[Edge1.1.20] Once Bitten Twice Shy – Dave Bailey

[Edge1.1.20] Once Bitten Twice Shy

“Really?” Art asked in shock.

“I heard Mr. Blanchet wanted to buy the company out, but I guess it’s good for him that it didn’t work out. But you should know about that because you work for them. Right? Why am I telling you this?”

“No, I haven’t heard any of this news. Please continue and tell me what else you know about this stuff and Mr. Blanchet.”

“Well, I probably shouldn’t say anything. It’s just rumor, and I don’t want to lose my job because I’m spreading gossip about him.”

Art waited anxiously for her to continue.

“They say he’s not from here.”

“You mean Mr. Blanchet?” he asked.

She nodded and continued. “They say he acquired his wealth through the suffering of others and built his empire on the back of pain. Some even say he isn’t human. I even heard recently that he is over five hundred years old.”

Art chuckled. “You gotta love the company water cooler.”

She didn’t laugh but fidgeted nervously. “I should get going. There is still a lot of cleaning I have to do.”

“No, please. Wait. Stay with me a bit longer. I’ll tell Tony that it was my fault because you were keeping me company.”

“Tony isn’t my boss. I work for an outsourced company. He’s my employer’s boss thrice removed.”

“Okay,” Art said. “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

The phone in Art’s pocket started to vibrate, and he pulled it out. Carla looked at him in shock and anger.

“You don’t have a phone. Huh?” she hissed angrily. “All men are such liars. They sweet talk you while lying to your face.”

Art held out his hands for her not to leave while trying to answer the phone at the same time.

“Hey, Jonny! Good to hear from you. I need to call you back. Give me a minute.”

Art hung up and ran over to where Carla was putting her cleaning supplies back in the cart.

“No, it’s not what you think. Listen to me.” Art pleaded. “There was a woman here yesterday.”

“Yes, I know. Always a woman. You’re just like all the other men I know. If it weren’t for women, you would all be saints.” she droned on.

“She gave me this phone to talk to Johnny because he wanted to warn me about the bomb.”

Carla stopped her rant and put her stuff down. She crossed her arms and tapped her feet while she scowled at Art.

“Why am I trying to explain myself to you. I’m allowed to have a phone if I want, and I can talk to other women if I want. Where did the jealous bug bite you today?”

“You can have all the phones you want, smarty pants. And you can talk to all the pretty girls you want. Just don’t lie to me about having a phone when you do.”

“But I didn’t lie, and it’s not mine. I just forgot I still had it. Look, I’m sorry.” Art said.

“What? That you got caught lying,” she said with a smirk.

Art sighed in frustration.

“It’s okay. Forget it,” she said. “I’m just overly sensitive about it. I caught my boyfriend sending messages to another woman. He claimed they were just friends. I dug a little deeper and discovered the truth. So, I dumped him. You know the saying. How does it go? Once bitten, twice shy.”

“So, what happened to the boyfriend?” Art asked.

“I chopped him up and fed his liver to the alligators.” she giggled.

Art looked at her in shock and horror. She burst out laughing at the look on his face.

“I met that metaphorically. Don’t worry, he’s still alive. He tried to cover it up and proposed the following week in front of all our friends. I didn’t pull any punches with him. I let the cat out of the bag.”

Art gave a low whistle.

“Poor guy. You humiliated him in front of his friends.” Art said.

“They tore him to shreds. Most of them won’t even give him the time of day anymore. He always tried to pretend he was Mr. perfect goody-two-shoes. But I left no doubt as to who he really was. I gave them all solid evidence.”

“You are so evil! You could have just dumped him in private.”

“Oh, trust me, this douchebag would have just gone on and done the same thing to one of my friends. But you’re right. It was a little cruel. I was furious and wanted my revenge. I didn’t really think about it much.”

Art grinned. “Look at you little miss feisty. Thanks for the warning. Now, I know not to mess with you.”

Carla smiled, “It’s not just me. Mess with a woman, and you’re bound to get burned, boy. You’ve heard that old saying about hell and a woman scorned. Right?”

Art shook his head.

“Well, forget it then,” she said and pushed her cart on past him.

She stopped at the door and turned back. “So, are you going to give me your number or not?”

“Uh, sure!” Art stammered. “But I don’t know the number to this phone. And I have to get a new one later.”

“Okay, Art. Forget I asked,” she said with a sigh and pushed the door open.

“Wait, give me yours, and I can call you. Then you can save this number on your phone. Whatever it is.”

She brightened up and smiled. “289-4735,” she said, and Art punched the numbers into the phone.

“I’m dialing now. It’s ringing,” he said.

“Oh right,” she answered.

She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone. It was large and white. Almost too large for his tastes. Art didn’t understand why they made phones so big. He preferred something smaller and more discreet. If you wanted something that big, you may as well just buy a tablet. It was a weird size. Too big for a phone and too small for a tablet.

“Maybe we can go grab a bite to eat after you get off work.” Art said. He didn’t think there would be any problem with him going out at night. There wouldn’t be hardly anyone around to see him.

Carla was staring at her phone in shock.

“Where do you get this number from?” she demanded to know as she pointed to the screen. “How did you get this number.”

There was a name on the screen, but he couldn’t see it. So, he took a step forward.

“I told you that a woman gave it to me in the lobby so Johnny could talk to me.”

He looked that the name on the screen. He saw the name, Paul Ortiz.

“Is that your father calling you,” he asked.

“No, that’s the phone number your calling me with. It’s my brother’s phone number. I wanna know how you got it.” she said taking a step forward.

Art stepped back and shrugged. “Here, you can take it and give it back to him.”

“I can’t, Art, because he’s dead. He used to work here at LocTec. One night, he just didn’t come home. I filed a missing person report, but nobody knew what had happened to him.”

Dave Bailey

Dave Bailey started writing short stories when he lived in Brazil to help his students learn English. Now, he lives in Florida again where he continues to write fun and inspiring sci-fi and fantasy fiction stories. You can read his weekly short stories here on his blog. Make sure to join his advanced reading crew so you know when new stories become available >>> https://davebailey.me/go/crew