The Art of Manipulation (A Short Story)

(From previous blog, unedited)

Here is the other short story I wrote a while back.

The Art of Manipulation
 John Liebert. A college professor adept in all fields, but focuses his teaching skills on philosophy and literature. A seemingly ordinary individual, but deep down he is a cynical, narcissistic sociopath. His mind is addicted to manipulating people and he will always find a way to make someone’s life a living hell.
 He sits outside a Starbucks with his long dark brown hair, messy and untidy, no attempts made to style it. Today, he is wearing an elegantly tailored suit and a long, flowing overcoat, both black in colour, with a dark purple tie.
 He takes a sip from his hot cup of coffee and then gently places it back onto the saucer. He opens his newspaper, ruffling the pages, speed-reading each page, absorbing the most important headlines. He finished the newspaper a while ago, but he feels an obligation to society to appear busy. He stops at a particular headline BODY FOUND! YOUNG WOMAN BURNED TO DEATH! and laughs to himself almost maniacally so. There is no attention drawn towards him, but he stops himself in order to prevent a scene.
 He leans forward glancing at passer-bys, judging their personalities by their appearances and movements. Liebert thinks to himself, “too dependent, too lonely, too masochistic, too frugal, too altruistic, too impulsive, too trusting.”
“All too easy,” he says disappointingly. Liebert sighs deeply.
The waitress is standing beside him holding an empty tray, “Is everything alright, sir?”. Liebert takes a brief pause before replying, “Long day.”
“I’ll bet,” she says annoyingly. “Would you like some more coffee?”
Libert glances at his coffee for a second just to double-check the waitress’s intelligence. He fights the urge to point out that his cup is practically full. “I’m fine, thank you…” he reads her nametag, “Harmony?”
“You’re welcome,” she smiles and wanders off to pester more customers. Before getting a chance to take another sip of coffee a woman sits down in front of him. In only a few seconds Liebert has already memorised her appearance; velvet red hair, dyed, hazel eyes, a pale complexion, smooth-looking skin, beauty mark on left cheek and a red dress to match red lipstick and red stilettos.
“Are you John Liebert by any chance?” she asks excitedly.
“Am I supposed to be famous?” Liebert says nonchalantly.
“Oh, don’t be modest! I’ve seen you do Shakespeare. You killed it as Iago!”
“Did I now?”
“I must have your autograph! Would you be so kind as to…?”
“It would be my pleasure, my dear.”
“Oh! Thank you so much!” she hands him her copy of Othello, “It’s Scarlet by the way.” “Your name? Or your hair?” he asks jocularly. Liebert signs his name hands it back to Scarlet firmly. “Is that all you wanted?”
“Did you have something else in mind?” she said flirtatiously.
“Well, I was planning on going for a stroll after I had finished my coffee,” Libert says matter-of-factly.
“I have two tickets to the opera.”
“What time?”
Startled, Scarlet blurts out her words, “Uh.. umm.. Oh! Uh.. 7:30!”
“And what opera will be showing?”
“The Pirates of the Carib-No. That’s not it. Um.. The Pirates of–”
Liebert interrupts with suavity. “Penzance?”
“Yes! That’s the one! It’ll be fun, won’t it?”
Liebert stands up and takes his coffee up off the table. “We’d better get a move on then.”
“It’s only gone one.”
“Exactly. We only have six and half hours to get to know each other.”
Scarlet opens up her red handbag and checks her reflection while occasionally looking up at Liebert. “Let’s get going then. Shall we?”
“After you.” Liebert keeps his composure despite the plans flooding through his mind right now. His thoughts get the better of him later during the opera showing. Liebert felt like a king sitting front row on the balcony. If there was anything good to say about him it was that he had fine taste in arts and furniture. He could feel the lumbar support of the red velvet seats caressing his back. He then turned to Scarlet and realised he hadn’t completed his objective for the night. Liebert whispers to Scarlet and leaves. Scarlet follows. She pursues him to the rooftop worryingly. As she barges through the entrance to the roof, Scarlet screams “Don’t do it!”
Liebert is standing dangerously close to the edge. He places one foot in the air, gently leaning forward.
“Today will be the day.”
“Is doesn’t have to be!” Scarlet moves closer to Liebert, slowly so that he won’t do anything rash.
“Will I be missed?”
 Liebert turns to Scarlet. His eyes pierce into her. Now frightened, Scarlet panics and rushes to Liebert. Liebert backs away from the ledge, presuming that Scarlet’s speed and movement was just enough for her to trip and fall. Dangling on the edge, Scarlet struggles to pull her body up. The weather picks up some wind . Liebert walks over to the ledge, admiring the starry night sky as he kneels down with one knee. He reaches out to her with his hand. Scarlet grabs his hand in desperation, trusting him with her life. Lifting her arm high enough for them to be face-to-face, Liebert looks Scarlet dead in the eye and says “People are so predictable.”
He let’s go of her hand, watching her plummet to her demise, and then walks away with a blank expression.
 The next day, Liebert sits in the same spot as he did the day before. Holding the newspaper in one hand and sipping his coffee with the other, he reads the headline WOMAN FOUND DEAD! NO EVIDENCE OF HOMICIDE. Liebert smirks before taking another sip from his coffee.

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