A Fan By Any Other Name Would Be As Crazy

(From the Writer’s Digest creative writing prompt “Crazed Fan”)

Leaves rustle under his feet as he walks through the woods, the spring in his step so much that he’s very nearly skipping. It’s all going exactly as he planned, and he is sure that she will see now. He reaches his tree, the one that he always uses since it has the perfect vantage point to watch her, as it’s only a hundred yards away from her back patio. The tall privacy fence she has around her back yard is inconsequential from here. Before reaching for the branches, he runs down his mental checklist to ensure he hasn’t forgotten anything.

Binoculars…check. Headphones…check. Wireless receiver…check.

A smile crosses his lips. He’s prepared. But then, he was an Eagle Scout; they’re always prepared. He scampers up the tree, quick as any squirrel, and settles into the tree stand he strapped onto the trunk those months ago when he started watching her. He checks his receiver to make sure it’s picking up the signal from the transmitter he hid under her patio table last week. Watching her is so much better when he can hear her breathing, talking to herself as she starts her day.

He checks his watch. 6:30. She should be out in another fifteen minutes. Patience. He pulls a pack of fruit snacks from his pocket and pops one of the chewy treats in his mouth. These were the perfect snack. They’re quiet. He doesn’t want anything to interfere with being able to hear her voice.

He’s just finishing the last piece of candy when the sliding glass door opens, and she walks out, coffee and newspaper in hand. He adjusts his headphones and lifts his binoculars to his eyes. Now she will know how he feels: that they’re destined to be together, just as he said in the note he slipped into her mailbox. How long ago? He frowns; he can’t remember exactly. Three weeks? He shrugs it off. It doesn’t matter. The adrenaline surged through his veins that night, as he crept up her walk to deliver it. It still paled in comparison to the day he actually met her, when he stood in line for three hours to have her sign a copy of her latest novel. That was when he found out she not only used a pen name, but kept herself unlisted in any phone or property directories. He was mad at her at first, but it worked out anyway. He still found her.

She sets her coffee down and straightens her paper. He focuses the binoculars and reads the headline to a side article on the front page: Literature Stolen, Thief Caught & Booked. His smile stretches into a full grin.

“What in the world…?” Her whispered question is as clear to his ears as if he was sitting next to her. He grips the binoculars tighter, watching closely as she reads the article. Her hands start shaking so badly that she sets the paper down on the tabletop. He can tell she’s still reading, but her whispers are rushed, the words blending together.

He leans forward, eager to see her face when she reads the last line. The reporter quoted him, what he yelled on scene as the cops forced him into the back of that cruiser like a common criminal. Her speech slows, and he whispers the words with her. “He was released on $1000 bond early this morning. All he said was, ‘I just want to be her best friend!'”

She shakes her head, jumping to her feet. “No…nononono…No!”

He frowns at her reaction. She’s supposed to be happy! Why isn’t she happy? Now she knows that he loves her and they’re going to be together! She slides the patio door open and nearly runs inside, and he can see her pick up the phone and dial a number. He turns up the volume on his wireless receiver. It has extra background static, but he can still hear her voice. “This is Lara. Let me talk to Detective Mason…..Yes, I’ll hold.”

He clenches his jaw in anger. Fine. If she wants to overreact, that’s fine. He lowers the binoculars as she closes the door, slips them back into their case so they won’t get scratched during the climb down. “We’ll still be together,” he vows softly. “I’ll just have to show you how perfect we’ll be.” He climbs down the tree and glances back toward her house before leaving, his mind already piecing together his next plan. “I’ll show you.”

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