Random Scribbles · writing

The Texture of Obsession II

Part II
Part I is here

Norman went straight to the rent-a-car counter and took a beige Taurus, nothing flashy. He had gleaned from Saffron’s blog that her sister lived and worked in the Georgetown area, He asked for a map and directions to the Georgetown Fairmont where he inquired about a room.

“Check in time is at 3,” the young desk clerk smiled at him, “I can go ahead and book your room and you can leave your luggage with the bell captain, if you’d like.”

He agreed and inquired about gyms in the area.

“There’s a fitness center on the third floor. Your room key will give you access 24 hours a day.” Norman wondered if her cheeks got sore from so much smiling.

“Thank you, Elizabeth,” he said, glancing at her name tag, “I’ll be back around 3.” He looked over her shoulder as he went out to the street. She was still smiling.

A short walk took him to Washington Circle Park and he found a bench to enjoy the day and use his smart phone to locate nearby gyms.

There were a lot of gyms so he started walking. His search pattern would begin from K Street and 23rd, where he was, south to F and west as far as Wisconsin Ave. This would be the quickest quadrant as the Potomac made it look more like a triangle than a square. His second quadrant would be north of the first, as far as N St. His third quadrant would go east from 23rd as far as Connecticut Ave. The fourth quadrant would extend from 17th in the east to 23rd in the west with the north/south span from K to F.

He spent the rest of the day searching, stopping only to check into his room at about half past 3. There was no sign of Cinnamon.

That night Norman took dinner in the hotel and retired early. He could stay in DC only three days before he was scheduled to be in Houston. He had two more days to find her, else he would have to come back. No worries, he had waited this long for her. He could wait a little longer.

But it seemed he wouldn’t have to. The next morning on N Street he caught sight of a pony tail swinging back and forth about half a block in front of him. There was something about the way it swayed that was familiar. The colour was not quite right but hair colour could be changed. This one was the colour of burnished copper – the colour of Cinnamon. He quickened his pace, he needed to get closer.

The woman’s size was right, and she carried a gym bag so he followed from about 25 – 30 feet back. He needed to be sure. When she turned at the next corner he knew. He recognized her profile. She was still beautiful. A memory of the scent of her sweatshirt, the one that he had stolen in high school, filled his nostrils and he smiled. He fell back another 20 feet or so and matched her pace until she disappeared into a small street three blocks down. He ran and arrived in time to watch a shabby grey fire door swing shut on the left side of the street, two or three doors down from the corner. A sign hung above the door beneath a single bare light bulb. The sign read simply ‘Pierce Street Gym’.

Norman didn’t go in. He waited outside to see if Cinnamon would come back out. He waited an hour and a half before returning to the hotel. He needed to research the Pierce Street Gym. What he found surprised him.

Pierce Street Gym did not have its own website and he found only a couple of references to it at all. He put together that Pierce Street Gym was a place where serious fighters trained. Boxing, Kick boxing, and MMA champions hailed from there. This was going to change his plans a bit.

Norman had anticipated Cinnamon to be working in a place like 24 Hours or LA Fitness, catering to the business man and business woman. Maybe an independent, pricier gym for people with means, but he didn’t expect her to be working in a gym that trained fighters. How was he going to get in there? He needed to know more before he could make his move.

Inspiration can come from unexpected places.

Random Scribbles · writing

The Texture of Obsession

Part I

Norman first noticed Cinnamon Dupree at Walter H. Eastman High School. He quickly became infatuated, obsessed. He set out to learn as much about her as he could. He took candid shots of her with his phone as he followed her around campus. He would draw her likeness in his sketch pads – over and over again.

For her part Cinnamon tended to give Norman a wide berth. She might have sensed something was a little off about him. She might have had good survival instincts. Norman did not have good intentions. One day, in early spring, she left her sweatshirt hanging on the back of her chair in Earth Science class. Norman tucked it into his backpack and took it home. He kept it under his pillow and slept with it every night for almost a year before using it, in his Junior year, to start the fire at The Lumber Yard.

After High School Cinnamon went to State and Norman went to the local Junior College. Her family moved away and he lost track of her but never forgot her. You never forget your first love. He had loved her dearly and knew, in his heart, that she had loved him too. He still loved her and had been true to her all these years.

Then one night several years later, on a business trip, he was having a drink in a hotel bar in Tampa when he saw her again. He knew that it wasn’t her but it looked like her. She was sitting at a table fussing with her cell phone. He had a red-eye flight to catch home and was just killing some time so he screwed up his courage and approached her.

He smiled and pointed at her, “Hey,” he said, “I know you. How do I know you?” He made himself appear puzzled. She looked up at him and smiled hesitantly. He thought the likeness was amazing so he pushed on.

“I know,” he said, “You went to Eastman High. You look great – haven’t aged a day.”

She was shaking her head, but smiling, “No, no; I didn’t go to that school but my sister did.”

“Who’s your sister?”

“Her name’s Cinnamon.”

“Of course,” Norman said, “Cinnamon Dupree. You guys look a lot alike. And, wait a minute; you have a spice name too, don’t you?”

“Saffron,” she said, “Saffron Dupree.” They shook hands and she motioned him to sit down; clearly having no recollection of who he was.

He bought her a drink and they talked about families – primarily her family because he kept steering the discussion back to her. She told him that she was a teacher and an aspiring writer. After several drinks, Saffron confided that she had a blog. He flirted shamelessly with her.

She kept talking, and he kept buying her drinks. Turns out that they were both in town on business; she for a convention and he was calling on customers. He found out that Cinnamon was married, and pursuing a career in health and fitness. Norman struggled mightily to contain the rage he felt that Cinnamon had not been true to him. A plan began to form.

Saffron was pretty drunk when Norman rose to leave.

“I have to catch a flight,” he told her. “Tell me the name of your blog so I can read some of the stuff you write.” She wrote the URL on a cocktail napkin and handed it to him. He gave her a quick, chaste hug before he turned to go. “Wonderful to see you Saffron, it was great to catch up with someone from home.”

“Wait, what’s your name again?” she asked as he was turning to go, “I’ll tell Cinnamon that I met you.”

“Roger Cumberland,” Norman told her, using the name of a kid who had been three years behind him in school. He looked at the napkin in his hand and read:


It should only be a matter of time now, he thought.

At the airport Norman found Saffron’s blog. Generally it was crap. Bad poetry and flowery prose, but every so often she revealed something, something personal. He opened an account under the name of Rosemary Whelan and started posting. He posted every day for a month while he silently and anonymously monitored Saffron’s blog. Then he hit the “Like” button on a love poem that she had written. Two weeks later he commented glowingly on a post about lost innocence. She thanked him.

Almost a month later she wrote a post about her sister, a personal trainer in DC. He clicked the follow button and Rosemary Whelan owner of the blog, “Flipped Over Sidewards” was officially linked to Saffron Dupree; and through Saffron to her sister, Cinnamon Dupree. Still it took almost eighteen months before he felt confident he could find Cinnamon in DC by using the clues provided in her sister’s blog. He booked tickets for that night from SFO to DCA and packed a small carry-on bag.


Inspiration can come from unexpected places.