Tuesday 12 July 2022

The Following


Helen left home and waited at the bus stop to go to work. Moments later the bus arrived. She noticed as she sat down that up front there was a young man, about her age, dressed in an impeccable made-to-measure blue suit and reading his newspaper. He did not notice her; but she admired his physique, bright blue eyes and blond hair, and imagined several scenarios where they would be together.

Half-an-hour later the bus arrived at her place of work and she got off, whilst the young man remained on the vehicle reading his paper as he drove off her sight and imagination.

At about lunch time, Helen realised that she had left her packed-lunch at home, so she got out to the coffee shop across the road to get a hot drink and a sandwich. As she entered the premises, there sitting at a table enjoying a pot of tea was the same young man she saw on the bus that morning. She was a little surprised at the coincidence of seeing him twice in one day but thought nothing of it. She bought her lunch and got out.

That evening she worked late and got a different bus. You can imagine her shock when she found the young man already in the bus at it approached the bus stop to pick her up. She could not get the incident out of her mind all evening. What are the odds against meeting the same individual three times in a day in different places and different times? She did not even plan to go to the coffee shop. It only happened because she'd forgotten her packed-lunch. Besides, this was not her usual coffee shop. She usually went to another some ten minutes away. That day she was in a hurry so she went to the one across the road. It was as if the young man was following her; or stalking her. But how can he stalk her if he was always there first; and it was she who arrived later.

The following morning Helen did not need to go to her office. She had to visit June, a business associate in town, to carry out the annual audit and prepare her finance statement. So Helen took a different bus from the usual and at a different time. As she entered the bus, sure enough, the young man was sitting there upfront reading his paper. She could hardly hide her shock at seeing him and sat there in a panic until the bus got to town; where she got off quickly and rushed to June's premises without looking back.

Throughout the morning, June noticed that her friend Helen was preoccupied with something. Eventually she asked her and Helen mentioned the young man. 

"What you need is something nice to eat," said June, "I know a new Bistro which opened last week. Let's go. My treat!"

As the two women entered the restaurant, there at a table was the young man enjoying lunch and reading a book.

"That's him ..." whispered Helen as they sat down hiding behind their menus. June picked up her cell-phone and phoned her husband who was a Private Detective with contacts in the police. They continued eating slowly until June's husband arrived, nodded at them surreptitiously, and sat at a different table.

They then left the restaurant and headed for the Mall not so far away. June tried to distract her friend and suggested they do some shopping. Helen agreed and chose to go to the bookshop first. As they entered the shop the young man was already there paying for a book he had just bought and was about to leave.

There was no way the young man could have left the Bistro and rushed into the book shop and bought and paid for a book in such a short time. Besides, how could he know the two women were going to the Mall and that Helen would decide on the bookshop?

June phoned her husband, Mark, who confirmed that the man only left the Bistro one minute previously. There was no way he could be at the bookshop at the same time.

They agreed to meet at June's husband's office not so far away. When they arrived there, Mark had already invited a policeman friend. They related the story to him. He was understandably sceptical.

"There's one way to test this to my satisfaction," said the detective looking out of the window, "there's out there across the road six different shops or premises. I don't want you, Helen, to come to the window and see what's out there and what shops they are. You say you've never been to Mark's office before?"

Helen nodded.

"Right," said the detective, "I want you and June to go down to the street, cross the road, and only then, you Helen, without saying a word, will choose which shop or premises to go into. Once in, give us a call. Mark and I will look down at the street from up here!"

The two women went down and crossed the road and Helen decided to go into the florist. The young man was at the counter buying and paying for a bouquet of a dozen red roses.

June phoned her husband, Mark. He and the detective confirmed that they saw no one enter the florist's shop. The detective decided to rush down to the shop, leaving Mark at the window keeping an eye on the florist's door to see if the man leaves.

When the detective arrived, the young man was not in the shop. He'd just left moments earlier. June phoned Mark who confirmed that no one had left the shop. He saw the detective friend get in but no one got out.

The detective asked the florist whether the young man had been in the shop before. The florist said, "No ... he's never been in!"

"Did he pay by credit card?" asked the detective.

"No ... it's very unusual," she replied, "he paid with a £50 note. That's a very high denomination for some flowers. I had difficulty giving him the full change but he said not to worry and only took £30 in change ... three £10 notes!"

"So ... you have the £50?" asked the detective.

"Yes ... in my cash desk ..." she nodded.

"I am a policeman," said the detective showing his ID badge, "please open the cash drawer but do not touch the note. I'll need to take it for forensic checks and we'll reimburse you fully! Did the young man wear gloves?"

She shook her head and said, "No ... I'm sure of it. His nails were well polished and manicured!"  

The £50 was taken for fingerprints examination. Only the florist's fingerprints were on it.

That evening, when Mark and June took Helen back home after spending the evening together to take her mind off events; as they entered her house, there in the living room was a bouquet of twelve red roses in a vase of water.


  1. ...perhaps she was stalking him.

    1. She couldn't have been. She did not know he was going to be at the places he was at - e.g. on separate buses at separate times, or at different shops not always chosen by her.

      God bless, Tom.

  2. Dearest Victor,
    Almost miraculously... Like a ghost who knew her inner–thoughts.

  3. Very strange and a bit creepy.

    1. I agree. I was frightened myself writing this story.

      God bless, Bill.

  4. This one is quite the puzzle. Angel or ghost? This is weird and gave me chills. Blessings

    1. I know, Nells. I was frightened myself as I wrote it. It was as if the young man already knew what I was going to write !!!.

      God bless.

  5. So spooky, but intriguing, too, Victor! I really enjoyed the mystery in this story.

    1. Sometimes my mystery stories frighten me more than my readers ... (I'm terribly frightened of my readers!).

      God bless, Martha.

  6. ... and the handsome young man with an offered martini? Hi honey, I'm home!

  7. A bit creepy but good. Will there be more to the story?

    1. I'm not so sure whether there's more. I'm too frightened.

      God bless, Happyone.

  8. You are leaving us to not know what's next? Maybe this needs to be the start of a new story.

    1. Perhaps you're right, Mimi. But what if the young man starts following me instead?

      God bless you.



God bless you.