Stay With Me
Stay With Me
Jared put the finishing touches on his hair before grabbing his jacket to head out to his first ever blind date. It wasn’t really a blind date because over the course of the past four and a half months he had been chatting and getting to know a girl, who at first only went by the name dreamluvr59. He had finally taken his friends’ advice and went to a dating site and after a lot of trial and error; she had popped up in his inbox. At first for the first few months they had only conversed through an inbox and messenger and then they had video chatted. She had told him her real name was Dolly Sweet. He’d laughed at first thinking it was just another fictional name she’d chosen for herself, but no her real name was Dolly Sweet. He smiled as he said her name in his mind. It made him think of candy and she was just as sweet as candy.
He grabbed the flowers he’d bought after he’d gotten off work and a box of chocolates. She had told him that she loved sweet heart roses and loved chocolates that came in boxes. It was cliché and a little cheesy but he wanted to make a great first impression. Dolly had finally invited him to dinner at her house and had sent him the instructions to get there. He had tried for hours to get his GPS to program the address but oddly enough the GPS had come up with nothing so he hoped she’d given him the correct directions so he wouldn’t be late.
Jared set out for what he hoped was an eventful night. He pictured her heart shaped face, her golden blonde hair that was always pinned back that reminded him of a fifties pin up girl, and those blue eyes that reminded him of a summer sky. She had told him she was just an old fashioned kind of girl who wanted to meet someone to have fun with and talk to. They had really hit it off, or so he thought. He drove through town and hit the country roads hoping to make it to her house before it got dark.
About an hour later he finally found the road he needed to turn off on. Jared had almost passed the small dirt road that looked as if it hadn’t been traveled down in some years but what surprised him the most was when he finally seen the housing edition she spoke of. Twelve little houses all neat and almost matching except for their colors lined both sides of the street. Each house had an outside light that was illuminated and well-manicured lawns. It reminded him of those old timey black and white fifties' shows. He chuckled as he passed a mail box that had a little sign hanging from it that said The Nelsons. The next house was a bright blue and it was the address that Dolly had given him. He pulled in behind what looked like a 1957 Chevy Convertible. Dolly really was into the retro vibe.
Jared grabbed his gifts for her and turned his car off then got out and headed to the door. He heard soft music playing inside and rang the doorbell. There was a light feminine voice that called out, “Coming. Be right there.”
Jared made sure his tie was straightened and had his smile in place. The door opened and there stood Dolly dressed in a light blue dress that still fit with the retro fifties thing going on. It had a sweetheart neckline and cap sleeves. Her hair was in a high pony tail. She was dainty yet had curves in all the right places. He held out the flowers and candy.
Dolly squealed in delight as she took the gifts and invited him into her home. “Thank you. I love them!” she said as she held the roses up to her nose.
“You’re welcome Dolly. It’s great to finally meet you in person.”
She smiled as she closed the door. “I hope you didn’t have any trouble finding me. I don’t really like to live in big cities. I like the quiet. Sit down and I’ll go put these in water. Would you care for a drink?”
Jared nodded, “Sure, I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
Dolly smiled and excused herself still being the perfect hostess. Jared looked around at the front room. Everything right down to the décor was retro even the television looked like one of those sets from probably when his grandfather had been a kid. The pictures on the walls were vintage, probably her grandparents and older relatives. There were a few of her but not too many. Most women he’d been out with had all sorts of personal photographs and a few had some that looked as if they should have been in an adult shop. He was relieved that Dolly so far didn’t seem to be too high maintenance or self-absorbed. When she returned she handed him a glass of iced tea and set down a platter of tiny finger foods which consisted of little cubes of cheese and meats with little fancy tooth picks in them. She sat with her legs modestly crossed and motioned for him to sit.
“Do you like the oldies? I love Ricky Nelson, Billie Holiday, and Bobby Darin. They are my favorites.” She chirped.
He gave a friendly shrug, “The oldies are okay. I mostly listen to what’s current but I can learn to appreciate the classics.”
They talked for the next hour until a bell went off. She excused herself and Jared inhaled the heavenly scents coming from the kitchen. Dolly perfectly set the table laying out her meat loaf, green bean casserole, bread basket, mashed potatoes, and salad bowl. It was an All American dinner. She invited him to the table and when he was seated she sat herself, very daintily placing the linen napkin across her lap.
“This is some spread! It looks delicious.” Then for added praise, he added, “My compliments to the chef.”
She beamed as she took his salad plate and filled it before her own. They chatted some more as they ate and moved to the main course. When they finished that and he was nearly bursting at the seams, she cleared the dishes and returned with what else, hot apple pie.
After they finished the pie, they moved back to the front room where she brought out a few games for them to play. He hung on her every word and loved the way her face lit up when he’d say something funny or gave her a compliment. It had been a great first date so far but he knew the hour was growing late. When he looked at his watch, it was nearly eleven o’clock.
“Wow, I’ve kept you up pretty late. I better be going.” He said as he started to stand.
“Oh no, I stay up late a lot. You don’t have to go.”
How he wished he could have stayed just a little longer. She placed her hand on his and he covered it with his own as he looked into her beautiful face. She had the most perfect Cupid’s bow mouth that begged a man to kiss but he didn’t want to push things and he still had to get up early for work the next day. So with a heavy heart, he lifted her hand and kissed her knuckles, “Dolly, I have to go but I would like to see you again.”
“Have a night cap with me first, okay?”
Jared figured one more drink wouldn’t hurt so he agreed. She disappeared once again into the kitchen. In a blink she was back with two glasses of red wine. He took the glass and relaxed as he sipped it, enjoying her company. He’d only drank half of it when he felt strange almost a little tipsy.
“I think I better stop now because I have a long drive home. Next time you’ll have to come to my ap-“ and everything went black after that.
Jared felt a dull ache in his head. He felt as if his body had been replaced with concrete as heavy as his limbs felt. Just opening his eyes seemed to take great effort. He tried to remember the last thing he was doing right before he’d fell out. Slowly he sat up. His dull ache had turned into a full blast jackhammer inside his skull. Shaking his head was a horrible idea. Jared groaned as he grabbed both sides of his head. Still the question remained, what had happened?
There was music but no Dolly. Fear took root inside him. Surely someone hadn’t broken into her home, knocked him unconscious, and harmed her? Focusing all his will power to his legs he stood. Looking around, Jared noted that nothing seemed out of place. Everything was just as neat and tidy as it had been when he had arrived. He looked through the curtains out of the big picture window and it was still dark outside and the neighbors were still tucked into their homes safe and sound.
“D-Dolly?” his voice was raspy and his throat ached.
There was nothing but the soft crooning voice of Ricky Nelson. He made it to the kitchen and there was no one there. Panic started to grow inside of Jared. There were no signs of entry or Dolly. He felt his jacket pocket to retrieve his phone, but it was gone. He looked around and didn’t see a phone. He finally heard a faint stirring. It was like a scraping noise. He followed it and it led him to a door that was slightly ajar. There were stairs that led down and at first Jared was concerned since he was still unsteady but he had to know if Dolly was down there and what or if anything had happened. Slowly he descended each stair.
“Well I’ve laid my cards on the table, and it’s oh so plain to see, That I’m ready, willing, and able To love you faithfully…It’s up to you, No, it’s not for me to say, You love me too, oh but I hope you feel that way…”
It was Dolly! Jared felt like a hundred pounds had been lifted off his chest. He was about to call out to her, but something stopped him dead in his tracks.
Sitting at a small folding table were two skeletons styled to look as if they were having dinner. Dolly was sitting with her back towards him.
“Daddy, just wait until you meet him. He’s so handsome and already I can tell he loves me. I think he’ll want to have that big ‘talk’ soon, maybe even ask a very important question.” She giggled as she tilted her head thoughtfully, “Oh mother, I would be willing to bet it was your apple pie that won him over. No one can resist your apple pie Mother. “
Jared had seen plenty of movies and none of them could hold a candle to the horror he felt. Well nothing except or when Dolly turned her head and smiled at him with eyes that were touched with madness.
“Well hello there Mr. Sleepy head. You’re not supposed to be down here just yet. Mother and father weren’t ready for you but since you’re here you might as well meet them.”
His chest was tight and Jared knew he had to get out of there and get out of there now. He took a step back. She stood, her smile leaving her face.
“Jared? Why are you looking at me like that? Come sit down and I’ll explain things.”
Jared almost stumbled on the first three steps, “Explain what Dolly? I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. You need help.” His head was splitting and for a moment his vision blurred. One thing was for certain; he had to get the hell out of this place and far away from Dolly.
Dolly sighed and shook her head. For a moment she looked like a child who had lost their favorite toy.
“Well if that is really how you feel, then I guess Daddy was right,” she looked over her shoulder as if she were having a real conversation with the skeletal body dressed in a man’s 1950s tweed business suit.
Jared was already up the stairs before she could finish. Jared pushed aside his splitting skull and ran through the hallway and past the kitchen to the front door. He jerked open his car door and forced his hand to stop shaking long enough to put his key in the ignition. He turned the key but nothing happened. He tried it again, and still nothing happened. Jared popped the hood while keeping an eye on his surroundings. He looked in horror as the battery, distributor cap, and his hoses were sliced and some removed. Fearful she would come out with guns blazing, he started shouting.
“HELP ME PLEASE!” Jared cried as he ran to doors banging on them. No one opened their door.
One by one, he banged on each door and all the windows. Just as he was about to knock on the last door, he heard her.
“Jared, Oh Jared where are you? Look, I know what you must be thinking but I think if you let me explain you’d see we can work through this.”
Not even looking back, he turned the knob and surprisingly enough, it opened. The black and white television was on but there was no sound. The living room and pretty much the whole house looked exactly like Dolly’s. Unlike Dolly’s house, a family sat at the dining room table covered in dust. Life sized dolls sat at the table. There was something odd about these dolls. They didn’t look plastic yet they all wore large plastic over expressive smiles on their faces and their eyes looked so lifelike. He went over to the father and touched the hair. There was something sticking out and Jared fingered it, curious. To his surprise and horror, it was a bullet. That was a strange thing to be inside a mannequin. He looked at the hole and part of the skull spilt apart and the terror deepened, he was holding what looked like a piece of human skull with mummified brain matter in his hand.
The hand of the little girl had what looked like bone poking through one of the finger tips and the boy across from her had a similar hole in the back of his skull. The mother’s cheek disintegrated when he pressed slightly into it. Half a jaw of very human teeth was exposed and two and two started to add up in Jared’s mind. Suddenly the lights in the entire house went out and he could hear Dolly humming. Quickly he ran to the back door, but it was locked. He tried the windows but they were locked as well. He grabbed a fire poker and tried to break a window but the glass would not break. Jared decided he was going to have to hide. The only thing wrong with that idea was that this was Dolly’s playground and her rules.
“Jared, are you hiding from me? I do love games. I think that it is very important for two people to like things and I have never had more in common with anyone than I do you. Are you in here Jared with the Bills?” She was down stairs looking for him.
Jared was hiding in one of the bedrooms. It was styled for a boy’s room with vintage looking cowboy design wallpaper and matching bed spread.
“Jared, do you want to know how I met the Bill’s?” He held his breath as she continued to search for him. He had to get out but he had to time it just right.
“Well Bill, like you I met through a dating service online. Oh he was nice to look at but when he got here he didn’t like that I was an old fashioned girl. When Bill met Daddy, he said some crude things. I don’t like crude language.” her voice was getting louder; closer. “Jared, he called me crazy and well he wouldn’t do. So I improved him and gave him his own little family.”
Jared flattened himself against the wall holding the iron fireplace poker tightly in his hands until his knuckles whitened. She was in the hallway.
His breath stilled in his chest, his heart raced, and sweat began to trickle down his cheek.
“Jared, I want a little family of my own. It would be perfect me and you. We’d have a perfect little home, lovely neighbors, and you’d always have me.”
Jared watched as the door knob slowly turned. His eyes scanned the darkened room. He held his breath as the door began to open. Jared held his breath. He’d have one shot and that was it. It was either him or her and he sure wasn’t going to end up being part of her macabre fantasy family. Jared had never hurt or killed anything or anyone in his life but in this moment he had no other choice.
The door opened and in walked Dolly. In her hand was a .38 Special handgun and from the looks of it, she knew how to use it. Jared waited until she’d walked far enough into the room before he swung. Dolly didn’t know what had hit her until it was too late. Jared ran as fast as he could.
One Year Later
Jared sat in the chair trying not to feel the panic that rose up within him every time he did one of these interviews and had to retell the story of how he nearly was another victim of Dolly Sweet. Over the past two years, she’d lured and trapped over sixteen victims and then killed them. The housing edition had been a display for a project that had been abandoned over twenty years ago and somehow she’d rebuilt it and used it as her own set of dollhouses.
Jared had spent two days hiding and running through miles of forest before he trusted his surroundings enough to get help. He’d alerted the police and they had been just as horrified as he had been when they got confirmation of what he’d reported was true. Dolly wasn’t even her real name. No one knew what her real name had been but it was believed she was an escaped mental patient named Irene McCarthy who had been a resident of Whispering Hills Mental Hospital since she was eight years old. Dolly had been found and sent to another facility out of state that was half way across the nation where he was safe from her. Jared had written a book, a suggestion from his therapist, as a means of therapy. He’d called it The Deadly Dollhouse. This interview was his last. His friends were taking him on a vacation down to the Bahamas for two weeks of fun and sun. After the show, he opened the door to his brand new Prius, always careful to look in the back seat before opening the door and sliding in.
He sat his packages on the passenger seat and let out a deep breath. He inserted the key and started the car. He drove out of the parking garage and nodded at the guards and attendants. Jared even signed an autograph and headed out. Jared undid the top button of his shirt and started to relax. Finally he could put all this behind him, he felt. Jared reached over and turned on the radio.
“There is someone walking behind you, turn around and look at me. There is someone walking behind you, turn around and look at me…”
Never did Jared ever listen to oldies, especially not after Dolly. His heart was racing, almost seizing and there in the review mirror was his worst nightmare come true, Dolly and just as he was about to scream he felt the bite of the wire around his neck, the pain as he was being suffocated, and felt her breath against his ear.
“I forgive you Jared. Now you can stay with me forever!”
The car went off the road and over an embankment before hitting a tree. Later when Sheriff’s arrived on the scene, all they found of Jared were the packages and his body minus the head.