Monday, June 30
There she was. Long straight blond hair whisking in the wind as she strutted in those 120 dollar high heals to the check-out isle. Her doe-like blue eyes shot every man dead on their toes as she approached me with the pink cat harness under her long French nails. The drool from every man aging at 8 to 80 flooded the small store. I would give anything to be her.
" Hello," she greeted, reading my nametag," Regina, may we make this quick, please?"
I was obviously a waste of time. Before I could wrap the harness around her neck, Teddy scooted me to the side.
" This one's mine, kid." He said, not leaving his love-struck stare with the customer.
I shrugged, " Okay." I don't care.
I walked away, passing a small glimpse over my shoulder to see the girl smile a row of shining white teeth, flirting her way to a discount price. Sighing, I took Teddy's job putting bags of dog food on the bottom shelf. It wasn't fair. Why out of all the people in the world, she ends up beautiful? Did I do something wrong in my past life?
" I guess I will never find my true love." I said to a bag of dog food. "That makes the two of us, ScienceDiet."
Over my shoulder, someone cleared his throat.
" Excuse me?" he said, " I am looking for 'Regina Dickens'. Does she work here?"
Knowing my name, I said, "Yes."
"Do you know where I can find her?" he asked.
"Here." I told the man, not turning around.
He started to get a bit impatient, "I know that, ma'am."
I got up, brushed my khaki knees, and turned around. He was a man of forties with the smell of booze and cigarette smoke coming from his unshaved face. His cap hid his eyes but from what I could see, there were loads of bags under them from lack of sleep.
"Sir." I said, pointing to the nametag. "What do you need help with?"
He didn't say anything. His mouth was open and he stared at me in shock and horror without looking at my nametag.
"I'm s-sorry." he said. "I thought you'd be more... well. That's okay."
"If you want a pretty girl, you just missed her. Now, what is it that you want, again?" I said, tired a bit.
He shook his head rapidly, mouth still hanging, and he hurriedly walked out of the small store. I noticed a small note in his hands.
I shrugged and continued to put bags of dog food back on the shelf, " Strange man."
From outside came squealing brakes on the highway. Something like a deer hit a speeding car and fell onto the pavement with a heavy thud.
Worried, I was one of the first people out of the store. On the pavement was the stranger, already dead.
Chapter One, Ambriel
A week after the incident, I didn't talk to anybody except the news crew and my mom about it. I never once told them that I thought he killed himself because of my face. Now I can go around saying that my face actually CAN kill. Then everything was finally going back to normal; everyone stopped talking about it, fearing it was bad for the store's name.
"Mom," I said to my mom over the phone, hiding it from the other employees, "What made me this way?"
"What way, Sweetie?" she said.
I hesitated, "Not beautiful." It was easier than saying ugly.
"Honey, you're gorgeous-!" before she could finish Teddy was walking up to me.
"Call you later mom, bye." and I hung up as quick as possible, sliding my cell into my pocket.
Teddy raised an eyebrow and smirked, " Hey, Gina. There's a guy here looking for you. Is it a boyfriend?"
" No." I said, all to seriously. "I'll handle it."
I walked on over to the end of an isle of fish tanks and peeked past it. There was a very handsome guy older than me, standing there and waiting for someone. I couldn't see his eyes because of my poor sight, but I could tell he had glittering auburn hair and arms made of nothing but muscle. He was handsome so far, in sandy jeans and a white T-shirt. That, I could make out.
A bit embarrassed, I told the confused Teddy I was calling it a day and went to sign out. No stranger that handsome would ever want anything to do with me unless it's some kind of prank. If he liked me, I thought as I blushed, well it's impossible to like something like me. I grabbed my bag and shuffled for the car keys. Finding them, I took the back door and went to the parking lot. My car sat isolated by the others. It was an old and small gray 89' JEEP with a cigarette burn on the front passenger seat. I flipped my fingers around to find my key and hopped into my JEEP. I'm glad I don't skip that many days of work so I can walk out "sick" so easily. Starting that car, I heard tapping on my window.
"I don't have any money." I said, looking over to see who it was.
It was the auburn guy from inside. He had the lightest, scariest, most handsome gray eyes -like glass. I didn't know whether to be awed or frightened.
" Are you Regina Dickens?" He asked. English, definitely English.
I was glad he wasn't going to commit suicide like that last weird guy who asked for my name. I was also glad for getting tinted windows.
"I'm sorry I can't help you." I said a little louder than my inside voice. Before he could talk, I turned on the radio to max and put my gear into reverse then when I scooted out of the small parking spot, I switched it to drive and accelerated away, ignoring the stop signs and watching the handsome stranger from the rear view mirror become just a smudge as I made a right turn for the highway.
Tuesday, July 8
I got up early, since Waldenbooks opens around seven where I live. Adding a baseball cap to my uniform, I was ready. I made it to work on time and already had the cash register under control. I finished with my eleventh customer when my friend slash coworker, Middy, said that I could work on putting the new books away. I was a bit angry because the books were supposed to be organized a while ago. I grabbed a cart full of D's and made my way to the shelf. Naturally, I read the back of the book before I put it on the shelf.
"Regina Dickens?" a familiar voice asked me.
I looked over to the face leaning in next to me, since I wasn't kneeling this time, and it was the same gentleman from yesterday with the auburn hair. Now I noticed how long his hair actually was and how it made his face seem a bit long and angular. I also couldn't help but noticing his small Go-Tee, if that's what you call that impish thing, which was probably a week old. He also had arched eyebrows, which made him look devilishly handsome, just as I suspected. He reminded me of one of those European soccer players.
I smiled, out of kindness, and a bit glad he wasn't scared of me, but he did seem confused. "Yes, sir?"
He smiled back, revealing two rows of bleached white teeth. It made the rest of his face look more darker and dangerous but all the more handsome. I felt like I couldn't trust him at all but I also wanted to pour my heart out to him.
"Finally," he said, "I've been trying to reach you since yesterday but you seemed in a bit of a rush."
"Are you in link with the other guy who asked for me last week?" I asked him.
He looked surprised but shrugged it off, "Um, what other guy, ma'am?"
I didn't know whether to believe him or not, "Nothing. So, what do you need help with?"
"Do you know Sammael -ehem, I mean -Samuel L. Seltreah?" he asked.
I never heard of that name and told him so.
"Well," the handsome stranger stated, looking down at a ripped piece of paper that he stuffed in his pocket, "He's a famous movie director and he thought to pick his actors at random. You're one of the lucky ones." He added another quick smile to please me.
"Am I?" I asked, unneeded of an answer, "Tell Mr. Seltreah that I'm not interested."
"Not at all?" he asked, his European accent clearly visible.
"Not at all." I told him.
After standing there, puzzled, he pulled out the piece of ripped notebook paper again, looked at it, then put it back in his pocket. By now, I was back to putting the books back on the shelf.
"Are you really Regina Dickens?" he asked.
"Sure am." I said, losing interest.
"You have two jobs?" he asked.
I started feeling uncomfortable, "To your knowledge."
He pressed on, "Are you aloud to wear a cap during work?"
"So far." I said, putting two or three books on the shelf at one time now.
"Would you like my number?" he asked.
I stopped what I was doing and turned to him, "I don't know you, sir. My mom told me not to talk to strangers."
He smiled, "Then can we be friends?"
Stubborn as he is handsome. I shrugged, "You know my name but what's yours?"
He sighed, hoping not to have to go this far but thinking I might be a quick ticket to something yet I don't know what, "Michael Fateman."
"Well, Michael, it seems we're an acquaintance from here." I said. "But right now, I don't trust you no matter how handsome you are."
He smiled but quickly dropped it, "You're making my job more complicated than it need be, Mrs. Dickens."
"It's Ms. Dickens and I already told you I don't want a role in any movie." I said. I didn't want to be rough on him but he was to surreal to ever like me anyway.
"But you're beautiful." he said. It felt like a clear lie. I started walking away from him.
"Okay, okay. My apologies. That was too sudden." he said, grabbing my palm. "I wish to make up for it."
"I have off both jobs tomorrow." I said, hoping that would shut him up.
"I know." he said.
"How?" I asked.
"You told me." he answered.
I didn't remember telling him that at all. "Please don't hold my hand."
He let go, irritated, as if he didn't want to let go.
" I'll be going to Super Target in the morning to pick up a toy. You can meet me in the pet isle." I dared to glare at his eyes, "Just stop following me to my jobs."
He felt the sting of that also. "Yes, ma'am." And he bolt toward the shop doors, saluting me.
"Strange." I said to the closing shop doors.
Middy called out from behind the register. There were no more customers in the store anymore. "Regina! Who was the hunk?"
"Michael." I said to her but mostly to myself.
Wednesday, July 9
My odd eyed Turkish Angora, Peacenet, hissed at me yesterday. She acted like she never met me before. I probably didn't smell that sweet to her. I freshened up, thankful for such a lovely eight hour sleep, and drove to Super Target. It was a little after eleven once I got there and I didn't have a hat on this time. I was slowly walking down the row of pet toys when I saw a heap of scrambled toys all over the bottom shelf. Feeling guilty, I started putting them in order, exactly where they went.
"Don't tell me you work here too." said a deep European voice from an angle. I got up hurriedly and turned to the face I knew I'd see.
Instead of a hearty greeting like yesterday, Michael was appalled, taken aback by something on my face. I remembered that same look from the first man I killed.
" What's your middle name?" he asked me, unblinking, with that same look of helplessness scribbled on his face with magic marker.
"What makes you think I have a middle name?" I asked.
"What it is?" he said, a bit hysterical.
"I don't have one." I said, getting a bit worried.
"Is it Hanael?" he asked.
"I don't have a middle name." I said.
"Is it Barchiel!" he persisted, getting more hysterical.
"I said 'I don't have a middle name'." I slowed it down for him.
"Is it Raphael!" he asked.
"That's a guy's name." I said.
"Is it Ambriel?" he asked.
"Yes." I said.
"No, I just wanted you to stop shouting." I said, pulling out a mouse toy from a metal rod and walking away. Weirdo.
When I got in line, the person in front of me turned around and it was Michael.
"I'm sorry." he whispered.
"How'd you know I'd pick this line?" I asked him. In fact, I didn't know I'd pick this line.
"Lucky guess." he said. "Now the names I told you before-"
"Are of no use to me." I said. "Except the last one."
"Ambriel?" he asked.
"Yeah, that one," I said, "The rabbi-that-lives-next-door calls me that all the time. I did some research on it. It means, um..."
"The protector and communicator." he said. "Ruled by the zodiac Gemini."
"Doesn't it mean, like, purest angel, or something?" I asked.
"From the looks of it." he said, smiling at me.
From behind him, another stranger called for Michael and told him Asmodel was on the phone and wanted to talk to him.
" In a minute, Cassie Lee." he called back. To me, he said, "Sorry, Ambriel, but I must go."
He grabbed the corner where the shoulder meets the arm and half smiled, "Stay fair." He slid out of the line to catch up with his guy friend, Cassie Lee. Cassiel? Another boring Bible reference?
That night, I had the scariest dream. It was very late at night where there was no moon and I was running for my life. Shadows, racing to catch up with me, finally did and surrounded me. It felt like that time in "Ghost" where the bad guy was eaten by demonic shadows. Feeling trapped, I was so scared that I woke up in a cold sweat.
Hot tears were falling from my face and I didn't even know they were there. At first I thought I saw Michael at the foot of the bed staring in concern but I blinked at it and thought that it was just my imagination. Too afraid to go to sleep, I looked at the clock. 3:00 am. I redressed and ate some cereal. I watched LMN for a few hours before I had to go to Waldenbooks again.
Michael didn't show up. He didn't show up at both my jobs. A week went by and I grew anxious. I should have taken his number.