THE BASIC INSTINCT
It felt soooooo good to have a man around the house again!
Cindy's pleasure showed in her contented sigh and the way she stretched her legs. Life hadn't always been so sweet, but ever since she'd killed a man, it couldn't be better!
She glanced at the clock from her comfortable position on the couch. Allen should be home in another hour. If it wasn't for dear, sweet Allen, why, she'd have been her old boyfriend Jeff's victim instead of the other way around.
Cindy shivered. She and her old flame started out well enough. She was living alone then, was content to work only for the basic creature comforts. This left time for strolling through the park, or sunning herself at the beach.
Her few acquaintances were usually busy with jobs, families or both. Ginger was embarrassingly zealous over her work with the blind, and Mac had actually joined the police force. She couldn't imagine anything interfering with her own carefree existence until Jeff came along.
Cindy first noticed him on the beach. She let him take her delicately boned face in his hands. "Hey, pretty lady. My name's Jeff. What's yours?"
A week later Cindy moved in with him. Their relationship started out happily enough, so neither was prepared for their sudden crash to reality.
"I have to get a damn job, Cindy! Can you believe it?" Jeff slapped the bills on his shabby desk. "Dad cut off my allowance--and took back the car!"
What could she say? What could he, except he'd take the job? That was the beginning of trouble. Jeff's frequent caresses dwindled down to none. Cindy looked for work herself but found nothing with her limited skills. She kept the beach riffraff away from the house, and tried to be supportive.
She didn't notice Jeff's jealousy of her carefree life, the life he once lived. The first time he hit her, Cindy was more surprised than hurt. After that, there was no doubt of pain.
Cindy left Jeff without even a good-bye, but months of existence with him had taken their toll. Cindy was no longer the street-wise, self-sufficient drifter. She'd become spoiled; dependent on the man who hurt her.
How he laughed when she came crawling back, hungry and cold. Right then she decided to kill him.
At times Cindy didn't think she'd be able to last, but she had Allen to sustain her. Allen was another worker at the store where Jeff worked. Sometimes he visited. Jeff's only friend would laugh and flirt until she almost forgot her misery.
If only she'd met Allen first! She was young, and a survivor. She'd lick her wounds and outlive her torturer.
Plans for Jeff's death constantly occupied her mind. Jeff now rode the bus, and had to walk the last few blocks home.
The last intersection Jeff crossed was a busy one. Jeff often impatiently crossed against the light. On this point Cindy planned her strategy.
Day after day she forced her aching, beaten body from the house. Screening herself behind people, she waited, hoping this would be the day. At the end of each evening she headed home, but the next again found her at her post. Cindy had learned patience.
Finally that patience was rewarded. The crosswalk light changed to 'Don't Walk' just as Jeff stepped off of curb. Others retreated, but he hurried forward.
Cindy took in a deep gulp of air, then followed. Jeff turned and spotted her, but it was too late. Cindy shoved him into moving traffic with every ounce of strength she had. Hatred flashed across Jeff's face before a transit bus hit him.
Cindy almost cheered aloud. That huge bus had been a stroke of luck, a sign of vindication. She allowed herself one final victory glance before sneaking away.
She didn't return to Jeff's place. That would have tempted fate. Her only regret was Allen. He wouldn't know where to find her, but food and shelter were her priority.
Cindy remembered the irony of eluding police at the scene of the "accident" only to find herself behind bars later for vagrancy and begging! She had no identification--Jeff had deliberately taunted her by hiding it somewhere at his apartment. She could hardly tell them to go search her murder victim's home for it. What a predicament! Better to shiver in her windowless prison and keep silent.
A vagrancy penalty beat a murder rap hands down.
Cindy had been locked up for days when Allen appeared--Allen, who had found Cindy's I.D. at Jeff's, and who figured out where to find her. She looked up, her eyes wide and moist, and Allen smiled and vouched for her.
The man in uniform unlocked her cage. "Now you take good care of her. She's been through a lot."
"That's over now." Allen drove Cindy home--to his home--their home.
Cindy pricked up her ears at Allen's car in the driveway. She hurried eagerly to the door until she heard another voice. Cindy turned and sat back on the couch.
"Cindy, I'm back!" Allen called. "Don't play coy now, come see your favorite guy!"
"Coy, hell!" swore the woman behind him. "She's jealous. Take it from one female to another."
Allen laughed, and tousled the silky hair of Cindy's head. "She hasn't a mean bone in her body."
The woman regarded Cindy with distaste. "Your precious girl can't stand me. The feeling's mutual."
"But this is Cindy's home."
"I'll be back when you decide between us!"
"Sweetheart, wait!" The slamming door heralded Allen's return to the couch.
Cindy remained quiet. Let Allen see who was the one worth loving.
"She'll come around, Cindy." Allen drew her close. "She just doesn't know you like I do."
Cindy watched through the window as Irene descended the stairs. She noted the unsteadiness of the woman's high heels on rough concrete, and filed it for future reference. You never know when such information will come in handy.
She snuggled closer to Allen to cheer him up. Her new I.D. with Allen's phone number jingled against her throat. After a moment he played with her ears, her front paws in his lap.
Cindy wagged her tail contentedly. Distractions notwithstanding, it was soooooo good to have a man around the house.
BRANDY & SCARLETT O'HARA - See "Miracle Dog" for their story!