Prompt Day #290: Something is “bulging” beneath Charlie’s sweater. Jane is obsessively fixated on this. Dramatize the revelation of Charlie’s hidden surprise.
Worst Blind Date Ever
Even though they’d been chatting on line for the last four months, Jane was still nervous about meeting Charlie in real life. He seemed too good to be true and she’d been around long enough to know that men like that were often hiding something. But they had so much in common, most importantly their love of classic literature that she couldn’t help but hope. He’d been pushing to meet for a while. She finally gave in, telling herself that if he stuck around even though she kept telling him no, he must be worth it.
Jane insisted on a public place for their meeting. Charlie offered up The Hive, a relatively new dance club in the city. At 43, Jane was no longer the hip, dance-club type, but it would be crowded enough that surely she’d be safe. Charlie told her he would be waiting at the bar for her. She would know him because he would be reading The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. She smiled as she walked up to the building, remembering how she had told him she hated that book. It was funny that he picked it. She liked a man with a sense of humor.
She saw him right away, how could she miss him. He had the Kafka book held up unnaturally in front of his face so that she could only see his head. She smoothed her skirt and walked up to him.
“Charlie?” The man put the book down and smiled at her. She was taken aback by how normal he looked. He wasn’t handsome nor was he ugly. He was just a man. He had two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Sandy brown hair cut in a basic short style. He had on khakis and a cream colored sweater.
“Jane.” He said and looked her up and down. “Let’s go find a booth in the back. I can’t have all these men looking at you the whole time.” He took her hand, kissed it and led her back behind the dance floor to a darkened booth in the corner. They sat down and ordered a drink.
The conversation was slow and choppy at first with enough uncomfortable silences for Jane to notice the slight bulge in the center of Charlie’s sweater. She could have sworn she saw it move once, like a baby kick in a woman’s belly, but decided it was a trick of the flashing lights in the club. As Charlie settled into a monologue of his life from birth to present, Jane found her eyes drawn time and again to the lump growing ever so slightly beneath that sweater.
“…you?” He said and paused expectantly. Jane, realizing her mouth was hanging ajar, snapped it shut. Reluctantly she drew her eyes away from Charlie’s solar plexus.
“Hmm?” Jane asked. She had no idea what he’d just said. She had spent the last ten minutes of the conversation trying like hell to figure out what he had underneath his sweater.
“I said, tell me more about you.” He shifted in his seat. He looked slightly uncomfortable. He hadn’t touched his drink. She began telling her life story. It didn’t take any conscious effort, so she continued on autopilot while keeping her eyes on Charlie’s mid-section. It was definitely moving, the knit of the sweater strained against the now cabbage-sized protrusion.
Finally, the thumping of the music in her chest, the buzz of alcohol, and the near migraine from focus through the strobe lights of the dance hall took over and she could no longer concentrate.
“Charlie, I’m sorry, but I have to ask. What do you have up your sweater?” She leaned over the booth so she could keep the conversation private but ensure that he would hear her over the noise of the club. “It seems to be growing. What is it?”
He sighed. “I wanted to meet you before this. We would have had more time.”
The sweater started to tear. Jane leaned a little closer. The thing poking through the rip in the shirt looked like a giant segmented eye. Like the eye of a house fly or honey bee. It rolled around, taking in its surroundings. She flinched back away from it.
“Goodbye Jane.” Charlie said just before his body split open revealing a man-sized praying mantis. The Charlie shell fell to the floor like an autumn leaf. The new bug Charlie leaped onto the table and bit his date’s head off in one smooth crunch.