Her fingers clawed the phone from the cradle on the second ring.
“Is Ruth there?”
“This is,” Ruth said, shifting to seduction mode.
“This is Randy. I saw your ad on ‘Stranger Hook-Ups.com’…” Randy trailed off, not sure what to say next. He’d only connected with three strangers so far.
“Hi, Randy. What are you interested in?”
He took a moment to reply: “Ah, well, in your ad it said that you were looking for younger men, and I like older women, and…”
“Wonderful, Randy. How young are you?”
“I’m sixty-five, but you won’t believe it after you see what I can do. When can you come over, Randy?”
“Is tonight good?”
“Tonight? An old woman like me can’t wait. I need you now, Randy.”
That web site was the best $25 he’d ever spent.
“I’ll be right over. Where’s the address?”
Ruth was waiting when Randy walked in thirty minutes later. She had changed into a loose-fitting robe, and her sparse white shoulder-length hair had been neatly brushed and held behind her ears with bobby pins. Her make-up was limited but well applied, just enough foundation that the wrinkles and sallow skin she hadn’t hidden too well in the photo were barely noticeable in person.
Randy didn’t care. He would have put a bag over her head if he had to.
An old joke with a new twist had permanently embedded itself into his mind: “What do mopeds, fat girls, and old ladies have in common? They’re fun to ride, but you don’t want your friends to catch you doing it.”
His friends never caught him; they didn’t know about his few clandestine meetings with old women from the web. Even his girlfriend didn’t know about these trysts. He told them he volunteered to assist the elderly, and that was true. He was there to help the poor old things out.
“Hi, Randy,” she said, crossing the room, hand out. Her hand looked mottled and yellow. He paused, unsure. She wanted to shake? He shook her hand and had to stop himself from recoiling. She smelled. More than the others. He would have to breathe through his mouth.
Ruth lingered on his hand. “You seem very…promising. Why don’t you go ahead and get undressed? Sit on the edge of the bed.” She motioned to the hospital-style stretcher-like contraption that was pushed against the wall.
Randy liked how it was going so far. Sure, she might not smell good, but if he was right about where this was headed, he wouldn’t be able to smell her too much. He pulled off his t-shirt and dropped his jeans to the floor, then pushed his boxers down to his ankles and stepped out of them. He sat on the edge of the bed and waited for his adoring audience.
From the bedside table, Ruth produced a gag, blindfold, and handcuffs. “I like it this way,” she said, putting them on the sheet next to him. The plastic mattress cover crackled under the weight of the newly exhibited toys. Randy smiled even wider.
Ruth slipped the blindfold over his head and fastened it over his eyes, then tied the gag around his mouth. Finally she climbed onto the bed next to him and roughly pulled his hands behind him. Randy tried to say “careful,” but the gag kept him from speaking clearly. He heard Ruth grunt in reply, then the handcuffs clicked around his wrists and he felt the bed rise again around him as she slid onto the ground.
Ruth kept her robe closed as she knelt down in front of him. She leaned forward, mouth open, grateful she had come up with the idea of the gag. It kept them so much quieter. The handcuffs had been a more recent idea — the second one had almost dislocated her shoulder trying to get away. The blindfold completed the look, and seemed to keep them distracted with other thoughts until she really got down to business.
She took her first bite, savoring the tender flesh and stringy muscle. The body on the bed writhed and twisted, and Ruth turned to the other thigh, trying to find the artery so that it would be over quickly. She preferred to eat in peace, and the convulsions of the dying just took that much pleasure away. The blood spurted past her, and she dug in, feeling his strength begin to ebb away as she continued her meal. Randy was beyond the point where he could fight her, so she slowed a little. The more leisurely the feast, the better, she thought, slowly stripping the flesh from his bare legs. She would save the best for last, as usual, ignoring the urge to go right for his brain. It always tasted better when she could linger on it.
Her room considerably cleaner and the scraps disposed of, Ruth sat back in her reclining chair and relaxed. It had been a good afternoon. She picked up the cross-word puzzle book and began working on the expert ones. She never had finished one, but she wasn’t worried. She’d had plenty of time to work on them since she died, and she didn’t think she’d have to give up her hobby any time soon.
The phone rang again, and she reached for it, hands flexible and pain free. It was another man from the ad she had placed. She smiled and politely turned him down. She’d had her fill for the day, she told him. Maybe he could come by tomorrow?
* * *
Katherine Sanger was a Jersey Girl before getting smart and moving to Texas. She’s been published in various e-zines and print, including Baen’s Universe, Spacesports & Spidersilk, Black Petals, Star*Line, Anotherealm, Lost in the Dark, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and RevolutionSF, and edited From the Asylum, an e-zine of fiction and poetry.NURSING HOMES ARE FOR LOVERS by Katherine Sanger,