Chapter 5: Dreams To Die For
Somehow Rhonda was able to gather herself to handle the task at hand. The title of her speech, "Dreams To Die For," had seemed innocent enough when she had written it, but in light of the recent events it now felt ominous somehow.
....She had seen Mae Lee enter the conference room. She had a worried look on her countenance as she took a seat near the front. From her perch at the dais, the two had made eye contact several times. Mae Lee had been visibly disturbed by the fact that they might have been making love to each other. She however, was more concerned with the fact that both of them had thought they were with a man.
....She sighed with relief when she turned to the last page of the outline of her speech. She paused a moment when she came to the quotation earmarked to close her speech. She was certain that Mae Lee would also be pondering the closing words.
...."In closing, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to mention a cartoon that I have framed in my office. I have it hanging next to my graduate degree. I'm sure that most of you are familiar with the comic strip, Calvin and the Hobbes."
....She smiled as there arose a murmur of assent from the audience. The significance of the strip was certainly not lost on Mae Lee. She tensed and sat upright, her eyes glued to Rhonda.
...."In this particular cartoon," she continued, "The little boy Calvin is lying in bed next to his friend, Hobbes the tiger. With his hands behind his head he is staring at the ceiling and says:
' I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long. If we're in each other's dreams, we can be together all the time.'Thank you everyone and have a good evening."
....She turned and headed backstage. She knew that Mae Lee would be not far behind her. She was certain to say to her something like, 'There's the damned tiger again.'
....Her footsteps approaching from behind preceded Mae Lee's exclamation, "There's the damned tiger again!" She held out a small piece of paper to her. "I received this e-mail about an twenty minutes ago. I just printed it from one of the terminals in the lobby before you began to speak."
....Rhonda gasped as she read the coded message from Dr. Rheinberg. It looked like her and Mae Lee's conclusions were probably correct. Dream Lover was up and running.
He had been holed up in a small cabin in Kentucky when the e-mail reached him. He grimaced as he pored over the "entertainment list." It seemed that the warnings of Dr. Rheinberg had turned out to be quite prophetic.
....Although they had taken precautions, Fritz had somehow learned what he had been doing. His self-imposed exile to the remote hideaway had not disguised the fact that he'd been experimenting with Dream Lover again. Somewhere along the line he must have slipped up and not covered his tracks.
....He spread the map on the table before him and using a yellow highlight pen drew a line from his location north to Cincinnati. He estimated that it would take him about an hour and a half to drive there. He nodded with approval as he began to formulate a drastic change in his original plans.
....He opened the desk drawer and pulled out an envelope containing several fake IDs and driver's licenses. Flipping through them, he pulled out the ones identifying him as 'Herbert Jennings.'
Misty paced back and forth in the seedy hotel room. The place made her skin crawl. This was not the lifestyle to which she was accustomed. Stars lived in luxury - not in squalor.
....She stopped and stood before the full-length mirror. She opened her robe and cupped her small breasts. Frowning she pulled the robe over her body. Yes, she was a star all right - the featured attraction at an all-nude strip club! That's all she'd ever be with her small boobs.
....Then that undercover vice cop walked into the club twenty minutes ago. Her boy friend Jimmy had brought him to see her. He was investigating the police report they had filed several months before. Even though the case had been closed, the man said new evidence had surfaced.
....He spirited them out of the club and brought them to the hotel. He'd said the two of them were in grave danger. Misty wasn't even allowed to dress. The cop told her to throw a robe over her g-string, because there wasn't much time.
....The cop said that the man they'd mentioned in the report was an important man. He was important enough that he would gladly pay some big bucks, like maybe a hundred grand, for the whole incident to be forgotten.
....She locked the door as the cop had instructed. All she had to do was to wait until he and Jimmy returned with the money. She couldn't imagine that much money. A hundred grand! She was going to get the best looking boobs in the whole world!
His face was expressionless as he watched the stripper's boy friend walk down the deserted street carrying a baseball bat. He put the car into gear the moment Jimmy entered one of the most notorious projects in Cincinnati.
....He heard at least four or five shots ring out as he distanced himself from the vicinity. It would have to be one sick, stupid bastard to go marching around in that neighborhood proclaiming that he was taking over. Well, that sick man had just developed a terminal case of dead. He returned the cell phone to his breast pocket.
....A smug smile etched his mouth. His performance as a vice cop had gone rather well. He'd pulled it off without a hitch. Of course, the dim-witted boy friend's only brains were behind his zipper. What about the bimbo? She was a nugget or two short of a Happy Meal. All she wanted was money and a bigger set of knockers. He was going to see that she got all that was coming to her.
....He pulled up to the curb opposite the hotel. He closed his eyes to evoke memory of the notes he taken regarding the stripper. Ah yes, it seemed that she had turned down a considerable raise when the club manager had suggested she use a boa constricter in her act. The girl was deathly afraid of snakes.
....He punched in a phone number on the keyboard of his cell phone. He wondered how she would react to a roomful of snakes? There was only one way to find out. She wanted a hundred grand, eh? He'd give her a hundred grand worth of snakes.
....The papers the next day would feature a story about an exotic dancer leaping to her death, a probable suicide victim, from a twelfth floor hotel window. Of course, there would be no trace of her perceived snakes. She would be just another hapless soul with dreams to die for.
To be continued... Chapter 6