They’re throwing me out of the bar. Sure, I shouldn’t have hit him, but when you put an unwanted hand on a woman, there are consequences. Can I help it that with my defense skills I can put a guy on his back without breaking a sweat?
I can hear him hurling threats about calling the cops. He won’t. None of the guys I’ve knocked down ever do. What kind of man wants the world knowing a chick put him on his ass? None. Male pride. You’ve gotta love it.
As I traipse through San Francisco’s moonlit streets, the guilt sets in. Tonight’s events aren’t exactly new for me. I kind of have a track record. I dress up (or dress down, it depends on your point of view), hit the bars and clubs alone and let things unfold from there. Sometimes I find fun. Sometimes I find danger. Maybe I even court it. These aren’t exactly the actions of an educated woman.
I can hear my therapist in my head. “Zoë, why do you do it? Why do you put yourself at risk?”
I don’t know. To be honest, I never see it as dangerous behavior. A woman should be able to go out at night alone and have fun, and not have it considered dangerous. I just want to celebrate life. I’m living for two after all.
Am I living for two? Or just trying to follow Holli into an unmarked grave? I want to say the former but my therapist maintains it’s the second. And I’m starting to agree.
I guess I should be honest here. I’m a coward. Last year, Holli and I were on a girl’s weekend in Vegas. Some son of a bitch doped us and stashed us in his little pain cave in the desert. While he took to Holli with a whip, I escaped. I told myself I was only leaving to get help, but they never found Holli or him.
You can tell me it wasn’t my fault and there was nothing I could have done. But with the utmost respect, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Sorry. I don’t mean to get up all in your face but you don’t know what it’s like living with what I’ve done.
Part of me wants to put what happened to Holli and me behind me and live on. Part of me wants to go back to that night and take that son of a bitch on. The result is that I’m stuck in my own private purgatory. It’s why I have a dead-end job and I hit the town looking for trouble. Looking for him. Hoping our paths will cross so I can get a chance to make up for what I did…or didn’t do.
And I might just get my wish. He’s here. The media is calling him the Tally Man. There’s a dead woman in the city. She was flogged before she was killed, just like Holli. I’m hoping our paths will cross. And when they do, I’m going to ask him where to find Holli…just before I kill him.
You can read more about Zoë in The One That Got Away, published by Thomas & Mercer.
Meet the author
Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He’s a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot, an endurance cyclist and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and four cats. He’s the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, Asking For Trouble, We All Fall Down and the Aidy Westlake series. His latest thriller is THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus. Curious people can learn more at www.simonwood.net.