The couple, lying under the rumpled sheets from their stormy love making session 30 minutes earlier, are totally oblivious to the nightly sounds around them as they sleep with legs intertwined, feeling languorous. The nearly empty bottle of Chianti is still inside the melting ice in the bucket. A sharp bark of exhaust is heard down the street, followed by the roar of a power-bike starting, which drowns out most of the other sounds.

Lucille and Bob had gotten back from a friend’s birthday party nearly two hours ago. They had stayed until the cutting of the cake. Then, after a few dances and some interactions with other invited guests, they had left, making some polite excuses and sharing a few kisses as they made for their car. They’ve been married for four months and are so very much in love.

Lucille is ever thankful to Eileen, a friend and confidante she had met at Flair. On her fourth day at work and while on break, she had gone straight to the restroom, refusing Eileen’s offer that they go out to lunch. Eileen, with a worried frown, had started to go out for lunch with Andy and Sean, but on second thought told them to get her some lunch instead, as she had an urgent assignment that just came in. Ignoring the puzzled looks they gave her, she had turned back to the office and looked over at Lucille’s cubicle. It was empty. Heaving a sigh, she had gone to the restroom to find Lucille staring at the mirror with a woebegone expression. Coughing delicately, Eileen had asked, “Hey girl, are you okay?” But Lucille had nodded her head, too choked up with emotion to speak. “It’s okay to let it all out, you know,” Eileen had continued knowingly. “I was feeling almost the same way when I lost a friend so dear to me in a shooting incident, and I would have lost it if not for the fact that my husband was there to calm the troubled waters.” At this, Lucille completely broke down crying. There was little she could do to stop the flood of tears rolling down her face. Eileen had gently hugged her, assuring her that everything was going to be fine. And that was how the two new friends spent their lunch break: in the restroom, as Lucille explained her ordeal with her ex-fiancée and the nightmares that had followed. They had come into the office with smiles on their faces and Andrew and Sean had given careless shrugs. “Your lunch is in the fridge,” Andy had said matter-of-factly. “Thank you, Andy,” Eileen had replied breezily, adding, “Enjoyed your lunch, I hope.” “Oh, sure,” Andy had replied, still in the same matter-of-fact tone. Lucille had shared lunches with Eileen thereafter. Andy and Sean had initially resented Lucille’s presence at these lunches, but they had eventually come to accept her as a friend and not as an intruder. Then Eileen had asked Lucille to accompany her one evening to her son’s school for a PTA meeting as her husband was away that week on a business tour, and that was where she met Bob, a teacher at the school. They hadn’t hit it off immediately, though, after Eileen introduced them. Lucille was especially wary of getting into any form of relationship with a man, no matter how harmless and casual it may be, since her crazy experience with Geoff. However, Bob had been smitten with her. He was drawn to her by her shyness and elegance. He’s half-Jamaican and half-Irish, while Lucille is half-African and half-Spanish. Geoff is Hispanic. Eileen had been persuasive, mentioning that Bob was a family friend and a gentleman. Eventually, she had agreed to a date with Bob, and had grown to love and respect him. Their relationship had blossomed and this inevitably led to their exchange of marital vows.


Two hours later, Lucille rouses from sleep to a shrill sound, which of course was the bedside phone. Heaving a tired sigh, she grabs the phone sleepily from its stand, saying a hoarse “Hello.” The next few sentences make her to sit upright in bed, tiredness and sleep disappearing from her eyes. She clenches the phone tightly, glancing at Bob, who is still fast asleep. Bob could sleep through a tornado, she thinks distractedly as she silently tiptoes to the living room, the soft blue light from the narrow hallway providing a faint illumination. She does not want to wake Bob. The call was from Shonda, the jovial black lady that she consults for ideas on advertising. She had come to Flair on several occasions to give talks on advertising, and she had benefitted a lot from those talks and the meetings she had with her in her home. She had met her twin a couple of times, and she had been jovial, like Shonda. But Shonda sounded anything but jovial now.

Shonda sounds like she had run out of breath, Lucille thinks with a slight frown. Shonda relays her experience that evening, and Lucille feels a frisson of alarm as she listens. She had phoned Shonda earlier in the afternoon, letting her know that she would not be able to come that evening for the consultation as she had a birthday party to attend with Bob. Shonda had replied that she had a journal to review and perhaps they could have the meeting some other evening, to which Lucille agreed. But learning that she was almost killed in her condo this evening was enough to give Lucille the shivers. Shonda’s next statement almost sends her squealing in fear. “I’m sorry to burst your bubble, honey, but I think you should know that Geoff may be the guy that attacked me this evening, from the description you gave of him.” Her voice breaking, Shonda goes on. “He killed Jack. He killed my smart dog.” Apart from Eileen, Shonda is another person that she had confided in about Geoff. Breathing fast herself, like she had run three miles non-stop, she does not say anything for a few minutes. Shonda says a worried “Hello!” Lucille whispers back a hoarse “Hello,” like she’s got a food particle lodged in her throat. It was all she could do to hold back a scream. “I’m sorry, honey,” Shonda says, mournfully. Lucille nods absently, crumpling to the floor. She says dully, “I’m sorry about your dog.” Breaking the connection, she starts to weep silently, the phone slipping from her fingers and onto the floor with a soft thud. She recounts the torture of her six-month relationship with Geoff and the mental illness he suffered and which he had hidden so well from her early on in their courtship. There had been a few spontaneous outbursts and fights which had left her in total despair. Things had come to a frightening head one evening after a bitter quarrel over some lame issue, like the dinner she had prepared after their visit to the Metropolitan Opera in New Mexico.

Geoff had complained that the potatoes were a bit overdone, pushing away his plate violently, soiling the beige-colored jacquard tablecloth as the soup in the bowl spilled over. He had pushed back his chair then violently and she had run from the living room in fear, terrified of what he might do next. He was right behind her, his face livid with rage and almost foaming at the mouth as he called her several foul names he could come up with. He had caught up with her and pushed her violently onto the bed, almost snapping her neck as he did so. He had socked one blow on her jaw that had sent her into a merciful oblivion. She had woken up hours later to his tender ministrations, as he dabbed her aching jaw with an ice pack. His face was wet with tears, and he was apologizing profusely, begging her to forgive him. She had accepted his apologies, a mistake which had nearly cost her her life, as a week later he had thrown the garden shears at her. A neighbor had seen her running out in the cold in only her pyjama top and panties and had called 911. The police had arrived and arrested Geoff, who was screaming in fury and calling her unprintable names. Filled with shame and great fear for Geoff, she had gone into hiding. Then she had moved to Arlington upon learning that Geoff was in a highly secured mental facility receiving some treatments.

Realizing suddenly that she was still sitting huddled on the floor like some wounded animal, Lucille gets up, moving wearily to the bathroom, phone in hand. She almost does not recognize the stranger staring back at her from the mirror. She looks morose and defeated. Placing the phone on the counter, she splashes some cold water from the sink on her face, then wipes it off with a washcloth. She returns to the bedroom to find Bob still sleeping soundly. She climbs into the bed after placing the phone gently in its console. There’s no point putting this off any longer. She has to tell Bob about Geoff and his dark, sinister side, since Geoff must know where they are living by now. She shudders as she wonders the lengths he must have gone to find out about her association with Shonda and lying in wait for her there, rather than coming over here. Who knows what sick motives he had in mind? Go figure. She feels a tremendous guilt over Shonda’s ordeal, though, and is thankful that she had survived. She moves closer to Bob, who instinctively hugs her as she revels in the small comfort his embrace provides.


Eileen glances at her watch for the umpteenth time this morning after a brief meeting with the CEO and other visiting executives from another advertising company. She is so concerned about Lucille and Bob’s welfare. Lucille had called out from work today after she had spoken with Eileen in the early hours about Geoff’s appearance in Shonda’s apartment and the brutal attack that had followed. Eileen had advised her to seek some days off from the office while she contacted a private investigator she knew to handle the matter of finding Geoff and handing him over to the police. She had also advised Bob to seek some days off from school. Bob had been indignant at first and had insisted that the cops be called in immediately to deal with this. But Lucille and Eileen were unwilling to take any chances of the grievous repercussions that could occur as a result. Eileen had, however, patiently explained to Bob that they’re dealing with a nutcase who would think nothing of making mincemeat of both of them or anyone else that stands in his way.

Eileen hears the faint vibration of her cell and grabs it readily, saying a quiet “Hello.” She heaves a sigh of relief to hear that the couple had packed two bags with some of their belongings and are going to an address she had given them. They had moved from their home 15 minutes ago and the time now is 10am. She had also advised them to watch out for any possible tail. Her husband Tom, on learning about what had happened, had advised her also to be careful. He’s away on an official tour.

“Are you okay?” someone asks. Snapping her head around, startled, Eileen nods vigorously. It was Sean, and he actually looked concerned. “I’m okay, Sean. I was actually talking to a friend.” Raising a brow, Sean replies with, “Lucille?” Eileen nods, patting him on the shoulder and saying, “But it’s nothing you should worry about, Sean.” Taking the hint with a slight shrug, Sean gives her a file that needed her attention. “A fast food company just delivered this. It’s about their ad campaign, and I feel you should check it out,” he says. Smiling, she takes the file from him, her thoughts about Geoff momentarily forgotten.


Activities at Flair reach their peak at noon, as calls are made and answered. Lots of visitors are being attended to and most of the workers are almost losing it. But Eileen isn’t one of them. This is what she loves about the job: action. She simply thrives in it. She’s presently attending to a sour-faced, balding gentleman seated in front of her desk who’s complaining about a steady drop in his company’s profits for three months now and is asking if Flair couldn’t review their ad presentation? Smiling patiently, Eileen assures him that the issue would be taken care of as soon as possible. She goes on to explain the strategies that could be put in place to ensure higher profits, and he is mollified. She attends to two more disgruntled gentlemen and one pleasant-faced young lady of about 20 before she’s due for break, or almost past it. Thankfully, she had packed a lunch from home today, so there would be no need to go out. Broiled chicken with mixed vegetables and potatoes; quite heavy by her standards. But then again, she’s got to replenish lost energy thanks to the hectic session of hours before.

There are a few files containing some items that needed to be updated, and Eileen does that right after lunch. It was a lengthy procedure and had her working past the closing hours. She eventually had it wrapped up perfectly before calling it a day. She reflects on whether to look over the updated items once more and correct some few anticipated errors, but decides against it. Moreover, she has to relieve her neighbor, who is Tom’s occasional sitter. This decision may have saved her from a brutal attack planned by Geoff, who was lurking in the almost deserted parking lot, save for a few people having some conversations beside their cars. He was hoping to have Eileen to himself after the last group of people had driven away in their respective cars, since she seemed to be working late.

Geoff hisses loudly in disgust as he observes the object of his thoughts moving out of the building towards her car in the parking lot. “Lucky b*tch,” he snarls fiercely. Well, not all that lucky, he amends, since he had disabled her means of transportation. Chuckling menacingly, he moves into the darker shadows provided by some trees and makes a call. He had cleverly obtained her number from one of the clients he had followed into the building two days ago.

Eileen feels the usual vibration from her cell as she unlocks the door of her car. She gets out her cell and observes that it was a private number. She says “Hello,” absently as she drops her bag inside the car. She goes rigid and glances wildly about upon hearing a voice grind out chillingly, “I can see you clearly in the parking lot. Now listen, you sl*t. I would break all the bones in your body faster than you could spell F-L-A-I-R if you continue to meddle in affairs that are not your damn business. Leave my Lucille alone!” This is followed by a soft click that actually sounded too loud in Eileen’s ears. It’s Geoff! Frightened out of her wits, Eileen notices that there are just four people, herself included, in the parking lot. She jerks open the door with trembling hands and is about to enter the car when she realizes to her dismay that she has a flat. Almost squealing in frustration, she bangs the door of the car in disgust as she frantically thinks of the next action to take. Hearing a faint sound of approaching footsteps from the shadows, she freezes for a second, then gives a huge sigh of relief as she observes Sean moving towards her.

“Hey, what happened?” he asks, concerned. “You look like you have seen a ghost.” Shaking her head, still panicky, she forces a false smile, unwilling to drag him into Geoff’s world of craziness. And she doesn’t kid herself that he’s gone. She could sense that he’s very much around. “Oh, Sean, there you are. I’m afraid I’ve got a flat, and it’s rather upsetting as I have to go home to Tom since he’s still at the sitter’s.” Studying the flat and squatting, Sean exclaims in surprise. “Hey Eileen, you got your tire slashed. Who on earth did this?” Eileen, still shaken from Geoff’s threat, is quite sure of who could have done it, but refrains from saying so. Laughing shakily, she raises her trembling hand to her hair trying to steady her overwrought nerves. “Now, that was a mean thing to do to a law-abiding citizen. Maybe some teenager is on a rampage. Go figure,” she says lightly, her heart still beating erratically. She desperately hopes that Geoff doesn’t spring a surprise attack on them. There’s no knowing what he could do. But Sean gives a gentle shake of the head, still looking worried. Removing his jacket and rolling up the sleeves of his Calvin Klein shirt, he opens the trunk to get the spare and other tools to change the damaged tire. Eileen watches him do so, grateful for his presence and assistance. She occasionally glances about for any signs of Geoff. She doesn’t want any more unpleasant surprises.

15 minutes later, Sean is done changing the tire. He wipes his hands on a clean rag given to him by Eileen, saying, “These kids are becoming a nuisance. Two weeks ago, Andy got egg yolk smeared on his windscreen as he was about to leave for work in the morning.” Eileen murmurs an inaudible reply in sympathy. Donning his jacket and walking away, Sean adds that Andy had already left for home earlier and that he had to get home himself in time to watch the game. “Oh, great!” Eileen replies with false gaiety as Sean walks away. She wished she had told him about Geoff’s threat, but she shrugs this off as unnecessary. Squaring her shoulders, she enters her car, locking up the doors as she drives away from the parking lot, moving towards the highway.


For all installments of “Echo of Silence,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Prologue
  2. Part 1