You Don’t Know My Name
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall andwww.authorklhall.comwith appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
I’d only been working at A Taste of Heaven Diner for two weeks when he immediately caught my eye. He was everything I ever wanted; checking off all of my boxes from head to toe.
Towering height, check.
Athletic build, check.
Milk chocolate skin to complement his mahogany eyes, check, check.
A smile that could slice a girl’s heart in two, check.
He was perfect, and yet I hadn’t mustered up enough courage to utter one word to him. That is until the opportunity to take his order presented itself. I gripped my pen and pad as tight as I could as my palms began to sweat. My feet glided over to the secluded table in the corner he sat at with another man.
“Welcome to A Taste of Heaven, can I take your order?” I asked, directing my attention to his friend.
“Yeah, uh. Let me get the uh, Reuben with a side of fries and a sweet tea.”
I quickly jotted down his request before turning to him.
“And I’ll have the—”
“Steak and eggs. Cooked medium-well and sunny-side-up with A1 Sauce on the side, right?”
His forehead creased. “Huh?”
I answered his confusion with a silent smile. “Just a guess.” I shrugged.
“Shit, you’re the best guesser I’ve ever met if that’s the case,” he responded.
“Hell yeah. I need to pick your brain for the winning lotto numbers,” his friend chimed in.
“What can I say? I’m just good at reading people…”
He nodded slowly. It was apparent I’d freaked him out. Fuck! I said to myself. There was no way I could make it sound any less creepy. I couldn’t dare tell him the truth. He’d been running through my mind like a song on repeat since day one. Every Wednesday at noon his friend would show up and sit in the back corner away from all the other patrons. Just like clockwork he would walk in five minutes later, take his seat and order the steak and eggs special with a side of hot chocolate. He didn’t smile much, although he had no reason not to show off the perfect set of porcelains he’d been blessed with. To make matters worse, he always wore a navy blue suit that looked to have been made for no one else in the world but him. Silently letting everyone around him know he didn’t come to play games. I often wondered how someone who looked as well put together as he did even ended up in the diner. Where I worked was okay, but it certainly wasn’t the best.
“How about my drink?” he asked, snapping me back into the moment.
“You got my food order right, but you didn’t mention my drink.”
I smiled. He unknowingly had given me a chance to redeem myself. “Hmm,” I said, tapping my pen cap to my chin. “Coffee—black.”
“Ah, nope. You almost had me there for a second. I’ll take a hot chocolate,” he stated before running his hand over his head of soft curls.
I playfully shrugged my shoulders. “Can’t win ‘em all, huh?”
He chuckled. “Guess not.”
“I’ll go ahead and put your orders in and be back with your drinks soon…”
THE NEXT WEEK had rolled around again and I found myself staring at the large clock on the far wall shaped like a black cat. The tail swung from side to side as I watched the long hand make its way over to the five, while the shorthand was settled onto the number twelve. The bells on the door jingled against the glass as he made his way inside and took his seat in his favorite booth.
“Dining solo today?” I asked as I approached his table.
He nodded. “Looks that way today, Maya. It is Maya, right?” he asked, eyeing the nametag pinned to my chest.
I nodded. “Yeah. And you are?”
“Solomon. Solomon Black.”
I flashed him a quick smile. “It’s nice to meet you, er, I guess for the second time…I-uh, well—”
He chuckled while holding up his hand to stop me from rambling on any further. “It’s cool. It’s nice to meet you too. Last week was my first time seeing you here. You new?”
“To the job or the area?”
“Both. I move around a lot,” I told him.
He nodded. “Loner, huh?”
I smirked. “I guess you could say I wasn’t raised to plant my roots in one place.”
“You sound like a military brat.”
“And you sound like you can relate.”
He smiled. “Let’s see, not only do you pay crazy attention to detail, but you’re also pretty witty with your comebacks.”
“There’s nothing wrong with a little playful banter, right?”
“No, I guess not.”
“Same order today?”
“You know me so well.” He grinned.
“I’ll be right back with your drink.”
I came back moments later and sat the steaming mug of hot chocolate down in front of him. “One hot chocolate for you. I hope you like it. I made it extra special.”
He eyed me closely for a few seconds before looking down at his cup. My eyes caught a glimpse of his sparkling cufflinks as he lifted his mug. “Thank you.”
I watched him take a small sip, swish it around in his mouth and then swallow. “I don’t know if it’s because you said you made it special or not, but it does taste better.”
“Wanna know the secret ingredient?” I whispered.
He leaned in with an intrigued look across his face. “Lay it on me.”
“Milk and cream.”
He let out a hearty laugh. “That’s it, huh? That’s the magic combination?”
“Yeah. Usually, the manager wants us to make it with just water, but as someone who also enjoys a cup of hot chocolate from time to time during this weather, I thought you’d appreciate the secret upgrade.”
“Oh you are serious about a tip today, huh?” he joked.
I smiled. “Or maybe I just think you’re kind of sweet.”
As soon as the words rolled off my tongue, I froze. I immediately wanted to curl up inside myself and sink into an invisible hole in the floor. I’d shown him my entire hand. Before he had the opportunity to respond, I was waved down by another waitress to take some more orders while she went on her break. “I’ll uh, I’ll be right back.”
By the time I made it back to check on him, someone else working in the section next to mine had already delivered his food. He’d eaten, paid, and left without uttering so much as a goodbye. The feelings of rejection and utter embarrassment weighed heavily on me as I began scraping and stacking his dirty dishes into the black dish box gripping my hip. I reached out to grab the twenty-dollar bill laying on top of the receipt he’d left behind. He’d paid with his credit card and scribbled a note underneath his signature.
“Maya, give me a call sometime. 347-001-0192. –Solomon.”
Elation surged through my body like a coursing river. He was interested. I gripped the tiny sliver of paper tightly in my hand before securing it safely inside my apron pocket. My feet scurried to the back kitchen to drop off the dishes. I could barely wait to call him.
“Hey Donna, is it cool if I go ahead and take my lunch break a little early today?” I asked the manager.
“Yeah, sweetie. Go right ahead. Things are a little slow around here right now anyway.”
I smiled. “Thanks.”
With the receipt in hand, I made my way to the right corner of the bar and grabbed the diner's phone. The phone rang three times before my ears caught the faint huff of his breath on the other line. “Hello?” He spoke.
“H—hey. Solomon?” I asked, jittery as ever.
“Yeah, it’s me…the waitress from A—”
“Taste of Heaven. Yeah, I remember you.”
“Is now a good time to talk? You kind of got out of here before I could get back to you.”
“You looked pretty busy.”
“We had a bit of a rush and now it’s a ghost town in here. So uh—what do you do?”
“I’m an accountant and I do some freelancing on the side,” he told me.
My eyebrows lifted. “Oh, wow. That’s interesting. I’m a bit of a numbers person myself.”
“Oh yeah? Makin’ sure you count those tips, huh?” He chuckled.
I smiled. “Every red cent,” I joked. “But look, I know you’re probably busy so I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I just called to say uh, thank you. You know, for the nice tip and uh—I was wondering if maybe you’d like to get together sometime. I mean, I know you come in here often, but I mean off the premises. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, you know? We could just go for a walk in the park across the street.”
“You know, I might have to take you up on that offer.”
“Really?” I beamed.
“Yeah. I’m curious to know how you look outside of your work clothes.” He chuckled.
I grinned like a schoolgirl. “I promise you I look a lot different.”
“Cool. What day works best for you?”
“I’m free all day tomorrow.”
“Cool. Let’s plan to meet in the park tomorrow afternoon say around four o’clock?”
“HAPPY HALLOWEEN!” I said as I walked up to him the next day.
“Oh shit. It’s Halloween? I didn’t even realize it.”
“Yeah. It’s my favorite holiday.”
“Well, in that case, I feel pretty special that you want to share a few minutes of your favorite day with me.”
A warm smile spread across my face. “Of course. Not a lot of guys are worth the time and effort, but you…you’re different. I can tell,” I admitted.
“Oh yeah? How so?” he asked as we began to walk the leaf-covered trail.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m a true believer in signs.”
“What, like soulmates?”
I scoffed. “Don’t be ridiculous. Soulmates are for people who believe in a sadistic creator who watches from afar and finds humor in watching people mess things up."
His eyebrows perched as he huffed. “Damn, talk about honesty.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you, I—.”
“Nah, it’s cool. I can dig it.”
“I guess maybe that’s why I move around a lot. You could ask me right now where do I see myself a year from today, and I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you.”
“You just go wherever the wind takes you, huh?”
I nodded. “Exactly.”
Solomon stopped in his tracks mid-stride and turned to me. “Yo, I gotta ask you somethin’ that’s been buggin’ me for a little minute now.”
“What is it?”
“How’d you know my order that day we met?”
My heart rate quickened. “What do you mean?”
“I mean you say you guessed, but ain’t nobody’s guessin’ that damn good.”
“I’ve been watching you, Solomon. And I like to get to know as much as I can about my victims before I—BOO!” I yelled while bucking at him in an attempt to scare him.
His eyes widened for a split second before he smiled. “You do love Halloween, huh?”
I laughed. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself.”
“Shit, you had me thinkin’ you were either a psychic or a psycho.”
“I’m sorry! The truth is, I shadowed a couple of different waitresses there my first week and one of them told me that you were one of the regulars. She said if I wanted a nice tip that I needed to remember the favorites of all the regulars.”
“Damn, so you were just tryna stick a nigga for his paper, huh? I’m hurt,” he said, putting his left hand over his heart.
I shrugged. “I told you I’m a numbers girl. As a numbers man, you should respect that.”
He bobbed his head. “Oh, believe me, I do.”
“You know you were the only customer who tipped me all day? This waitressing stuff is not easy.”
“I can only imagine. To be honest I was shocked when you said you wanted to meet at the park.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“You stay on your feet all day long and you still wanna walk.” He laughed, flashing almost all 32 teeth in my direction.
SOLOMON AND I walked and talked until the sun switched shifts with the moon. Then we headed to get dinner and then decided to end our night at a nearby coffee shop. He offered to drive me home and I decided to invite him up. It had been a long time since I’d had someone in my bed and I craved everything about Solomon. I wanted him in every way humanly possible.
“Thanks for the ride,” I told him.
“Thanks for the day. I can honestly say that this was the best Halloween I’ve ever had.”
I grinned. “See, that’s why I love Old Hallows’ Eve.”
“I’d be lying if I said I was ready for the night to end…did you want to come up for a little while?” I asked.
Instead of responding, he killed the engine. I smiled and exited his vehicle.
“Oh shit,” he said as his eyes traveled across every square inch of my studio apartment.
“What? Not what you expected?” I asked, taking off my coat and tossing my keys on the kitchen counter.
I knew my style was a bit eccentric, but I had no problem explaining the assortment of the pillar and tapered candles that brightened the space or the array of human skulls perched along my kitchen countertop.
“What are these?” he asked, pointing to one of the many African masks hanging on the wall beside my bed.
“They are all ceremonial masks from Africa.”
“And you collect them?”
I nodded. “I do.”
I studied his changing facial expressions, and I could tell he was grappling internally with what to say next. His lips twisted to the side while he began to rock back and forth on his heels. He was the perfect specimen.
“Does my style weird you out?” I probed.
“Nah, I can dig it. You got some spooky ass Erykah Badu vibes goin’ on in this shit.”
My head bobbed. “Erykah’s my girl. Plus, I love Halloween décor.”
“I thought most females loved Christmas or even Valentine’s Day.”
I frowned. “Not me. I’m intrigued by things that go bump in the night.”
I watched his eyes continue to wander and I cursed myself for my feeble attempt at a conversation. I needed to change the subject, but I didn’t know how to come out and say I just wanna fuck.
“Would you like something to drink?” I asked him.
“You read my mind. What you got?”
“Depends on what you’re in the mood for. I’m a dark kind of girl myself, but I think I may have something light in here,” I said, popping my head in the refrigerator.
“Dark it is.”
I poured us both a glass of bourbon and he held up his glass to mine. “Here’s to a great night.”
“Cheers.” I smiled.
Then, with no warning, he stepped closer and swatted loose ringlets of my hair from my face, and placed his lips on mine. My fingertips gripped the refrigerator door handle.
“I’ve been wanting to do that all day,” he said after gently breaking the kiss.
I blushed. “I’ve been wanting you to do that all day, too…amongst other things.”
I flashed my doe eyes up at him. His sultry eyes cascaded down on me before he gently lifted my chin. “Other things?” he quizzed.
Baritone. Built. Bulge. The three things that made me clench my thighs together. “Yes.”
“Like. What?” he asked, kissing my neck after every word.
“Like that,” I whispered.
He buried his head into my neck and I clenched his soft curls in my coffin shaped nails. “What else?”
“Everything, Solomon,” I moaned in his ear. “I want you to give me everything tonight…”
I WOKE UP the next morning drenched in blood and sprang to the other end of my apartment when I saw Solomon lying still beside me. That’s when I realized the blood I had on me wasn’t mine, but his. He was dead. He was fucking dead.
My hands trembled as I lifted my cell phone to my ear. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” the dispatcher answered.
“Y—yes. Yes. I—I need a—an ambulance. I—I don’t know what happened. I—I just my—he’s dead. He’s fucking dead!” I screamed.
“Okay, ma’am, please try and calm down. Who is dead?”
“He’s dead! He’s fucking dead!” I screamed.
“Ma’am, are you in any danger right now?”
“I—I don’t know! Maybe I was drugged. P—please just send help,” I trembled.
“Yes ma’am, help is on the way. Please just stay on the line with me. Can you tell me what happened?”
“I—I don’t know. We—we went to bed and I woke up and he-he’s dead! Oh my God, he’s dead!” I cried.
The police showed up at my front door fifteen minutes later as I stood staring back at the bloody footprints I’d made when I answered the door. Dozens rushed in to survey the 425 square foot box we all stood in. I watched them wheel Solomon’s mutilated body out in a body bag. I couldn’t stand to keep the contents of my stomach down when I saw all of the blood. His chest had been sliced open in what resembled a cross.
“Ma’am, we’re going to have to escort you down to the station for questioning, okay?” One officer told me.
“O—okay. Am I in any t—trouble?” I asked.
“It’s just routine. We just need to know exactly what happened here.”
“Am I being charged with something? I don’t know what happened. I swear I don’t know!” I told him.
“No, ma’am. You’re not being charged at the moment,” he told me. “Please just come with me.”
THE AMBULANCE WITH Solomon’s body in it made a left at the end of the street, while the police car I was sitting in the back of made a right. I turned to watch the ambulance go until I could no longer see it. I still didn’t understand what had just happened. Solomon and I had shared a perfect night together. I closed my eyes as my mind grappled with the bits and pieces I did recall. All I could see were flashes of his smile or glimpses of his silhouette under the illumination of the moon. Why couldn’t I recall what happened after I closed my eyes? When did I even close my eyes?
Once we got to the station I was escorted down the hallway and into interrogation room number nine. I nervously took my seat across from the officer. My hands trembled in my lap as I watched him start the tape recorder.
“Please state your name for the record.”
“Um, Ma—Maya. Maya James.”
“And how old are you, Maya?”
“101 East 192nd Street, Apartment 3B,” I said.
“Thank you. Can you start by telling me how long you’ve known Mr. Williams?”
I screwed up my face in confusion. “I’m sorry, I thought his last name was Black. At least that’s what he told me.”
“We ran his I.D. and according to our records, he legally changed his name a few weeks ago.”
My eyes widened. “Wow. Well, as you can tell I didn’t know him very long. We met at my job.”
“And where do you work?”
“A Taste of Heaven Diner. Only been there a couple of weeks.”
“Okay. Now can you walk me through everything you remember leading up to his death?”
I watched him nod. “It’s normal, after what you went through to feel disoriented… rattled even.…”
“I’m sorry. I think I’m just still in shock over all of this.”
“Take your time.”
I wiped away my tears, knowing the skin around my eyes was puffy and red. “I don’t know where to start. Everything was perfect. We went for a walk. We ate dinner. He had a T-Bone steak and some bourbon, and I had the lamb and a martini. We talked. We had coffees. We had sex; mind-blowing sex. And now he’s—he’s…I just don’t understand. I—everything was perfect. It was perfect.”
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the door opened. My eyes bulged as they fixed themselves on the same man I’d seen Solomon eating with each time he came into the diner. He was holding a laptop in his right hand and a manila folder in his left. He placed both of them on the table before taking his seat across from me.
“Can I have the room, Tom?” he asked.
He waited until the door was sealed tight before turning his attention to me. “I know you’ve been through something traumatic, so I won’t take up too much of your time.”
His tone was cold and monotonous. He was nothing like the jovial man whose order I’d taken that day in the diner. From the way he looked at me, I could tell he knew exactly who I was. He started by opening the manila folder and pulled out a copy of a prescription for Temazepam for Catherine Wilford. “We recovered an empty bottle of sleeping pills with crushed pill residue in it from your apartment with this name on it.”
My eyes widened. “Empty?!”
“We’re running a toxicology report now. While we wait for the results, do you mind if I show you something?”
“O—okay,” I agreed.
The screen on his laptop lightened as he clicked on the play button. My eyes amplified as I watched a video recording of myself from two years earlier in an interrogation room in Tampa. My lips remained clamped together.
“Is this you? Or how about this one?” he asked, clicking on another video from five years before that. “During this time you were living in an apartment in Delaware as Rachel Ferguson. On the one before that, you were renting a house in Tampa under the name Shailene Gray.”
“All where different men were found murdered. All years apart.”
“P—please just let me explain,” I sobbed with my head hanging low.
“Explain this,” he said, clicking on one final video which was security footage from the street camera right outside of the coffee shop where Solomon and I laughed and talked the night before.
“It appears to me that sometime during this encounter you tampered with his drink.”
I flashed my eyes up at him and caught him staring me down. The clock on the wall behind him clicked and clacked back and forth as silence filled the space between us. Instead of curling into himself like the coward I’d made him out to be, he leaned in closer to me. “I just want to know one thing…what number was he?”
My crocodile tears began to dry as the seconds passed. My cheeks plumped as I flashed him a sinister smile. “192...”