And so she told him her story in lurid detail, how she was grabbed from behind while leaving the video store, the odor of the ether-soaked rag that
covered her face, and then blackness. The horror of waking up in the dark only to find herself being dragged into the woods, and how she fought back
with all of her strength. The miracle of breaking free with her hands still tied and her mouth gagged and somehow, by divine intervention perhaps,
coming across a lonely stretch of road where a passing motorist caught sight of her. Mark listened to all of it, captivated, and by the end his mouth
“So that’s it,” she said, and finished off her drink.
“That’s it?” Mark asked. “What about him? The killer? Did they…”
“I don’t know,”Alicia replied. “The police never had a good suspect, and I never heard his voice, or saw his face.”
No, thought Mark. No, you didn’t.
“For all I know, he’s still out there, waiting.”
Mark had to pinch himself to keep from smiling, such was his ecstasy. He cleared his throat and asked, “So why do they call him the Crescent Moon
Killer? Some kind of lunar cycle thing?
“No,” replied Alicia. “Not that. It’s because of what he carves into his victims’ torsos....” She paused for a moment, and then continued,
“before he decapitates them. I thank God he didn’t get that far with me, but he also wears the symbol on a medallion around his neck, like a
badge of sorts. I saw it. Here,” she grabbed a napkin from the dispenser, and pulled a pen from her purse. Then she carefully traced a design into
the napkin. “I’m not what anybody would call an artist, but this is a pretty good representation, I guess. The police sketch artist was a lot
better.” She pushed the napkin forward, and then turned it around for Mark to see.
He studied the outline: a figure of crescent moon overlaid with a small, upside-down crucifix. “Creepy,” he remarked with a false shudder.
“What does it mean?”
“Who knows?” Alicia said, disgusted. Maybe some kind of satanic thing, or a code or something like that. Maybe he’s angry at religion…you
know, got abused by some priest and now he’s working out issues.” She sighed, sinking back into her chair. “Whatever it is, it’s a curse. My
But that’s not the symbol, Alicia. Don’t lie to me! You know there was more than that. You’re quite the liar, sweet Alicia. Liar, liar,
liar. Mark shook his head. “You shouldn’t say things like that. I’m sure whatever bizarre, twisted reasons he had, it was nothing you
deserved. Nobody deserves that.”
Music burst from the stage – a melodic, folksy tune reminiscent of John Denver or Joni Mitchell, with a dark, earthy feel to it. Mark watched the
lead singer, a tall woman dressed in western-style jeans, cowboy boots, and a brown leather vest. Underneath the vest she wore a white, long-sleeved
blouse. With a weathered, wrinkled face and long gray hair tied in a ponytail, she seemed the very essence of down-home toughness with a touch of the
flower-child sixties thrown in.
She brought the microphone to her lips and began to sing. Before long, the audience was captivated by her song; it was a song about the night wind,
her smoky voice echoing just a touch of sadness, which gave it all a haunting feel of longing, of heartbreak.
“And that’s not talent?” Mark in a raised voice so Alicia could hear. “Sounds pretty good to me, for a local act.”
Alicia leaned forward and spoke into his ear. “Her name’s Harmony Fairchild. Actually, she’s only lived her a few years, moved up from
somewhere down south. Tennessee, I think. I heard she was big in the country music business back in the Seventies.”
Mark held out his hand. “Would you do me the honor of having the first dance?” Alicia smiled, and they made their way to the center of the room,
hand in hand. Others began to follow suit. The next song was smoother than the first, the kind of song made for slow dancing, and Mark held his date
close, taking in the warmth of her body and the soothing scent of her perfume. It was all so perfect, so wonderful, and yet he felt something else,
something he’d rarely experienced in his life – a burgeoning sense of guilt, of regret. Not for what he had done, but for what he was about to do
- what he had to do, and this was quickly becoming a problem for Mark because guilt wasn’t part of the plan. Well, well, he thought.
Getting a little smitten are we? A little touched? If so, then you’d better get this show on the road now, before your nerve slips.
He considered leading Alicia back to the table so he could order her another strong drink, until he caught sight of the bartender leaning against the
counter, blue eyes fixed in their direction, watching them like a hawk. Mark found it unsettling, and so they danced on and on for what seemed like
hours, until Alicia finally pulled him back to the table. By that time, the bartender had left.
As the band took their first break for the evening, Mark suggested they skip the movie for tonight, have a couple of drinks at his place, and when she
agreed his pride swelled within him because he knew he’d succeeded, nothing could stop this, and it would all happen just the way he’d
Aside from a couple of young men in leather jackets making their way to the entrance, the parking lot was empty. On the way to his car Alicia drew
close to Mark, protecting herself from the chill of the autumn night air. A brief kiss followed, and Mark opened her door, all the while the voice
within him frantic with excitement.
Almost there! Just get in the car. Get in the car now! Just do it! As Alicia took hold of the inside door handle and began get inside,
something gave her pause. “Uh, there’s some books and stuff in the front seat. Do you want me to put them in back?”
Mark stood there, bewildered for a moment. Suddenly remembering what he’d left on the seat, his heart skipped in alarm. “NO!” he said abruptly,
and rushed to her side.
“It’s okay,” Alicia said while lifting the books and folders. “I’ll just set them back here…”
NO! NO NO NO DON’T YOU DARE DO THAT !...but it was too late. A page fell from a manila folder, fluttering to the pavement in the moonlight,
and Alicia gasped when she saw the illustration upon it. It was a sketch of a crescent moon overlaid with an upside-down crucifix, just like what
she’d drawn on the napkin except for one difference: to each side of the crescent moon sat a single, menacing lightning bolt, a detail which the
police department had carefully withheld from the media as a way of distinguishing between the genuine killer and any potential copycats, or
A detail that, theoretically, only the killer should know.
Alicia backed away from the car, and screamed. The two young men turned their heads at the sound, and approached the car. Mark threw up his hands and
spoke in a soft voice, trying to reassure her. “Alicia, honey, calm down. It’s okay, I’m not who you think I am. Just let me explain. Alicia
stared in horror at the books and magazine covers that lined the inside of his car: every one of them was about the Crescent Moon Killer.
“WHO…WHO…WHO THE # ARE YOU!!?” she cried, trembling in fear.
“Get away from her,” ordered one of the young men. “Come on inside, Ma’am, we’ll call the cops.”
“I got his license plate number,” said the other while eyeing Mark steadily.
Mark’s hand shuffled around inside his coat pocket, and he brought forth his wallet. “Look . . . Alicia, look. You want to know who I am? Here.
“ He held up a small badge with his photograph on it that read, The Newark Examiner. “See? I just want an on-the-record interview, that’s
all.” He held out his hands in a posture of innocence. “That’s it, nothing to be afraid of.”
“You filthy son-of-a-bitch!” Alicia shouted, and spat at him. “I told you bastards no! Not ever!” In front the tavern a small crowd of
onlookers had gathered, the bartender among them, carefully watching Mark’s every move. Mark stepped toward Alicia, but she shrank away. “Get the
hell away from me!”
One of the leather-jacketed young men moved between them. “Get lost buddy,” he said, and shoved Mark backward.
But he wasn’t giving up that easy. “Ten-thousand-dollars!” he shouted as Alicia walked toward the tavern entrance. “Ten now, and twenty-five
more when we go to print!” She continued inside, her fist in the air, answering him with her middle finger.
[edit on 11-9-2009 by Flatwoods]
[edit on 8/10/09 by masqua]