Erica-Rose and Karen drove away from the neighborhood unaware of the car parked down the street that began to trail them. Erica pulled into the parking lot of Ralph’s grocery store and parked up front. The car that followed them all the way there, parked further in the back, but in plain sight. Erica and Karen hopped out of the car going over the mental list they just made of what they needed to pick up. Erica decided she would cook dinner tonight and Karen wanted to make sub sandwiches for lunch.
“You’re going to love the sauce I put on the bread.” Karen teased.
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Erica responded. “You know I’m a picky eater.”
Just as they entered the store, Karen slid her hand into Erica’s and somewhere too far for them to notice a camera flash went off. The parked car where the flash came from was old. A black Volkswagen with a few dents on each side. The paint was rusting off, the license plates were bent and the numbers and letters were no longer their original color. This made it easy for the brand new tinted windows to stick out like a sore thumb. They were too dark for California standards actually and the driver received two tickets already.
Inside the car, sitting on the passenger seat was a “to-do” list. Nine out of the ten things had already been checked off. The list had things like names and addresses listed beside the word roses and dates and times too. The last thing on the list waited patiently to be crossed off and it was written in red ink instead of black like the rest of the list.
As Erica and Karen came out the store, more flashes went off from inside the car. Erica carrying all the bags except the lightest one…Click. Karen’s light jog to catch up with Erica’s stride…click. Erica loading the bags into the trunk…Click. Karen playfully wrapping her arms around Erica’s waist from behind her…Click. Erica turning around after closing the trunk and placing a kiss on Karen’s forehead…Click.
Erica and Karen hopped back in the car and headed to the Blockbuster across the street. Karen was in the mood for action but Erica wanted romance. They settled on comedy and they both chuckled remembering that was what they called their movie-fix compromise. The store was crowded. If they were in there with eight of their closest friends, they wouldn’t have recognized them.
A few new movies were releasing today. Everyone was pushing past everyone else, never making eye contact, grabbing movies off the shelf and heading towards the register. You wouldn’t notice or think it weird for someone to turn on every single aisle moments right after you. Erica and Karen hated overly crowded places, so they grabbed their movie, paid and hurried back to the car.
“You ever get that weird feeling that you’re being followed babe?” Erica asked, once they were in the car and driving away.
“Oh yeah.” Karen laughed. “They call that paranoia.” Karen laughed harder now.
“Be quiet.” Erica replied, laughing a little as she pushed her softly. But I’m serious, Erica thought to herself.
The black Volkswagen followed behind closer this time. The driver almost ran two other cars off the road for cutting in between the two cars. As Erica turned into her driveway, the car parked three houses down out of sight. The neighborhood was quiet and the car almost seemed empty. The wind blew strong and entered through a small crack in the window. All that exited was a small whisper, “I’ll show you not to steal my love.”
When they made it to Erica’s house, Erica gave Karen a quick tour and put her bags in the bedroom. While Karen made the sandwiches, Erica stepped onto the back porch to call Kim.
“Hey lady, how are you today?” Erica asked as soon as Kim answered the phone.
“I’m…..fine.” Kim answered with hesitation.
“Are you okay? Are you still mad at me?” Erica asked, hoping Kim had calmed down from this morning.
“Erica….I’m not mad. Dogs get mad.” Kim answered. “I’m just disappointed.”
“Baby, I’m sorry. I don’t want to cause any drama today.” Erica continued. “I just want to see when you have time to get together and talk.”
“I might have time this evening. Do you want to come over and have dinner?” Kim asked, secretly hoping Erica would say yes, so she could stop being angry with her.
“Ummmm…tonight won’t be good actually.” Erica answered, placing her head in her hand and feeling bad. “How about lunch tomorrow?”
Kim couldn’t hide her disappoint if she tried, so she didn’t. “That’s fine Erica. Look, I have to go. Just call me tomorrow.”
Before Erica could say bye she heard the dial tone. Sliding her cell phone into her pocket, Erica walked back into the house to find Karen bringing her plate to the dining room table.
“Everything okay hun?” Karen asked, hoping her phone call wouldn’t change the mood.
“Oh yeah Kare,” Erica lied with a smile. “I’m doing great. Oh and this sandwich better be good.”
They both laughed and sat down to eat. Erica asked to herself, Erica, what did you get yourself into?
Erica sent a text to Kim, saying that they needed to talk. Seconds later Kim replied, that yes…they did need to talk.
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