In a quiet southern town, a predator lurked. Or maybe lurking wasn’t really the word for it. He leered. A monster in human clothing, he ambled quietly but confidently though the small downtown, taking in the mural on the side of a building on Fayetteville. Brushing past a laughing couple as they headed home for the night. Catching a glimpse of his reflection in his peripheral vision, just a flash of movement flitting across the glass front of Foust Photography. He moved on, knowing the residents of the no longer dry city would be trickling out of Lumina as the festivities ended for the night.
He loped across the street, avoiding an SUV and weaving around diagonally parked cars as he reached the other side. He made the sidewalk without incident and proceeded to lean nonchalantly against the building across the street, around the corner from the giant metal mosquito. His hollow eyes passed over married couples in their forties that had come to sip wine in the hip little establishment and small groups that had met and then quickly disbursed as they reached the parking lot, waving goodbye to their friends and saying farewell as half the weekend was already behind them. He critically studied the brick building, decorated with a clay tile overhang instead of the standard awning. He let the white string lights play tricks with his eyes out of boredom. Waiting for the right moment, waiting for the right person.
Although it would go unnoticed, the corner of his mouth twitched ever so slightly as a young woman, probably barely old enough to drive let alone drink, stumbled out of the establishment that specialized in wine and beer. He’d always liked them young. Fortunately, he’d gotten over his fixation with jail bait, not that it really mattered anymore.
He followed the young woman, occasionally keeping her within reach simply by sense of smell, an alluring aroma indeed. Anymore, a woman's appearance meant far less to him than what she smelled like. Nothing worse than a woman who wore perfume that directly contrasted her body chemistry or her flavor of shampoo. This one, on the other hand, smelled intoxicating. He drank in the bouquet of her as he followed the enticing young woman to the relative seclusion of her car. She seemed to prefer fruity scents. Her hair smelled of sweet strawberries and her skin of raspberries, salt, and a slight musk from a long day. Another almost smile played on his lips as she reached her car.
She fumbled with her keys at first, trying to manipulate the button on her key fob to unlock the doors of her large SUV, which likely only ever held one passenger and NEVER went off road, he thought with a twinge of disgust. He ambled quietly behind her and whispered, “Excuse me,” his voice both soothing and masculine at the same time. She let out a strangled noise and dropped her keys. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” he lied. “I seem to have misplaced my designated driver,” he continued coolly, knowing full well he was stone cold sober.
“Huh?” she replied, confusion clouding her face as her eyes met those of the perfect stranger that was suddenly right on top of her in a dark parking lot. He groaned inwardly to himself. This one wasn’t very sharp. He enjoyed it so much better when he saw that instant of illumination in her eyes when she realized how much danger she was in.
He slinked up closer to her and held her chin firmly in his grasp. “I thought I wanted to play with you. I like playing. Makes the game a bit more interesting.” He could feel her trembling under his touch and a wave of exhilaration swept through him. As good as sex, really. “You’re not very interesting though and I’m afraid the games won’t last very long this time.”
“Huh?” she whimpered, this time with fear sending a quiver through the syllable that stretched it more than a southern drawl ever could. He could feel the slightest smile twitch onto his face as he soaked in the fear that was overflowing from her eyes and trickling down her cheeks. He licked the salty tears up and said, “Hmm. You know? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe you will be fun. My mother always said not to play with my food but I never could resist. Always was the bad boy.” He let another smile slide across his face, this time letting it fully blossom, his intent showing in the set of his eyes and the glint of a passing car’s headlights on his canines. She opened her mouth to scream but he silenced it in an instant. He would play with her, yes. She scared easily. Who knows? If he was lucky, maybe she would be entertaining for a couple of hours. The only thing he knew for certain was that no one would ever see her alive again. He smiled his little twisted smile, toying with the idea of the last words escaping those full lips being his name, Giovanni.