Samantha by Valentina Cano

A man obsesses over a waitress in a truck stop diner, and has plans to make her his; by Valentina Cano.

"Would you like some more coffee?"

The man looked up, pretending he had just noticed her. As if he hadn't sat in this part of the diner for her, as if he hadn't chosen the striped shirt last night because he knew it made him look thinner.

The young woman, Samantha, if her name tag could be trusted, was smiling. She always smiled, but he was sure it was never this wide, this bright. This is the smile she reserved for him. No question about it.

"Yes, thank you, Samantha," he said.

Her name felt right in his mouth. It was just the right size and consistency, like a spoon of warm oatmeal. He could have said it over and over, and sometimes he did when he was alone in his basement. The only gnawing worry of those minutes he spent saying her name and sanding wood was if it really was hers. It could be an alias. Some girls used them if they'd run away from home and didn't want their families to find them. There were plenty of those at a rest stop like this one. It was a good bet that half of the women serving breakfast had a past they wanted to wipe cleaner than the counters they spent their days clearing.

He watched her pour him some more coffee, her hands careful as they tipped the pot over his cup. One of her fingers shook a little. Was she nervous? Did he make her nervous?

The thought made him feel as if he'd had too much sugar. Saliva pooled in his mouth and he had trouble thanking her.

She nodded with that tilt of the head she was so good at and walked away. She had to, of course. There were other people to serve and she most likely couldn't afford to lose her job by doing what she really wanted to do. She couldn't provide him the attention she wanted to give him.

That was all right. He understood. He made sure to smile after her in case she turned around looking for his forgiveness. She should know by now that he would always forgive her. All the times she had passed by him in the supermarket without smiling, without seeming to recognize him, he had forgiven her. He had understood that desire could be difficult to manage, especially for a young woman. He'd never held any of those moments against her and he wouldn't hold today against her, either.

Because he knew how difficult it would be for her to go through today. He had never done it before, not to the degree he was planning, but he understood. He was a very understanding man. Always had been.

He sipped at his coffee, the bitterness of it not bothering him as much as it would have on any other morning. Because today was a special day. It was the day Samantha and he would finally be able to tell each other how they felt. Nothing could ruin that. Nothing would ruin that.

Everything was ready back at his home. He had been planning for weeks and he was sure he hadn't missed anything Samantha might need. It had been difficult to buy tampons and pads, he had to acknowledge that. He'd bought packages of them, of all sizes and all types because he didn't know what she preferred to use. It wasn't a pleasant thought, the idea that such uncleanliness could be part of who Samantha was, but she was female. All females bled. He would just have to accept it, make concessions for it.

The tightness in his crotch made him wince as he shifted in the booth. He took a swig of coffee, burning the top of his palate, the pain of it drawing his attention away from his lower half. He had to think of something else for now. There shouldn't be any accidents, even now when things were about to be all right for the first time.

He sat back and waited. He could do that. It would make the pleasure of it all much stronger when it came.

Samantha had a break at noon. She usually went to the only other building at the gas stop and bought a cinnamon bun or those balls of ice cream that were impossibly difficult to eat. It was a bad habit she had, all of that sugar, but he would soon break her of it.

He left the diner at eleven and headed to his car to wait. He had been doing the same thing for two weeks, so no one would find it strange today when it counted most. He had to prepare himself for this, to stop his hands shaking and his heart pounding. Why should he be nervous? This was what they both wanted, what they both needed. He was just taking control, as his mother always said a man had to do. He hadn't understood what that meant, then, but he understood it now.

His hand almost went to the glove compartment to make sure he had everything he needed, but he stopped himself. He had checked it at least ten times since getting in his car this morning. Everything was in place and being obsessive about it bordered on lunacy. He didn't want to appear like one of those crazies to Samantha. But no, she knew him. The core of him. She would never think he was crazy.

His watch, carefully adjusted to match his car's clock, said he had two minutes left. It'd been easy enough to wait day after day as he planned for this, but now that it was so close to happening... he couldn't keep still!

And there she was! Samantha tugging at the uniform that didn't fit her right at the shoulders, or perhaps it was at the chest where the problem was. She had an ample bosom and the faux gingham pulled on it, the slight separation between the buttons something he had noticed every time he saw her but which he only now attributed to a wrong fitting uniform. Of course! She had probably exchanged the one she'd first worn for this one when she met him. To display her figure. Oh, but if she only knew how little that mattered to him. She was special. She would have been even if her chest were just bones and tight skin.

He turned the car on and watched her as she walked to the Cinnamon King shop. For a second, he worried that it would sputter and stall because this was too much this was too much this was too good to be true this was just his luck but it coughed to life as it usually did. He sucked in a breath and placed his shaking hands on the steering wheel.

Carefully, he drove out of the lot and into the side street, a road that was too granular to be an actual road. But that didn't matter because it would take him right into the back of the building that housed the diner. Right to where he needed to be. He had timed this.

It took three minutes for Samantha to get the cinnamon bun and to hand over payment. Another half minute for her to walk to the restroom at the back of the building.

It had taken him a few days to realize why she used this bathroom instead of the one in the diner. He'd assumed the diner one would have been the better option until he'd gone in there himself one morning. He'd slipped into the women's, ready with a confused stare and a "gosh, how silly I am" response if anyone walked in while he was inside. No foul smells, at least no fouler than usual, no overflowing toilets, no overwhelming trash. It was when he'd checked the inside of the stalls that he noticed it. The graffiti that hid something even more disgusting than crude messages.

Peepholes. One in each stall. They were hidden within the graffiti designs so that it was hard to notice them unless you were looking for something that was off, like he was. Rage had pooled inside him, the sensation competing with a spike of warmth in his groin. He'd stumbled out of the bathroom and left the diner altogether. It had taken him three hours and a full submersion in a bathtub of icy water to ease the discomfort. He'd been pleased, however, that Samantha had been clever enough to notice and that she'd cared enough about him that she would stop using that bathroom. Because he knew she'd done it for him, so that she was pure and unseen for him. He'd be the first man to gaze at her nakedness. He was certain of that.

He followed the dirt road and turned toward the back of the building. As on every day he had driven back here, there were a couple of parked cars. They were those of the people who worked at the cinnamon bun stand and at the gas station, so there was no risk of anyone appearing suddenly, key in hand. So far, this was all going the way it should.

He parked the car close to the bathroom door and grabbed the equipment from the glove compartment. As quietly as he could, he opened and closed the car door, eyes flicking over to the corner from where Samantha would appear. It was all timed perfectly, but surprises could still happen.

With a quick look to make sure the bathroom was empty, he slipped inside. It was a unisex bathroom that was as bad as truck stop bathrooms could get. The smell alone, a mixture of feces and diluted disinfectant was enough to make him want to hold his breath. But he couldn't, of course. It wouldn't be for long and any discomfort was worth the prize he would receive.

Carefully, he unscrewed the small bottle he carried. The instructions had said the smallest amount was enough, so there'd been no need to get a big container.

He smiled in the darkness of the unlit room. Amazing that Samantha and he would have everything they'd ever wanted because of a simple mixture of bleach and acetone. He tipped the bottle over the cloth in his other hand, holding both away from his face and breathing only from his mouth. It just wouldn't do to knock himself out. The embarrassment!

Steps. Her steps.

His heart pounded. He felt it in his throat. Everything he had been dreaming of for weeks was almost here. They'd be together now.

The door opened. Her silhouette was a cutout against the sky and trees behind her,

He waited until she'd taken a step inside, hand reaching out for the light switch. Lunging forward, he grabbed her and pressed the sopping cloth against her face, muffling the scream within its wet folds.

Samantha was surprisingly strong and she pushed against him, grabbing at his hand. But the chloroform did its job and sapped the strength from her muscles. He felt her consciousness recede like an ocean wave until he was left with a body that remained upright only because he held it.

It was hard to catch his breath as his mind flooded itself with happiness. He had done it. He had actually managed it, at least this part of it.

Samantha was getting heavier by the second, though. He couldn't bide his time much longer or he might actually drop her; he couldn't do that to her. She was much too precious to belong on a truck stop bathroom's floor.

With a small grunt, he shifted her weight so that more of her body rested against his. This made her easier to half carry, half drag outside. He freed one arm for a moment and used it to push open the bathroom door before sticking his head outside to see if the makeshift parking lot was still empty. He smiled when he saw his luck was still holding up. Though maybe it wasn't luck. Maybe now that he was fulfilling his destiny, the world was finally bending to his will, to a -

It was when he looked down that he felt like someone had poured rubbing alcohol directly into his veins. The dirty sun shone down on hair that should have been gilded wheat but was brown. Filthy, mouse brown.

His heart lurched and he was sure it would fail.

This wasn't Samantha. This was the woman who cleaned the diner on Thursdays. But today wasn't Thursday, today was Friday, it was Friday, yes, it had to be, he couldn't have mistaken the days, not when he'd planned everything else, no, surely not, but here she was, not Samantha, no, not Samantha.

With a muffled yelp, he released his hold on this other woman, this un-Samantha. Her limbs clattered to the tiled floor.

He had to do something but thoughts snared against one another in his mind until he couldn't remember how to move, how to do anything but stand there and gape at the wrong woman.

Samantha. Her name cut through the noise.

She'd be walking towards the bathroom now, was probably about to turn the corner and she would see him, standing over an unconscious woman.

He wouldn't have time to pick her up and drag her to his car but he might, he just might, be able to kick her back inside the bathroom. Lock her in there until someone found her or she woke up on her own.

He made himself stop thinking and move.

The woman was larger than Samantha, at ten pounds heavier, which he should have realized when he'd grabbed on to her. Her upper torso lay against the dirt while her lower half was still hidden inside the bathroom. He bent and gave her shoulders a shove. The body moved, but not as much as he needed to be able to close the door.

With a grunt, he shoved her forward again.

"What are you doing?"

Samantha's voice locked his limbs so that he couldn't even jerk to a stand. Sweat pooled into his eyes, the sudden sting making him blink.

"What are you doing?" A hard edge had come into her voice, rubbing like sandpaper against his skin. He had to clear up this misunderstanding.


Something hard against his head stole his breath and his words away. The colors around him dimmed, his vision concentrated, pulled like a drawstring bag until only a point of light remained.

Although he couldn't quite understand what was happening, he knew he couldn't lose consciousness. He snagged an edge of that pinpoint of light and pulled on it until it widened.

Samantha stood over him, a rock wrapped in her hands.

"Get away from her!" she yelled.

"I'm not... I'm not doing anything to... to her. She's not..."

Too late he saw the wet cloth still in his hand and the bottle of chloroform that had fallen out of his sweatshirt.

"I said to get away from her, creep!"

He flinched at her voice an instant before the simmer of anger began in his stomach. How could she, she of all people, call him a creep? She had to know this was an error. That he hadn't meant to grab the cleaning woman. How could Samantha not trust him?

He shifted his weight and tried to stand. Samantha took step away from him, letting the rock drop to the floor before grabbing on to her purse. She dug inside it.

Fiery sand was suddenly in his eyes, the burning of the granules forcing his eyes shut. The skin around his eyes felt as if it had been rubbed raw and set alight. He yelled without meaning to and received another dose of fire.

"I knew you were a creep, I knew it," Samantha said.

There was more clattering as she reached for something else, but he couldn't open his eyes. It felt as if someone had ripped out his irises, as if there was nothing left in his head but smoldering holes.

"The way you stare at all of the girls at the diner, ogling like you've never seen breasts before. I knew it! Oh, my go- hi, yes, I need help. There's a man here who tried to rape a woman. He drugged her or something."

Rape? He hadn't tried to rape this woman! He wouldn't have done something so vulgar as that. He opened his mouth to explain, surely Samantha would understand, surely once he told her that it was all a mistake she would apologize for calling him a creep, for saying all of those unkind things.

"He's right here. I pepper-sprayed him. Yes, I can see him."

He tried to get back on his feet.

"Don't you move, asshole!" Samantha yelled at him. "I have a taser and I won't hesitate to use it."

Now this was too much. She didn't need a taser against him.

He listened as she gave the address of the truck stop to the person on the other side of the phone. She prattled it off like she had memorized it, like she had always been ready to call for help when she needed it.

"Yeah, hurry, though, or I'll have to pepper spray him again," she said.


"Don't speak to me. Just stay absolutely still. If you move an inch you'll regret it, I promise you that."

This wasn't how it was supposed to go! She should have been in the trunk of his car now, cradled in the pillows and quilt he'd made into a nest of sorts, while he drove them to his home thirty miles away. She would still be under the effect of the chloroform when they arrived, and he would gently pick her up and take her into her new home, where the two of them would finally be happy. She would wake up in a bit and he'd show her the room he'd prepared for her, maybe offer her some of the gourmet coffee he'd gotten yesterday. But now none of that looked like it would happen.

A moan escaped his throat before he could stop it. The force of it tore at his throat. This was no good! Nothing would ever be good again!

"Shut up!"

But he couldn't. It felt like pieces of him were cracking open, tectonic plates grinding their ragged edges against each other until he couldn't hold himself together anymore.

He wailed.

"I said shut up! I swear I'll taser you."

He closed his eyes and brought his hands up to his head, fingers grasping at the patches of thin hair he hadn't lost yet.

"Don't move!"

His body no longer belonged to him. His muscles had been taken over by something else, something without thoughts that just wanted to scream.

He felt the tingle of electricity at his elbow that spread up his arm, enveloping his fingers in warmth. He couldn't tell if that was because he had lost grip on the tight reins he'd kept on himself, or because she had tasered him. Was that what it felt like? Had she done it so quickly, without hesitating?

The loss of control started in his arms, so that he couldn't even cover his face from the new assault. She got him again, right in the cheek, sending flaps of skin tingling before they went numb. His nose vibrated as if it would come off his face before he reached up to make sure it was still there. Or tried to reach up, because whatever connection his mind had with the rest of his body had been severed.

The next hit came to his legs and they brought him down, down, down, cement hitting his bones in a way that would have sent him howling if he could have felt it. He just heard the crunch.

And the sirens.

As the next jolt of electricity got him in the neck and the sunlight darkened, as Samantha's shape lost its edges and his thoughts slid out of his mind, he heard the sirens.

They'd help him. Yes. Help was coming at just the right time.


  1. what a brilliant story. so impressive the way you ratchet up the tension. seems like a lot of first hand experience here, with the taser! great story.

    Mike McC

  2. Well done - great buildup and pace. The hunter gets captured by the game. I enjoyed it. Thank you.

  3. An excellent psychological thriller that shows the irrational distortions of a disordered mind. The tension is palpable and the characterisations credible. A well paced and compelling narrative, Many thanks,

  4. "Her name felt right in his mouth." Like putting a wet finger in a light socket, this early sentence sent a jolt. High on the creepiness register, for sure.

    Tension, nowhere to go and then Samantha lowers the boom! Truck stop taser time!

    Gotta love a strong female role!

    Thx - mitch

  5. This was written beautifully. No extra words. Nothing to take a person out of the story. The suspense was palpable. Great story.

  6. A psychologically driven story. The perspective creates an unusual and devious narrative.

  7. A psychological tale of obsession that fails in a twisted ending. Very well crafted and written.