June. Maybe the first week, possibly halfway through the second, @NoNamesLeftToUse The Writer/Artist Himself finally heard back from the woman with all the answers, and some of the plans.
It was time to go.
I'll explain that later though. For now, I'd like to simply start at the beginning.
Since somewhere around the middle of May, yours truly and the one offering these words to you now at no cost, was secretly attempting to line up a new writing gig that fell out of the sky and landed directly on my laptop somehow, like magic. A gig that actually pays. Something that required at least an ounce of professionalism along with a dash of enthusiasm and maybe a few sprinkles of maturity. I also had to be there, on time.
The change was to be drastic. I had spent years, here, on chain, honing my skills. Finetuning my delivery. Breaking all the rules of this world. Aiming to be something different. Trying new things. Attempting to perfect the imperfect by keeping it that way. Always experimenting. All that with the hopes someday there'd be a solid fanbase here to support and enjoy this nonsense, so I'd never have to actually work again, and finally get to live a life of achieving a few goals while enjoying results, answering to nobody.
The new opportunity found its way to me in the form of an email hiding inside the other messages/potential spam section of my inbox. Why all the good things often end up there, I'll never know. And that's a question I'd rather not ask anyway, since it could potentially lead to a boring conversation with someone who's most likely depending on the fact they sounded smart once, so why not try again.
Inside what I nearly deleted due to circumstances beyond my control was a longwinded message about my style and the potential.
There's stroking one's ego and then there's aggressively tugging on it with two hands until the mess comes out to join the party. She did both, and quite well. I closed that email feeling satisfied, then stepped outside for a cigarette, and time to think.
The next day I responded with something like:
- Who are you, really?
- How did you find me?
- What the hell do you want with me?
Even though the icebreaker she sent initially made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, my first instinct is to always assume people are fucking with me, so I went into cold and prickly mode with a quickness as my defenses were on high alert.
A few days later she responds with a short message and a link to a private Youtube video. Nearly an hour long. I press play. She once again introduces herself shortly after starting with an eerie sounding, "Good afternoon, Damien."
Another one of these goddamn stalker trolls!
I knew it, I thought, while reaching for my pacifiers and wondering where I put my lighter. How, in the actual fuck, does this woman know my name?
Only a cigarette can calm those kind of nerves. Nine out of ten doctors would agree if this was 1956 and I don't think much has changed since then in the medical field.
So I'm puffing and she's yapping. It felt like a recorded video call and was combined with stunning imagery when she'd switch over to record her screen, highlighting this very blog and a number of old posts she had prepared to pull up and talk about. She ripped me apart in some places, then glued me back together in others.
Turns out this was not a Hive member. My work simply found its way to her device one day through the magic of internet and the rest is history. She claims to have read everything published to this blog, including comments. Every last word including the email address I used to place neatly at the end of every post, four years ago. Even chuckled after claiming, "I'm your biggest stalker."
I knew it!
But I calmed down after a series of back and forth emails led to the potential of making money, as a writer, for her organization.
Only one job, but a big job.
After several attempts to self-sabotage due to paranoia and an irrational fear of ever allowing anyone to actually meet the man behind the mask and these words, I finally agreed to meet in person, even though the muscle I attempted to hire with the promise of a fun car ride and a free meal would be a no-show.
Sure, I'm a grown-ass man, but my brain insisted I treat this encounter like a young teenager would if they actually had brains. Unsure if I'm being groomed and about to be molested then sold to a politician; but there I am, traveling to a park, to meet some random from the internet, because they said nice things to me.
She had to travel ten hours to be there at this fancy little gazebo and I had to travel three because I lied about where I actually live. Smart.
I told her I'd bring the coffees but instead, I arrived two hours early, so I could sit in the vehicle, scope out the place, make damn sure I see her arrive, then sit, alone. No funny business.
She shows up on time, as I'm sitting there, acting like it's my twelfth day on meth within my mind, feeling like everyone's watching me, as I watch everyone else. I didn't see anything resembling an entourage of pervs follow her in. No fake cops with real handcuffs. The coast was clear, so now it's on to the next part of the plan; coffee.
The goddamn line for the drivethru stretched around the block, probably because of Covid, and the fact that always happens at Tim Horton's, even before the death of the society we all once knew.
Ended up being a half hour late but at least the coffees were hot.
For some reason I was still nervous as I approached, thinking about how I'd use these hot coffees as weapons if someone popped out of the bushes and tried to put a garbage bag over my head then beat me with a small shovel while demanding my Hive keys to go along with those car keys.
All of the isolation and social distancing I'd been experiencing prior to this encounter really did a number on my noggin.
This was to be my first major public appearance in quite some time. I almost forgot how, but at least the random passersby wouldn't think any less of me if I broke out into sudden public meltdown mode, screaming about how everyone is trying to kill me, since that sort of behavior is 'the new normal'. So I had that on my side.
"Oh. I don't drink coffee."
That was the first thing she said to me after, "Hello! It's nice to finally meet you! This is such a beautiful city!"
I stared at both cups, trying to decide which one to open first, as she got down to brass tacks. Strictly business and this woman meant it. She's still in sales pitch form, kissing my ass, bringing up quotes of mine, throwing compliments my way, comparing my work to a few big names from the past then saying things like, "...and with my team involved, your work could be polished into something so much more than theirs!"
I wasn't buying it. Didn't need to hear it. I had already decided, if the money was fair, I'd do the job. These gigs are easy. Doesn't even matter if I fuck up; her people will fix it. As a ghostwriter, my name isn't even involved. Simply sign the deal, collect the money, do the work, collect the rest of the money, spend the money responsibly, hopefully.
But it's still nice to hear a constant barrage of great things about yourself, so I let her finish, plus I still had plenty of the coffee I worked hard to get. No way I'd be wasting that in this economy...
She's done, we're now on small talk, getting to know one another a bit better. The plan was to meet up same time, same place, tomorrow; she'd have the contract ready for me to sign and would provide lunch.
To get back at her for making me drink two coffees then having to take an emergency piss inside one of those ungodly blue porta-potties with the perma-stench and shit smeared on the walls due to crackheads, I thought about saying, "I don't eat lunch," once it's presented to me the next day.
Luckily that was just another one of those random daydreams I get when people are talking to me about the things I forgot to listen to. That would be so cruel, and I love lunch.
I asked where she's staying.
That's a classic go-to end of a business meeting line everyone should know. Not only does it create the next chapter of small talk but it also subliminally plants thoughts of it's time to go home now inside the minds of whoever I place under the spell, leading to an end to all things today between us, at just the right moment, before any sort of awkwardness has a chance to set in or I get bored.
She points at her vehicle. It's a Mercedes Sprinter van. When she pulled up, I thought it was her bookmobile or some shit. Delivery van, work vehicle, tax write off, something or other.
So I get excited! I love these conversion vans! Mobile off-grid living in luxury if you ask me. So of course I want to see inside, and of course she's excited to show me.
Slides open the door, my jaw drops. I hop inside and I'm a pig in shit, feeling right at home instantaneously. I always wanted one of these, I say, as she's talking about having hot water and I'm turning on the faucet to check if she's lying. For about ten seconds I got to feel what it's like to be Trent from the Trent & Allie Youtube channel, which I highly recommend.
Then outta nowhere...
The door slams behind me; I turn around only to see two rather large individuals dressed in black pop out from behind what I thought was a shower curtain. It's already too late. Before I could even process any necessary thoughts, I'm pinned on the floor by one evil bastard while the other shoves a massive dildo the size of Africa through my jeans with force and directly up my ass probably as far as it would go.
I came to find out later they were both lesbians so at least it wasn't gay, but I still find this stuff difficult to talk about, even though it has been two full months since my fifth and final escape attempt.
There's always a silver lining.
It's been nearly five months since my last publication here on Hive. Back then, I was actually planning to take a break, so at least under those circumstances, I was able to get away from here for awhile and get that job done, so that's cool. I've also always wanted to spend time living in a van, on the road, or even just down by the river. I got to do all that, for free yet. Didn't cost me a dime.
Sure, 2020 has been the year from hell for many. One should almost expect these unfortunate occurrences but that's still no excuse for that overly extended hiatus of mine. Some of the best advice I've ever received came from one of those ladies when she said, "Don't tense up. Stop being a pussy about it and learn to relax."