So far, coffee with EJ reminded me of an awful blind date. I didn’t know her, she talked too much about herself and her accomplishments, and she expressed no interest in hearing anything I had to say. I couldn’t help looking at her facial features. My mother would have said “I hope she has a nice personality” meaning she’s not going to get anywhere on her looks. Both of my parents were prolific with little sayings like that; some funny, some truthful, and some unkind. They often played in my head alongside my own thoughts like crossed radio signals. Normally I find a gift in all of God’s creatures but with this person, it was a stretch to see anything pleasing once she opened her mouth and began to talk.

Her thin lips, hollow cheeks, and boney chest would indicate that she was slim but she was not. She was the epitome of the female pear shape with hips that must have been three times as wide as her waist. Her mismatched eyes caused me to soften on her a bit as I wondered how she was treated as a youngster. Being a weird child myself, I should have felt a strong kinship. Instead, I thought it was lucky that she was smart and educated because her social skills were completely lacking.

I came back from scrutinizing EJ to find her ranting about her college experience. It was one of those “too much information” conversations and, to top things off, she was lying to me about her academic and social successes in college. I looked at the wall clock and we were only fifteen minutes into our planned hour. I thought of all the stimulating and interesting conversations I had with a variety of female friends at Mill Bay Espresso and wished this was one of those moments. I wondered why Ginger had not warned me about this women’s narcissistic personality.

“Well, enough about me. I understand you have some questions” she said. I think she caught my glazed over expression and eyes darting to the wall clock.

In the briefest terms possible, I explained my nightmare and my concern that it could come to fruition. I expected this person would reassure me that the town was safe and then would ask me a few questions about the house and the pets I described in my dream. Instead, she told me she would do some further research and get back with me. I wasn’t sure if she was ultra professional or just looking for an excuse to meet again. 

“So, are you dating anybody?” 

Her directness stunned me but I was happy she finally included me in the conversation. I replied “lately I’ve spent a little time with an old friend. Not sure where it is leading exactly. I’m not even sure I could deal with a fisherman’s schedule to tell you the truth.” I shocked myself with that disclosure.

“Oh, I love dating fishermen because it allows you so much freedom, if you know what I mean” she said with a wink.

“No, I am not sure what you mean.”

“Of course you do, sweetie. You are too old to be that naïve.” After that comment I began looking for a plausible reason to cut this meeting short by forty two minutes. “When the cats away……….” I cut her off.

            “Not me. I only date one person at a time. It is too, too, uh I just can’t think of the right word, too much work perhaps, to try to date two people at once.” What I didn’t say was that it also seemed deceitful. I wasn’t going to share that with my gift, dating one person was exhausting and sometimes disappointing enough.

            “Well, you are missing out. Of course we both know there is another advantage to dating a fisherman just back from an opener.” Again, she spoke as though we had so much in common that I would understand.

            “I’m afraid you’ve got me again” I conceded.

            “Oh, come on” she demanded. “You know how they come back with a big wad of money. What half-attractive woman here hasn’t used her assets to get him to spend a little of that dough? A little wining and dining, a gift here or there, but you have to get them right off the boat before they meet with their accountants who will have them save every penny for a bad season.” With that last statement, she tapped on her tourmaline ring. I wasn’t sure which was more shocking – that she would use a fisherman this way or that she considered herself a half-attractive woman.

            “Where did you say you were from?” It was the only thing I could think of to change the subject. Narcissus answered that she was from upstate New York. I should have left the subject changed but I felt the need to defend my fishermen friends.

            “Must be different where you are from because around here, most of the fishermen act as professionals. They live on a percentage of their income, pay expenses with some, and then reinvest into their business and boat as well. Or at least that is my experience.”

            Despite our difference of opinion on this subject, she began sharing names and her experiences with me causing me to squirm in my seat. I don’t know if she knew or cared, but a couple of the men on her list were married, family men.

            “Well, I have to give you that one” I said as she mentioned Hope Wilson’s older brother. “He still lives with his parents so I guess most of his crew share could be disposable income.”

            She winked. “Yes, but he has not been as fun since they found his sister dead. I don’t know what’s with my luck lately but he is the second guy I was cozying up to who had a tragedy and ruined our relationship at the get-go. I was really into that tall, blonde Guy Hanson but it’s like he has gone into hiding since his Aunt disappeared. I am hoping to lend him a shoulder to cry on tonight after the memorial.”

            Her statement was such a punch to the stomach that I almost doubled over. Could she possibly be the reason Guy was taking things so slow with me? I felt like I was going to scream or vomit so I thought it best to leave. It’s like my brain went on auto pilot and in conjunction with my mouth, gave me the perfect out. “That just reminded me. I have to go. I have to help with the memorial. Oh my, I forgot all about it. I am late” I said as I threw down an ample tip and left this vile woman stunned and with her mouth gapping open.

            “I’m so stupid, so stupid, so stupid!” I screamed as I pounded the steering wheel on the way home. Tears streamed down my eyes as I realized just how much affection I felt for Guy. It was more than attraction; it had been a budding romance, at least for me.

            When the tears dried up enough to talk without sniffing, I opened my cell phone and dialed Ginger. I needed to know more about this woman. The ring was very strange; it was more like a siren. I looked in the rearview mirror to see if my mascara had run from the tears and saw a car with flashing lights behind me. I was being pulled over by the police.

            “Great” I said out loud and wondered if this day could possibly get any worse. I had no idea if I was speeding because I was thinking of my own personal situation and not the speed limits. I wondered if that cell phone ban had passed and I was being pulled over for dialing behind the wheel. I made a note to pay more attention to the news.

            I grabbed the registration from the glove box, pulled out my driver’s license, and turned off the Explorer just in time to see Herbie Carmichael bend down into my window.

            “Brinkley, how are you?” he asked.

            “Fine. Have I done something wrong?”

            “Not really although I have been behind you for a couple minutes and your speed has been erratic. I pulled you over because I need to talk to you. I didn’t want to follow you all the way home.”

            “Talk to me? What about?” I inquired.

            “Well, this is going to sound awfully strange” he warned “so I wanted to talk to you in person to make sure you were cool with the idea. How about you follow me to the diner?”

            “OK, but I have to warn you, I had a terrible night’s sleep and my day has been equally awful so far. I don’t believe that I am fit company.”

            “No problem. When you hear what I have to say, your mind will be a million miles away from whatever is bothering you today.” He emphasized the million miles with a smirk.

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