You try to be thoughtful. You try to remember other people have feelings. But you know how it is. My grandmother used to say, sometimes, with some people, you have to fight fire with fire. This was one of those times. Belinda was one of those people.
I opened a shop six months ago on Etsy. Pour-traiture. I make portrait pour paintings. Most pour paintings are abstract. Mine aren’t. I do people, pets. Belinda sent me a picture of Noodles, her six-month old dachshund. Cute little fella. An English Cream, a rare kind of dachshund. They’re long-haired and cream-colored, and they don’t come cheap, either. The price starts at $2,000 and goes up from there.
A hundred for the painting, twenty-five for shipping. Give me two weeks, I said, and Belinda said, Wow! Really? That’s all? Visa card went through, no problem. She seemed so nice. She seemed so normal. I would never have thought; but you know how it is.
I started work on her order that night. I had told her two weeks, but I finished Noodles in half that time. I wrapped it and sent it and as soon as she saw it, Belinda sent me a message on Etsy. It just came, she said, and OMG! It’s fantastic, I love it, so on and so on. And I said, well thank you, I’m so glad you like it.
And that should’ve been that. But it wasn’t. Two hours later, I got another message. Not on Etsy. Belinda sent a message to my email address. Which I never gave her. Maybe she found it on Etsy, somehow. I don’t know. All I know is, that’s when it began.
I see that you live in Clarksville, she said. I live in Kingsport! We oughta get together. We’re only an hour away from each other. You could come here. Or I could come there, I could bring Noodles with me. He likes meeting people. Wouldn't that be fun?
I’ve never met this chick before in my life. Never spoken to her, except through convos on Etsy. She gave me the money and I gave her the painting. As far as I was concerned, our deal was done.
But I try to be kind. I try to remember other people have feelings. I wrote back, that does sound like fun. I'm afraid, though, for now, I will have to beg off. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going these days LOL. I have so many orders on Etsy to fill!
To which most people would say, oh I understand, or, another time maybe. Not her. Not Belinda.
she replied. Bold. All caps. Sent a chill down my spine.
After that, Belinda started flooding my inbox. Thirty-five, forty…sometimes fifty messages a day. I blocked her and that’s when the phone started ringing.
At first there was silence. Then a howl and a bark. I assume that was Noodles. Then Belinda came on; I can see you, you bitch. I know where you live. Tramp. Slut. You know what you are? You’re a whore, that’s what.
She left voice mails telling me what I had on, what I was wearing. “Red’s not your color”. “That looks like something a hooker would wear”. What I ate, what book I’d been reading. I saved them all. I considered them evidence. I was halfway to the police station when I considered something else.
What if, in a week or so, she just went away. Got tired and gave up. Or what if Belinda was just getting started. I googled her name. She’s no stranger, it seems, to law enforcement. 2017, defacing public property. In 2018, two weapons charges. Reckless endangerment, one count, in 2019.
I would never have thought...she seemed so nice. But like my grandmother always said, people, sometimes, aren’t what they seem.
Belinda, I figure, must come from money. English Cream dachshunds aren’t cheap. Or maybe she has a sugar daddy somewhere. Me, I struggle. I should probably charge more for the work that I do. My paintings take skill, and you have to be careful. Some of the materials can have, shall we say, a deleterious effect.
Cute little fella. But she can afford it. Fire with fire, my grandmother was right. And she was old. And people have feelings; sometimes I forget. But I had to be sure. You know how it is.