This happened last week. I had gone out to eat after work at a great place downtown to celebrate closing a big deal. I had just sat down in the booth and was looking at the menu when she came up to me.
“Hello there,” the voice seemed to come out of nowhere. “Welcome to Carmine’s, my name is Theresa. What can I get for you today?”
I looked up from the menu and was met with a pleasant sight. The girl was, to put it mildly, quite attractive. Perhaps I was just imagining it, but I could have sworn I detected a faint blush appear on her cheeks when she looked at me. If I was right, I couldn’t help finding it endearing.
“Yes, I will have the Chicken Marsala and a side of mashed redskin potatoes,” I said almost without thinking.
I was a bit preoccupied by taking in her appearance. About 5’2, with an athletic body, she was dressed in what I would call casually classy clothes—a white blouse, expensive black jeans, and purple high top sneakers. Her long blond hair was lightly curled, but what really got my attention was her eyes. They were the most stunning blue eyes I had ever seen. In fact, I don’t think ‘blue’ adequately describes them. At the moment, she was efficiently scribbling down my order. I am not sure if she noticed, but she let out a barely audible giggle.
“You got it, I’ll put that right in for you,” she gave a warm smile as she walked away. Right about then is when I got that feeling. You know the one I mean. I tried to ignore it, but has that ever worked for anyone? I hadn’t been in a steady relationship or anything like that for quite a while. My last relationship ended a bit badly, so I wasn’t exactly keen to try dating again yet. Yet somehow, there was something inherently appealing about this girl. Before I knew it, she had bustled back to the table with some water for me.
“Here you go, your order should be out shortly.”
The remark was followed by a warm smile. Probably just being nice, fishing for tips. Happened all the time.
“Thank you,” was all I said and with that, I was left alone again. Oddly enough, part of me seemed to want her to come back. No doubt because I was hungry and wanted to eat. She was just your average 20-year-old waitress, nothing to get to excited about. But tell that to my nerves. I sat there, alone with my thoughts for what seemed like an eternity when I saw she was walking towards me with food. For a moment, I had forgotten I ordered anything.
“Can I get you anything else?”
It smelled and looked wonderful. Nothing like a freshly cooked meal that didn’t come out of a greasy paper bag once in a while.
“No, this is great. Thank you.”
“Great, let me know if you need anything else,” I wasted no time at all before promptly digging in. It was great; chicken cooked beautifully, potatoes well mashed. In no time at all, I finished and she came back.
“How was it?” She couldn’t possibly be smiling warmly at me with a hopeful look that made me feel warm inside.
“It was very good. Since I have to be heading home, could I get the check please?”
“Oh sure,” she reached into her red apron and pulled out the check. “Here you go, I’ll be right back.”
I got out my wallet to pay the bill. At a glance, I noticed the price was cheaper than you would think for a place like this. But what caught my attention was the bottom of the check, where there was a number written. It was a phone number, coupled with a note.
The note was written in neat, feminine handwriting. Guess I am more observant than I thought. Somehow, I managed to contain my excitement. I put the check in my pocket while getting out the cash I needed. After a few minutes, Theresa was back. Her smile was perfectly in place, but underneath it was something else. Dare I call it nerves?
“Here you are, no change,” I said while extending her the money. A man should always be a good tipper for good service, regardless of how attractive their server is.
“Oh, thank you so much,” came the earnest reply.
“No, thank you. I will give you a shout out soon.”
I felt a smile unfold its way across my face. I saw her flush at this.
“Alex by the way,” I added while extending my hand to her. She responded in kind. Her hand felt soft and warm in my grasp.
“Nice to officially meet you, and you know I’m Theresa,” she added in a slightly breathless tone.
“Of course. Now I would love to stay but I have to head out now. But you’ll hear from me soon.”
“Good.” she said quietly and with that, I left. For the rest of the night I felt slightly victorious. It had been quite a long time since I had actually been interested in a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t blind to attractive women and all that good stuff. But ever since my last relationship, if you could stand to call it that, I had been avoiding the whole dating thing. But this girl just seemed so open and warm. Anyone could act nice, but when someone was genuinely interested in you, you could feel it. The feeling you got was undeniable.
Her number was practically burning a hole in my pocket. I admonished myself for getting overexcited, but you can imagine how much that worked. Tomorrow night, that was when to do it. I felt a slight sense of adrenaline every time I saw the note sitting on my coffee table. Finally, it was the following night. After added her to my contacts, I sent a greeting text.
“Hey it’s Alex, or as you know me, the hottest customer you have ever seen.”
I turned on the TV and tried to not feel nervous as I waited for her reply. Of course, I would find myself glancing at my phone periodically. By periodically, I mean every 30 seconds. About 10 minutes later, I heard the telltale buzz of an incoming message. I opened it to see the name Theresa. A slightly exhilarated rush took over as I opened it.
“Hi there, it’s the hottest waitress you’ve ever seen. What’s going on?”
The text came with a smiley emoticon. It matched the one on my face.
“You got me there. Oh, I’m just here in my underground cave, waiting for an attractive young lady such as yourself to entertain me with your presence. And you?”
Her response came pretty quick.
“How very sophisticated of you. I was just working on an essay for class. I can’t go on waiting tables forever, even if it means flirting with hot guys such as yourself for tips.”
“I know, I stopped trying to flirt for money ever since that incident with the married woman when I worked at Pizza Shack in College. What are you studying?”
“Damn, that does happen. Psychology, I want to go into counseling. What do you do for work?”
“Advertising, so I could really use some counseling myself. Or isn’t there some law against seducing patients?”
“I think that’s only for paying clients, so I think we are good. Advertising huh? That’s pretty cool.”
“Yeah, I am practically Batman. I aim to please, so what do you do when you aren’t psychoanalyzing people or waiting on people?”
“I love to sit at home and watch bad movies. You know the kind so bad that you find thrilling but never admit to others you like them?”
I did know what she meant. My personal favorite bad movie was Fright Night from the 80s. At this point, I was pleasantly surprised to see the conversation going smoothly. Too many people couldn’t hold a conversation to save their life.
“Oh yeah I do. Well we can always watch a movie at my place, and this time, I could bring you food. I’m sure I’d be a better server anyways.”
“Lies, you could never out serve me. But challenge accepted.”
Victory was mine.
“Ok, this Friday at 8. I’ll pick you up.”
“Wonderful, I’ll see you then. In the meantime, I have to go to bed. Goodnight Batman.”
“Goodnight Dr. Theresa.”
I felt proud that I did something I had not done in a long time.
With that, I settled down for the night and celebrated by watching Goodfellas, one of the greatest movies ever. It was not too long after that I went to bed myself. Waking up at the usual time, I went through the routine with a spring in my step. The rest of the days of the week seemed to simultaneously drag and fly by. I found reasons to text Theresa and she always replied relatively quickly. Whenever my phone lit up with a text from her, I always enjoyed seeing the name there. I occasionally chided her for not paying attention in class or for slacking off at work, but she gave as good as she got. She actually made me laugh when she cracked a joke about how I belonged in an episode of Mad Men because I worked in advertising.
Finally, the day came when it was time for us to hang out at my place. When it was about 2 pm, I texted her asking for when I should pick her up at school as we decided. No answer. Time began to trickle by, every moment felt drawn out. Yet the clock showed that the day was passing quicker than it had before. No answer. This was odd. I sent her another message a while later asking if everything was ok. Nothing. As more time went on, I began to get uneasy. While I certainly didn’t sit around my office, then at my apartment, waiting for her to respond, I did keep close watch on my phone. Every time I got a text message, I found myself hoping it was her, only to be disappointed every time. When the time came, and then went for us to spend time together, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Unbelievable. I couldn’t believe I let myself get excited and hopeful over nothing. Why was I surprised? It was my own fault. I should have known better. She was just using me for a good tip. I spent the rest of the night simmering with anger, with a healthy side of hurt to go with it. But it was mostly just anger. Eventually, I went to bed to get this shitty day behind me.
At 4 am, I found myself woken up by the phone ringing. Inconsiderate asshole. Yet somehow in my sleep numbed state, I managed to see who was calling. It was her. Now I was really pissed.
“Hello?” I spat into my phone. I was half expecting a tearful answer as to why she just dropped me, or perhaps a plea to come bail her out of jail. But there was no answer.
“Very funny, now what the fuck do you want?”
She was probably laughing somewhere, either with her friends or with the loser boyfriend she probably bought drugs for on the side.
“Fine, you got what you wanted, now leave me alone.”
I hung up without waiting for a response. For good measure, I turned it off. I spent the weekend blowing off steam; hiking, going to a good movie, and some well-deserved shopping all helped some. But every now and again, a flash of anger would strike and I would mentally lash out at her. Then on Sunday, she messaged me.
“I am sorry. Please come over and I will explain. Or give me your address and I will come to you.”
Nice try sweetheart, but that wasn’t happening. You are just a distant memory. Just like all the others. By Wednesday, my mood was back to normal and I came into the office ready to get down to business. But when I got there, Valerie, one of the office’s secretaries, asked if I had seen the news.
“What news?” There was always some big happening somewhere, but this had to be something out of the ordinary.
“My son just told me about it. They found the body of some girl dead in her apartment. She was a waitress at that place downtown. She was a beautiful girl, what a shame. Some psychopath she was in class with walked with her back to where she was living and killed her. Apparently, he spent the weekend hiding out there.”
I felt like my limbs had been replaced with lead. Quickly going to my computer and pulling up the search engine, I frantically looked up what Valerie was talking about. My body went cold as I saw Theresa’s picture and the information about what happened. The guy had gone back to her place to get a book she had borrowed and when they were alone, he killed her. A neighbor in the next apartment knew her schedule and when she didn’t show up for work or classes he called the police. They found the guy inside the apartment, like nothing had happened. So sick. But what absolutely terrified me was the date of death. The coroner estimated she had been killed Friday morning. Meaning someone other than her had called me and wanted to come see me.