He watched the house from the dark beneath the old eucalypt that grew near the wall, waiting for the lights to go out. The shade was deepest right by the laneway gate where the broad trunk blocked the gleam from the street lamp beyond. Inside the house she moved listlessly, her silhouette thrown onto the blinds like shadow puppet shows from when he was a kid.
He couldn’t believe his luck when she showed up at the shop. He had spotted her several times, on the checkout at Woolies, pale and slight and oh, so vulnerable. Perfect. It had been easy to head Tim off, distracting him, playing to his arrogance.
‘Can I do the keys? There’s a guy with a Breitling, he wants a new battery and I can’t get the back off.’
‘Bloody useless,’ Tim had muttered as he had handed the keys over and slipped on his greasy smile.
Got ya, Sucker!
‘How can I help, Miss?’
‘I just need spare keys cut for my house.’
‘New house is it?’ Keep it light.
‘No, just new locks.’
‘Oh, you weren’t burgled?’ Perfect level of concerned citizen there, nice.
‘No,’ She flushed and looked away.
‘You alright, Love?’ Don’t push too hard now…
‘Yes, um sorry. I’ll come back for the keys if that’s alright.’
‘Sure, give me ten minutes.’
He had cut two copies of each, pocketing the first set when no one was looking. Finding out where she lived had taken a while, not hard, it just needed patience. The first evening he had followed her to the bus stop and watched from an adjacent bay to see which one she took. A few days later he got to the bus stop ahead of her and got on first, this time dressed as a tradie, scuffed work boots, high-vis shirt and navy pants, the broad brimmed sun hat and sunnies camouflaging his baldness. He took a seat at the back so he could see where she got off.
Then a week went by before he made his next move. Dressed in a dirty mac, ancient urine stained baggy trousers acquired from his grandfather’s wardrobe and with an old woolen beanie over his head, he had timed his Oscar worthy performance to coincide with the arrival of the bus at her stop. Walking stick in hand he had shuffled along the pavement, allowing her to pass him and lead him home. She hadn’t even said good evening. Stuck up bitch. He was invisible, invincible.
One evening he had even managed to slip in through the back door, just after dark and take a look around. It wasn’t a big house. The only photos were of the girl; there was just one toothbrush in the bathroom cabinet and the wardrobe held only feminine clothing. It was tempting to stay then, wait for her to come home, giving him longer to indulge. He resisted the urge; it was too big a risk. What if she brought someone with her?
All this waiting had only built the anticipation. He grinned, arms wrapped tightly about himself, hunkered down in the dark watching. Not long now. Inside the light went out in the lounge. Seconds later the one upstairs winked on. She briefly appeared at the window, looking out into the night, scanning left and right before drawing the curtains. Ten minutes later the whole house was dark. He waited, absorbed by the movement of the hands on the illuminated dial of his watch.
That first time, he had nearly ruined it, his need so urgent it had driven him to move too soon. All his careful planning almost wasted because the voltage charging through his veins made him itch with potency. He had not given the redhead enough time to drop into that deep sleep from which the shock of waking is the worst. He wasted the potential for prolonging his pleasure. Her waking was not disoriented with that slow realisation registering across her face, the fear replaced by the dawning despair that fed his need. He barely had time to slap the wide silver tape across her mouth, her wild eyes flickering, legs thrashing as he pinned her down, straddling her waist, knees each side of her breasts, each writhing buck of her hips increasing the thunderous pressure in his groin.
Cable ties secured wrists to bed head, then the ungainly clamber to get off of her and secure those feet. She fought, lashing out at his face, her screams strangled to muffled moans by the glutinous tack of the tape. She kicked out, her foot connecting with his cheekbone. Metallic spit flooded his mouth. He swallowed and stepped back from the bed. From his pocket he drew a knife.
‘Kick me again, I’ll cut you,’ he whispered. He walked to the head of the bed and placed the ice-cold blade against the soft hollow of her throat. His heart raced at the dull sheen of moonlight on the cinereal steel. Her legs became still.
There was no footboard so he fashioned trusses from her discarded stockings, exalting in his ingenuity. He tied her ankles to the legs of the bed, opening her up, but again he rushed. The overwhelming drive to exert his dominance forced him on top of her. No slow measured joy in preparation, no close inspection of his prize. Inside his gloves his fingers were slippery with sweat. He fumbled in his pocket for the condom but couldn’t open it. Holding it one handed he tore the packet with his teeth, the rubbery circle slipping onto her bare stomach. He fumbled it on and spread her thighs wider and thrust. All control left him; his power surged out leaving him limp.
He climbed off her and wiped himself, pocketing the tissues and the used condom. With the initial driving impetus satisfied, he now had time to immerse himself in the rush.
Over the past year he had refined his technique. The first experience had honed his vision. The biggest high was the fear, watching the panic flood their faces above the silencing tape. How eloquent a pair of eyes could be. The liquid luster of an iris beneath tears, the pupil darkly dilated. The longer he stretched those moments the greater the torrent of omnipotence became and the still calm peace that followed it. It was artistry, his performance. The greater the control he exerted over himself, the deeper the gratification.
Under the tree an hour had passed.
Time to go. Following the path so as to leave no tracks on the grass, he moved towards the house, pulling on the latex gloves from his pocket. The door key, slick with oil, slid home noiselessly. He turned it and slipped through leaving the door on the latch in case. Lamplight from outside cast the room in a palette of greys, enough to navigate it silently. The door to the hall was open, no danger there. He paused at the foot of the stairs, his blood fizzing through his body like a shot of heroin, every nerve attenuated.
No carpet on the stairs to muffle his steps. He took them slowly reveling in each one. His breaths came shorter, the tautness in his gut more intense. Half way up the tread creaked as he set the ball of his foot down. He froze, listening, then lifted his leg and stepped up over the loose board. He paused and counted the steps to the top, and then grinned again, silence on the way out would be unnecessary. Invincible.
The bedroom door was halfway along the landing. In three slow steps he was there. His fingers caressed the cool brushed steel of the handle, savouring the moment, before turning it slowly and pushing.
Come back next week for the next installment of this story.