Fiction by L.K. Campbell

Revenge Wore Lipstick

JESS AWAKENED to the sensation of something warm and wet on her face. With barely one eye open, she saw Sparky standing next to the bed. She didn’t need an alarm clock when Sparky’s bladder filled up at precisely six a.m. every morning.

The dog skittered in and out of the room, impatient to go outside.

“Okay, okay. Will you let me get my robe on?”

While Sparky ran around the bushes taking care of business, Jess walked out to the paper box to pick up her copy of The Charlotte Observer. She skimmed the headlines, refolded the paper, and walked toward her front door. She glanced toward her car and did a double take. Her eyes locked onto the rear window. Despite the cool morning air, heat coursed through her body. In large red letters, she saw the words Stay Away scrawled across the glass. Shock, coupled with fear, glued her to the spot where she stood. The paper dropped from her hand and fell to the paved walkway.

“Oh… my… God,” she said between staggered breaths.

After she recovered her bearings, she ran to the car and touched one of the red letters. A greasy substance came off on her fingers. Thank goodness it isn’t paint or ink. She held her fingers close to her nose and smelled it.

It’s lipstick. “Come on, Sparky,” she called out.

She shooed the dog inside and scrambled around the kitchen tearing off some paper towels and a getting a bottle of glass cleaner from under the sink. She also grabbed her camera case off the kitchen counter. It might be a good idea to get some photos for evidence. She dashed out to her car but came to an abrupt halt. Of all the rotten luck. One of her nosiest neighbors stood at the edge of her driveway, staring at the message on her windshield. She did her best to seem calm and collected while she snapped a couple of photos.

“Did someone mess up your car?” he asked.

“It must have been vandals,” she said. “I wanted to take some pictures before I washed it off.”

She turned to look at him. Thank heaven, he wasn’t wearing his glasses. She knew that he wasn’t close enough to read the message without them. As he walked closer, she wiped the lipstick off with the paper towels. Unfortunately, it made an even bigger mess. Now, instead of words, she had a big, red blob on her car. She’d need a whole roll of towels to clean it off.

“Good Lord,” he said. “It’s getting pretty bad in the world when hooligans start messing around in a nice neighborhood like this one.”

She nodded and kept cleaning the windshield.

“With people like your parents moving to retirement communities,” he said. “There’s no telling what’s going to move in and take their place.”

She rolled her eyes and groaned under her breath. “Well, I’m here, for now, Mr. Brown, and I can assure you that I’m not going to sell out to hooligans.”

Jess sensed that he was standing behind her.

“You’d better take those pictures to the police,” he said. “We don’t want people getting away with stuff like that. They might hit my house tomorrow night.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll make sure that the police know about this.” To be honest, she had no idea what she was going to do about it. Would the police even take an interest in it?

He turned around and walked back toward his house. It took several more paper towels and many sprays of glass cleaner to clear her windshield.

She went inside to make coffee, but she needed to sit down and catch her breath first. What is happening? In less than two weeks, she’d been the victim of road rage—twice. Then, there was the anonymous email sent to Parker and the person who kept phoning her and hanging up. She’d suspected Joe of making the calls. What if it isn’t Joe? At the moment, she wished she could move to another planet.

Stay away, the message had said. What did that mean? She considered calling the police as Mr. Brown had suggested but thought better of it since she’d already destroyed the evidence. No doubt, she’d also wiped away any fingerprints that might have been left behind.

“Stupid,” she said and slapped her palm against her head.

Sparky looked up from his food dish and perked up his ears.

“I was so worried about what Mr. Brown would think,” she said to the dog. “Well, at least I have the photos I took, but I don’t know how much good that would do.”

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ISBN-13: 9781452363660
Words: 52,601
Published On: Jun 19, 2009
Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
Fiction » Romance » Suspense