Whisper softly or you're dead

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Chapter twenty-one.

Someone needs to save these innocent and vulnerable girls from themselves

The Prom band was popular and Charlie was glowing in the praise for her dress. The Prom queen and her escort organised the whole prom in her school and it would enhance her C.V. for when she went to college and later got a job. Popular at school, she had easily gained more votes than her rival, a girl who tried to buy her way to the role with free tickets to her Dad’s night club and pop concerts from the music professionals who played there.

No, she had won fair and square and she hoped it would make the boy she had fixed her eyes on notice her. A guy in the opposite class from her in her year he had pulled her pigtails when she was thirteen and had no bust to mention and spots developing. She had whacked him, but he had continued to tease her unmercifully until his hormones had kicked in and he had started chasing girls for other reasons. A jock and stud he now had most of the senior girls desiring him for their boyfriend.

She had grown recently in height and filled out. Her prom dress was off the shoulder and showed an extensive décolletage. Jonas had stared at her across the canteen when he thought she wasn’t looking, his eyes fixed on her ample bosom. He looked at her now as if she was a woman, not the little girl he liked to tease. Her prom escort was a friend of her brother. She had just broken up with her old boyfriend after loads of rows. She was available if Jonas made a move on her.

She hoped the looks Jonas sent her were a precursor to him asking for her a date that evening. He had come with a friend of his sister, a girl she knew was engaged and committed to a long-term boyfriend. He was free to date as far as she knew. She had heard secretly his own girlfriend had dumped him recently after she had found a wealthier college boy to date. She had heard he was cut up about it, his ego hurt. He was the one who usually did the dumping, not the one who was dumped.

She danced all evening and stopped at eleven o’clock, her feet aching in her high heeled shoes. Jonas smiled at her across the room. He was talking to a friend but couldn’t keep his eyes off her. She was glad she had bought this dress and had her hair piled up, with a ringlet falling down her neck like an old-fashioned Southern lady.

She went to the washroom and accepted the congratulations of her girl-friends for running such a successful prom. They left, and she went to the washroom but when she came back she was surprised to see a large bouquet of flowers in a woman’s arms. The woman was clearly waiting for her to appear. The woman wore a florist’s overall and had her short hair in a severe manly cut. Her arms were stocky and muscled like that of a man. She came forward and asked, ‘‘Am I right and you are Ms Charlie Summers, the Prom Queen.’’

‘‘Yes Ma’am,’’ said Charlie confused but excited at the same time. The Prom Queen received flowers at the end from the Prom committee.

‘‘A young man asked me to give you these,’’ she said and put the enormous bouquet in Charlie’’s arms.

‘‘I must dash now, I have another delivery, an anniversary celebration on the other side of town. You are a lucky girl to have a man spend so much on you. He must be a lovely boy.’’

She rushed out the door leaving Charlie to read the card. It was from Jonas. He was lovely. Dreamily Charlie read the gold printed words. The colour of the bouquet flowers matched her dress. He had spent a lot of time getting them right. He must think a lot of her after all. The card read, ‘‘Meet me behind the bleachers at 11.15 p.m. We have time to talk before the presentation.’’ He could have talked with her earlier, but he was always different in the way he went about things.

She slipped out of the washroom and out of the back door carrying the flowers with her. There was a shadow behind the bleachers. Tall and dark, it must be Jonas waiting for her. She was so excited her heart raced but she calmed herself down. He wanted a sophisticated woman not a young excitable girl. As she passed the bleachers and was out of sight of the main school the person came into her vision. She was disappointed. It was the woman from the florists but now dressed in jeans and a man’s jacket. Her hair was short and covered in a baseball cap, not a wisp or curl showing.

‘Where is Jonas?’ asked Charlie, almost crying with disappointment. How could he let her down?

‘‘He has been delayed. He asked me to apologise,’’ said the woman. ‘‘He will be here very soon.’’

‘’I haven’‘t got long. The prom presentation takes place at 1 a.m.’’ said Charlie.

‘‘He will be here before then. Come and sit in the stalls and wait for him. I must go in a minute, but he didn’t want you to sit here alone. Someone might see you.’’ She checked her watch. ‘‘I hope he is quick. I’m late. Young men can be inconsiderate at times, although they mean well.’’

She patted the seat next to her and Charlie sat there still and anxious. Would Jonas let her down? Luckily, none of her friends knew about their tryst. If he didn’t turn up she would throw the flowers in the bin and go back to the ball and pretend nothing had happened.

‘‘That is a lovely necklace,’’ said the florist lady.

‘‘I bought it for this prom.’’

‘‘It matches the flowers in the bouquet. Look!’’ Charlie bent to look at the tiny flower in the centre of the bouquet. Well-hidden, she had to really peer to find it but it was there, blue with a yellow centre. As she unbent she felt a prick in her bare arm like a bee sting. She turned around and saw with horror the florist lady smiling at her but there was no warmth in her eyes which looked through her.

‘‘Sleep peacefully Charlie, you are going to a better place. Jonas didn’t care for you. He would only have used you.’’

Cradley looked bleak. ‘’Another seventeen-year-old virgin, the Prom Queen. She was last seen in the wash room about midnight by some friends and then disappeared. She was found under the bleachers. By sheer luck someone went to check the seats which had been vandalised and saw her foot poking out. Same as the other limbs, dismembered but the torso was cut from them and the head.

‘‘The only clue was some flowers crushed as if they had been gripped hard in her hand. Blue and white, they matched her ball gown, an off the shoulder number. She looked like a character from Gone with the Wind, poor kid. She was so excited to be the Prom Queen.’’

‘‘Have florists been contacted?’’

‘‘Yes, there were no florist vans parked at the school, so the killer may have delivered the flowers. We have officers tracing the type of flower and where they were bought. We should find that out quickly as they must be bought quite fresh.’’

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