Chapter 2: If

It’s Wednesday – Jilly’s day to clean the apartment and do some laundry. It’s been a week since her discussion with Billy. Yesterday she performed as Annie Chapman with Tim the Scratcher. This time he wasn’t so rough – in fact, he nearly spoiled the climax by being too tender, and she had to give him a push to get him to slash her throat with the stage knife. Afterward, they passed in the hall. Tim gave her a look that indicated he had more than a passing interest in her – and not necessarily as a friend. Jilly was surprised by that, since Tim had been seen in the company of several other girls in the company – girls that Jilly knew were a lot more sexually forthcoming than she. But she chalked it up to his having a guilty conscience over what had happened the week before, and didn’t think about it any more.

Having worked up a sweat scrubbing the kitchen floor, Jilly decides to run down to the local Starbucks with her laptop and get a Grande Macchiatto and read The Orlando Sentinel online. She was too poor to afford cable and internet, so the Starbucks was her favorite internet cafe. She chooses her favorite corner table, free at the moment since it’s only 2 in the afternoon. She settles in with her coffee and newspaper, and sets the coffee aside to cool. She opens the paper and scans the front page – nothing too exciting other than the usual news about ISIS, refugees from war-torn lands and the upcoming climate change conference. She moves puts the A section aside, and opens Section B to the entertainment section. Again, there’s nothing much there, so she ends up on page 7 – the obituaries. On the bottom right, a small article catches her eye.

“A 95 year old woman, Annie Chapman, was brutally murdered outside her daughter’s home last night, in the Parramore section of Orlando. Her throat had been slashed, and she was left for dead in a pool of blood. There are no suspects, but the police are interviewing family members to determine if anyone had seen anything.”

Jilly thinks to herself,

“Well, what a coincidence – same name, same method of murder. Maybe Tim the scratcher is expanding his domain.” She chuckles, but then stops herself, realizing this poor woman was murdered – no laughing matter. She puts the paper aside, finishes up her coffee and goes back to retrieve her clothes from the dryer in the common laundry room downstairs.

As she’s putting the last load of her underthings in her laundry basket, Jilly glances up at the bulletin board on the wall above the dryer. There’s a flyer for World Studios, featuring pictures of the Aquaman ride, the Tivoli Gardens roller coaster, and the theater. The subheading for the theater says:

“Come see The Whitechapel East End of London where Jack the Ripper slashes his victims! Five murders – one for each day of the week. Saturdays and Sundays see The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie’s long running play. Every afternoon at 2 PM – come cool off and watch history unfold. $5 per person; $2.50 for children over 10.”

Jilly wonders how the flyer got there – then remembers that most of the cast of the play live in that apartment complex – anyone could have put it there. She finishes pulling her silk underwear from the dryer, and turns to go back upstairs to put them away. Jilly is startled to see Tim standing there. He is giving her that look again, a combination of tenderness and lust. Jilly realizes she’s beginning to think about maybe a one night stand with Tim – minus the rough stuff.

“How long have you been standing there – and how come you aren’t at the theater, killing Elizabeth Stride?”

Tim’s eyes glance down at the filmy undergarments in Jilly’s basket. He looks up with a smile.

“There was a problem with the sound system – everyone was asked to come back at 4 and see the performance for free. Billy was really torqued at the sound guy Jamie. But I’m sure they’ll get it fixed. I have to go back in a few minutes.”

Tim hesitates, and then adds:

“You have exquisite taste in panties – Victoria’s Secret?”

Jilly isn’t sure whether to be repulsed or turned on.

“Soma, actually. Thanks…I guess. Shouldn’t you be moving along? I’m pretty sure it’s almost 4 o’clock, and you have a date with another lady.”

Tim smiles again, and reaches down to lifT Jilly’s chin. He gives her a long, slow kiss – one of the best kisses she’s ever had. Then he turns, and leaves the laundry room.

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