Continued from: Nocking the List: Part 4 — Too Easy
They were in his car, an old Crown Vic (like eighties era), the thing meticulous on its upkeep. They were driving over a long bridge toward Mystic Island. Laughter filled the car, the two of them laughing at something about American Idol—which he seemed to know an amazing amount about—but Sophie had a sudden, anxious stomach-drop crossing the middle of the bridge. The bridge was endless and dark, a big metal latticework with no discernible beginning or end. She felt like a swimmer realizing she’d just swum past the point of no return. There was only forward now, and she wasn’t quite sure what the far shore looked like. When they made it off the bridge and onto the island, Sophie noticed that the place seemed a potpourri of different eras, as if they were driving along a school textbook’s timeline of the Twentieth Century. Sophie said to Carl, in her giggling, ain’t-we-so-fun voice, “So this is the famous mystic Island.”
“I don’t know about famous. Infamous is probably more like it.”
“It seems to be in the middle of nowhere.”
“Well, it is an island,” he said with a shrug.
Carl pulled his car into his driveway. Sophie’s stomach inexplicably dropped again. His house was at the end of a sparse street with a seeming wall of black behind it.
As they walked from the car to the house, Sophie said, again in her giggling, ain’t-we-so-fun voice, “Your house seems in the middle of nowhere.”
She noticed a slight weave in Carl’s gate from the two Scotches he had at the bar. This was good. “Yeah,” he said, “my property butts up against Parson’s Woods, so there’s a lot of trees around. It only appears to be in the middle of nowhere, but the woods are pretty thick. Don’t worry, though, we aren’t that far from the bridge,” he added. Sophie knew where this was going. He had already resolved himself to the fact that she wouldn’t be staying the night. Some part of him couldn’t even believe his good luck that this smoking hot chick was in his house at the moment, and he was already preparing for rejection. “So, you know, it’s not a long cab ride back to where you are staying, or I can give you a ride, although…” He teetered a little where he stood as if failing a field sobriety test, “…I’m a little drunk at the moment.”
“Well,” Sophie said, “We’ll just have to see where this night takes us.” She gave him a seductive look, but not too come-fuck-me-like, she needed him to still think he needed to work for it. Although, the poor schmuck would find that “it” never came. She preferred not to get physical if at all possible. Sometimes, like with the aggressive, good looking banker types, it was necessary. But she tried to avoid it. Especially with the dweebs, like this guy.
Carl opened his front door and led her into the living room. She quickly sized up the room. It was scarcely decorated, but very neat. There was a beige carpet on an old wooden floor. Mismatched furniture. Obviously no wife in this picture. They were laughing again at some inane thing, and Sophie tried to keep the laughter going, launching into one of those drunken giggle fits young, silly girls are known to have. She was not drunk, of course, nor was she silly. She was just loosening him up, making everything seem much more fun than it was. Which wasn’t hard to do, seeing as he didn’t seem the type that had fun too often anyway. At least he wasn’t ultra-painfully boring. Or ugly. It was more that he was charismatically challenged. He had dark hair, standard haircut. He wasn’t fat, but not in shape either. He had a jutting chin that wasn’t so much strong, but more clenched. There was a strange lost puppy way to him. Sophie thought it brought about a sense of pity for his apparent loneliness. But she felt wary of that loneliness, too.
He motioned to the couch. “Have a seat.”
Sophie sat on the couch.
There was a chess set on the coffee table, hand-carved wooden pieces, the board folding into a box. Sophie picked up the bishop and began discretely caressing the piece in her fingers. “I like this,” she said.
Her caressing of the phallic piece was supposed to turn him on a little, but instead, Carl said, “The chess set? You play?” Something told her she could have outright blown the piece and he’d still have asked her if she played chess.
“I can play,” she said.
“You any good?”
“I can hold my own in just about any game, Carl.”
“Is that a challenge?”
“Maybe,” she said coyly.
“You really want to play chess?” he asked.
She paused a moment, biting back sarcasm. The guy couldn’t catch a double entendre if it was lubricated with every sexual euphemism and rammed up his rectum. She offered an easy-going grin and said, “No, Carl, not now.”
He looked disappointed for a moment. “Too bad,” he said. “It’s hard to find anyone that’s a challenge.”
“Well, I’m certainly a challenge,” Sophie said.
“Sure you don’t want to play?”
No, she did not want to play fucking chess. Was this really his idea of foreplay? “No, I’m quite sure,” she said sweetly. “What I want, Carl, is a drink. Got anything?”
“I have whiskey.”
Carl said, “I don’t drink often. Don’t even think the bottle’s been opened.”
“Well there’s a first time for everything.”
“It was a gift. I generally don’t go out and buy booze.”
“Carl, get the drinks,” Sophie said playfully, not wanting him to feel he was being scolded, or that she was implying just how annoyingly boring he was now being.
He grinned, as if realizing how annoyingly boring he was all on his own. She liked this. It showed that her tone was working. She always tried to make everything her marks did and thought seem like it was their idea, or that it was the product of their own mind. Carl turned and walked off into the kitchen.
Sophie immediately began a cursory sweep of the living room, knowing that, most likely, there were no treasures to be found there. No sign of expensive trinkets or knick-knacks. She had a feeling that whatever was worth taking was somewhere else in the house.
There was an old stereo system with big speakers and a turntable CD changer. A book case with history books, a framed diploma, and pictures. Her attention shifted to the pictures of Carl with a boy of about eleven. In all the pictures, Carl had a big, goofball smile on his face. The boy had an absolute, deadpan expression. Sophie had seen this scenario often enough—dad trying to play comedian to the perpetual straight man of adolescence. “You have a son?” she called toward the kitchen.
“Yeah,” he called back.
“Where is he?”
“Lives with his mother.”
She flipped through a few books in the bookshelf, searching for publication dates or signatures. Nothing. She called toward the kitchen, “I can’t wait to see your…” Her voice dropped off when Carl returned with the drinks.
“My son?” he said, as if taken back a little.
“Your collection,” she said with a big smile. “The memorabilia. The Infamy Cards. I can’t wait to see them.” She didn’t know what the hell Infamy Cards were, but if they’re as valuable as the Google search said they were, she couldn’t wait to see them.
“Oh, yeah, right,” he said, as if forgetting that it was the whole reason they were there in the first place. He handed her a drink, saying, “I had ginger ale, so I made… Is whiskey and ginger ale even called anything?”
“Highball,” she said.
“I made highballs, then,” he said, sounding impressed with himself.
“Perfect,” she said, clinking her glass with his.
“Cheers,” he said with an awkward smile that made the word seem like a foreign language to him.
“Cheers,” Sophie said. She drained her glass.
He regarded her with a gaping expression.
She said, “You’re gonna need to keep up if you’re going to hang with me, Carl.”
Carl looked at his drink like it was hemlock. He drained it with some difficulty, coughing when he was finished. “Jesus,” he said. “Like I said, I don’t drink often.”
Sophie said, “Why don’t you grab the whiskey bottle and the memorabilia and we can get this party started.”
Continued in: Nocking the List: Part 6 — Avon Fraulein