A final story for this week’s ‘Inspiration Monday’ challenge. The prompt this time was ‘We met at the bottom of the river.’
Love At First Sight
Don Peterson was not a nice man. In fact he was ruthless and you crossed him at your peril. Whenever his name was mentioned it was usually with a hushed voice and often made people look over their shoulder as if something menacing was creeping up behind them. I’d heard that anyone who got in his way or posed a threat to Don Peterson never lived to tell the tale.
If you ever met him at one of the posh charity functions that he frequented you would be easily fooled into thinking what a charming man he was. He was extremely wealthy with an impressive reputation for helping this charity or that. What you didn’t ever do is enquire too carefully into how he made his money. It is rumoured that the police have a thick file on him outlining his many scams and dubious money-making schemes not to mention the many beatings and alleged deaths he has been responsible for. But that is all it is, a thick file. He has never been charged or even questioned about any of these misdemeanors, nobody has ever been brave enough, or foolish enough, to testify against him.
I’d first seen Don Peterson when I had been covering a local charity dinner for the local newspaper. I’d heard stories about him, we all had, but on this night I was merely reporting on the function, nothing else, there was no way I wanted to upset him. That night was going to prove to be a life changing moment for me.
It was the first time I met Jenny. She was stunning. When I saw her she was standing alone on the other side of the room and before I knew what I was doing I’d shoved my notebook in my pocket, grabbed a drink and was introducing myself to her. The next hour just flew by, it was as if we’d known each other for years. I was absolutely smitten, here was the girl of my dreams, here was the person I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Then suddenly that beautiful smile disappeared to be replaced by a look of what I can only describe as sheer terror. Before I could ask her what was the matter she said, “I’ve got to go. I shouldn’t have done this. I’m so sorry. Whatever you do don’t follow me.” The words just tumbled from her lips and then she ran from the room.
It was only afterwards that I found out who she was. A friend from a rival newspaper came up to me and said, “Blimey Pete, what are you, mad or something?” I had no idea what he was going on about until he told me that the beautiful girl I had just fallen in love with was Don Peterson’s new wife. “She’s obviously a lot younger than him,” he went on, “And I hear he gets very jealous, apparently he’s obsessed with the idea that she’s seeing someone else and planning on leaving him and running off. I hope for your sake he didn’t see you chatting her up.”
I spent the rest of the night with a battle raging between my head, telling me to leave town as soon as possible and my heart, telling me that I had to see Jenny again. My heart won, but not quite in the way I had imagined.
Instead of lying in my bed dreaming about the girl I love I now find myself trussed up like a chicken in the back of a van, gagged, with a sack over my head. It all happened so quickly I didn’t even get the chance to shout out or put up any kind of struggle. I knew I was not alone and throughout the journey had this uneasy feeling that someone was looking at me, I could almost feel the hatred from those eyes burning into me, but no one was speaking. There were no threats, no beatings or violence of any sort, just silence.
They took the gag off and removed the sack from my head just before they dropped me over the side of the boat into the icy water. As I tumbled from the boat I caught a glimpse of his sadistic, smiling face. Any thoughts of a scream disappeared as the heavy, lead weights tied to my ankles took me swiftly downwards. When I finally came to rest my lungs were quickly filling with water, I was alive, but not for much longer.
In those brief moments before death I became aware of someone standing alongside me. I turned and looked into those horrified eyes. I had hoped that we would meet again, but hadn’t realized that it would be at the bottom of the river.