark. A serial killer of innocent potential serial killers. She's gotten away with 12 now. Wonder how many it will take to get caught.

  6. This was fantastic Joyce. I saw the proposal coming, but not the ending! Loved the writing and tone too. There was something about the style that reminded me of Flannary O'Conner. Nice work indeed!

  7. Very intriguing. A deadly woman. In all honesty, I didn't see this coming. I'm intrigued. I'd love to know the source of her paranoia, her suspicion that these men are trying to kill her. You've created a very interesting character I want to know more about. Thanks for a great read!

  8. Dark and gritty... yet, with a thread of humor (dark) running through it.

    This is a fantastic story, Joyce! The way your mind works gives me a little shiver... don't stop!! Lol!

    Brilliant ending... I was not expecting that! Sylvia is one very disturbed lady... and, I use the term 'lady' loosely... haha!

    What an absolute pleasure it is to read this!

    I believe arsenic would be a better pairing with apple pie. ;-)

    Brava, Joyce.... brava!

  9. QS, Glad you enjoyed it. So far, so good for her. Perhaps number 13 will be her lucky number and she'll find true love, or perhaps... Who can say!

  10. Ray, Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad you liked this one. The comparison to O'Connor was such a compliment. It's my understanding she loved writing about misfits and enjoyed creating 'grotesque' characters. It doesn't get more fun than that! Thanks much!

  11. Jason, Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed this. One has to wonder how she got it in her head that they were all predators. Poor fellas. They never stood a chance. Welcome and step right in, said the spider to the fly...

  12. Veronica, I so appreciate your comments. Shivers are what I aim for! I really wanted a zinger for an ending. Looks like I reached my goal. Arsenic with apple pie? Hmmmmm...