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The One Loved the Most

by Elliot Richard Dorfman

To defeat the cloak of death,
Even the sweetest of souls
Will converge with the vilest
To continue seeing the daybreak.

Seventy-year old Walter S. Reid poured himself a cup of tea and sat down. His head was pounding from thinking all week about a commitment he had made this spring and now wasn’t positive he could fulfill.

Earlier, he had gotten a long distance call from his son, Gregory, who had moved to the west coast in the past year. “You’re too lonely, Dad. It’s not a good idea to live by yourself in that empty house. Come move out to California and stay with me. I’ve got plenty of room. The climate here is so much better for a man of your age.”

Walter grunted. “Oh, come off it, son. I’m in perfect health now and like being where I am.” Quickly, he hung up.

When the phone rang again, he figured it was his son. “Stop it, Gregory, don’t try pushing me into...”

A woman’s voice interrupted him. “Hello? Is this Walter Reid?”

“Why yes, who is this?”

“Lucy Manesco.”

Walter was completely taken aback. Lucy Manesco was a dear former friend and colleague whom he had met when he was a young high school music teacher in Manhattan. Even after he had switched jobs and moved upstate, they had corresponded until his wife’s jealously put an end to their friendship.

Although there never had been any indiscretion, Walter had secretly fallen in love with Lucy but dutifully married Melanie who was pregnant with his child. Oh, his wife was decent enough, but had things turned out differently, he and Lucy would have tied the knot.

“Lucy, I never expected to hear from you again. What’s happened since we were last in contact? Did you ever get married?”

“Yes, to an accountant. But it didn’t work out. We divorced a few years ago.”

“Any children?”

“Nope, my husband was very self-centered and didn’t want any.”

They conversed for a while and soon Walter was anxious to meet his old flame again.

“Say, Lucy, how about getting together?”

Lucy sounded pleased. “That’s just why I called. I’m going to be in your area tomorrow and thought I would pay you a visit, that is, if you’re not too busy.”

Walter was thrilled. “Absolutely not. I haven’t been busy since retiring. I assume you still have my address?”

“I sure do. So, I’ll see you about one. Au revoir until then.”

Walter, who wanted to look his best, went out and got a haircut right after hanging up.

* * *

The next day, he impatiently kept looking out of the front window. Suddenly, there was Lucy standing near the porch. This puzzled him since he hadn’t seen her get out of a car or taxi. She gave him an affectionate hug when he stepped outside.

“My gosh, Lucy, you’re still a knockout. I see you’ve kept that incredible figure of yours.”

Her big blue eyes sparkled. “Thanks for the compliment. You’re looking good, too.”

He took her hand and escorted her into the house. “Come, I have some delicious vintage wine which I was saving for a special occasion.”

“You consider my visit a special occasion?”

He nodded enthusiastically. “Oh, indeed I do.”

The more Walter looked at Lucy, the more he felt he was falling in love again. He tried drawing her close to him. At first she seemed willing, but then there was a look of sadness in her face, and she drew away. The pendulum clock struck four.

“I’ve got to go now, Walter.”

The man’s heart sank. “So soon? When can we meet again? I’ll come to wherever you are staying.”

Lucy turned away. “I think it’s best we let things be or you’ll be sorry.”

Walter moved around to her. “No, I won’t. You’re just what I need, and I don’t want to lose you.”

Lucy sighed. “Please, let me go before I give in.”

Walter stubbornly put his hand around her waist. The woman pulled away for the second time.

“All right Walter. I tried warning you. I must go now, but I’ll return tomorrow afternoon.”

She rushed out and closed the door. He tried to follow, but the main door had somehow got stuck and by the time he opened it, there was no sight of her. Perhaps some car had been waiting for her at the curb.

When Walter next saw Lucy, her appearance seemed a bit haggard. He suggested a glass of wine but she shook her head. “No thanks, not yet. It’s such a beautiful day. There’s not a cloud in the sky and you can smell the sweet fragrances of all the colorful flowers that are in bloom. Let’s take a stroll on your grounds before going indoors.”

They walked to a large weeping willow tree which was at the furthest and most isolated place on his property. Lucy seemed very receptive to him today, then suddenly all the sweetness vanished. She held onto him with an amazing grip with a touch that was cold as ice.

“I never did tell you, Walter, but last summer I got very sick. My doctors informed me that I only had a couple of months to live. Searching for some kind of cure, no matter how unorthodox it might be, I read a book on Satan that claimed if you pledged allegiance to the master of darkness, all your health would be restored regardless of how sick you had been. Having nothing to lose, I complied. Miraculously, it came true. However, there is still one dreaded task I must complete for him.”

“Task, what kind of task?”

There a twinkle in his eyes, or was she just imagining it?

“Absorb the life force of the person most loved... For me, that person is you. Oh, I did have a momentary lapse of weakness when I tried warning you yesterday, but you wouldn’t listen. Now, you must pay the consequences.”

Throwing the man down to his knees, she gave him a full kiss on the lips that muffled any screams. To her horror, he laughed gleefully. With a humongous burst of energy, he pushed her off and rose.

“I, too, made the same oath last autumn, right after the doctors told me my arteries were too severely corroded for any help. After the Master restored my health, I wasn’t sure whom to sacrifice until hearing from you.”

Grabbing Lucy by the throat, Walter lifted her up and sucked away the life force. Moments later, he threw the woman’s dehydrated body into a prepared grave that had been dug the past day.

Copyright © 2010 by Elliot Richard Dorfman

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