Sitting at his desk in the Wells Fargo Bank Center, 1000 Louisiana Street, in downtown Houston John Cope looked out at a blue sky above and the buildings around and below.His office is on the 61st floor from where his outlook took in Tranquility Park.
Ironic really because he had been born in Tranquility Park. Not Houston but in the heart of Florida, 50 miles from his beloved Tampa.
Tampa was where he met Carol Wood. The only woman he had ever given his heart up to.
There was something about Carol, something not of this world.
John was just 20 years old when he met Carol in May 1989. Now he was 38 and he had yet to meet anyone he could love like he loved her.
“Carol was not really that pretty”, he thought to himself “and I never found out how old she was”.
Carol exited from John ‘s life as abruptly as she had come into his life just four months before.
He was a student at the time and he met Carol whilst watching a baseball game. She was the other side of the park when she first caught his eye. Two minutes later she was nowhere to be seen.
Time seemed to go by as he watched his team fall behind, and then suddenly she was there, by his side.
She was in Tampa on business she told him, and staying in The Economy Inn nearby. She worked for a pharmaceutical company and she was working with the University on drug trials so she expected to be around for quite a while.
John does not recall if his team won or lost. He was captivated by Carol.
They went for a coffee and talked. They talked until nightfall.
They arranged to meet up again the next day and so dated every day for the next four months.
He took Carol back to Tranquility Park to meet his mother, his sister, his stepfather and Buster the dog.
Buster was a great dog, John and his sister Thelma got given Buster as a peace offering when their mother remarried seven years before.
Whenever John was home Buster would be indulged and taken on many a walk around the parks and lakes that make Tranquility Park.
Three months later it was on such a walk that the experience happened.
Buster was off his leash running freely in the park as usual chasing the balls that John and Carol obligingly threw for him over and over again. John and Carol kissed and when they surfaced Buster had disappeared.
Perturbed John and Carol panicked and each ran off in opposite directions to find Buster.
That was it. The next thing John knew he was waking up, lying prostrate on the ground, and Carol was by his side as indeed was Buster.
Something had happened. John asked Carol what had happened. She told him that he had suddenly fallen to the ground whilst she was playing with Buster.
He had been out cold for no more than two minutes but it had been very worrying for her.
They strolled back to the house and the weekend went on as normal though John could not help but realise that Carol had made no reference to the disappearance of Buster.
That week, back in Tampa, Carol suddenly did not turn up for their cinema date.
John rang the Economy Inn and they told him that Miss Wood had checked out that morning. It was not until this moment that John realised that even though they had spent nearly four months together he actually didn’t know anything about her.
They had spent most nights together yet he had no recollection of her telling him anything about her family, or her background. He couldn’t even recall what pharmaceutical company she worked for.
There were many times in his life he had thought about Carol, the evenings, the weekends the love making and the walks with dear old Buster.
When Buster died in 1997 John and his sister were long away from home and their mother never replaced the dog.
But John still dreamed about Buster, the runs in the park and the times with Carol and Buster. And the time Buster disappeared.
Sitting at his desk John asked himself “did Buster really disappear that day or was that a dream, and why did I fall unconscious that day. It has never happened to me since? Whatever happened to Carol and will I ever find her”
At that moment the phone rang.
“Internal Audit” he answered.
A familiar voice answered. “Check your email”.
Then she was gone.
John opened Outlook and there amongst a number of new messages was one with the subject “Buster”.
John eagerly opened the email which said “Carol Wood wants to meet with you, please click here to find her”.
He clicked and the virus payload was executed.
Copyright © Stuart Danton 2007