She’d not been a troller. Not consciously. Any search traceable to her would never be motivated by anything tawdry or otherwise reproachable. Never a brown wrapped package. No insertables.
Yet, nearing the end of her fifth decade she had, nonetheless, been visited by all the spirits: Ok!Cupid; eHarmony; eCacophony…. and, now, the last bastion for all the cast offs, the actual, legitimately aging and single: Our Time, the ad insisted. A time for us. Hadn’t there been a song?
So many of them, so sad. 80% overweight, scruffy of face, hard of feature, deep of furrow. And, monikers even more pathetic, employing the bleat of goats: “hot”; “insatable(sp)”; “baaad”…..
Just another reminder that this had become her generation, her station, her junction with destiny.
But, the stand out. Just one. Eyes, so blue so as to be otherworldly. Smile, so warm and engaging; countenance, so alive with fresh air after a brisk run. Clean, bright, hopeful. She could imagine this man. Could he be breathing real air?
And, he’d be wanting her email. He’d be leaving the dating site, after all. He’d lost his wife to cancer; he could take everything slow. He’d be available for long conversations. And, he’d follow through, too; the first message, several paragraphs – effusive, full of lightness and being. And, confirming photographs, with young children, and a friend, and a small doggie. Would I send more of mine?
She loved that he was not actually an American. Quick to tell him that Ancestry.com had placed at least 17% of her DNA in the same region of eastern Europe, she could understand a man of his rich cultural heritage. And, his job – mining precious gems for use in technology – taking him across the globe and back, in a day. This was the expansiveness she sought, yea deserved, after her long life of toil and disappointment.
No matter that his only online identity put him at 29 years old. No issue with PeopleFinder having no record of anybody, with his first initial and ubiquitous Ukrainian surname, living anywhere near the west coast. No problem, at all, that he could not be located anywhere he’d said he’d been.
She’d fallen asleep that night, after deferring a dinner date with a local man who was firmly anchored where he’d been planted for life, in full on fantasy; they’d see Italy, at long last, and then go wherever he needed to be – Belize? Qatar ? Every remote island, as yet undiscovered?
His most recent missive had included a phone number. She’d been quick to save it into her tracphone addressbook, and toss off a text to him at the time appointed. She’d been patient to wait the several hours thereafter, in the silence which ensued.
At about 3 a.m., her body jolted out of the bed with the power of a live wire in salt water.
That phone number.
Logging in to the area code search, she scrolled all the way down to discover its source. A small, cheap, yet unmistakable alarm went off in her head; the region was eastern PA, not the Pacific northwest and, furthermore, there were several search results which generated that distant yet undeniable clang in her cranium.
Two reports, against that phone number. A landline. Not textable. Two distinct individuals, with a history of contact with the person on the other end. Fake ID, with at least one of the names he had used to lure her, and merchandise, not even belonging to him, for sale: high.end.firearms.
Tearing into email security, to block the email address.* Digging into downloads, to Trash the photos. Getting up the next morning, and calling the bank, and enrolling in LifeLock for identity protection.
She needed some sunlight. These days were getting fewer, and shorter, and further between. A quick trip to the post office, to gather and dispense with innumerable mail order catalogues, to chat in the parking lot with Juan about his double knee replacement, to greet the postal worker behind the counter who knew what box number at the sight of her face. Prattling to the postal worker with the short version of her story, she spied the commemorative stamp display on the counter to her right.
There he was. Paul Newman. In beautiful illustration, at the peak of his dazzling manhood. The bluest eyes, on his own stamp.
She bought five. Five Paul Newman stamps. One, for each day of the week. She’d give him weekends off; he’d earned those – for being the last authentic, devoted husband to one woman for all of eternity.
Getting that deferred dinner date back on the calendar would be the task of a lifetime.
* And, from Microsoft: “Thank you for letting us know about the questionable email you received. We checked into it and found that it violated the Microsoft Services Agreement (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/servicesagreement/default.aspx). The email account. has been. suspended.”
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 11/9/15
All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you, you little trolling moles.