Sam and Isabella (Writer’s Digest writing competition entry for 2018)

Sam and Isabella: An Encounter

A  Short Story

By

Ross G. Homer

 

I was driving across campus to my next class. Naturally, it’s as far from my last class as it can be and I was running late. I’m in my second year of my Masters in archeology, and was considering my thesis when my cell phone beeped telling me I had a text. I was expecting one from my soon to be ex girlfriend, hopefully telling me she had finally cleared her junk out of my house. It had been a tough eight months because after the lust dissipated, I was stuck with a raving bitch. I couldn’t wait to be clear of her.

So at the next light, luckily a long one, I opened my phone and read:

 

LISTEN YOU ASSHOLE, I’M DONE WITH YOU! I TOLD YOU I WAS LEAVING. YOU DIDN’T  LISTEN. WHEN YOU GET HOME I’LL BE GONE. I’M TAKING THE KIDS AND LEAVING. EAT SHIT AND DIE!

 

Whoa! This was one seriously pissed off woman. I assumed it was a woman because, well, men don’t usually take the kids and disappear. It also sounded like my ex-girlfriend, but kids? Nope. She had the wrong number. The light was still red so I quickly texted back:

 

I’m sorry whoever you are but you’ve got the wrong cell number. <send>

 

The light changed and I immediately forgot about the text as I drove down the street. My phone beeped again. I had to wait for several blocks before I could look at it.

It was from that woman.

 

STOP FUCKING AROUND WITH ME! I’M NOT KIDDING! I WILL BE GONE TONIGHT. I’M SICK OF YOUR FUCKING AROUND WITH OTHER WOMEN & DRINKING & LATE NIGHTS GOD KNOWS WHERE!

 

Well, I am not a rocket scientist and didn’t need to be to see this was a woman in a fix.

I texted back:

 

Honest! I’m just a student driving to class. I’m sorry but I am not who you think you’re texting. <send>

 

This was getting interesting. All sorts of scenarios cruised through my mind. Was she beautiful? Fat and ugly? Old, young? Tall or short? How many kids? Two, five? How old? Ahh fantasies. Aren’t they wonderful?

The phone beeped before the light turned. I took a quick read:

 

I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to disturb you. Angry!

 

No kidding, lady, I thought. I pulled into the parking lot of my next class and turned off the car. I sat there a moment wondering how to respond.

I texted:

 

It’s okay. I’m not married but I’m in a similar situation. Only it’s a lunatic girlfriend. Good luck! <send>

 

Since I had the top down, I finger combed my auburn hair to get it out of my eyes. I checked myself in the mirror and then got out. Grabbing my backpack, I opened it and took out my notes and a couple of books then stuffed the pack into the trunk

My phone beeped. I looked.

 

I’m sorry about your girlfriend. Shit happens! I’m so sad for you. I just flushed 6 yrs of my life down the toilet. Fucker!

 

Well, she could be my age; it’s twenty-three, but it was doubtful. She was probably a couple of years older.

I texted:

 

Thanks. I feel for you. CU later. <send>

 

I mean, what else could I say? Of course, there was no way I would see her later. Jeeze, I had no idea where she was or who she was. All I knew for sure was that she was in the same area code.

My phone beeped.

 

You sound ok. Can we meet 4 coffee? I could use a friend right now. Taking my kids to my Mom’s in a minute.

 

Now I was getting damn curious. Did I want to get involved with someone else’s drama? Didn’t I have enough of my own to deal with? But I was intrigued. Why the hell not? I certainly didn’t have anything else going on after class. Study and too much coffee and waiting for the bitch-from-hell to clear out of my place. It might give me insight into how this woman got into the situation she’s in. Did she move too fast on the guy she’s married to? Try and date a complete stranger…like me?

Curious, I texted:

 

Gotta class now. Free in two hours. Maybe then? <send>

 

She replied immediately.

 

Ok. I’ll text you at 3.

 

This was one of my favorite classes and I truly loved the professor, a lovely woman from Greece. Great looking, great figure, incredibly sexy accent. At no great surprise, I was scoring A’s throughout the semester. Liked to have scored her too.

Those two hours flew by, as they always seem to do. I walked out to the car and was putting my stuff away when my phone beeped.

 

I’ll meet you at the Evangeline’s on Fourth and Broad. We can compare notes. Ok?

 

I looked. Yep. Three o’clock on the dot. At least she was punctual.

 

Yes. CU there. <send>

 

I jumped in my Miata and headed over there. I felt excitement building because of the intrigue.

In a few minutes and a couple of quick lights, I found the Evangeline’s Bistro where she wanted to meet. As I drove down the street, I looked at the people sitting inside and outside at their little round tables. There was a woman, looked to be thirty or so, California blonde, doing something with her phone and she looked very unhappy. I stared so hard at her I almost crashed into the damn curb. But then…there was a good-looking redhead inside. Younger than the woman outside. She appeared to be crying into a napkin. No…she was blowing her nose. So much for  my incredible powers of observation.

I pulled over and took out my phone.

I texted:

I’m here. I’m in the little red Miata convertible. Top’s down. Where are you? Wave. <send>

 

Nothing.  I checked my reception: five bars, 4g. No problem there. Battery was good. So I copied and pasted the text and sent it again.

No reply.

Shit and damn! What a waste of my time. I waited a few more minutes for her to respond. Nope. Not happening.

I put the key in the ignition and left. I couldn’t go home because the bitch-from-hell would without a doubt hang around just as long as she thought she could to make me miserable. That left the library where I needed to go anyway.

I parked at the library and took out my notes and laptop. In the reference room, I found a quiet corner and set up for study. I like this particular room because it is very quiet and away from people entering and leaving.

About thirty minutes later, my phone buzzed. I had turned off the sound at the library.

I opened it and there was a text:

 

I’m sorry. It’s my fault. I had to leave. I wasn’t there. I’m sorry if I wasted your time. Bye.

 

Nope. This won’t do and now I was dying from curiosity. I wasn’t goin to let that happen.

I texted:

 

Hey! It’s okay. We can try again. It’s only 4:30. Can you make it at around 5? <send>

 

I waited so long for a reply that I finally clicked the phone ‘off’ and slammed it into my bag. Fuck this. I don’t need this kind of aggravation, especially now!

Time flies past me when I’m deep in study mode. I can get so lost in early Mesopotamian culture that at times I feel like I’m actually there.

It was six-forty-five. My phone buzzed, pulling me out of my study coma. Shit!

 

Okay. I am very sorry. I’ll be there at 7:30 if you can make it. I’m sorry again. I’m really curious about you!

 

I thought about it for a moment. Do I really want to do this? But like I said, curiosity and all.

I texted:

 

I’ll be there. I’m in a red Miata. Top’s down. Okay? <send>

 

She replied immediately:

CU

 

Alright! Now we’re getting somewhere.

I continued to work a little longer and then packed up and left. I hit Evangeline’s at exactly seven.

I texted:

 

I’m here. Where are you? Wave. <send>

 

No answer. Now I was really pissed. Then it occurred to me that my soon to be ex-girlfriend was fucking with me. She drove a beater Taurus. I knew it as well as the back of my hand. So with another look at the sidewalk tables and inside, I took off.

I drove slowly around the block, checking parking lots and the street for that bitch’s car. Wasn’t to be found. I expanded to several blocks but she wasn’t anywhere around and I knew she’d have to be because she’d love to watch me lose it.

Anger crept up my neck. I could feel my face get hot. I have a wonderful sense of humor and love a great practical joke now and then but by now I’m hungry and have lost some precious study time. I’m trying to put together my thesis and I’m playing shitty games with some chick, possibly my ex-girlfriend. Maybe this was one final ‘fuck you’ before she left. Screw this.

I gunned the Miata to a nearby McDonalds and ordered a couple of regular cheeseburgers and a medium Coke. I munched the burgers and thought about the day I’d had. If nothing else, it was damn interesting, anger or not.

I thought, what the hell. I texted her again.

I texted:

Are you out there somewhere? <send>

 

I got an immediate reply.

 

No! I was trying to leave my house! My husband said he was going to kill us! I’m locked in the bathroom with my two children. I’ve just called 911! Please stay with me until they get here! Please?

 

I choked on my Coke!

Coughing, I texted:

 

I’m here! I’ll stay with you! What’s your name? <send>

I’m Isabella. Thank you for being there. You?

I’m Sam. Are you safe? <send>

Yes. I hear sirens now. Bastard will go to jail. Good riddance. They’re in the driveway! Sam? I can’t wait to meet you.

 

This time I swallowed my Coke before I texted:

 

And me you. I suspect you’re going to be busy in a minute. Text me when you’re done. OK? <send>

 

No reply.

That was alright. She’d be up to her eyeballs with cops for several hours.

I finished my meal and dumped the trash. Before I drove off, I texted her again.

 

How’s it going? <send>

 

No reply.

Well, it was still no biggy. I’ve had my own dealings with the cops and I know how it can be.

I cruised past my place. All was dark. Good. The bitch-from-hell was finally gone. At least she didn’t torch the place.

I pulled into my driveway and parked. I texted Isabella the same question again.

No reply.

Now I was getting worried. It had been a couple of hours and I hadn’t heard from her.

I went into my house, flipped on the light and was greeted by a huge goddamn mess!

The bitch-from-hell had trashed the place up to an including punching holes in some of the walls. She had torn cabinet doors off and smashed them into my parquet kitchen floor. I won’t even say what she did in my bedroom. At least she was gone. All this can be cleaned up or repaired. I’ll just be more careful whom I live with down the road. Lessons learned.

Knowing how angry the bitch-from-hell could get, I had earlier stashed a backpack with a change of clothes. I took it, locked up the place and drove over to a La Quinta. In my room, I showered, dried off and sat on the bed.

I texted Isabella again. Same question. Same answer.

No reply.

I felt the first niggling of fear. I began biting my nails, something I hadn’t done in a couple of years…since I quit smoking.

The news was on, the sound turned off. I guess it was the flashing lights of the police cars and an ambulance that caught my eye.

There’s this kind of dread you get when you see something that you know is totally wrong. Your stomach goes into free fall. Your knees get week and eventually, you throw up your McDonalds cheeseburgers and Coke

The cops had surrounded a house. I could see three stretchers in front, each with covered body. Isabella had two children. I dry heaved into the wastebasket again. The crawl across the bottom of the screen talked about three people murdered in West Hollywood. More information as it became available. Next of kin were being notified.

Everything that had gone wrong over the last week came crashing down. For the first time in frickin’ ages, I cried! I howled! I curled myself into a fetal ball and screamed into my pillow! I couldn’t believe I had gotten so wrapped in the life of someone I had never seen or met.

I felt we had a connection.

Eventually I cried myself to sleep and found that sleep was out of the question. I gave up trying to at four in the morning. I got up, dressed, made myself one of those little cups of coffee. My stomach hurt. I ached all over from my fear and anger at losing someone I felt close to. I felt like shit warmed over.

I was terribly, terribly sad.

The television was still on. I caught the crawl across the bottom. They had caught the killer trying to ram a police roadblock.

Just as the crawl announced the killer’s name, my cell buzzed and I looked away from the screen

 

Sam? I’m here. I made it! Don’t imagine you’re up. I wanted you to see this first thing. We’re safe! The bastard’s in jail. I just got released from the emergency room. They had my cell phone. The bastard managed to get a shot at me just as the police broke in. His bullet scraped my thigh. I’m fine. My children are fine. They are at my mom’s. Can we finally meet? Please? At that Evangeline’s where we were supposed to meet?

 

Again, I found myself crying, this time in happiness.

 

Yes! J <send>

 

And then I saw the name on the crawl. It was determined that in a fit of tweaker rage, my bitch-from-hell ex-girlfriend had killed her mom, dad and little sister.

While that was a major shock; she’d never done meth around me, the look on Isabella’s face when she saw me enter the Evangeline’s was priceless. I guess somewhere in all this I had failed to mention that my real name is Samantha.

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