by Than Pence
As I'm shopping, I see my stalker, yet again!
|I turn down aisle twelve in Wal-Mart and he’s right there, again.
I immediately turn my shopping cart around and assume that anyone else would think I just didn’t need anything on that aisle. But he has to know that I’m avoiding him. He’s been creeping me out lately.
I see him everywhere, it seems. In parking lots, in stores, in restaurants. Once, I could’ve sworn that I saw him leaving a bathroom that I had just vacated. It was in Pilot, a large gas station, and I was paying for a Diet Dr. Pepper. He just waltzed out as if nothing was unusual about having been in there with me, unbeknownst to me.
Now he’s in Wal-Mart with me again. I pull out my cell phone and contemplate calling my wife to tell her about it. I knew she’ll just huff and tell me to call the police. She’s been telling me that for a month now, ever since I started seeing him everywhere.
I also think about calling Jake, my best friend. But I know he’ll joke about asking for the guy’s number, and that’s something I don’t want to do.
The guy in question looks frazzled. His hair is graying and looks like he tries to fix it, but fails and only manages to tame parts while other portions jut out at wild angles. His glasses are thick and make it look like his eyes are always bulging. He doesn’t have a beard but he will in a week if he doesn’t shave. It used to disturb me when I saw him. Now it just annoys me.
I put my cell phone back and resume shopping, knowing that I’m going to come across the frazzled looking stranger in a couple more aisles. My skin starts to crawl and I feel my lips drying, bringing me to lick them continually. I push my glasses back up; they slide down constantly.
I look behind me and, just as I’m rounding the end of another aisle, I see his empty shopping cart slowly inching around the corner. I see him now as a startled predator who knows that his prey is wary of the situation and he, the hunter, must take caution lest he lose his prize. Thinking of myself as prey really weirds me out and I decide to leave my shopping cart in the aisle and attempt grocery shopping another day, when Jessica can come with. He never comes around when Jessica is with me.
Feeling flushed, I walk quickly back to my car. When I get in, I see my stalker coming towards me. His green overcoat is too large. The sleeves extend well beyond his hands and I imagine that he can hide any number of weapons inside. A glint from the fluorescent lighting bounces off of something in his left hand and my heart jumps into my throat. I start the engine and back out of the spot just as he’s about to reach my door.
The angle I take to back out causes me to hit the man, an impact I feel through the steering wheel and in my hands. It makes me feel sick to my stomach. When I look outside the car, the man is sprawled on the pavement, hidden in the shadow of the car I parked next to. Someone lets out a scream and I get out of the car.
On the ground next to the man is a fat, metal pen and a worn notepad. I can’t read the scribbles but see a small sketch of a man’s face. He has glasses on and is licking his lips. I look at my stalker and ask who he is.
“Is your name Simon?” is all he says.
I frown at him. “No, it’s not.” I decide not to reveal my real name.
The man on the ground groans and tries to turn over. I hear something crack in his chest and feel guilty about hitting him. Through clenched teeth, he says, “I named you Simon in my story.”
“The way you lick you lips… and push your glasses up… that’s how Simon does it. But he’s an… elusive character.” The man spits up something dark and continues. “I’ve been trying to see what else he does, but he has eluded me. Until I saw you last month. I found out that Simon is married… has a joker of a best friend… and doesn’t mind grocery shopping… while his wife and friend screw.”
I feel my face rush with blood as this man is describing not some character, but me. “What’re you talking about, guy? I’m not Simon.”
The man smiles and turns onto his back once more. His teeth are outlined with blood and his eyes look small without the glasses: small and weak. I can’t see where his glasses went. “You aren’t, and you are. You are you and you are him.”
I don’t know what else to do so I call the police and hope the cameras in the parking lot help prove that this was an accident. I then call Jessica and tell her that she has to always shop for groceries with me. The man’s words tickle my mind and I realize it’s because, while talking to Jessica, I can hear something in her voice.
And I hear a stifled version of Jake’s stupid laugh in the immediate background.
Word Count: 904