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Into The "N" Zone 05/02/04

It was looking like this was going to develop into one of those nice, balmy Florida evenings. The Weekend was upon him and Ted was feeling good; better than he had felt in a long time. Yes freedom was sweet. Common folks have no idea what it is like to have that taken from you. Ted knew the feeling well. It had been done to him before and he hated it. But it was OK. Hate was but a fleeting emotion with Ted. He could switch off those feelings instantaneously; like flicking a light switch. Why hold a grudge, life is too short.

Things were a little different with Ted, however; they would never take his freedom for long. He was way too crafty for those stupid ones who had tried to lock him up before – and he would always be. It was not like he was a criminal but all the same; he had been forced into deep cover. He was essentially a POW who had escaped the oppressors who would wage war upon all of us. In his line of work, he fully realized that no one could be trusted, anywhere. Actually he could not believe just how dumb these people could be. But then he had to keep in mind just how much smarter he was.

Nobody knew just how much smarter Ted really was. Yes, he had very high IQ scores. But those were nothing. If they only knew what he knew. He had so much to offer this world. What they didn’t know really didn’t matter. This was simply one of Ted’s many secrets. He could pull the wool over the eyes of every living being on this planet. He was “the shadow man,” you would not know he was even there unless he wanted you to. Ted exalted in this. It had taken many years of meticulous training to hone his skills to a fine edge. He was his own master and the world was at his fingertips.

Even Ann, the one person he respected over every other human being in the world. She was one smart cookie and a softy too. But she would never figure him out. Nobody would. Ted was special, “the wunderkind,” a man of mysterious beginnings who led a mysterious life. Those who tried to figure him out would be led down a blind alley as Ted would take the other fork in the road, laughing all the way. Ted chuckled at the thought as he strode through one of the many alleys in the neighborhood. There was nothing blind about this alley, however. He could see one of the sorority houses down the way and the pretty girls milling about, no doubt getting ready to go out clubbing too. Ted liked that. He was thinking it would be a good night. “Whoa,” Ted let out an involuntary expletive as he almost tripped over some sawed off, thick branches scattered in his path.

“Those things could hurt someone,” he muttered as he kicked the baseball bat sized clubs out of the way. He heaved a sigh of relief that he had not ended up sprawled headlong in view of the pretty ladies. That would have been very embarrassing. No telling what he might have done.

Tripping through the alleyway managed to break Ted out of his peaceful, reminiscing frame of mind. As he approached the disco, Ted did have to admit that there were a few things in life that even he didn’t know; such as love. Well, that was a bit of an oxymoron as far as Ted was concerned. Ted knew love. He knew it well, better than most. Many women had told him so. But Ted was after a special love; a very special love for a very special man. He didn’t need the kind of love one would get from mothers. They were interchangeable. Ted needed an ideal love, one befitting of a man of his stature and breeding.

There were some women who had accused Ted of loving himself, maybe a little too much. But what did they know? How dare they accuse him, a man with a degree in Psychology with high honors. Calling him narcissistic – they had no idea what they were talking about. Indeed it was THEY who loved themselves too much. That was THEIR problem. They could not understand that all people are narcissistic and none can be trusted. They simply did not have enough room in their hearts for Ted. This was wrong and Ted knew it. Many times he had tried, till he was blue in the face, to convince them of the err of their ways. But to no avail, always to no avail. Ted’s patience had long ago run thin.

Ted knew there was one out there, though; one who could give him the kind of love to which he was entitled. He had been searching for her all his life. She would be the one to fill up that huge gaping hole inside of him. The blackness in there haunted him. He could never describe to anyone, the pain that lived in there. This was the one thing; the only thing in life Ted needed help with. He needed one woman who could do this thing for him and that was really all he needed her for. Everything else in the world was inconsequential.

Yes, she was out there somewhere. Ted knew that for sure. Whereas other men were lazy, Ted was a man of extraordinary energy and he would never stop looking – NEVER! All he would have to do was look into her eyes and he would know.

Tonight was a special night for Ted. He had been down here in this little town for all these days, living in his little room, behaving himself – well, sort of. Ted was well aware of his mischievous character. He had stolen the things he needed, things that weren’t tied down; just little things he needed to fill up his little boarding room. Evidently others didn’t need these things as badly as he or they would have tied them down. So it was all good. Others had unknowingly supplied Ted’s needs as always. Ted had always hated to ask for anything, it was so much easier to just take. Now it was time to share. Ted would be a happy – go lucky, college bum again. He would go out to the disco and score himself a fine coed, like all the other college boys around him had been doing. Ted had been cooped up in that little room for long enough. In fact, rent was coming up due already. It was time for him to spread his wings again.

Ted could hear the thumping from the disco as he approached. He could feel the music. It was good, sounded like Grateful Dead. It was about time he checked it out, all the other kids around had been checking it out and having a groovy time. Ted, on the other hand, had been lying low in his little room for weeks; a month, to be exact. He had secrets and it is not easy keeping secrets. Now Ted would have some fun.

It was the 70s and luvin’ was easy. A lot of cats were hip and Ted had some hipness of his own going on. He may have been older than the rest of the punks in this place but he was smoother. Yes, Ted had been around. Little did they know that there was a celebrity in their midst, that people all around the world were thinking of him at this very moment, that they were envious of his notoriety, that they were in the company of a great man; for he was good at keeping secrets.

Ted had to admit to himself that this was probably the one thing that bothered him these days, more than anything else. He missed the recognition. This undercover work was for the birds. This secret agent crap wasn’t cutting it. All this stalking about late at night – and for what? Nothing –that’s what! Yes, there would have to be some changes coming about soon. Ted would have to get himself back into the thick of things. He would blow off a little steam in this bar tonight and then set about the business of rectifying things.

They would all see soon enough. Ted was heading into this bar and he was about to boogie down. He would order himself up some nice Vinonobile di Montepulciano if they had it – if not, the best wine in the house. Soon, everyone would dig his vibes.

It was not like Ted thought he was the coolest cat in the alley. It was not like that. He was a chameleon of body as well as mind. He had long since graduated from college and moved on. That and his extensive experience in high-level politics made him quite the man of the world. Plus, he was quick on the draw. For instance, he could hold his own in any conversation, no matter what the subject, simply by calling upon his vast reserve of knowledge in a moments notice. It would take no time at all for all to see they were in the company of a highly educated man and he would quickly become the center of conversation. This was simply the way things were meant to be. Ted had been missing
this and was looking forward to perhaps laying a little wit and charm on some of those saps in there. Or maybe he would split with them and smoke a little grass or something.

Ted was not to be disappointed once he had gone inside. The place was hip. He could now see the disco ball and the revolving lights that had shown such interesting patterns on the curtained windows as he had ridden by on his bike some nights. There was a smoke machine that would give the place a surreal look when it fogged the place up every now and then. Ted liked this, it made him feel comfortable. It made everything look mysterious. Ted liked this a lot.

It was a good thing Ted had recently found those credit cards. He found one that would work perfect for this place. People are dumb. They shouldn’t leave them laying around in those wallets and purses like that, Ted chuckled to himself, easy as stealing bread from a beggar. Ted used it to order up the finest the place had to offer. When it came to fine wines, nothing was too good for the Tedster.

Aw, partying is so fun, Ted thought as he looked around at everyone having a good time. Everyone was segregated into tight little groups; good friends talking and dancing among one another.


Just plain human interaction, good conversation was what he missed. In fact it was driving him crazy. He couldn’t stand loneliness or boredom. Too much of either and his mind would start spinning round and round. He needed stimulation all the time. He lived for the day. Yesterday was quickly forgotten and tomorrow was not yet here. His impulsive nature was a special trait of his, something he was proud of. He was up to just about anything at a moments notice. It required the ability to make snap decisions. Unfortunately, not too many people enjoyed this quality. Common people were not adventurous like Ted.

Ted thought about how weak the puny people were. So young, so dumb - they didn’t know anything. Young people were like putty in his hands. He could easily stride right into any one of those groups and become the life of the party, admired by all. This, Ted told himself.

But, crashing little groups was no longer his thing; maybe once upon a time, before he became a big shot. What he really wanted now was something much more personal – more one on one. He could hear the song lyrics – something like, “The younger girl keeps on rovin’ through my mind…”

Ted went right to work. He put all his senses to use including the eyes in the back of his head. A man can never be too careful. Ted could never let his guard down out there or in here. He wondered how nice it might be to relax like many of the drunken saps he was observing. It’s not like he hadn’t done it before like some of those parties he went to with Ann and not to forget the many fun nights spent with Meg. It was different when he was with those he could trust. Then he could let his hair down. A feeling shot through him as he thought of Meg. She was no better than a weak little girl. Quite often he had, had to set her straight but he had trusted her. He took a moment to think of his mother, as well – well, mothers. OK, the one who he had thought was his sister turned out to be his mother. So his mother was really his Grandma all along. Oh how they had suffered from this deception and so had Ted. But it was OK. They had not suffered in vain. Ted had dedicated his life to making sure of that. It was times like this that he missed those he left behind. But, no biggie, one thing was for sure, it’s a big world out there with lots of fish in it. He would find others he could trust. He was good at that. He had an eye for it – a special gift.

There she is, Ted heard the voice. He had no need to look around to see where it was coming from. He already knew, plus he had already noticed her. The voice was coming from his mind. Ted was no dummy, he had taken plenty of Psych. He had college degrees in this stuff for Chrissakes. He knew all about Freud and the Id, Ego and Super Ego. So, his Super Ego was talking to him or whatever. No big deal. Call it what you want but it was the same with everybody else. Ted knew that.

Something else he knew was that the Super Ego was never wrong. If nothing else in life, he could always count on that – and of course, his dashing good looks.

Her back was turned to him, exposing her long brown hair. She didn’t have to turn around; he already knew she was pretty. Ted could tell these things. He knew so much more; for instance, he knew he could trust this one. She could be trusted with any of his secrets. In this, he was in total agreement with Super Ego. This Ted knew.

A quick glance over the shoulder in Ted’s direction was all he needed. That was the signal. It was time to close in. Ted had seen this so many times before; a tossing of the head combined with a furtive glance in his direction, beautiful eyes reaching out to his. Ted was familiar with the half smile curling around a woman’s lips as she stroked her hair with long, delicate fingers while momentarily playing with an earring. Yes, he knew.

There was one more thing that Ted knew, he knew what she didn’t know; about what she was about to get into. But what she didn’t know would certainly not hurt her. She was about to be mesmerized by a real lady’s man. Ted had been here many times before. If there was one thing he knew – he knew people – especially women. He knew everything about them; more than anyone alive. He could feel that old familiar confidence flowing back into every pore in his body as he strode toward the pretty lady. The Ph.D. of pickup men was back. It was about time. Ted had been holed up for too damned long.

OK Teddy boy, time to get to work, Ted was thinking as he swooped in for the kill. An opportunity had opened and he was making his move. “Hey there pretty lady, what’s happening,” Ted blurted out in the smooth, sexy voice he saved for just such occasions.

She jumped a little, as in surprise, as Ted approached her from behind. That was OK, a little surprise is always good, keeps them a little off balance so he can work his intro. “Oh, uh, hi you startled me a little there,” she replied, “Oh just hanging out.”

“Oh yeah, been hangin’ a bit myself, there babe, but then I sure know how to straighten that out, er shake it out, that is. Well, what I mean is I know you’ve just been waiting for the best dancer around and I’m your man and have I got some moves to lay on you babe.” Ted grabbed her hand and led her to the dance floor. Ted was feeling really good. He was so quick on his feet. He was proud of himself. His whole body gyrated to the beat. He couldn’t help it – he was just a dancin’ machine.

Ted was quickly becoming aware that something was interrupting his blissful state. The reality of the situation was that his pretty dance partner was not budging an inch. The smooth harmony of two dancing as one was simply not happening as he continued swaying to the beat and she just stood there, resisting the pull on her arm.

Ted was flabbergasted. Everything should be going smoothly as it ALWAYS had, every time before. But then, Ted was fighting this weird déjà vu feeling nagging at a corner of his mind, perhaps telling him that things may not ALWAYS have been the way he thought they had.

How could this be? No woman could resist his charms; he knew this for a fact. There had to be something wrong with her. There was no way his judgment could be that far off. Someone must have put her up to it. No, she was the one, she had to be; this he knew.

All he would have to do was look into her eyes and all would be just fine – as always. This dancing BS was for sissies anyway. As Ted brought his gauze around to hers, his body was no longer moving to the beat. Now he was serious. Ted found himself looking into a set of big, round, wide eyes. Cool. Now this was what he was used to.

However, again something was not right. The pretty girl’s hand was no longer in his, in fact she was nowhere near. The last he saw of her was those wide eyes looking over her shoulder as she quickly disappeared into the crowded dance floor.

What the hell happened, Ted was thinking as he stood alone, arms at his side, everything was going so well. Ted looked down at his empty hand; he wriggled his fingers just to make sure they were still there. That very hand had just been holding on to the woman of his dreams. Now she was gone, how could that be?

After all he had been through, he was entitled to this. She would have changed his life. How could that ignorant bitch have run away like that? Evidently she was yet another worthless, dumb nobody, just like ALL the others.

Ted stood there, the handsome man that he was. An old feeling was welling up inside of him. He knew it well and he didn’t like this feeling. But it was OK. He was aware of the multi-colored lights of the disco ball as they played across his body, turning him different colors, causing him to resemble some kind of grotesque clown.

***
Later on that night, just down the road, a tranquil scene was taking place. It had been another good night for the pretty, young coeds as they snuggled into the security of their warm beds and lay down to sleep, dreaming of friends, family and careers.

Some of them had finished the Saturday night off dancing the night away in their favorite clubs. Others had spent the evening studying and writing letters.

We have all heard stories about the boogie man since we were little, the scary monster who hides in the closet or under the bed. We don’t know where he comes from. Perhaps he is just there to provide us with a healthy dose of fear to help prepare us for a safer journey through life.

But for the unfortunate ones who were chosen that night, nothing could save them. There is no way on earth anyone could have prepared for when hell came to Chi Omega sorority house.

A malevolent evil, the likes of which can never be fully described, came creeping out of the darkness and descended upon the chosen ones. For them, their world changed forever. They thought doors were secured, they thought they were safe. They were wrong!

Before the night was over, blood covered walls and soaked through night clothes and silk sheets. Heads were bashed open. Flesh had been beaten, bitten and ripped. Two innocent, young women lay dead, two more injured so severely they would never be the same. All anyone had seen was the mere silhouette of a man with some kind of club in his hand.

Once the horror of Chi Omega had unraveled and those who could were working feverishly to save life among the tears – something else was happening.

In a nearby home, another innocent young woman was being beaten to death in her bed and violated in unimaginable ways.

Those who survived the attack that night have had to live with the horror. Those who passed so violently to the other side can no longer speak for themselves. We can only hope that before they died, they were not forced to stare directly into the frenzied eyes of hell.
***

When the two fellows finally made it back to The Oaks apartments, it was late, five in the morning, to be exact. Later than usual for them but they had been quite delayed by the excitement all about town. Something big was evidently going down with all the emergency vehicles running around. They noticed the fellow they knew as Ted standing on the porch, serenely gazing out at the night’s unusual activity. He had been staying in the adjoining apartment for the last month. He had once made the odd comment that he could get out of anything because he knew his way around the dumb cops. They chuckled remembering that and almost made a joke in light of all the sirens about but it was late and they went on inside.

As Ted stood on the porch looking out over the city, he drew in a long draft of fresh, Florida sea breeze and looked up at the moon. He was thinking about how much he loved this part of the country. It dawned on him that it was quite late and he was feeling pretty worn out. It had been a long night. Ted had gone out clubbing; oh man had he ever! He had leant a whole new meaning to that terminology. He was thinking about how mad that girl had made him in the disco earlier. But things had worked out and he was over that. In fact he felt quite relieved, strangely as it may seem; as if a huge weight had lifted from his shoulders.

A new dawn was coming and he knew that he would have to be moving on. He was thinking about the escapes he had ingeniously executed from those last two jails. They might have well tried to lock up God himself. “Keep looking around you dumb cops. You will never catch Ted Bundy because he is always one step ahead of you,” he announced to the cool night air, “aw yes, it is good to be alive.”
-30-

------
Chuck Fasst


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