Previously Used by Dorothy Davies

EXTRACT FOR
Previously Used

(Dorothy Davies)


Previously Used - Horror Anthology

The Beggar

 

Dan Allen

 

He sits cross-legged on the sidewalk. There is a chill in the cement, but the air is warm and the sun has finally come back from months of winter. People pass by but donít see him. Crowds subconsciously change their path to avoid him. His back is getting uncomfortably warm and he wants to take off his jacket, but itís part of his uniform. So are his aviator sunglasses. He takes pleasure in staring at them. The oblivious hordes, hurrying about.He doesnít want them to see his eyes. He doesnít want them to see where he stares. His empty coffee cup sits in front of him,t part of his uniform. It is to collect the change they drop in. Its bigger purpose is to complete the illusion.

 

***

 

Teri looks in the mirror. She is gorgeous and knows it, but she thinks everyone is beautiful. Everyone knows Teri and everyone loves her. She makes friends easily and holds friends dear. She comes from a small town where she attended the local college. She is not overly interested in boys. She dates a few but never for long. Boys are for later when sheí

s ready to get married and have a family.

 

***

 

His hands are filthy and his fingernails packed with dirt. His pants appear stained from a hundred wine spills and perhaps many nights sleeping in puke. Passersby donít look close enough to see itís not real. Thereís no printed sign in front of him. He doesnít bother with one. Yet, to the unsuspecting crowd, itís obvious why he is there.

He deliberately sits in the centre of the sidewalk. He likes the view as they absentmindedly walk around him. The closer they get, the better. With spring in the air, it is unwrapping seasonóharvest time for his prodding eyes. Long coats and boots replaced with pantyhose and high heels. He feels a stirring.

 

***

 

Teri got by in school, finished college and moved to the big city. She isnít passionate about pursuing further education. Teri only wants to be with her friends, share time with them, travel, explore the world and shop. She has a wonderful fashion sense. The girl has never worn a pair of blue jeans in her life. She prefers skirts and dresses. She likes high heels instead of sneakers.

 

***

 

He keeps the empty coffee cup close but not because someone might snatch it. And he isnít worried that it will get kicked over. The coffee cup collects the coins, but itís also a lure. It draws them in close. He watches their legs, their shapes and curves. From his street-level vantage point, he can often see up the thighs. He can imagine the rest. He sits on the cement for that very reason. Begging for money is not his primary purpose. He is hunting.

 

***

 

People donít see Teri as a snob. She is kind and generous and has friends from all walks of life. Teri doesnít see herself as naive, but she is. She is far too trusting. The girl believes bad things may happen to other people but never to her. Teri travels the city streets with the same fearless innocence she has when she travels the world.

 

***

 

He says nothing when someone contributes their silver. He doesnít look in when the coins hit the cup and he doesnít count them. The money doesnít matter and he doesnít say thank you. They donít make eye contact and they donít see who he watches, where he looks. The sunglasses are there to make sure. Girls donít notice when he allows a small smile to escape the corner of his mouth.

 

***

 

She has an office job in the city. She has a basement apartment in the suburbs and commutes. Teri smiles whenever she hears the old BTO song about taking the 8:15 into the city. Thatís her song, her motto, ďtakiní care of businessĒ. Work hard and play harder, right? Teri likes her office job. She enjoys dressing up for work and wearing fancy clothes. Teri thinks her life is perfect.

 

***

 

The men are disgusted by him; the ladies fear him. He is dirty, but the ladies are what he desires. They are the ones most likely to fill his cup. He smiles as he thinks about their guilty need to give money to street people. It pleases him to know that they would be horrified if he were to touch them. They do not see him smile. He is invisible. An old hag walks over. Even to him, she is hideous. She is bending over, trying to hand him something. It is a Jesus pamphlet. He will not take it. She is blocking his view. He wants her gone. She stuffs the leaflet in his coffee cup. He silently curses her as she wanders off to save someone else. She ruins his day.

 

***

 

Today Teri brought home a kitten.She always laughed at crazy cat people and now she knows she is one. Teri names the cat ďPounceĒ. She likes the name because it is simple. Pounce has an annoyingly cute way of laying upside down, paws in the air, watching Teri move about. They stay together at night. Pounce claws up under the blankets and burrows around until she falls asleep.

 

***

 

Their legs are at eye level to his stare and he watches them all, coming and going. He sees the curves and he prefers seeing them from behind. He allows his eyes to wander up to their ass. Donít they know he can see their asses? Spandex and Tights are okay, bare legs are better, but the Holy Grail is a pair of high heels and pantyhose. He likes them black with a pattern running up the back. He picks them out of the crowd. He discreetly sniffs as they pass.

 

***

 

Teri ran out of cat food, so now she feeds Pounce tuna. Pounce is finicky and it will be tuna only from now on. Teri does not mind. Tuna costs the same. Teri goes to bed and lets Pounce drink water from a Dixie cup. Teri thinks about what she will wear to work in the morning. The girl has two closets stuffed with clothes. The weather has been warming up and she is thinking about breaking out some of her spring pretties.

 

***

 

He gets ready for the day. He never shaves. It is part of the look. He pulls on his ripped, grease-covered jeans, a few layers of torn shirt and nasty running shoes. His baseball cap and, of course, his sunglasses. Itís been a month since his last selection and the urge is growing strong. Finally, itís time to choose.

He takes his positionóa rowdy group of boys approachóbaseball fans, perhaps. One of them throws pocket change at him. The coins miss the cup and scatter. The young lads laugh, possibly expecting to see a bum scamper around chasing quarters. But he does not move. Instead, he bites his lip to contain his rage. He wants to rip these assholes apart and lets out a low growl. The boys donít hear it, but perhaps they sense something is wrong with this picture and they quickly move along.

Something delicious approaches and he lowers his sunglasses. He sees milky white legs, bare and flawless. The girl has a frisky bounce in her step, almost teasing. She gets closer and he stops breathingÖ She is not the one. Too young. She is just starting to bud. He will give her time to ripenóa prospect. For a second, he smiles.

 

***

 

Teri strolls towards the commuter trains. She is thinking about making Guacamole.

 

***

 

He spotted her today. She might as well have had a giant neon sign floating above her head. His radar picked her up before she even crossed the street. Her walk was just right. She moved slowly with confidence. Her skirt was short and her legs went on forever. He could see better now, black pantyhose indeed! He rattles his cup as she nears, hoping to get her attention. Just a momentary pause. Just enough to smell her. She doesnít miss a step and her pace remains the same. Her mind undoubtedly elsewhere. He breaks protocol and turns his head to watch her walk towards the trains, to follow the black pantyhose with a simple line running up the back. He tingles.

 

***

 

Teri is in the shower. The girl hears a noise and it freaks her out. She is paranoid and the splashing water drowns out her ability to tell if someone is there. She holds her breath as she grabs the faucet. She pauses and considers that once she turns off the water, the intruder will be on alert. Screw it; she turns off the water and hears a yowl. It is a long sorrowful cry. Forget drying off, Teri sticks her head out the bathroom door. She is naked and dripping water everywhere. Itís only Pounce. She has one of her toys in her mouth. It is a small stuffed animal and the cat is carrying it around like it is her dead baby, howling out a mournful cry. As soon as Pounce sees Teri, she drops the dead baby and her crying ends. Teri wonders what else Pounce does when she thinks she is alone. Strange frigging cat.

 

***

 

He sees her at least once a day, twice if he gets out early enough. She always crosses in the late afternoon, merging with the sea of spawning people swimming upstream to the commuter trains. He has given up trying to get her attention. She passes him every single day and doesnít appear to notice him. He will make sure she sees him soon, but not today.

The authorities have never questioned him and he fits no profile. He is invisible even to the police. There are no reasons for his method. He hides in plain sight. He hunts in plain sight. If the ladies could see his eyes, they would see the lust, but his sunglasses do their job.

He sees her coming. Can he really smell her from where he sits? He believes so. He raises his head and watches her approach. This is not in character. He needs to keep his face down, but he canít help himself and he breaks his own rules. She passes on his right, dark nylons, no lines, but killer high heels. He can see firm muscles on the back of her legs, on her calves. Once she passes, he moves quickly. In one continuous movement, he sheds a few layers of filth and slides these excess clothes and the coffee cup into the first trash can he sees. He doesnít need this uniform anymore. He will make a new one next time. He smiles, already thinking about another hunt.

He jogs to catch up and falls in a dozen bodies behind her. He is confident and prepared. The commuter trains only run east and west. She goes through the westbound gate and gets on the first car. He pauses, watching through the windows, tracking to see where she sits. He climbs on board and picks a spot several rows behind her. He doesnít stand out and nobody seems to notice him. The glasses prevent eye contact.

On the streets thirty minutes later, he sees her enter the side door leading to what must be a basement apartment. He allows himself a rare teeth exposed smile. Her residence is ideal and he heads home. He will sleep well tonight. It will be an early morning.

 

***

 

Teri enters her apartment and instantly feels eyes on her. Itís that creepy feeling she gets when someone is watching. She turns quickly to see a furry face. Perched on top of a bookshelf, Pounce controls the highest point in the room. Teri calls her a little bastard. Pounce lets out a soft meow and jumps down. The cat circles Teriís legs, looking for food. Teri relents and grabs a can of tuna.