Dirty Old Man, a short story by James Dean Collins at Spillwords.com

Dirty Old Man

Dirty Old Man

written by: James Dean Collins



As the young woman at the bar finished her third gin and tonic, Dave watched her pick up her purse. He grabbed his bag and slung it over his shoulder. He waited for her to walk out of the double doors before he got up and left the bar himself.
Dave looked around Rittenhouse Square as casually but as quickly as he could to find the woman. It was important he not draw attention to himself, even though he wasn’t doing anything illegal, right? He reminded himself that she owed him, as the unseasonably cool night air blew a gust of wind in his face. His teeth chattered as he pulled his coat together.
It had been a rough day at work for Dave. He was an older, out of shape suburbanite who didn’t enjoy very much of his worthless life. He had expected to retire five years ago, but his pain in the ass wife and his pain in the ass daughter made that all the more difficult. His wife Leigh, who he married fresh out of high school, was downsized from her insurance office two years ago with only 10 years to go on the mortgage. Their savings took another hit when his 28-year-old daughter, Kate, came home last year after living on her own since college. Why couldn’t they be like his son, Aaron? After serving four years in the Navy, Aaron found his way into one of the top banks in the United States and went to work in their securities department.
Dave found the young woman across the street. She was at a bus stop, at which point he cursed to himself. He hated riding the SEPTA bus. He found a crowd crossing the street and snuck over with them, trying to look like any tourist in the city. He hid with another crowd as the bus pulled to a stop and everyone, including his subject, got on the bus. Dave had a pass, it was a sort of necessity for what he did in his personal life, but he hated taking that damn bus. One of the reasons he took Ubers and Lyfts around the city was that he didn’t really like to interact with anyone. He could get rides to any neighborhood, even Kensington, without much delay. Drivers in Philly left riders alone for the most part. But now, he sat at the front of this terrible bus with its horrible patrons and nasty smell. It was ironic that Dave was bothered by these people, as he himself was sweating profusely.
When the bus stopped and the woman made her move to get off, Dave hesitated for a moment. As she cleared the door, he tapped the driver on the shoulder and asked to hold the door for a moment while he pretended to search for something in his bag. He then got off and followed her at an inconspicuous distance to her apartment building on Fairmount Street. Dave found a bush and crouched down. The twigs stuck him in certain places on his flabby body, but he muffled any cries of pain as he unsheathed his camera and attached the telescopic lens. After he connected the lens and battery and turned it on, Dave lowered his eye to look through the viewfinder, like a sniper assessing his target.
As he waited in the bushes, the dirty old man thought about the email she sent him. He must have read it seven or eight times, he’d lost count. Who in the hell did she think she was, anyway?
Dave looked around to make sure he wasn’t seen and thought about Heather, the girl he stalked home. He checked her dating profile account earlier, and of course she had blocked him. But what made her think she was so much better than him? Because he wanted a few pictures now and then, because he liked to talk dirty seeing as Leigh hadn’t touched him in years? It’s not like this thing with Heather was one-sided, right? He gave her the attention she craved. Well, the 30-year-old that Heather thought he was did, anyway. Dave had used a photo he found from Facebook, one of a strapping young white man in his 30’s, as his own private avatar. The young man, Dave remembered his name being Alex or something, was everything that the dirty old man wasn’t in his own 30’s. He felt powerful knowing that he could control this young woman while he was using some little prick that took his youth and his looks for granted, Heather or Alex ever being wiser.
Dave had other girls he could mess with. There was Linda, whose husband had died a year ago which made her lonely and insecure. There was Tara, who was a young and naïve college student on the verge of failing out of school. Tara was looking for a place to stay to avoid her parents, which gave him leverage. But he couldn’t get his mind off of Heather. She was a newly divorced Latina brunette in her mid-30’s who was vulnerable and on the rebound. She was striking but didn’t know it, and empathetic almost to a fault.
How could she just cut him out like that?
A car drove down Fairmount Street as Dave crouched in the bushes, keeping his eyes fixated on her apartment window.
Dave thought about his evening after he had finished with Heather’s e-mail. He had a folder on his personal computer full of nudes. Some of the pictures were porn, but most were girls that he catfished over the last few years. It gave him a sense of pride, like they were his perverted hunting trophies. And so what if he was a predator? It’s not like he didn’t give anything back to these girls. Like Heather, he told them they were pretty and smart and deserved better than whatever their bleeding heart story was when he came to them in desperation. He found common interests with them, and when they had none, he created them through research. He coddled them.
Did he not deserve something for his trouble?
So, Dave had grabbed his camera bag and checked her Facebook account to find out where she was going for the night. He’d used an alternate account weeks ago as a failsafe to keep tabs on her, just in case things went south between them. Sure enough, Heather posted that she was heading to a bar in Rittenhouse. It got a few likes, but no one responded. That was the perfect scenario for Dave.
Dave walked to his driveway and sent out a request for an Uber ride. His family had only one working vehicle, which was a minivan that Leigh and Kate drove everywhere. His old Pontiac sat disabled in the driveway, the transmission having failed a few years prior. The family could neither afford to fix Dave’s car no replace it with anything that worked. So he generously, at least he felt it was generous, let Leigh and Kate use the van as needed. He hated driving around Delaware County anyway, and knew firsthand how hard it was to inconspicuously watch women from the minivan they owned. Leigh and Kate weren’t home, so it wasn’t even an option to drive the van.
But now Dave would get his payoff. Finally she appeared in the window in her underwear. She brushed her long, dark hair back as the dirty old man licked his lips and raised his camera. He closed his left eye, moved his finger to the shutter button. As he went to snap the shutter, there was a footstep behind him.
He pulled his camera down and ducked down in the bushes. He checked his watch and it was 12:30 a.m. Philly wasn’t really dead until about four but Fairmount was usually dried up at this time, he’d been there dozens of times before. From his position he carefully turned his head around and looked up and down the block.
There was no one. Not a single soul populated Fairmount Street. There wasn’t even a car to be found driving by.
Dave let out a careful breath and relaxed a little. He grabbed his camera again and looked at the window.
She was gone, and the light had gone out.
Dave cursed to himself and loaded his camera into his bag. An entire night had been wasted over something stupid. He loaded and locked the bag and swung it around. He looked up and down the block and made sure the coast was clear, then he carefully but nonchalantly stepped out from the bush and made his way down Fairmount Street.
As Dave reached the next block, he pulled his phone from his pocket to signal his Uber app for a ride. While it might take a few minutes to get back to Springfield, at least the rides in Philly were cheap, and luckily there wasn’t any surge pricing in the city this time of night. He found the nearest car to his location and signaled for the ride. His estimated wait time was about 3 minutes.
Dave let out a breath and put his hands in his pockets. It was so brisk for May and the streets were still abandoned. That was odd for Philly; he should have seen at least one or two cars by now.
As he waited, Dave became unsettled. A feeling of unease came over him as he looked around Fairmount Street.
He felt like he was being watched.
Dave tried to laugh it off to himself. He sang a tune in his head and glanced at the map on the Uber app. The driver was a moment away from turning down Fairmount Street but it felt like half an hour had passed. As he sang to himself, Dave heard it again.
To his left, no, to his right, Dave heard the footsteps in the distance.
He looked in both directions but didn’t see anyone. What the hell was going on? He checked the time on his phone and it was now 12:45 a.m. Who was out here? Was someone playing a joke on him?
Had someone seen him earlier?
Dave looked at the Uber app. Why was this taking so long? The car was only on Spring Garden Street in the first place! Meanwhile, the footsteps were getting louder, which made him panic even more.
But where were they coming from?
Then, the footsteps stopped abruptly.
Confusion moved in to Dave’s mind and greeted the panic that was already there. He checked his phone again as he saw headlights coming down the street and breathed a sigh of relief. A Red Kia Soul pulled up beside Dave as he grabbed the handle to the back door and hopped in.
“Dave?” The driver asked simply. He never looked back at Dave, who couldn’t see much of the driver’s details under the dome light. All that the dirty old man could make out was an all-black Orioles baseball cap.
“Y…yeah,” Dave managed to stammer out, still shaken from…whatever that was. He put his camera bag in the seat next to him.
The driver fiddled with his phone. “Going to Springfield?” was all he asked in another sentence fragment.
Dave nodded. “Yeah,” he replied.
The driver pressed a button on his phone, turned up his radio and shifted gears into drive. The radio blasted out some 90’s music which helped to distract Dave. In that moment his brain turned to the wasted effort of tonight and he cursed himself again.
His cell phone rang in his pocket. A jolt went through him as he thought about Leigh and Kate back at home. Dave took his phone out and looked at the caller ID. It was the house number, so he sent it to voicemail. Then the phone rang again moments later, and he looked at the caller ID.
This time the call came from a 484 area code, but all of the numbers after the area code were zeros. By now it was 12:55 am, so Dave had no idea who would have been calling him from this hour, or where.
Dave again let the phone go to voicemail and tried to think about something else. This time after he let it go to voicemail, he held the power button down and turned the phone off.
As the Kia made its way to Springfield, the phone somehow vibrated again. Dave, now shaken, looked at it in his hand. The caller ID was lit up with the 484 number, though it couldn’t be possible. He had watched the screen turn off and deactivate. As it rang, Dave kept his eyes on the driver and answered the call.
“Hello?” he asked the microphone.
First, there was white noise. After a moment, Dave heard a small voice come through the earpiece.
“What? I’m sorry I can’t understand you,” he said back, getting ready to hang up.
This time the voice came through clearly.
“Please,” the voice pleaded and whimpered. “I don’t want to die. I can change!”
It was Dave’s voice.
Dave dropped his phone as he saw the Uber Driver look into the rearview mirror.
“Hey buddy,” he started. “Are you okay? Have you had a rough night?”
Dave looked back at him and tried to compose himself. He wiped the sweat that had formed on his brow. “Uh, yeah,” he started. “I’m okay, sorry. I think there’s a problem with my phone.”
This seemed to placate the driver and they continued to Springfield.
35 minutes or so later, the red Kia pulled in front of Dave’s driveway in Springfield.  He had started to nod off but the force of the car coming to a stop jolted him up.
“We’re here, sir,” the driver stated from the front seat.
Dave found the strength to look around the street in his neighborhood. There wasn’t anything out of place. He then turned back to the driver who shifted the app to “end ride” from the phone holstered to his dashboard. Dave thanked the young man, grabbed his camera and phone, and stepped out of the car.
As the red Kia pulled away, Dave cursed to himself as he fumbled to turn his phone back on. He saw that the van was now parked next to his beat up Pontiac and he realized that he didn’t have an excuse for Leigh tonight. She’d probably be asleep by now, she stopped waiting up for him years ago, but still he didn’t think this would go over very well. He tried to assemble a cohesive plot in his mind as he dug for his keys in his pockets. As he made it to the front door, he thought about telling her that his brother had been in a mild car accident and he had to go to Bryn Mawr Hospital. He tried to diagnose Stew in his head as he fumbled to get the keys in the door and turn the knob.
Dave opened the door and walked into the threshold, closing it and locking the door behind him. He put his camera bag down at the door and pulled his cell phone out so that he could use the screen to find his way around the room. He made his way over to a lamp in the living room and turned it on.
Now lit, Dave walked back to the door and grabbed his camera bag, which he threw in the closet. He took his shoes off and left them at the door, and then he made his way to the stairs and up to the second floor of the house.
Dave pointed his cell phone down the hall in order to avoid having to flick the switch on. He made sure to creep as quietly as he could as he tip-toed past Kate’s room on the right. He thought about maybe sleeping in Aaron’s room for the night so that he would be better prepared to deal with Leigh in the morning. As he stood outside the door to Aaron’s room, he was unnerved by the sound of a woman screaming in agony.
Dave whipped around and then looked back to check the doors in the hallway, including the door to the master bedroom at the end of the hall. He held his breath and waited for another sound. When no one woke up he breathed a small sigh of relief and put his hand on the knob of Aaron’s door. Was he losing it? Had this night gotten to him? He laughed nervously to himself and tried his best to brush off what he just heard.
Dave opened the door to Aaron’s room and flicked on the overhead light switch. He had made sure that the room had remained mostly untouched since his son left for the service, just in case Aaron had to come home for whatever reason. Dave had told his son over the phone that he was more than welcome to come home in light of his divorce, but Aaron had politely refused. That was just like him, he was so self-sufficient.
Dave looked around the room. It still had Aaron’s old twin bed that he’d outgrown freshman year of high school. Centerfold posters and sports memorabilia were placed around the room strategically, including a new Philadelphia Eagles pennant that announced their Superbowl 52 win. Dave made sure to update the room every few months based on Aaron’s personal accomplishments or to keep the room current with what his son loved while growing up in Delaware County.
As he reminisced, Dave smiled to himself and put himself at ease. He almost forgot the strange events of this evening.
That was, until, there he heard another scream from downstairs.
The woman downstairs screamed again. There was a hint of familiarity in the woman’s voice.
Dave turned around and now sprinted down the steps to the living room.
As he hit the bottom of the stairs there wasn’t anyone there for him to find. Dave was confused and shaken up. He pushed his palms to the side of his head to clear his thoughts. He just needed to think. He just needed to get a whiff of the cool night air. Yeah, that’s it, that’s just what he needed. Dave carefully opened the front door as to not wake up the two women upstairs, and stepped on to his porch.
Dave closed his eyes and smiled. Tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep, Leigh would probably scream his head off for coming home so late, and then he’d scream back. Go and do her stupid errands, and then Kate would leave the house without so much as a “good morning” or “goodbye”, but then he’d have the house all to himself on his day off. He’d start a new dating profile and find some new “talent” to exploit.
Then he heard the footsteps again as they made their way down his street. Dave stared down his block but saw no one under the streetlights. It was different now. It sounded like multiple people were coming toward him, and they were coming fast.
Dave shined his cell phone flashlight down the block but again saw no one. He panicked and yelled from his porch.
“Who’s there?!” he screamed in futility. There was no response, the invisible march just kept its stride towards his house.
“Who are you?!” He yelled again in vain. “Answer me! I’ll call the police!”
Dave saw movement in the corner of his right eye and whipped around but there was no one there. The same thing happened in his left eye. Again he turned but saw nothing.
Dave’s phone rang again. He looked at the caller id and was greeted with a familiar 484 area code, with zeroes following behind it.
Dave threw his cell phone down on the porch and stomped it until it broke open, and then he stomped the circuit board and the sim card.
The footsteps were louder now, and Dave looked up from what he was doing but still saw nothing.
Dave backed up towards his front door, never taking his eyes off the block. He fumbled for the door handle and found it. Then he turned it and fell into the house, slamming the door behind him.
He reached up and locked the door, breathing heavily. Dave tried to compose himself, his cholesterol was more than a bit high and his doctor had told him he was overdue for a cardiac episode. As he caught his breath, he put his ear to the door and listened for anything outside. There weren’t any footsteps, no audible sounds of any kind, other than the crickets.
Dave opened his eyes and that’s when he noticed his computer screen was on. He was sure he turned the computer off before he left for Rittenhouse. Puzzled, Dave walked to the desk and sat down. The Windows home screen was up and his “My Documents” folder was showing.
Dave looked at the monitor perplexed. He never left his documents screen open as it was just a few sub folders away from where he kept his stash. He wondered if Kate or Leigh had gone through his computer while he was out. The dirty old man decided to check his catfishing subfolder to see if they had found it or messed with it.
Dave double-clicked his way to the secret folder and opened it up. Everything was as it seemed at first, but the thumbnails looked…different.
Dave clicked on a photograph.
He stared down at the picture for a while. It was of him at the bar, watching Heather. He clicked on a few of them. One was at the bus stop. Another was of him from behind while he followed Heather. There was one where he waited on Fairmount Street for his Uber.  One was him in the bushes, but looking down on him, as if the picture was taken from one of the apartment windows in Heather’s building.
It was at this point that Dave noticed that he had far more photos than he used to have. He clicked on a few more. These were the worst.
This new crop of photos weren’t from the past few months, they were older. These photos were much, much older. Dave squinted to look at the thumbnails. They looked like they were taken on an old 35mm Kodak and then scanned in and left for him to find in his documents subfolder. But how did they scan them in? And who would do this to him?
He clicked on one of the photos.
Dave was much younger in the photo. He was at a bar; smiling with some woman whose name he couldn’t remember these days. In the photo, Dave was virile and had a full head of hair. He wasn’t the bloated, sweaty, and pathetic old man that sat behind a keyboard at this moment. He smiled a little, even though the current circumstances still didn’t make sense.
Dave tried another photo.
This one was taken across the street on a block Dave cruised a few nights in his Pontiac, when it still worked. He was bald now but not as old yet, he must have been in his forties. He was in the Kensington neighborhood, soliciting a prostitute.
That couldn’t be right, though. Who even took that photo? Kensington was a heroin den; it was a place where junkies sold pills for cheap. No one on the street had a camera.
Dave tried another photo. He covered his mouth with his hand to stifle the scream in his throat.
This photo was from two years ago, in a hotel room. Dave remembered that business conference. One night at the hotel bar he plied a woman with drinks and took her back to his hotel room. He’d given her a fake name, it was the first time he’d thought to use one.
With what faculties the woman, whose name Dave couldn’t remember for the life of him, had left, she screamed as loud as she could before she succumbed to alcohol he had plied her with and passed out.
Dave had pushed that sexual assault out of his mind, but in this moment the memory raced back to his All of it did, all of the shitty, misogynistic, awful things that he did to any woman he considered a piece of ass over the years flooded back. He’d repressed them all, it was the only way he could come to terms with how much of a monster he was. But here they all were, eroding his sanity.
He grabbed at his temples again to try and stop the flood of flashbacks that played out before his eyes, but it didn’t work. Soon he heard them as if the memories were playing out like movies in his living room, all at once. Dave collapsed to his knees.
“Go away!” he cried out. The old man didn’t notice the weak quiver in his voice as the tears streamed down his cheeks. “Leave me alone!”
“Dave, is that you?” A voice asked from upstairs. It was Leigh, and her voice pierced through the nightmares and sent him back into reality. He looked around nervously, and he was back in his living room again. He listened as Leigh called out again.
“Dave, are you coming to bed?” she asked from the upstairs hallway now.
“What’s going on?!” Kate yelled out from her doorway.
“I’ll be up in a second!” Dave yelled back to them as he looked around the room. He had to get out of there. He’d never be able to explain this away. Leigh would find out everything, and it was grounds for divorce. He thought about smashing the computer. Then he looked to the door. The keys to the van were hanging on the key holder, and that gave him an idea.
He quickly unhooked the wires to his PC tower and scooped it up. Dave then grabbed his camera from the closet and made a move for the door.
“Dave, I thought you said you were coming up!” she yelled again. He silently cursed her under his breath and grabbed the van keys off of the key holder. As he heard Leigh’s footsteps move towards the stairs, he threw the front door open and ran to the van. He tossed the PC tower inside and then climbed in, starting it up and shifting into reverse without waiting for the van to warm up and idle out.
Dave drove. He flew down Route One through Media. Had he been in a better state of mind, maybe he would have marveled that the van could even reach speeds of 90 miles per hour. As he drove, the memories began to come back to him. He tried to force them back to figure out his next move.
Dave drove closer to Glen Mills and he remembered the Sentinel Motel that was off of route 202. It was a dump, but it was a secluded dump, and he would be able to take a day or two and figure out what was going on with his mind.
He took a few deep breaths to compose himself as he noticed a route marker for 202 South. He breathed a sigh of relief as he turned left on it and made his way down 202 towards the motel.
In a moment Dave made it to the Sentinel, which was perched high on a hill. He pulled up beside the office and visited the Clerk inside. After the Clerk signed him in, he used a credit card to rent room number 15, right at the peak of the hill. While there was no way anyone could find him tonight, Dave still got back in the van and drove 400 feet to a nearby Wawa convenience store, parking the van in a space and locking it up to leave there. He left the PC tower inside and walked the rest of the way back to the motel, listening for footsteps behind him along the way. As he got to his room, he eased up a little, not having heard anything during his impromptu early morning walk.
Upon entering his room, Dave noticed in the darkness two glowing yellow lights, very close to one another, in the bathroom. He flicked a light switch in the living room and was able to see the entire room in a dim, orange light. Upon looking into the bathroom, Dave noticed two small yellow lights representing power to the receptacle underneath the sink.
He breathed a sigh of relief and walked to the bathroom. Dave reached under the sink and pressed the test button, which shut the receptacle, and the lights, completely off. Now with a sense of security, he walked to the bed and took off his pants and shoes and emptied his pockets. He dumped the contents on to the nearby night table which had an alarm clock and a phone on it. Dave took the phone off of the hook. The time read 2:30 a.m. and he knew that he needed the rest. He breathed another sigh of relief that it was Saturday morning, and wouldn’t have to come up with an excuse for his employer.
Within another moment, Dave was out cold.
Dave woke up looked around the room.
It was different now. It was black, pitch black. There was no moonlight from the window anymore. The two yellow lights from the bathroom receptacle were back on as well.
Dave tried to move to go to the bathroom when he heard it and stopped to listen.
“Shh,” something, somewhere in the room, hissed at him.
Dave held perfectly still as another pair of yellow lights came on at the other end of the room. Then off, and then they turned on again, quickly.
Now there was an audible whisper. Dave tried to move again, and now he realized that he couldn’t. His arms and legs were completely immobile. He could only look and listen as another voice whispered something that wasn’t quite audible.
A third pair of lights…wait, were those lights or something…else? A third pair now came on by the window, and another voice whispered to the first to.
What were they saying to each other?
Dave let out another whimper, and this was followed by another audible shushing noise.
Two pairs of lights got bigger, as if…
As if they were coming closer to the bed, Dave suddenly realized.
Then he knew those weren’t lights at all.
One of the pairs of yellow eyes looked down him. They were almost to the ceiling, so whatever was looking through them at him had to be huge.
Dave choked back a cry of anguish. The covers soon came off of him and were tossed to the floor by his bed.
He felt an invisible finger trace up his leg, and a tear ran down his cheek.
Then, another pair of eyes moved in closer, next to the first pair. Dave felt his wrists and ankles start to hurt now.
“Please,” Dave sounded weak and pathetic. A dark, inhuman laughter bellowed out from the black room. The nearby phone receiver lifted up by itself and pressed against Dave’s ear.
“Please,” Dave managed to whimper out. “I don’t want to die! I can change!”
But the dirty old man would never get the chance to change.
The third pair of eyes moved right beside Dave, but he still couldn’t make out a figure of a silhouette. They leaned in, almost right in his face, as he felt his neck tighten.
The last sound Dave ever heard was awful laughter, in a tone no human could ever make, as he drew his final breaths.

They’ll never find Dave’s body.
Leigh called his phone the next morning, but it only went to voicemail. She kept calling until she walked onto the porch and saw his smashed iPhone lying on the wood paneling. She notified Delaware County Police who were already investigating a guest disappearance at the Sentinel Motel. Leigh was furious. One way or another, she had enough of her marriage to Dave.
There were signs that Dave had checked into room 15 of the Sentinel Motel. Strangely, his wallet and some loose money were found on the night table by the bed. What was even stranger was that his pants and shoes were still on the floor. Police and the detectives that arrived on the scene looked for any sign of a struggle but the only one they found was the phone off the hook. Where could Dave have gone without his pants or his money? If he’d been abducted, why was the money left, and where was the sign of forcible exit?
The Pennsylvania State Police got involved and there was a manhunt. They brought in dogs, put out all points bulletins, asked neighboring states for assistance, and put his name and face on missing person flyers all over the state. But those actions didn’t matter in the end. Police never had any leads to begin with, so the case went cold very quickly. That was a year ago, and Dave’s whereabouts remain unknown to this day.
Leigh and Kate moved on, but it was a difficult road. The police dropped the minivan off a week after it was recovered and stripped down for evidence. The cops had found his PC tower in the passenger seat of the van.
After they looked through his hard drive, Delaware County police made Dave a person of interest in a myriad of harassment and cyber stalking cases in Pennsylvania. Even still, that won’t matter in the end. They’ll never find him. Eventually, Leigh will work to have him legally declared dead in absentia so that she and Kate can sell the house. Leigh, funny enough, will be able to retire. The housing market has recovered in Springfield and is quite desirable.
As for Heather, she did what she had to do. She never asked for this existence. But this world had men, and this world had evil, cowardly men. The creeps of this world had to be dealt with, and that was Heather’s purpose.
And there was always a purpose for Heather. Well, she wasn’t Heather anymore, anyway. She was Sarah now, with a completely different face and hair and build. Sarah was a young white woman in her 20’s with a punk streak to her. It was just a matter of time before some old creep came after her. Or maybe a younger creep would come for her, but some entitled creep would always come.
They have found her one way or another for hundreds of years. In this information age, her purpose was only easier to fulfill.
Sarah finished her Instagram account and Plenty of Fish profile and simply waited. Terrible men littered these sites. They sent her pictures of their tiny genitals and tried to get her to send naked pictures and all of the other things sleazy men do. These creeps needed to be dealt with as well, but they weren’t her purpose.
Her purpose was to sniff out the worst that society had to offer. The vile, disgusting, cowardly men who preyed on the weak and wounded, they were the ones Sarah had to deal with. And she could smell them from a mile away. They always gave off this sour aroma, not just a smell like that of the sweat that poured from Dave’s body, but this dank, rancid smell that was beyond a cure. This smell was etched into their auras, into their souls. All of these twisted men had the smell, no matter what age they were or what shape they were in.
So now, she was looking for a guy who was as bad as or even worse than Dave was. He had screamed like a little girl as the mouth opened inside the floor of his room and they pulled him down. The thought made her chuckle again.
As she thought about the night they took Dave away, it didn’t take long for her Plenty of Fish notifications to ring.
While glancing at the page, she smiled. Looking back at her was an image of Dave’s son, Aaron. Aaron wrote to Sarah that he was recently divorced and looking for a hookup.
Aaron had attached a picture of his penis. The smell began to fill Sarah’s nostrils.
She laughed to herself again as she was reminded of the old colloquialism regarding the apple falling from the tree.
“Okay, Aaron,” she said out loud. “Let’s see what you’ve learned from your father.”



This story is in honor of my dear friend, Heather, who had to deal with similar circumstances in her life a few years ago.

It took me a while to write this story because even though it’s horror fiction, there’s a subject matter here that I refuse to trivialize. The “boys will be boys” culture that we’ve created in America simply has to stop. Men, we all need to do better, that’s the lesson here. We’ve all done stupid things to women to varying degrees. Maybe you look at the title character here and think “well I’ve never done anything like that.” While that’s great, chances are almost 100% you’ve wronged a woman over the course of your life. You’ve done things, and I’ve done things too, that we need to atone for.

While I hope in my heart of hearts you haven’t done anything past the line of redemption, we all need to work on ourselves. The first step is realization.

Women are people. They’re not trophies, they’re not obstacles, they’re people. Let’s be good to them.

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