“Good afternoon, Ma’am. May I take a minute to – ”
Darren never got to finish as the door slammed in his face. He sighed, adjusted his spectacles and proceeded to walk to the next house.
Selling magazine subscriptions was no easy task. Neighborhoods had a sense of uniformity, casting suspicion on anyone that seemed to stick out. Someone like Darren, walking around in his neatly pressed tweed suit and carrying a dark leather briefcase, stuck out quite easily. He was surprised that anyone even opened the door to him in the first place. But then, no door stayed open for long.
The sun was climbing higher in the sky and Darren was getting increasingly thirsty. He almost wanted to just barge into a house to slake his thirst, but he knew that wouldn’t be right. Darren respected the rules.
He tugged at his tie in frustration as he approached yet another door, painted in a bold hue of red that grabbed his attention instantly. He knocked twice, his bony knuckles rapping against the wood sharply. The door opened and a youngish blonde woman smiled out at him.
Darren forced a smile in return.
“Good afternoon, Ma’am. I’m selling magazine subscriptions. Fashion, gardening, home improvement, I’ve got it all.”
Her smile faltered ever so slightly, but the door remained open.
“I’m…not trying to make a sale right now, though. It’s just that it’s ever so hot out here and I was wondering if I could trouble you for a glass of water.”
The woman didn’t respond right away and Daren braced himself for the sudden rush of air that preceded a slamming door. But it was still open. The woman’s smile widened.
“Oh, of course! That’s no problem at all. Please, come in.”
She stepped back from the door to welcome him, and Darren sighed with relief as he walked through the threshold.
“It’s a real scorcher today,” the woman said as she directed Darren to a large cream colored couch in an otherwise sparse living room. “I just went out for a half hour and I was sweating buckets when I got back!”
Darren laughed at her little joke dutifully, and she went off to the kitchen. He loosened his tie and sat down. Finally, someone had invited him in. It just made things so much easier. The husband would no doubt be gone for a couple more hours yet, and Darren didn’t detect the scent of children. It was just her. Perfect.
Later in the evening, Darren would lose the suit. Adopt a new face, a new identity. Maybe a cable repairman this time. Nobody would ever find a trace of the oddly dapper salesman who was roaming around the neighborhood the day before. Darren smiled at the thought, baring his fangs.
He could, of course, have picked someone off the street in the dead of night, as so many of his brethren did. But Darren preferred to make things more interesting, seeking out the weak of will, coercing them into inviting him in, inviting their own fate. It made him feel less…monstrous.
“I hope you like lemonade!” the woman chirped as she appeared in the doorway holding a glass that Darren barely paid any attention to. He was more focused on the vein that throbbed subtly at the side of her neck.
“Oh, that’ll do just fine, Ma’am,” he responded, putting on his most charming smile. “That’ll do just fine.”