After the reading of the will Hailey needed to de-compress and her usual solution was to go shopping.
She spent the next few hours wandering around the Bloor West Village making purchases and buying groceries. It was about six o’clock when she finally pulled into her street.
Right away she knew something was wrong. Nan’s SUV was parked in her driveway and Brad’s police SUV was angled in behind it.
She got out and was met by Nan. “Oh, Thank God you’re okay.”
“What’s going on?”
“On my way home from work, I dropped over to see how the reading of the will went today—that’s when I noticed your front door.” She pointed to the glass storm door on which was spray-painted in red paint a single word: SLUT.
Hailey’s knees went weak. Nan grabbed her and helped her to sit down on the lawn. “It’s okay—I checked around back and the rest of the house—that’s the only damage.”
“Why is this happening to me?”
“I don’t know. Brad thinks it’s the same guy who’s been prank-calling you.”
“Brad? Is he here?”
“Yeah, I called him right away. He and Star are around back, I think, searching for clues.”
Nan looked at her. “What do you mean?”
“I just feel like such a victim.”
“Hey, this is not your fault,” she said sternly. “This guy’s some kind of nut bar and he could be dangerous.”
She looked up to see Brad and Star emerge from behind the hedge at the corner of her house.
“How’re you doin’?”
‘I’m fine, I guess.”
He looked at her narrowly, and shot an enquiring glance at Nan.
“I think she should have a warm drink and sit down inside,” she suggested.
“Good idea. I’ll bring in your bags from the car.”
Nan got Hailey seated on the sofa and put on the kettle. Brad came in a few minutes later with two brown paper bags. “This smells good,” he chuckled, “Someone’s got good taste.”
“As if I feel like eating now.”
“You’ll get your appetite back later.”
“Hey, Where’s Star?” she craned her neck to see if he was in the foyer.
“I put him back in the SUV. I figured there was too much going on in here.”
“Well, at least the creep didn’t break in,” Nan remarked, as she handed Hailey a creamed Earl Grey tea.
“That smells good, too,” Brad remarked as he caught a whiff of the steaming mug.
“I put coffee on for you—I figured, uh, that you’re a cop…”
He smirked, enjoying her discomfort. “And cops love coffee. Personally, I prefer tea. I’ll have what she’s having if it’s no trouble.”
“Sure, no prob,” Nan blushed.
“Have you checked your phone messages yet?” Brad asked as he sat down opposite her.
“No, I haven’t.” She leaned across the couch and grabbed the phone and punched some numbers. “Hey, this is weird.” She handed him the handset.
“Revel (171) 106,, 2017,” he frowned. “That’s not a legitimate number. Punch in your PIN and see if he left a message.”
She took back the phone, clicked to speakerphone and punched in her PIN. The sound of faint breathing was all that could be heard.
“What’s the point of all this?” she wailed.
“Obviously, the message is in the display, same as last time.”
She looked at the call numbers. “This makes no sense. Revel—what the hell is Revel?”
“You’re the English prof,” He smirked. “Doesn’t revel mean to take delight in something?”
“Oh great. So, this nutter’s taking delight in driving me crazy. Lucky me.”
“It’s a start. What about the numbers—what’s today’s date?”
“Wednesday, October the sixth,” Nan shouted from the kitchen.
“Let me see that display,” he asked, taking the handset from her. “Today’s date accounts for the last eight numbers—so, we’re left to decipher Revel 17.”
“Maybe it’s the name of a product—like a phone or something,” Nan offered.
He grabbed his pen and notebook. “That’s a good start. Let’s see what else we can brainstorm.”
“Why even bother?” Hailey sighed.
Brad looked surprised. “Don’t you want to get to the bottom of this? I thought you’d enjoy a mystery.”
“I do, but I prefer ones that don’t involve me—I get my fill of trying to puzzle out riddles from my family.”
“Maybe your family’s involved.” Brad suggested as he scribbled on his notepad.
“Get serious. My aunts don’t even use ball point pens—using techno stalker techniques is something totally beyond them.”
“Hey, that gives me an idea!” Nan exclaimed. “Why don’t we use technology to figure this out?” She flipped open Hailey’s laptop.
“Oh, c’mon Nan—what are you going to do—Google it?”
“Precisely. That’s what our students do. Cyber space is kind of like Alice’s Restaurant—you can get whatever you want.” She looked at Brad warily, “Just speaking hypothetically, of course.”
“Of course,” he smirked.
“Oh, great,” She frowned.
“Restaurant sold out?” Brad teased.
“No, just not offering much on the menu—I’ve got everything here from a Florida Film Festival to a judge presiding over one of Lindsay Lohan’s court cases.”
“I’m not even going there,” he smiled.
Nan glanced over at Hailey who seemed stuck in a brown stare. “Earth to Astro Girl—are you in there?”
Hailey nodded and turned to face the window that looked out onto the ravine behind the townhouse. “I was just thinking how no one has ever called me such a horrible name—why would he do that?”
“Maybe it says more about him than about you,” Brad answered quietly.
The explanation didn’t comfort Hailey—she knew someone was out there who hated her enough to deface her house, and maybe he’d attack her physically next.
© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.