The Daily Post prompt—RELOCATE
This was the part about meeting people that Lizzie found difficult. No matter how much she told them, they always wanted more. Where are you from? What side of town? What schools did you attend? They didn’t need the details of her life, but if she didn’t share, they assumed there was something to hide and in her case, there was.
Moving to Tuskegee, AL, a small college town, had been her choice. It was far enough away from her old life to be safe, yet close enough to her old career to allow her to teach that career. She enjoyed teaching accounting at the historically black university and the students kept a respectable distance. The other faculty members grew used to her clipped replies and her no nonsense attitude. She didn’t indulge in unnecessary dialogue and she didn’t start conversations. No, the people at work weren’t the problem. Her neighbors were the problem.
Her new next door neighbor, Cordell Blake, had come over about a week after he moved in, introducing himself as single, employed, and God-fearing. “Cord” as he called himself, wanted to know if she was the same. She didn’t blame him for intruding on her self-imposed exile, that’s what neighbors did, but she didn’t want friends. Being relocated meant she had to be careful,
She’d chosen this aloof lifestyle because in her old life, she’d been too open, too kind, and too friendly. That was what had gotten her into the mess that sent her running from everything she loved in order to live.
“Come on over,” Cord had said. “I’m having a few friends over for a little cookout. You’ll like them.”
“Thanks, but I have a ton of work to finish,” she’d replied, but Cord wouldn’t be deterred.
“Come on. We’re neighbors. Gotta look out for one another. No telling when we might need each other. Somebody breaking into your house, I might turn a blind eye if I get the impression you’re not friendly.”
“Blackmail?” Lizzie asked.
“Whatever it takes to get my pretty neighbor to warm up to me,” Cord said with a smile.
Truthfully, Lizzie had been watching him cut his lawn from her living room window and she’d liked what she saw. He could tell it, too, by the way he’d taken off his shirt and slowly wiped away the sweat that ran down his chest and into the band of his jeans.
It was hot as hell that summer and the grass Cord cut was brown and almost nonexistent. Lizzie had never experienced the intensity of southern heat and she felt damp even staring out her window. She’d thought about taking him a glass of ice water or lemonade, but decided against it. No sense starting something that couldn’t be.
If anyone from her old life found out where she was, she risked being discovered by her incarcerated boss, Dr. Cook, and his friends. He’d earned that name by skillfully hiding millions in assets for the mob. By the time Lizzie realized what he was doing, the feds were moving in and arresting him, her, and two other officers from the investment company he headed. In exchange for her freedom, Lizzie had turned state’s witness against him, and based on her testimony more than a hundred million in ill gotten money and investments was seized.
“We’ll get you, Lizzie Davis!” mob henchmen screamed in the courtroom the day she’d walked free.
Outside on the court steps, Lizzie, though surrounded by a dozen state troopers, trembled. The sun shone brightly on her family who waited for her on the sidewalk. The photographers snapped pictures of her and of the brazen men who shouted their threats.
“Let ‘em relocate you, Lizzie! Nowhere in the world is safe from us! We’re coming for you, bitch!”
Now, look at her. Safe for the past two years, and she was electing to commit suicide. Going to this cookout and meeting people who’d take pictures and selfies with her face in the background meant nothing but trouble. The reach of social media would instantly shove her face into the mob’s crosshairs.
The clanging doorbell startled her. She stopped brushing her hair and looked into the monitor of her bathroom security system. Cord stood on her porch. Here to escort her over to meet his friends.
She’d call the Witness Protection Program in the morning and have them move her, again. The next town she relocated to would need to place her home in a more isolated spot.