The Blind Date
by "Splatter" Joe Solmo
Cassandra wasn’t like most teen girls. She didn’t enjoy the same things that the other girls in school did. She didn’t chase after boys, or dressed in the latest fashions. It was a rare sight to see Cassandra wearing make-up on a day other than Halloween.
That was the only holiday that Cassandra cared about. She felt that was the only night she could actually be herself. She loved reading gothic horror, curled up on her bed. Her bookshelf was lined with the classics, Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll to name a few. The newer romantic take on the classics made her feel sick and angry. They were taking her beloved stories and twisting them to attract the same people she loathed and escaped into the books from.
Cassandra had one person she would really call a friend. A girl two years older than her started talking to her in the lunch room one day. Betty was her name. She dressed in all black clothes and dyed her hair as black as she could. Cassandra adopted her look almost instantly. They shared a lot of the same interests.
The only difference between the two was that Betty was interested in the opposite sex. She occasionally had a boyfriend, and the time the two friends shared sometimes was strained, but Cassandra really didn’t worry. She would just dive into a book until Betty and her boyfriend of the week broke up.
Betty had a volatile temperament, especially with her boyfriends. None of her relationships lasted a month. One time she came over to Cassandra’s house with a black eye. Her boyfriend at the time, Randy punched her in the face. Betty said she cut Randy with a switchblade she carried at all times. Randy lived a few towns over so Cassandra never met him, or seen him to verify the story.
“Come on Cassandra, a boyfriend might do you some good,” Betty chided one time. She laughed it off at the time, but truthfully sometimes she did think about it. Having someone to share her dreams with, other than Betty, wouldn’t be so bad, she told herself.
After almost a year of joking around Betty started to get insistent, especially after meeting her newest boyfriend Brandon. She had met Brandon on a new Goth dating site. Cassandra warned her against it, but Betty argued that the site screens all the people on there. On their first date Cassandra followed them, just in case, but everything went well.
“Cassandra come on, just make a profile, then you can see who’s on there. You never know, maybe your future husband is on there,” Betty said applying her black lipstick in Cassandra’s vanity mirror. She had a date with Brandon later that evening and was getting ready at Cassandra’s house because she could borrow her clothes.
“Maybe it’s not a husband you’re after, they have women too,” Betty said with a laugh and playfully tossed the lipstick at her friend.
“Oh stop,” Cassandra said back.
“Well, what are you? Asexual?” Betty asked.
“I just think getting a boyfriend is more trouble than its worth. I don’t need some asshole calling me when I have fifty pages left of my favorite book,” Cassandra said as she pulled a black lacy dress from her closet. “Here, wear this one, it will make you look slutty. Brandon will love it.”
“I wouldn’t want to lead him on,” Betty said. They both looked at each other and smiles crept onto their faces. They both burst out with laughter. It wasn’t like Betty slept around, but if the mood struck her then she wouldn’t be shy with her boyfriend. It was cool for the guys to sleep with any girl they could, but if the kids at school saw Betty doing it they would call her a slut. That was probably why Betty dated boys from out of town, Cassandra thought.
Betty’s phone dinged with a text message and Cassandra used that interruption to check her hair in the mirror. It was time to dye her roots again. She would have to run out to the drug store. She heard Betty laugh, and looked at her friend.
“What’s so funny?” Cassandra asked.
“Brandon, he is so funny. He asked me if he should bring condoms,” Betty replied.
“You guys have only been dating for like two weeks, Jesus!” Casandra said.
“Yeah but he has been real good to me so far, he deserves a treat,” Betty said in a playful voice and slapped her ass.
“You’re too much,” Cassandra said with a smile and rolled her eyes.
A short time later, after Betty left, Cassandra sat in her room with a copy of In a Glass Darkly. It was the seventh time she read the collection of short stories by Sheridan Le Fanu. Her eyes kept drifting from the written word to her laptop Betty had left open on the end of her bed. After the third time she sighed and put the book down.
She typed in the web address for the gothic singles site Betty had used to find Brandon. I’ll only look around for fun, and to shut Betty up, she thought as she began to make a profile. She took a selfie with her cell and uploaded it to her profile.
Once that was done she browsed through a few men’s profiles looking superficially at them. She grew bored a few minutes later and put her phone down. She looked back towards her book, but she wasn’t in the mood, so she popped in the DVD of Ginger Snaps, her favorite werewolf movie.
After a few minutes a ding came from her phone. “Uh, Betty,” she said picking up her phone, but saw it wasn’t a text message at all. It was a notification from the Goth dating website. Someone had viewed her profile and wanted to chat.
She didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t actually talk to a guy, could she? Even over the internet she wasn’t sure she would have the confidence enough to talk to someone in that manner. She tapped her finger on the thumbnail image to open his profile, but it instead it opened the chat window.
“Fuck!” she said as she saw the mystery guy was typing. She looked at the enlarged photo of him. He had shoulder length black hair. He wore a black leather jacket in his picture. She looked at the name attached to the profile. Jeremy, 19.
He was cute, she had to admit, as she scrolled through his information.
A new message from Jeremy. She tapped on the notification.
Hi there, I’m Jeremy and I love reading horror. I listen to goth music and just graduated. You look real pretty in your profile picture.
Even though he wasn’t there in person, she blushed anyway. No one ever called her pretty before, well except for Betty, but that didn’t count. Even her own parents, that mostly left her alone, never complimented her on anything.
“What should I say?” she whispered out loud as she looked at her phone. She began to type a message, then deleted it. After a few tries she finally got out what she wanted to say, sort of.
Thanks! You’re pretty too, I LOVE horror!
She looked back at her message after hitting send. “Oh God damnit!” she exclaimed. “You’re pretty too? What the fuck is wrong with me?”
She saw that he was typing back to her and she cringed imagining his response to her. She knew that she wasn’t ready to chat with a guy! She wasn’t cool like Betty. She wished her friend were here now to tell her what to say. She would probably tell her to send a pic of her boobs.
Um thanks…what kind of music do you listen too?
Well that wasn’t as bad as she thought. He just thanked her. She thought about what to say back.
Mostly local music. Have you ever been to The Freezer? She asked. It was a local club that she had been too. One of Betty’s old boyfriends had a band and they went a few times. Some of the bands she actually enjoyed, except for Betty’s boyfriends, they were terrible.
The Club over on 34th? I’m there right now. Chum Trail is playing tonight. They start in a half an hour, you should come out!
She hadn’t heard of a band called Chum Trail before. She thought about it, but she had never been there without Betty. She wasn’t sure she could do it. She quickly texted her friend to get some advice.
Are you coming?
Jeremy messaged her. She waited a few more seconds. “Come on Betty, you twat, message me back,” she said to her phone. A minute passed and still nothing.
She felt bad for not messaging Jeremy back, but she was indecisive. She wasn’t the outgoing person Betty was and sometimes she was content just to follow in the wake of her friend. She sighed as she looked at her phone laying on the black comforter on her bed. Finally she couldn’t stand it no more and picked up her phone. She opened the messaging app and started to type to Jeremy that she couldn’t make it tonight, but some other time, but she only got two letters typed before she received a text from Betty.
“I knew she would say that,” Cassandra said and let out the breath she didn’t realize she was holding.
She typed it to Jeremy and flinched when she hit send. She could always not go and say something came up, anyway.
Sweet! I’ll be outside waiting for you!
Ah shit. Now she had to go. She jumped off the bed and looked into the closet her and Betty had destroyed earlier to dress Betty up. Now it was her turn. Although she was very apprehensive about going she had to admit she was excited as well. She fixed her hair in the mirror quick and then put on the black lipstick that Betty had borrowed earlier.
Ten minutes later found Cassandra jumping into her beat up 1990 Dodge Omni. Her mom passed her in the doorway and didn’t even ask her where she was going. It was for the best anyway, she didn’t want to have to explain.
She looked down at her phone and saw she had a text message from Betty. She looked at it as she buckled her seatbelt.
Are you going, bitch?
She smiled and texted back.
Yes. What the hell.
She put her car into reverse and backed out into the road. She headed down the street towards the club.
She waited until she reached a red light before checking her phone, it was another text from Betty.
You go, slut!
Cassandra rolled her eyes and smiled. She tucked her phone away before continuing down the street.
A few minutes later she pulled up alongside the curb on 34th Street. She had to park three blocks from the curb. It must be crowded tonight, she thought. She exited her car and straightened the black camisole she wore. She made sure her skirt was in order before heading down the street towards The Freezer.
When she got closer she noticed a line of people waiting to get into the club. Anyone of those could be Jeremy. She wondered if she would recognize the guy from his picture. It was probably some middle aged pedophile, she joked to herself as she crossed the last street to reach the club.
There was no doubt which one was Jeremy, she could pick him out easily enough. He looked just like his picture, exactly. In fact he was wearing the same outfit. “I wonder if he only has one pair of clothes,” she said jokingly.
He recognized her just as fast. He left his place in line to approach her, with a smile on his face.
“Cassandra, you made it?” he said.
“Yes, at least for a little while, my friend said she might need me later,” she lied so that she would have an out later if she needed it.
“Cool,” he said. “Hopefully you can stay for Chum Trail.”
“Sorry you had to lose your place in line,” she said pointing to the people lined up around the corner.
“It’s ok. I’d rather wait longer hanging around with you, then get in there alone. Honestly I didn’t think I would meet anyone on that app. I just made my profile tonight actually, just before leaving the house. I was bored standing in line here so I started to look at profiles and saw yours,” he said.
“So you do own more than one set of clothes?” she asked with a smile.
“Sure do. I have at least three shirts,” Jeremy said as they turned the corner. There wasn’t that many more people around the corner, it wouldn’t be that long of a wait anyway. They chatted as they waited to get in. The line moved slowly, but steadily until they were at the door. The door man didn’t check their I.D. just asked for the five dollar cover charge for entry.
The place was a dump, the walls were all spray painted black and holes in the floor had plywood nailed down over them making a tripping hazard just as bad as the hole. Death Metal music blared from the P.A. as the opening band started to set up their gear on the small raised stage.
They made their way over to the bar and got some cheap draft beer, then found a spot to talk while they waited for the music to start. A blond haired guy pushed past them with a guitar case then turned towards Jeremy with recognition.
“Jeremy! Glad you could make it man! We go on second,” he said. Jeremy shook the guys hand and patted him on the back before turning back towards Cassandra.
“My friend’s band is playing, ha,” he said. “So tell me something. Why is a pretty girl like you looking on the internet for dates?” he asked.
Cassandra put her head down, covering her face with her hair to hide the blushing. She didn’t even know how to respond to the compliment. Her mind was momentarily blank, so she hid the fact by taking a drink from her beer. It gave her the extra time she needed to formulate a response.
“I got on there because my friend Betty kind of bullied me into it. She said I needed to find myself a boyfriend,” she said.
“Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he said smiling.
“One day at a time,” she said holding up her drink. They both laughed at her corny Alcoholic Anonymous joke. She left her phone vibrate in her pocket so she pulled it out and saw she had a few messages from Betty. Jeremy looked at her as she looked at her phone.
“Betty, she is on a date tonight, but is asking me how mine is going,” she explained.
“So this is a date?” Jeremy asked.
“Oh my god, I didn’t mean to presume…” she started to say, but he interrupted her.
“Relax! I’m just messing with you,” he said. She let out a sigh and visibly relaxed. “Are you ok?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she turned towards the stage. “What do you know about the first band?” she asked.
They spent the rest of the evening making idle chit chat between bands and enjoying the music. She had to admit she was having a good time. Betty texted her regularly asking how the date was going throughout the evening. When Chum Trail hit the stage they moved up as close as they could. Jeremy knew the words to all the songs.
By the end of the night Cassandra was pretty exhausted, but every time Jeremy spoke it reenergized her for just a little longer. They walked down the street in the cool night air, towards her car. Her ears rang from the loud music.
“Well, here we are,” she said pointing to her car.
“That thing still runs?” he asked.
“Hey, don’t knock Roger!” she said.
“Don’t ask,” she said smiling.
“Are you really going to leave?” he asked.
“Well the concert is over,” she said. “What else is there to do?”
“We could ride over to Johnson Field. Walk among the trees,” Jeremy said.
“Just walk?” she asked.
“Yeah, just a nice midnight stroll through the park. Unless you want to walk through the cemetery across the street from there?” he asked.
“Let’s start with the park, meet you there?” she said digging her keys out of her purse.
“You can drive, I trust you. You only had the one beer,” he said opening the passenger door of her Dodge.
“That’s because I am only seventeen!” she exclaimed. Jeremy laughed as he climbed inside.
“Come on, let’s go,” he said closing the door. Cassandra ran around the front of the car and jumped inside. The old engine fired right up and they headed towards Johnson’s Field.
When they arrived there were several other cars there. Other couples came out to the park for a private moment or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if Betty was here, she thought. “It looks crowded in there,” she said.
“Let’s go over to the graveyard then. I’m sure it’s much more romantic,” Jeremy said. Cassandra shivered in the cool night air. “Are you cold? Here,” he said pulling off his jacket and handing it to her.
“Won’t you be cold?” she asked. He shook his head now and took her hand in his. It was the first time he touched her all night. She was so startled she almost pulled away, but after a few seconds she relaxed and realized she enjoyed his touch. His hand was warm and rough, like a carpenters hands.
They crossed the street and hopped the fence into the cemetery, landing in the cool dew that layered the grass. The light from the streetlights didn’t penetrate very far into the graveyard. They clamored their way to a path and followed it deeper in.
Near the middle of the cemetery was a big circle of grass with a memorial statue of the town’s founder. Three discolored stone benches surrounded the statue. They sat down on cold stone in silence for a few moments before Jeremy spoke.
“From here you can see the stars,” he said looking up into the night sky. “You can almost forget you are in a city.”
“It’s nice. Well other than all the dead people,” she said with a sly smile.
“Oh they won’t bother you, mostly,” he said and laughed. Cassandra laughed too and pulled her phone out of her purse. She looked at the time. 12:18
“You don’t need your phone out here. Here we can get away from technology, even if just for a little while. We can have a person to person conversation,” he said facing her.
“I just wanted to see what time it was,” she said putting it back into her purse. He smiled at her.
“I didn’t mean to sound abrasive. I apologize,” he said and put out his hand to shake. She took it and they shook.
“How weird,” she said.
“That’s me,” he replied and stood up. “I gotta take a whiz,” he said. He walked out a little way into the darkness around the back of the statue.
She stood up from the bench and wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. The jacket helped her upper arms but her bare legs had goosebumps. She questioned why she was out in the middle of the night with a strange boy she met online sitting in a cemetery.
She looked toward the statue towering over her in the faint light from the street. There were words carved into stone plaque just below the man’s feet. She traced her fingers over the letters before stepping back to read them.
FOUNDING MEMBER. SHOT 7 TIMES
AND STILL FOUGHT FOR HIS COUNTRY
1735- 1794 DIED PEACEFULLY IN HIS SLEEP
Cassandra vaguely remembered the story of their town’s founding. The drilled it into your head in elementary school, but she hadn’t thought of the guy in years. She remembered he survived being shot seven times in a battle but persevered. That was part of the town’s motto. Persevere through strife.
“Jeremy?” she called out into the darkness. “Are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m here,” he said as he emerged from the darkness. He had his thumbs hooked into the belt loop on his jeans.
“How long does it take to whiz?” she asked jokingly.
“Oh I wasn’t pissing,” he said stepping closer to her.
The hair on the back of her neck began to stand up. She didn’t know why, but she was getting a sinking feeling in her stomach. “What the hell were you doing then?” she asked.
“I had to make arrangements,” he said reaching behind his back.
“Arrangements? Listen Jeremy, it was real nice meeting you, but I think it’s time I went home,” she said taking a step back from him. He paced her taking another step forward. She took off his jacket and held it out at arm’s length. “Here’s your jacket.”
Jeremy just stood there with his hand behind his back, making no move to take his jacket. “Don’t leave now, Cassandra. It’s almost time,” he said.
“No. I have to go,” she said and dropped the jacket onto the worn cemetery path. “I have to go home,” she said and stepped back another step.
“You are home, Cassandra,” he said and pulled a knife out from behind his back. The blade was curved about fifteen inches long. Cassandra turned to run but Jeremy was quicker. He wrapped his arm around her neck and pulled her close to him.
“Why would you want to leave, it’s so peaceful here. Come on, and meet the family,” he said dragging her back to the statue. He dropped her on the ground in front of the plaque. Look on that phone of yours and tell me what time it is, it has to be close,” he said.
“Close to what?” she asked, her eyes widening in horror.
“The time I died, of course,” Jeremy explained and stepped closer to her.
“What?” she asked.
“I only took three bullets, not seven like ol’ Abe here. Do you know the story of Abe? Let me tell you what the school didn’t. Abe was shot seven times by British soldiers in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. They dragged him back behind the front lines and left him to die. Which he should, and would have if something didn’t intervene. Ol’ Abe prayed to God to save him. HE wanted to see his children grow up, he wanted to see his grandchildren. He had a wife, and mistress back home. He wasn’t ready to leave this world. It wasn’t God who answered him,” Jeremy said sitting on the bench within reach of Cassandra.
“A being came to Abe and told him they could save him. He wanted to live for selfish reasons, so God didn’t answer, but a demon did. It promised him a freebie. A full recovery if it brought the demon three souls every seven years. Abe quickly agreed,” he explained and pulled Cassandra’s face up to look into her eyes.
“Are you getting all this? There will be a quiz,” he said and let go.
“Please, I don’t know what you’re talking about, just let me go. I won’t tell anyone I swear,” she said as a tear dripped down her cheek. He wiped it away with his finger, which was warm to the touch.
“Don’t cry, sweetheart. There is no reason too. Crying is useless. Now back to the story. Abe lived till 1794 as far as anyone knows. That’s when his actual life ended, but his deal went on. After his body died he was allowed to continue to bring souls to the demon, and in return he could wander the land of the living a little longer. Well one night, in 1988 I just happened to be sitting on this bench here, with some friends drinking. A man stepped out of the darkness and asked us for our wallets,” he said with a smile. He stood and turned around in a circle taking in the night.
“It was right here, at 12:48 that I was shot for not giving him my wallet. My friends all ran and got away, but I laid here in a pool of my own blood with three bullets in me. I looked up at the statue of Abe there and wondered how he could live through seven bullets when I was going to die from only three,” he scoffed. “Kind of silly I know.”
Cassandra looked at her phone, it said 12:43. She started to text Betty.
“Oh no, we wouldn’t want your friend to ruin the party. You see Abe came to me that night, and offered me the same deal he had, and you’re my third date this week,” he said swiping the phone from her hands. “I can’t believe how small these things have gotten over the years.”
“Please,” she begged. “I won’t tell anyone, I will just go home.”
“I’m sorry that isn’t going work. I need you, Cassandra. Isn’t it romantic? A great night spent together. That’s the best part of this job. I get to meet lots of chicks,” he said.
Just then there was a small rumble in the ground and a faint red light started to illuminate the statue from the ground. Fissures of smoke rose from the cracks in the ground. “He’s almost here to take his third soul. I’m going to need you to lay down on this bench,” Jeremy said.
“Fuck you!” she said in defiance. HE struck her with the pommel of the knife he held in his hand.
“What a mouth on you, I like your spunk,” he said and pulled her onto the bench. He sat on her chest and undid the laces on her knee high boots. He tied her legs to the stone bench.
“This is ridiculous!” she said trying to struggle as he tied her hands under the bench behind her back. The rumbling grew louder and she felt the bench shaking just a bit. “Let me go right the fuck now,” she called out.
“Or what? Are you gonna untie yourself and escape? It’s never happened. Oh I know, you could try screaming, they usually try that, but it’s not going to work,” he said standing back and looking at his handiwork.
Cassandra kicked trying loosen her restraints, but they were too tight. She called out into to the night. “HELP!”
Jeremy smacked her again. “I really like it when they struggle, but the voices are pretty annoying,” he said and giggled.
The rumbling climaxed and a ghostly figure floated out the front of the statue. “Oh Abe, look at this one. One Hundred Percent Virgin. It should could as two,” Jeremy said to the ghost.
“Please God don’t let me die,” she begged.
“God doesn’t listen, child,” Abraham said in a gravely spectral voice. He floated over to her and bent down near her face.
Cassandra could see through Abraham. His transparent body had a reddish hue, but was definitely not solid. “Please,” she said.
“There is no escape for you, I’m afraid. I am a selfish man and I need you,” the specter said,
“And I need you too,” Jeremy said to her. “Is it time?” he asked the specter.
“It is time,” the ghost of Abraham said and backed away a few feet from Cassandra.
“Ok baby, your time is up,” Jeremy said and approached her, putting the knife just above her heart. She struggled harder but she couldn’t get any momentum going, the shoelaces were just too tight. She screamed out.
He raised the knife above his head and looked down at Cassandra. “Here’s to seven more years,” he said and plunged the knife into her chest. The last thing she saw as the world turned black was the fury on Jeremy’s face, and the betrayal from the first guy she dated hurt more than the wound in her chest.
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