Even though she expected him, his voice startled her. She hadn’t expected him to be so close. It was too soon. He must have been following her from the building. “You’re not a ghost,” she said, finding herself facing Dodd. He still looked handsome, but there was something sinister about the expression on his face. Why was he smiling at her like that…just like he had smiled at her by the van?
Dodd let out a small burst of laughter. “You thought I was a ghost?” He peered at her, his eyes mesmerizing. “Is that what Lasker told you?”
Shelly felt disarmed, suddenly unsure of what she was doing. “He knows about you?” Shelly had suspected something, but why would Dr. Loco hide this from her?
Dodd burst into laughter again. This time it was loud and insane, frightening to her. “He lied to you. Didn’t he? That wily old bastard.”
Shelly wanted to back away, but Dodd was watching her every move. “Is your name really Dodd?” Shelly felt the sharp edge of the steak knife in her jacket pocket.
There was a look of amusement on his face. “Did you think I’d lie to you? Yes, my name is Dodd, Thomas Graham Dodd.” He was studying her with narrow eyes. “Do you have any other questions for me?”
She detected a wild look in his eyes. “Yes. Why are you trying to kill me,” she asked, her hand now tight around the knife handle. “It is you trying to kill me, isn’t it?”
Dodd stared at her and then he smiled, his hands clenched at his sides.
When he smiled, Shelly thought he looked sexy again, his face unblemished, his chin and cheeks clean shaven and his hair black, wisps straying wildly, provocatively. He definitely has an interesting face…It almost made her want to tell him she liked him and might have had a nice relationship with him…except he wanted to kill her. Why?
“Why do you want to hurt me? Did I do something to you,” she asked, seeing he wasn’t talking, just staring at her, as if studying her before he decided to attack. She had seen this
frightening face on zombies in the movies, but Dodd was no zombie…he was alive and could strike at her with sudden and frightening speed. “I liked…like you.”
He seemed to refocus, his eyes sizing her up, intense.
Shelly tightened her hand on the knife. “I liked you. I thought you were cute and….”
“I know exactly what you want. I know why you are here.” Voices inside his head were screaming it at him.
“I don’t want anything? What are you talking about?” “Sure you do. That’s why you wanted to see him.”
“Who? I didn’t want to see anyone but you.” Was he jealous? Is that what this was all
“You know very well what I mean.” His eyes and his voice were cold, cruel and
menacing. “You pretend to like me, but you don’t fool me. I know exactly what you wanted. You never should have come here. He didn’t need you. He had me.”
Shelly was confused. Who was Dodd talking about? And then it hit her. “Do you mean Dr. Lasker? I wanted Dr. Lasker to help me with,” Shelly almost said “ghost,” but stopped herself. Dodd couldn’t know.
He had said that so softly, without emotion, that it frightened Shelly even more than if he’d screamed it at her. “Dodd, I’m not lying. I need his help. Trust me? That’s all I wanted from him.”
“No, dear, lying, Shelly. You wanted my job.” “Your job? What are you talking about?” “Don’t pretend you don’t know.”
“I don’t know anything. I’m telling you the truth. I wanted help with a problem I have.” “You have a problem? Okay, tell me what it is? What Shelly is your damn problem?”
He sounded maniacal, vicious and threatening? What’s wrong with him? Shelly hesitated. “I can’t. I promised….”
“That’s what I thought. I knew you were a lying bitch the minute I saw you…I knew I had to stop you.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about. Dr. Lasker is helping me and –“
“Damn you, stop lying! He gave you my job! I was his assistant! You had no right to take my job from me! It was my life! My whole damn life… I have nothing else! Nothing.”
Shelly was about to speak when Dodd hurled himself at her, his hands reaching for her throat. The attack was so sudden and so swift that the knife fell out of her jacket pocket and was quickly lost in the high grass.
“I didn’t want to hurt you. I tried scaring you off, but you wouldn’t stop. You had to worm your way into his heart with your devilish female ways.”
Shelly felt his hands tighten around her throat. “I didn’t. I didn’t know about you—“
“At least stop lying,” he screamed, his tears landing on her face as his hands were
clamping down tighter and tighter on her windpipe. “I could have loved you if you weren’t a lying bitch! Even with that guard? I saw you with him.”
She couldn’t speak. She kicked her feet at his legs and he squeezed harder. She tried to knee him in the crotch, but he pulled away, never releasing his fingers from her neck. How could I have been so stupid, she thought, as she reached for his face, that beautiful face, and felt her nails scratch down from his eye to somewhere on his cheek before he threw her hand off his flesh and slapped the side of her face so hard she let out a sharp cry.
“Stop fighting,” he screeched, the madness taking complete hold of him, tears flowing freely as he prayed she’d finally die so he could show her how gently he would help her to the
ground, how tenderly he would hold her as he waited for the police to come and place a bullet between his eyes. “Please stop fighting. It won’t hurt as much. I never wanted to hurt you. If only you had taken my warnings?” He squeezed harder, tears falling, repeating over and over again, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”
Shelly couldn’t speak. She was trying to hold his hands, to pull them away, knowing her strength was giving out. Her brain still could not understand how someone who could say he loved her could also be snuffing out her life. “Dodd,” she begged, but no words came out. His hands were too tight.
“Not again! Can’t you stay out of trouble for five minutes?”
Shelly heard Allen’s familiar voice as her hands stopped fighting against Dodd and her body grew limp. Is this what you were waiting for, she heard her brain scream as she accepted that she was about to become a victim of murder, just like Allen. And maybe that’s what the ghost she called Allen had wanted all along? Maybe that’s why he had been sent for her? It didn’t matter. It was time to let go.