The little ditz in the next cubicle squeals with delight, her first real paycheck. New girl, only been here a few weeks, bright eyed and bushy tailed as they used to say. Hope gleaming in her eyes on her first day, eager to learn about finances, feverishly scribbling away in her notepad, nodding like a bobble headed cupie doll.
Tillie had been at the bank for 10 years and 5 months, straight out of college. She didn’t know what to do with her degree. She majored in Business just to have a Bachelor's under her belt, she knew she needed a degree to get any decent job that paid a living wage. Tillie had hoped to go into her own business after a few years out of school, but it just didn’t work out. Friends who she thought she could count on to build a start-up were excited at first, then lost interest or found a more stable career path.
As the cupie doll talked excitedly with her little fan club she had acquired, Tillie decided to take an early Friday off and shut down her computer and headed to her gym. She needed to work off some stress and the kickboxing class was starting in a half an hour. She had a membership at a chain fitness center and regularly attended classes or did 45 minute workouts on the equipment.
Marcus greeted her at the kickboxing classroom.
“Hey, how’s it going?” Smiling that crooked grin, like he was hiding some kind of secret.
“Same old, same old. Just happy to make it to a weekday class, less crowded.”
There were only five people in this class, a couple of dudebros and three women, including Tillie. After 45 minutes of punching, kicking, jumping, and sweating; Tillie headed to the treadmills. She was on for about five minutes when Marcus stepped in front with that crooked grin.
“Hey, got a minute?” He said as she removed her headphones.
“Well, not going anywhere anytime soon,” she waved her hand on the side of the machine.
“Right, you're still looking for some side work?”
“Yeah, you looking for an extra trainer or something?”
“Or something...let me introduce you to someone who is looking for, um ‘or something’.”
Marcus walked Tillie over to the juice bar and up to a slender dark blonde woman seated at a table. Tillie and Marcus sat down after they ordered some smoothies.
“Tillie, this is Sarah. She has been a long time member and took some of your cycling classes way back when.” Tillie recognized Sarah, she always had a workout t-shirt with some smug saying on it.
“Hey, nice to formally meet you. Marcus has told me a lot about you,” she had a warm smile.
“Nice to meet you too, although I can’t say the same about you. Are you looking for one on one training?” Tillie sized up Sarah; she was slim but had some muscle. She didn’t look like she needed any workout tips. As a matter of fact, she looked like a self-assured 30 something with the world at her fingertips. Quite the opposite of me Tillie thought.
“Not so much training, but I was hoping to get a one-on-one in another way”
“What did you have in mind”
Sarah looked steadily in Tillie’s eyes, “ I need your help in getting rid of someone”
Quarter Moon Lite, that was the name of the bar.
Tillie found a seat at the bar that gave her a good view of the whole floor. She went through her mental description of the guy Sarah wanted gone. Gary, 40, medium build, dark hair, brown eyes, always wears bright-colored polo shirts. She ordered a martini, as instructed by Sarah, Gary loves women who drink martinis. Tillie wasn’t much of a drinker, so she nursed it until she saw him walk in.
He stood at the edge of the front of the bar, having a quick look over the floor to scope the talent. Gary locked eyes with Tillie, she didn’t waste any time. She shifted her position on the bar stool, which made her already short skirt lift higher on her thigh. She knew Gary was checking her out.
“He loves redheads and his favorite color is green. Drink a martini, it turns him on for some reason.” Sarah continued to explain what Gary would look like and how to get his attention. Gary had a habit of picking up women at Quarter Moon Lite for his favorite sport, one night stands.
Sarah explained that is how they met. She finished up a long day at her publicist firm and wanted to go for a drink. Quarter Moon Lite was a fairly new, hip bar owned by a friend of a partner in her firm. She had gone a couple of times before, opening night and a couple of times after. Sarah enjoyed the atmosphere with the dim lights and soft house music playing and all the different concoctions were delicious. She was hanging out at the bar, on her third drink, Gary slid in next to her. He was suave with his conversation, with his dark eyes he seemed to be very interested in what she had to say. Sarah thought he might be a good catch, or maybe it was the drinks he kept buying for them. What she didn’t keep track of was how much he was drinking compared to her. Before she knew it they were in the back seat of a cab, making out like a couple of teenagers on prom night.
They ended up at his place, Sarah wasn;t really sure where that was. She had many drinks and as she thought about it later, she was sure Gary put something in the last one. She started feeling a little dizzy in the back of the cab, by the time they reached his apartment, Gary basically carried her to his door. Her last memory before the morning was laying on his bed, as if she floated on a cloud.
Her head felt like a brick as the sun shined on her face. She realized she wasn’t in her bed, her bedroom window did not face the sunrise. She feels a hand shaking her as she tries to clear her mind.
“You got to go,” he said sternly. Sarah raised her pounding head and swung her legs slowly out from under the sheet. She saw she was naked and quickly grabbed up the sheet to cover herself.
“Where are my clothes?” He pointed to the end of the bed. Gary made no effort to help her gather her belongings. She quickly dressed, stuffing her stockings in her purse hastily. Saying nothing Gary walked towards the front door. She followed, trying to pull herself together.
He opened the door and made an unceremonious gesture toward the hallway. “The doorman can hail you a cab.” As she stepped out, she turned back to face him trying to stop the tears from her eyes.
“What happened last night?”
“I’ll call you later,” She shook her head and he closed the door. She did her walk of shame to the cab and cried in the backseat all the way home. A week passed, he never called and she never heard from him again.
Sarah explained all of this to Tilly as they sat at a table off to the side of the juice bar at the gym. Marcus sat silently, never taking his eyes off Tilly as Sarah told her story. She went on on how she found out who Gary was, asking questions about him at the bar. Apparently this is Gary’s M.O, he meets women at the bar, orders a bunch of drinks for the ladies and ends up leaving the bar with them. Some of the women behind the bar suspected he put something in the drinks but never actually never saw him do it. She also found out the Gary was a part owner of the Quarter Moon Lite, so the women behind the bar were kind of afraid of saying anything about his activities.
“So, when you say ‘get rid’, you mean kill?”
“Yes. Would that be a problem?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Really?” Marcus looked surprised, but then put on the crooked smile. He knew Tillie was looking for a little excitement. After listening to the story, Tillie felt she would have no problem taking down Gary.
She was attacked once, someone had followed her home to her old apartment one night. She has a license to carry, but the perp didn’t know that. She pushed her into the apartment, when she spun around, he punched her hard in the jaw. Her grasp was still on her purse as she fell. She quickly reached in and before the perp could land another blow, she took her shot and it landed right in his neck. She stood up and dialed 9-1-1, holding the gun steadily at him. The cops came, took her statement, took crime scene pictures and removed the dead perp from her apartment. Tilly refused to stay at a hotel that night, instead she stayed up all night to clean up the blood. While she was dumping the third bucket of red colored water into her toilet, she finally had a clear thought. Him or me.
Gary sat one stool over from Tilly. She and Sarah had picked out a realistic red wig and a tight green outfit, sure to catch his eye. They went over the plan; the layout of the bar, where to sit, what to order and the perfect time to arrive at the bar. Tillie spent after work and weekends working out with Marcus; kickboxing, spin class, weights, everything to build her upper and lower body strength. Two months of preparing and Sarah continuously asking, “Are you sure you can do this?”
Tillie took the Friday off, she spent the whole day meditating and preparing for the night. This was going to be a clean kill, no fuss, no mess. A little poetic justice, make it look like an accidental overdose on his own supply. Tillie took a night off from the gym and staked out the bar Wednesday night. She waited until she saw Gary show up and go inside, she knew she had at least an hour to get in his apartment. Sarah was able to find his exact address and apartment number so Tillie could time her exit, places to ditch the clothing and get home.
“Haven’t seen you here before, name’s Gary. Can I get you another?” He lifted his drink, which appeared to be a martini as well.
“Sure,” he called over the bartender and ordered two other martinis. Right on cue, thought Tilly and they began some small talk. Gary continued to order the drinks, but Tillie did not drink a lot, this was part of the plan. Tillie turned the flirting to full throttle as they moved from the bar to the booth.
“Why don’t we go back to my place for a night cap,” Gary’s words were starting to slur, he lost count of how many martinis he had.
“Ok, let’s go.” She grabbed up her purse and they walked to hail a cab. As he did with Sarah, they made out all the way to his apartment. The doorman was nowhere to be found, good Tilly thought, no one in the lobby to identify her. On the 10th floor, the elevator beeped and the doors opened.
Everything was moving in slow motion for Tilly, she practiced and went over in her head all of her steps she was going to do once they got to his apartment. As he prepared the drinks, he turned his back to get the vodka out of the freezer. Quickly, Tillie took the powder she had gotten out of his apartment just two days ago and put it into his glass. He had already added the juice, so it dissolved quickly. She slipped her hand back into her purse just as he turned back to finish his mixture.
“Let me just use the washroom to freshen up a little,” Gary pointed as he started to sip his drink. Give it just a few minutes, thought Tillie and he should be too weak to fight back. She opened the bathroom door and she heard the thud of him dropping to the floor.
She grabbed a dish towel from the sink and stuffed it down in his mouth. She put all her weight on his chest and pushed the towel down further. His eyes opened suddenly and he began to struggle a little. Between the booze and the medication, he didn’t put up much of a fight, to Tillie's advantage. He tried to mumble and move but Tillie pressed harder on his chest and in his mouth. What felt like hours only lasted a few minutes, he went limp and she checked his pulse.
Nothing, no thumps, no bumps, silence. Tillie sat next to Gary’s lifeless body, almost waiting for him to jolt awake, but he didn’t move anymore. She willed herself to get up and put the rest of the plan into action. When Tillie had broken into Gary’s apartment, not only did she take his secret stash of medication, she also hid her change of clothes in the back of his closet where he wouldn’t look. She grabbed a trash bag, tore off the wig, took off her dress and stockings. She changed into leggings, a hoodie and slip-on shoes, stuffed the other clothing in the bag and headed towards the front door. She took one last look at the body and hastily got out of there. The building had a backway out in the lobby. She knew that there was only a camera in the third floor stairway, so she took the elevator to the second floor and slipped into the stairway.
She slowly opened the door to peer in the lobby. The doorman was just walking back to the front desk, out of view of the backway door. Tillie opened the door and disappeared into the alley. She cut through the alley street, down two blocks, disposing the trash bag into a dumpster and heading to the street to hail a cab.
“Hey honey, long night?” The cabbie drove to the stop light and started the fair.
“No, just a lousy date.”
Tuesday afternoon, it was sparse in the gym. All of the classes were done and there were only about ten people scattered around on treadmills and weights. Tillie was in the middle of her fifteen mile uphill run on the treadmill, listening to Jeopardy playing on the televisions. During the commercial break, a clip of the evening news showing the continuing search for the murderer of Gary Waites.
“Waites’ body was found by the cleaning woman when she arrived for her weekly scheduled apartment cleaning. Waites had been dead for several days, according to the medical examiner. The police did not find any signs of a breakin, nothing valuable was missing from the apartment. Waites, 43, was single and the co-owner of Quarter Moon Lite, the popular bar located on the corner of Poplar and Madison, in the Downtown district. Since it had been several days since his death, the police have little to go on to solve this murder…,”
The commercials droned on and Tillie started to tune it out. Marcus walked in front of her treadmill just as she was finishing her last mile. “Hey, you almost finished?”
“Yeah, I will meet you at the juice counter.” They sat down after getting their drinks. Tillie wiped her sweaty face on her towel and took a large gulp of her green elixir. Marcus drank from his large bottle of water.
“So, I put Sarah’s thank you card in your locker. She is really grateful for your help.”
“Yeah, I bet she is. I saw her go into that bar Saturday night, I thought she said she was never going back.” Tillie was angry, it was almost as if Sarah was doing a victory lap. She was in the bar for a couple of hours, it just seemed like she wanted to gloat. Meanwhile, Tillie took all weekend to calm her anxiety.
She stayed in, even though it was a beautiful Autumn weekend, she ordered out and didn’t even lift her weights at home. Her muscles were stiff from worry, she had even taken a bath each morning and night. By Monday morning, she felt a little better and went to work, per usual. As the day wore on, she relaxed a little. She started to think, no one suspects me, they can’t. Tillie was still upset by Sarah's blaise attitude towards the killing. She didn’t even bother to meet with Tillie face-to-face.
“She did add an extra thank you to the note,” Marcus said as he watched the television screen facing the juice bar.
“Yup, how are you doing?” At least someone asked how she was doing. She lowered her shoulders a bit and evaluated her feelings for the first time since meeting Sarah. Marcus searched her face for any indication of her thoughts. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes slightly.
“Doing pretty good, actually. Feel pretty good.”
“Cool. So, I got a kickboxing class scheduled next Sunday. A good friend of mine is going to attend, he just moved into the city. I would like you to meet him. He may be interested in some one-on-one consultation with you.”
Tillie stared hard at Marcus, a slow smirk formed on his face. She nodded and took a sip of her elixir.
“Can’t wait to meet him.”