Emma might have known Brian would become a stalker. Her phone lit up with hundreds of calls and texts at all hours. His footsteps kept pace with hers on dark streets, she glimpsed his car in her rear view mirror, and woke in the night to smell his cigarette smoke drifting through her bedroom window. She told herself Brian would soon tire of expending so much effort for no pay-off. But he didn’t.
She called him and suggested they meet and talk things out. They sat across from each other in the diner booth, thick white coffee mugs in hand, and she said, “Brian, this has to stop. We’re not dating anymore.”
“But we should be,” he said. “We’re perfect for each other. You just don’t realize it yet.”
“I meant it when I said we should move on. I’m not going to change my mind. Find another girl. You’re a nice-looking man; you have a lot to offer.”
“And I’m offering it to you.” He wore a look of mulish obstinacy.
“I’m telling you as clearly as I can; please believe me. It’s over. I want you to leave me alone.”
He smiled indulgently, as if she’d said something funny. “Oh, no. No, no. It’s not over and I won’t ever leave you alone. You just need to come to your senses, and you will, eventually.”
Brian was as good as his word; he didn’t leave her alone. Sleepless in her silent apartment, her fear was gradually replaced by anger. How dare he harass her like this? An idea began to take shape. What if she became the hunter and Brian the hunted?
By the next morning, she had a plan. She phoned her boss to say she needed some personal time. Then she approached the concierge in Brian’s apartment building, a man who’d too often borne the brunt of Brian’s ill-temper.
“All I need is for his door to be left open tomorrow afternoon. I’ll make it worth your while.”
The concierge looked skeptical. It could be more than his job was worth to help this girl. And yet, he remembered a hundred insults that he’d taken from Brian, unable to say anything in return except “Yes, sir.” How could he pass up an opportunity for revenge, even second-hand revenge?
“Sometimes people forget to lock their doors,” he said, as a hundred dollar bill changed hands.
The next day, she slipped into Brian’s studio apartment, noting with satisfaction that he’d left his laptop on the table. Pulling a perforated metal can, a length of wire, a screwdriver, a couple of screws, an umbrella and a lighter from her backpack, she went to work.
When she was finished, she positioned the laptop beneath the room’s sprinkler head, opened the umbrella, flicked her lighter and held it up toward the sensor. In seconds, a downpour doused the room, soaking the bed, carpet, furniture, drapes, and best of all, Brian’s laptop.
But she wasn’t leaving, not quite yet. She slipped into a utility closet across the hall, leaving the door open an inch. She didn’t have to wait long before Brian appeared carrying a bag of fast food. She heard him mutter when he found the door unlocked, and the crash as he fell over the trip wire she’d strung at ankle level. The carpet squished beneath him.
“What the…? What happened in here?” he yelled.
He roared when he discovered live bait wriggling on the carpet. She slipped along behind him as he marched angrily to the lobby.
“Max, what the hell! Why was my door unlocked? Who was in my apartment today?” he demanded of the innocent-looking concierge.
“No one that I know of, sir,” Max said. “Could you have forgotten to lock the door when you left this morning?”
“No, I did not forget to lock my door, you incompetent dolt,” Brian said through clenched teeth. “Everything’s soaked, my laptop’s ruined, and there are worms all over the carpet.” His face wrinkled in disgust as he pulled a pink wiggler from his hair. “I’m going to the gym to shower and change. You’d better have a clean-up crew working in there when I get back.”
Brian stomped to his car, turned the key and placed both hands on the steering wheel. That’s when he discovered the Gorilla Glue.
Emma stepped into his field of vision and blew him a kiss. “Enjoying the sushi?”
She never saw him again.