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May 27, 2024

The Dinner Date

By Lydia Manx

Pearl was sick. Not really ill but sick of everyone and anyone who thought they knew what she needed. She stomped into her bedroom, slamming the door, knowing her roommate would want to have a 'meeting' about that later. She was tired of hearing how all her girlfriends were hooked up with these awesome boyfriends and getting engaged and quickly after that married. It made her furious. Her roommate, Savannah, was a classic Southern Belle with all the sex that was required to be belle of the ball. Too bad Pearl was stuck hearing it nearly every night. College was certainly a learning experience. She was learning to block out any graphic sounds not coming from her television.

Okay, so maybe she wasn't the hottest most desirable gal around but she wasn't totally dog ugly or anything. She had a steady boyfriend in high school. Hell, they even had sex. Not that it was good or anything but it was still called sex as far as that goes. He certainly spent hours talking about it after she stopped dating him. The following random calls were usually made about two in the morning so she knew he had struck out in the bars again. She hated knowing she was his favorite 'booty call' at two or three am. Dialing drunk one time Todd had told her she was his best girlfriend ever and that was pretty sad all things considering. Damn, she hated this whole college thing. Some lame women in housing picked names and tossed them out into the mail and roommates were assigned. Strangers matched up as 'perfect fits' and thus she ended up camping out in the library most Friday and Saturday nights.

Her cell phone shrilled out some stupid default tune she picked months ago in a fit of stupidity. She hated that aggravating noise. She had no clue how to download some cool popular tune so had to keep something recognizable that would make her answer. She had tried to leave it on vibrate instead but missed a call or two and she had been in trouble because her mom wanted to be able to talk whenever the notion hit her fuzzy blonde head. After that she rarely shut the ringer off. Her mom paid for the cell phone and the bill monthly. Pearl doubted she had ever used up the minutes in a given month much less in two months.

"Yes?" She hadn't even bothered checking the screen. Her mom was the only one who called her on Friday nights.

"Is this Pearl?" A male asked.

She stood up taller. It wasn't her mom.

"Yes, I am Pearl." She stammered. She wanted to yank her phone away from her face to see the number but was afraid the guy would hang up.

"Cool. Savannah said you might be around tonight." The guy didn't sound stupid so she wondered how he knew Savannah.

"Ah, yeah. Who's this?" Her voice could have been softer but she never gave out her phone number.

For all she knew Savannah could've given her number out to some nut bar she was trying to ditch at a club. Savannah clubbed a lot and spent hours dumping men the following week. This could be a new strategy and her roommate did have her cell number. She had given it to Savannah in a fit of guilt her mom foisted on her during one of her random calls. Something about how she could be dead and nobody would know or some such rot.

"Oh, sorry. I thought Savannah told you I would be calling. This is Larry." That was it. No more information. Pearl could tell by the pause.

"And?" Pearl was intrigued in spite of herself.

"Didn't she tell you? I am supposed to be going out with you tomorrow night! She said you already said it was good. I was just calling to see what time to pick you up." The guy sounded really upset that she didn't have a clue who he was.

"Oh," -- not a gifted reply, but all she had.

Laughter greeted her reply and then, "So are you already taken for tomorrow night?" His voice had a teasing quality.

"No." She gulped out as she felt a rush of excitement. She really didn't have anything planned except hiding in the library. All of her homework was done and nothing due for a few weeks other than some reports. Those could certainly be done later.

"So it's a date?" He sounded cute.

"I dunno, what is on your mind?" She tried for sultry but feared she sounded stupid and desperate.

He purred, "Whatever you want. Savannah told me you liked to go out clubbing. Want to hit my friend's club downtown?"

That made her smile. It did sound like fun and she did like dancing. Without thinking she said, "Sure it's a date."

"Cool. I will pick you up at eight. Okay?" Larry answered smoothly, not giving her time to change her mind.

"Neat, you need my address?" Pearl said.

"No, Savannah gave me that. See you then," and Larry hung up.

Pearl smiled and shut her phone off. She was going on a date. She began to plot her outfit.

Saturday dawned and Savannah held her meeting. Pearl forgot to ask why Larry had her number in all the trauma and drama. Savannah ran out for a weekend out of town and Pearl spent the rest of the day swapping out clothing. By seven she was dressed and ready to throw up.

Her mom called at seven thirty.

"Pearl, baby, how are you?" Mom was as drunk as ever.

"Fine." Pearl fussed her hair in the mirror while her mom prattled on about her day.

After talking nonstop for ten minutes her mom finally asked, "So when do you head to the library?"

"Oh, I am going on a date." Pearl was happy to be able to reply.

"What? Who? Are you kidding? Pearl, that's not nice. I know it's April Fools' Day but to lie to your mom is not good." Finally her mom paused for a breath.

"No, I have a date. I have to hang up now." Pearl was delighted to make her mom speechless. She said her goodbyes and hung up.

She had forgotten it was April Fools' Day. The pit of her stomach was grinding as it dawned on her that maybe she didn't have a date but this was some horrid prank being played by her roommate. There was no way to check since she had clicked her cell phone open and found out that Larry's number had been blocked. All she could do was wait.

The time crawled as eight approached. She had gnawed her fingernails down to the quick as she paced. Her nerves were shot as the clock paced slowly to the appointed hour. The cuckoo clock her mom had brought back from Germany chimed out eight times. Her date was late. She was ready to run to the bathroom and get violently ill when there was a knock on the door.

Cautiously she opened the door.

"Hi, you must be Pearl Piskoski! I'm Larry." He wasn't exactly what she expected but he had showed up.

"Yeah, hi." Pearl was still shocked he had actually was on her doorstep.

"You ready?" Larry wasn't wasting any time.

"Okay, let me grab my jacket." Pearl snagged a coat and her purse. She locked the door and followed Larry down the stairs. The concrete steps were ringing hollow as her stomach still was busy flip-flopping out her fears. Larry wasn't ugly or anything but there was something odd about him. She just couldn't put her finger on it. He briskly took the steps in the stairwell two at a time. It was like they had to be at the club by a certain hour. It was making her uneasy. She wasn't used to the fast pace he was taking the steps. Her shoes were pretty, not useful.

"Can you slow down a little?" She exhaled and tried to keep from gulping in huge gasps of air. Larry was more limber than he had appeared.

"Sorry, I didn't realize I was going so fast." Larry stopped at the landing of the second floor. She lived on the fifth floor so it wasn't that much of a break.

Ten minutes later they were in the parking lot. Larry had a van. Pearl didn't know what to say. Vans were something she was not fond of in any way much less for a first date. Larry caught her wariness and said, "Oh, the van. My car is being worked on and I had to borrow this from my brother. If you want I can call a cab instead?" The words were correct but Pearl thought the tones made them lies. It was rehearsed sounding. She was frozen then he reached over and touched her face saying, "I forgot to mention you are lovely. Savannah's description didn't do you justice."

She smiled and relaxed. Larry must have been as nervous as she was. Shrugging off the uneasy feeling she said, "No, don't waste your money. The van is fine." He opened the door for her and she settled in quickly.

Larry drove aggressively and went off on side roads, eventually arriving at a parking lot manned by a large guy with dark shades. He rolled back the gate when Larry honked. No money changed hands, Larry just pulled into a spot. There were quite a few cars and even some other SUV type vehicles and another van.

"The club owner lets a few of us use the employee lot. It saves on hunting for places late at night." Larry seemed proud of the perk. He hadn't really talked much on the ride over and with how he drove Pearl didn't want to distract him and risk a wreck so she kept her mouth shut mostly.

"Neat," Pearl still was amazed she was going to a real club. Savannah had lied about Pearl's active social life. She had only been to some grubby place in the beach community that ended with a scary guy trying to fondle her in the club.

At the entrance Larry walked past the long line of kids waiting to go in saying to the bouncer at the door, "Hey D-man! How they hanging?"

Not waiting for a reply he pushed his way in to grumbles from the waiting group. The bouncer didn't say a word, just let Larry and Pearl pass. She whispered, "Thanks." But then was hustled inside before the man could offer a reply. Larry was busy talking to the woman collecting the entrance fee. It appeared they didn't pay either. Larry had her hand in his and pulled her into a wall of sound.

The music was loud and the room crowded for just a little before nine. There was a full dance floor and Pearl felt like her night was looking up. Larry kept waving to folks while weaving through tables and people leading her deeper into the club. When they got to the other end of the club he nodded to another bouncer who moved to reveal a doorway.

"Where are we going?" Pearl asked hesitating at the threshold.

"The club owner has a private room for us special members," Larry tugged her hand harder and she skidded into the hallway in spite of herself.

Pearl was stunned. In the dark hallway it looked like something had changed. She shook her head. There was no way Larry had fangs.

Larry laughed and yanked her into a lush room. There were other couples already lounging on couches and the music was louder than the main dance area. This had to be some sick April Fools' Day prank. Half the people in the room had fangs. Some were already kissing and nuzzling their dates. Nobody was screaming or even protesting. Pearl tried to snatch her hand back from Larry.

"Not so fast, Pearl." Larry caught her by the waist pushing her onto a sofa. His teeth did appear to have a set of fangs in the mix. And his eyes were glowing.

Stammering, "This has to be some sort of sick joke!" Pearl pushed at Larry's rock hard chest. He chuckled and fanged deeply in Pearl's neck. As her life slipped away she heard the irritating sound of her cell phone. Damn, she was going to miss that call. Her vision turned fuzzy while Larry just laughed.

Originally appeared 2006-03-27.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2018-03-26
Image(s) are public domain.
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