Larry wasn’t sure he had heard him right and peeked out from behind his newspaper. The frizzy haired man, aside from the hair, of course, didn’t look like a psychopath or a serial killer, but Larry assumed that they never did. The man was in his mid to late thirties and sat next to a pretty blonde woman of similar age who sported a pony tail. The two of them, Larry noticed, were comfortable with each other, but not overly familiar, perhaps work friends, or maybe they had a common friend and had met a few times.
Larry was a people watcher and an experienced eavesdropper, and that woman was smitten with the man, despite the crazy hair. Larry looked around the bus, nobody else seemed to have noticed his admission of guilt, and the woman still looked at him with those big, expectant eyes.
“I mean,” he continued, “I put her down in the basement like three days ago and haven’t even thought about her since and there’s a deadline coming up.”
Larry sunk back behind the paper, but by no means did he resume reading. He wished he was in an old movie where he could get away with cutting eye holes in the paper, but god knew that he stood out enough as it was just because he was reading the paper. Most people didn’t get their news that way anymore, but Larry liked a hard copy better.
“Oh come on,” the woman said, “take a night off.”
Larry had to chance peeking around the side of the paper again. The woman had put her hand on the man’s arm and looked at him alluringly. The man looked at her, his face pinched in struggle.
“I really shouldn’t, but I’ll tell you what,” the man said brushing his mop away from his face, “I’ll go home and see how quickly I can get the job done, then give you a call, we can go get that drink.”
“Maybe,” Larry thought, “Maybe I misheard.” He settled back down behind his paper again and tried to think of what the man might have said instead.
“I mean, all I really have to do is kill her, hack her up and stick her in the bag… probably in that order,” the man said in a tone that reminded Larry of the way two people might discuss topping options for their pizza. “I’ll send her to the bottom of the bay tomorrow night.”
Larry’s heart jumped into his throat. There was no mistaking that one.
“Really?” the woman asked.
“Yeah, I’ll need a couple hours though, not really something I should be rushing, you know? and I still need to do a little research on how I’m going to do it exactly,” the crazy haired man said. There was rustling and Larry peeked around the edge of his newspaper again to see that the man was standing up. The bus was coming to a stop. “Call you in a bit then?” the man asked.
She batted her eyelashes at him and giggled like a girl much younger than she appeared to be, “Perfect.”
The man sitting next to Larry leaned in and said, “You’re blowing your cover there, Sherlock.”
Larry looked over at him with surprise. He was a heavy-set older man with a pair of glasses perched on the tip of his nose and a golf cap settled down on his head.
“Excuse me?” Larry asked.
In a sub-rosa tone, the man said, “You are staring at those two and it’s pretty obvious, he hates that.”
Larry had thought he was being relatively slick, and this revelation miffed him a little. “Well,” he replied, “did you hear what he was saying?”
The man chuckled for a long moment, then pointed at the man with the crazy hair. Larry looked up to see that the man was stepping off the bus and the girl was peering through the window after him, neither seemed to have noticed the two men talking about them. “You have no idea who that is, do you?”
“A guy with a girl tied up in his basement?” Larry whispered harshly.
“No,” the heavy-set man said as he pulled a little paperback book from the bag sitting at his side, the book was black with red and white lettering, but he didn’t see what it was called. The man flipped it over and pointed to a black and white image on the back cover. It was an image of the man that had just stepped off the bus, ridiculous poof of hair and all. “That was Ein Willington.”
Larry recognized the name, the man with the crazy hair was a best selling author. The pieces started to settle into place.
“He rides this bus once a week,” the older man said, “I have been carrying this copy of his book around for a month, hoping to get up the nerve to ask him to sign it, but he said in an interview once that he hates it when people stare at him on the bus.”
“So he’s probably not a psychopath,” Larry stated, looking at his feet. As he started laughing he said, “that makes more sense.”
The man sitting next to him joined him in chuckling as the bus pulled away from the stop.
Larry ran through the entire conversation in his head, it actually made more sense than his original assumption. He was writing a scene in which a character killed a girl that was tied up in his basement.
“Thanks,” Larry said to the man, handing the book back with a grin, then returned to staring at the newspaper and feeling like an idiot gagged by his own foot.
As Ein entered his house, he was still smiling. The woman from his publisher’s office that he ran into on the bus was pretty. He was excited about the possibilities for the evening. He walked to the table and dropped the small stack of mail he was carrying, intending to sort through it later. For now, though, he had things to do if he was going to get laid that evening. He walked back to the front door and verified that it was locked, grabbed his laptop from the living room, then made his way down into the basement.
The light flickered to life over the desk in the corner where he did most of his writing. It was a dark and slightly dirty space, but for some reason he liked writing there. Perhaps it helped him to tap into the dark and dirty corners of his mind, not that he needed much help with that.
He set his laptop down on the desk that had helped him pen four best sellers and popped the computer open. He pushed the power button on the laptop and grabbed a small bundle out of his desk drawer before turning around.
“Alright, let’s make this quick,” he said aloud, “I’ve got a hot date tonight.”
The naked woman bound in the corner squirmed against the wall, her sobbing, bloodied face hidden in her hair.
“Ready to do some research?” he asked, unwrapping the bundle to reveal a long, thin fillet knife.