Tales of Terror

The Girl in the New Dress
by Larry Letemplier

Laura gazed longingly at the ocean blue floral print dress displayed in Tilly’s Boutique window. It’s just perfect, she thought.

She went in the store and strode over to the counter. On a shelf above the cash register a portable radio played a song that tugged her heart string. When the lady behind the counter asked Laura if she could help her, she said that she would like to try on the blue dress in the window. The clerk undressed the mannequin and directed Laura toward a small room in the far corner.

She removed her blouse and jeans and slipped on the dress. The mirrors around the little room revealed a slim, curvaceous figure hugged snugly inside the dress. She twirled and wavy red hair bounced about and blended enchantingly with the ocean blue flow that surrounded her.

"My Blair will just flip when he sees me", she thought. Blue was Blair’s favorite color, and she could hardly wait to see his eyes light up and his wide smile as he gazed at her in the new dress, the way he had gazed at her on their first date. She would capture that exhilarated moment and store it in her vault of keepsakes, her heart. A white toothy smile complemented the sparkle in her eyes. She touched the glinting gold chain that encircled an exquisite
neck. It was a gift from her Blair.

The dress’ $38.99 price tag was within her budget, and she did not hesitate to buy it. In the background the radio poured out bad news: the slasher who had brutally murdered four young men was still at large; on Lexiton a fire had claimed a family of five; a rabid German shepherd dog had killed its owner and was still on the loose; the Municipality of Black Rock announced that a two-percent tax hike will come into effect in the coming fiscal year.

Laura did not let bad news get her down anymore. The world was filled with it, and one just had to deal with it in her own way.

"If it’s okay with you," Laura said to the clerk, "I would like to keep the dress on, as I’m going to meet my Blair." Just the utter of his name caused her heart to flutter.

"You’re the first customer who has ever made that request," the clerk said. She smiled. "However, it is written all over your face that your Blair is very special to you. It would be a shame to see that glow leave your face."

Laura imagined that the glow on her face which the clerk referred to must be similar to the happy little faces on "her children" at Black Rock Elementary, where she taught.

She thanked the clerk and left the boutique carrying her worn clothes in a Tilly’s shopping bag. She smiled at passers-by. They smiled back at her. She reached her car, a blue Neon, and was about to get in when she saw an old lady, limping slowly across the street toward Tilly’s parking lot. The street light winked green, and impatient drivers honked horns and shouted disparaging remarks at her.

Laura threw her shopping bag in the front seat and hurried toward the old lady. "Let me help you," she said, holding out her arm. The old lady looked up in surprise. She was maybe in her seventies. Her face was a map of wrinkles, and there were deep pouches under her eyes. She flashed yellow-stained teeth and held on to Laura’s arm. Laura allowed the lady to lean against her as she helped her across the street.

"Thank you kindly, dear," the old lady said, breathing heavily. "No one has done a kind deed for me in years." Her voice was a mingle of sadness and regret.

"It was my pleasure," Laura said.

"Oh my!" the old lady exclaimed. "What a lovely dress." Her face suddenly lit up. "Oh, I recognize that look on your face. You’re in love, and you deserve to be."

Laura tingled all over. She leaned forward and kissed the old lady on the cheek. "You have a nice day. Bye."

She turned and went back to the Neon. When she got the car moving, she turned on the radio. Lonestar’s "Amazed" drew a joyous squeal from her. "They are playing our song, Blair," she said out loud, as if he were sitting beside her. She had her own cassette of Lonestar in the glove box and played "Amazed" every time she went to meet her Blair. She tingled as she recalled that special night when Blair had professed his love to her.

A speeding, siren-wailing police cruiser passed her. Maybe the two officers she had glimpsed in the front seat of the cruiser were dealing with some of the bad news she had heard on the radio news at Tilley’s, she thought.

The sound of "Amazed" faded and another country love song began. Laura braked the Neonfor a red light. She leaned over and opened the glove box. She picked up the Lonestar cassette and saw the narrow gold-colored box, the gift box that had contained the 20 karat gold chain circling her neck. For a moment her smile wavered, and a streak of loneliness embraced her. Then she glanced down at her new dress and her spirits revved to its highest
gear. She smiled.

She closed the glove box and inserted the cassette into the player. When the street light flashed green, she started on her way, humming the words to "Amazed" with Lonestar. In the distance the sun was an orange ball setting below the mountain.

As she drove, her thoughts returned to the old lady she had helped earlier. "You’re in love, and you deserve to be," she had said. Of course, she did. It was all she lived for nowadays.

When she reached Calvin Street, dusk had settled on Black Rock. At that moment she saw him coming out of the store. He closed the door behind him and locked it. She pulled the Neon into the driveway of Thompson’s Electronics.

He was handsome. Blair. Her Blair. He was especially handsome this evening in his gray, pin-striped suit. He rarely wore suits, mostly at weddings and funerals.

She turned up the stereo’s volume and "their" song drifted across the driveway. She opened the glove box and took out the gift box. She liked to carry the box with her when she went to greet him.

He walked toward his car now.

She got out of the Neon. "Blair!" she called.

He stopped and looked in her direction.

She hurried toward him. "Do you like the dress?" she said. She twirled as if she modeled for him. "I bought it especially for you."

He looked at her strangely. Where was the sparkle in his eyes and the wide-eyed smile she expected? He doesn’t like the dress, she thought. She couldn’t understand. He liked surprises, and it was a new dress. It was his favorite color.

"I’m sorry," he said. "You have mistaken me for someone else."

Her heart sank. Her lips quivered.

"No," she cried. "You are my Blair."

"My name is Todd," he said. "I’m sorry."

"You’re doing it to me again," she blurted. "I thought you had changed, but you’re still a deceitful bastard."

He gaped at her. My God, she thought, he’s looking at me as if I were some kind of freak.

"I have something for you," she said. She lifted the cover off the box. The black handle blade shone in the half-darkness. She gripped the handle and pulled the knife out of the box.

She swiped at him and the blade slashed his throat. Now he gives me that wide-eyed gaze, she thought. Still no smile. Only an expression of shock, and terror. A neat bloody gash along his throat. He tried to speak, as if to call out, but only a gargling sound could be heard, and she was the only one there to hear it.

She slashed him again and blood spurted from his chin. He raised his hands in front of him, as if to ward her off. She slashed his hands. He turned and tried to run but collapsed on the pavement. He wasn’t her Blair. Not the one who had promised to marry her and love her forever. She slashed him again. He was the old Blair. The one who had run out on her. She slashed him again and again until his suit was splattered in blood. He twitched like a dying fish stranded on a beach.

She watched him gargle. Drown in his own blood. Just has she had watched the four others. The gargling stopped. The twitching stopped. He stared up at her with unblinking eyes. She wiped the blade over her dress. The dress didn’t matter anymore. It was worn. She would go home and dispose of it in her backyard as she had done with the
other four dresses.

When she finally found her Blair, and she would find him, she wanted him to see her in a new dress, because he liked surprises. His eyes would light up and he would give her that broad smile she adored. That is how she would know her Blair from the deceitful one. Until then, she had the happy faces of "her children" to fill the void.

She picked up the box, put the knife back in it, and returned to the Neon. She pulled out of the driveway, humming the words to "their" song. She was in love, and she deserved to be.

Larry Letemplier

Back To Main Index     Back To Tales Of Terror