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the lurker

He watched her from the safety of the vantage point he had chosen for himself. He recognized the dejected walk she had adopted, hands buried in her pockets, head tilted downward, watching the pavement as she moved along. There was little question in his mind as to the source of her sullen mood - he had seen it so many times before.

From the time she had been a little girl, her father alone could unleash this unhappiness upon her. The keen disappointment in her eyes, her face full of clouds....he had seen it. A missed date, a harsh word here, another promise broken there; why did Mr. Parker insist upon treating her this way? Whatever she had done, she didn’t deserve it. But then, he knew, she had done nothing, except remind the old man of Catherine.

She reminded them all of Catherine.

He followed her from a discreet distance, and so devoured by her darkened mood was she, she failed to notice the figure in black shadowing her every move. He longed to go to her, to tell her that it didn’t matter what her father thought, that she shouldn’t measure her own worth by the man’s whims. He wanted to hold her in his arms, and tell her that everything was going to be all right. But he couldn’t. It now seemed that too much time, and too much hurt had passed between them, and he could no longer face her as a friend.

He wasn’t sure exactly when it had happened, the transition between childhood and the hell in which they were now enveloped; but the when did not matter, it had happened. He watched her as she passed through a park and paused near the children’s playground. She stopped to witness a father playing with his daughter on a swing. The wistful smile that turned the corners of her mouth did not fool him; some part of her felt nothing but jealousy and hatred toward the child. It would eventually be her undoing.

Her reaction saddened him.

After a few minutes, she moved on, silently brushing away the tears that had formed in her eyes. He followed her back home and waited for her to go inside before he cautiously approached the house. He knew she would go into the kitchen, pour herself a drink, then settle on the day bed by the window.

He waited until he knew she would be there, then he moved around to that side of the house, and having a clear view of her through the window, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed in a number.

It rang four times before she finally picked it up.


A smile pulled at his lips, "Hello, Miss Parker..."

Her already annoyed tone turned even more caustic at the sound of his voice, "What the hell do you want?"

"Why do you still let him get to you?"

"I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"Your father, Miss Parker....what did he do this time? Stand you up for lunch, or did he belittle you for having feelings?"

She remained silent, and through the window, he could see she was crying. A pang struck him; causing her more sadness was not what he wanted.

"Miss Parker.....I didn’t mean to make you cry."

Parker turned quickly and looked out the window, scanning the area for her prey, "You son-of-a-bitch....where are you?"

"Close by."

"Damn you."

"I just wanted you to know you weren’t alone."

The sincerity of his words touched her more deeply then she would ever admit even to herself; and she would not answer him.

"I’ll be around for awhile if you need to talk....just hit redial."

"Kindness.......that will be your undoing Jarod. All I have to do is hit redial and put a trace on it to find you."

"And all I have to do is throw the cell phone away and buy a new one with Centre funds." He paused, gripping the phone tightly, "But we both know you won’t do it."

She closed her eyes; he was right.

The tears began to fall slowly down her cheeks, "Leave me alone, Jarod. I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone."

For a long moment, he couldn’t speak, then finally, "I don’t believe you, Miss Parker."

Jarod put his cell phone in his pocket and disappeared through the foliage of her backyard. In time, perhaps they could find their way back to each other; but that time was not now. He pushed further into his jacket and shoved his hands in his pockets. The air was getting cold.

The End

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