Before I started working for the private investigator I had an interview on the phone. At the time I thought I was just calling to schedule. I didn’t even know what the job was for exactly, other than “Assistant: must have writing ability and office skills”. He asked me why I thought I’d be good for the job. I said, because I was desperate. He was quiet for long enough to make me feel I had said the wrong thing.
"How so?" he asked.
“How am I desperate, or how does being desperate make me good for the job?”
“The second one.”
“Well,” I had to make something up, “ it would make me work hard to make sure you felt like you made the right decision hiring someone with no office experience.” I tried to laugh but he was quiet so I had to keep going, ” and also it would make me less afraid of making a wrong choice if I didn’t know what to do.”
I worried I sounded too much like an ass-kisser waiting for a head-pat, so I said, “But after a while I would probably get more comfortable and slack off.”
It was the end of September, 2001. Rescuers were still searching for bodies in the rubble, I had had a baby 2 months earlier, my children’s father had told me that he was “kind of” seeing someone else, I had no money, my oldest child would soon be driving, and I was living at my mother’s house. I’m not saying these are the reasons I didn’t do a better job of editing myself, but they gave me a different perspective in talking with a stranger.
We set an appointment to meet the next day at his home near the Devon train station. I worried a little about meeting at his “home”, but I didn’t obsess. It was much easier to focus on worrying about childcare and transportation if I actually got the job.
When I checked the computer later though, I found an email from him telling me to just come in to work tomorrow, "Why dilly dally?" he wrote. I would have been more excited except that the last word stopped me in my tracks. Who uses the word dilly dally?
An insane murderer that’s who. I imagined the full scenario of him abusing me, and then cutting off my limbs with a chainsaw and throwing them into a plastic bag.
Dilly dally, dilly dally, DILLY DALLY.
I called my friend Amy to discuss. We agreed that it was possible he was gay though hard to tell because he had been so vague about the job description.
Gay people are not usually vague.
Maybe he’s old fashioned.
We practiced saying the word in an old fashioned way. Tossing it off with a shake of the head.
Maybe he wears spats.
And does the Charleston.
We laughed, and then when it got quiet Amy said, you’re doomed.