Matt hooked a right turn on State Road 183 and drove slowly down the two lane highway towards Ashland, Kansas. He didn't have any reason to go to Ashland, after all he had to pass right through Protection and Sitka to get there but he just had a good feeling about Ashland. Matt had left Hebron, Nebraska the day before freshly fucked and with a cool ten grand in his pocket. He had driven the rest of the day until he reached Hutchinson, Kansas then he stopped at a fleabag motel for the night. He woke early, showered and pulled out before sunrise and he hadn't stopped since. Matt was looking for just the right place and maybe this was it. He saw the sign on the outskirts of town, 'Ashland, Kansas Pop. 973' and he slowed down as he entered the small town. Damn, I'm hungry he thought and he started looking for a café, all these small towns always had a café on the main drag, kind of a gathering place to drink coffee and gossip. He spotted the greasy spoon and the empty parking space right in front and pulled in and parked. Matt walked in the front door and saw several tables full of locals as well as a couple of guys at the counter. He picked an empty seat and slid onto the stool.
The waitress saw him sit down and walked down the counter carrying a pot of coffee and stopped directly in front of Matt. "Can I help you mister?"
"Yea, coffee — black. Two eggs over easy and two pieces of toast, please."
"Alright." She poured him a cup of coffee and left with his order.
There was a newspaper on the counter next to Matt and he pulled it over and looked at the front page as he sipped on his coffee and that's when he saw it — September 25th. God damn it was his birthday and he hadn't even realized it, thirty years old today. Well I'll be dammed!
Matt Cain was many things in life and most of them were bad. He was a drifter, a thief, a conman but mostly he was a hustler. Matt was a high school drop-out but that didn't say anything about his intelligence, it had been measured during his brief stint in the Navy (They discharged him when he was caught with another sailors wallet in his locker.) and he had graded out with an IQ of over 140. He worked for two years as a waiter/bartender in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (The women were plentiful and easy but the hours and pay sucked.) then he moved on to Washington, D.C., where he took a position as a cab driver. But there was a hidden blessing in working those two 'people' oriented jobs because they revealed to him his true talents in life, Matt had a special sense about people, and especially about women. He could sit and talk with a woman and in no time flat sense her exact vulnerability and combined with his good looks, wit and charm they would fall into his bed quicker than Batman shows up at a crime scene. But it wasn't until he turned 25 that he realized that they would not only give him their unconditional love they would also give him their money. His current hustle took him over a year to refine but now he stuck to ripping off older women, usually over 60, widowed and living in small towns. They were the most vulnerable of all women because they were lonely, horny and had money. His approach varied from town to town but he usually picked a local church to attend, after all good widows always attend services. He stayed away from the Catholic churches for he had learned long ago that the women there were too religious to fall for his line, no Matt tended to go to the much more laid back churches like Lutheran, Methodist or similar churches to search for his victims.
The waitress, her name tag said 'Marcy, ' came back with his plate of eggs and a side dish of toast and set them down in front of him. She grabbed a rolled paper napkin with a fork, spoon and knife inside and handed them to Matt. "More coffee?"
She refilled his cup then said, "Never seen you around here mister."
Matt took a sip of coffee then buttered his toast. "Just got into town this morning."
"Oh, where from?"
"Wow, some trip. Whatcha doing here?"
It was time for the scam, the line. "Uh I'm a writer. I'm gonna do a story about the hardships of rural life in Kansas."
"Well mister, you sure picked the right spot on the map. Anyway I'm Marcy." She held out her hand.
He took it. "Matt. Matt Cain."
"Well Matt I have to get back to work but I suspect I'll be seeing you around town." That said she turned and walked back down the counter to the serving station, picked up two plates of food and walked them out to a table in the back of the café.
Matt picked the newspaper back up and opened it to the obits page and there just under the picture of the late Mr. Bob McLean were the names, addresses, phone numbers and times of worship of each church in Ashland, Kansas. Well, that was a start. Now he needed to find a place to stay, someplace private. He thumbed through the want ads until he saw an advertisement for a 'over garage room for rent' and he noted the phone number and address. Matt signaled Marcy and she walked over to his seat.
"Something else Matt?"
He showed her the advertisement. "You know anything about this place?"
"Sure that's Mr. and Mrs. Wilson's place, nice people and not real nosy either."
"Great, I think I'll drive over and scope it out." He paid his bill and got directions to the Wilson house from Marcy then left and drove out of town about a mile until he saw the sign for Cutter Lane, just a dirt road really, and he turned in and drove up to the Wilson house. Ten minutes later he had paid Mrs. Wilson for a month's rent and was moving into his new digs.
After he settled in his room Matt thumbed through the paper once again and selected the Lighthouse Baptist church because he found the name funny, Lighthouse. Christ here he was in the middle of the country headed for a church with the name of something you only saw near the ocean although he supposed the name was some sort of a euphemism for the Light showing the way to God's house. On Sunday Matt dressed in a nice pair of slacks, a long sleeved dress shirt, no tie, and a sport coat and was at the church fifteen minutes before services started. He sat in the back pew and watched all the parishioners filing in for services. He was looking for an older woman, alone or with another couple. He spotted one woman coming in alone, maybe 65 or so and was sizing her up as a potential mark then an older man rushed through the door and took her by the hand and they sat down in a pew. Oh well, he thought, I'll go to the after services coffee, there are always all the unattached women there, drinking coffee and eating the stale coffee cake someone baked and donated.
Services were finally over and Matt followed the rest of the parishioners to the back of the church to the reception area. He was heartily welcomed to the church by almost everyone and had just taken a bite of coffee cake when 'she' walked into the room. Matt watched her without trying to be obvious about it. Tall, maybe 5'9" or so, light blonde hair, pulled back into a ponytail, small breasts, more than likely a 32 or 34B he thought to himself. She was plain as the day, no makeup to hide her obvious Scandinavian heritage and wearing one of the plainest dresses Matt had ever seen. Still she was gorgeous and Matt was interested. He nudged the lady standing next to him and asked, "Who's that?" He nodded towards the new arrival.
"Oh that's Molly Anderson, the pastor's new wife."
"Oh, thanks." He turned back toward the last spot he had seen Molly and watched as she easily glided through the crowd, shaking the hands of all the women and smiling at the men. Strange he thought, Molly couldn't have been thirty yet and Pastor Anderson had to be in his late fifties. What had she seen in him?
He tried to not make it obvious but he moved furtively across the room until he was standing directly behind Molly. When she turned to speak with someone else Matt made sure that she bumped into his arm spilling coffee down the front of his shirt.
She was surprised that someone was standing so close to her, still she had caused the accident. "Oh gosh, I'm sorry Mr... Here let me help you clean that up."
"Matt, Matt Cain and I'll be just fine but thanks anyway."
"Nonsense! Let me help." She took her napkins and daubed at the front of his shirt. "You must be new in town Mr. Cain I don't believe that I've seen you before."
"Right you are Mrs. Anderson, I just arrived on Thursday."
"Please call me Molly, everyone does and what are you doing in Ashland Mr. Cain?"
"I'll call you Molly but only if you call me Matt and I'm here to write a story about life in rural Kansas."
"OK, Matt it is. Now tell me, who are you writing the story for?"
"Well I'm a free lance writer but I've got a friend who's an editor in Wichita that has promised to run the story if he likes the message."
"I see. Well what's going to be the message?"
"You know Molly I'm not sure just yet but I was thinking, as the wife of a pastor you know a lot of the town folks, would you be willing to sit down with me and talk about the life here in Ashland and maybe introduce me to some of the parishioners who seem interesting?"
"Me? Oh I don't think so Matt, I'm... well I just don't think that I'm interesting enough for your story and besides I don't want to be known as the town gossip."
He needed to think fast and he needed to think of something that would hook her into helping him. He shook his head then smiled at Molly. "Oh I think you're wrong about that Molly. It would be a wonderful storyline, the young wife of a pastor in small town Kansas, ministering to the hard working farm families. Come on I know that you're interested."
"Well... maybe. Look Matt let's not talk here, can we meet tomorrow." She took his napkin and wrote down her phone number and handed it back to him. "Call me tomorrow, after ten." Then she smiled and simply walked away into the crowd.
It was late Sunday evening and Matt was holed up in his room sipping on a cold beer and thinking about Molly Anderson. Besides being strikingly beautiful she was warm and personable and damn nice to look at even without any makeup or clothing to speak of. God what would she look like if she was made up and dressed in decent clothes? He closed his eyes and imagined her standing before him, naked, beckoning him to come to her, to make love to her. He felt himself getting hard and he shook his head and cleared out her image. Christ he thought, you've got to get a handle on yourself. Use the woman to find a mark. If you want to fuck her he told himself, fine, but use her, she is nothing but another tool of your trade. Now get a grip on yourself. He went to bed at 10:30 that evening but as he close his eyes his last conscious thought was of Molly sliding in bed beside him, her breasts touching his back as her hand reached over and caressed his manhood, then he fell asleep.
It was 10:04 the next morning when Molly finally answered the phone. "Hello?"
"Molly, Matt Cain."
"Oh yes. Good morning Mr. Cain."
"Matt, please. Look can I meet you somewhere? Coffee maybe. Say how about the café on Main Street?"
"Look Matt I've been thinking, maybe this isn't such a good idea after all, I'm sorry..."
"Don't hang up Molly, please. Look I really need someone to help introduce me to some of the townspeople, please."
"Well... I guess it wouldn't hurt if we just talked for a little while — but not at the café. Good Lord Matt that is the gossip spot for the whole town. It wouldn't look right me meeting you there, being married to the pastor and all that. Nope why don't you meet me in the church offices, they're in the back..."
"I know where they are Molly, when?"
"Half an hour, OK?"
"I'll be there." He hung up the phone and smiled to himself. God this was going to be a piece of cake. He pulled a clean sport shirt over his head and tucked it into his pants, grabbed his sunglasses and left for the church. He pulled around back and saw Molly sitting on the hood of her car waiting for him. He waived and she waived back. He parked next to her car and followed her into the church offices.
After she made a pot of coffee and they got settled down she started the conversation. "Alright Matt what can I tell you about life in Ashland?"
"Well why not tell me about yourself. Where did you come from and how did you get to Ashland and come to be married to the pastor?" And with that opening she talked and talked and talked.
It seemed that Molly had been born in Oklahoma City but had grown up in Tulsa. She had graduated from John F. Kennedy high school and started college but ran out of money and had taken a job as a receptionist in a law firm in downtown Tulsa. That had lasted for almost two years then she moved back to Oklahoma City and found a job as marketing representative for a home health agency. She had liked working with the doctors and nurses and over the course of a few months fell in love with one of the staff doctors. He was separated from his wife and getting a divorce; at least that's what he had told her. He loved her; at least that's what he had told her. She was smitten with him and was thinking about their future when she came home early one day and found him in bed with another woman. That afternoon she threw him out of her apartment, quit her job and left town. She had drifted around for a while, waitressing here and there to make enough money to live on and then one day she found herself in Ashland. She liked the town and the people and took a job as the church secretary. That was how she met Pastor Anderson and, well the rest is history.
It was quite a story and totally believable except that that was all there was something missing and inherently Matt knew it. There was something vital missing from her story, something she hadn't said but he just couldn't put his finger on it. He realized that it was something that he should know but no matter how hard he tried whatever it was that was bothering him he couldn't think of it and finally he just put it out of his mind all together. He was thinking about how to approach her about the widows in Ashland when he heard her speaking. "Excuse me Molly; I'm sorry I was thinking about something."
"Look Matt, I have to go, I'm sorry but I've got an appointment for lunch with the Pastoral Council, I'm the secretary too so there really isn't any way out, sorry."
"Oh that's OK, can we meet again? There's a lot more I would like to talk to you about."
"Alright, tomorrow at... uh, 1:30, here?"
"Sure that would be great. See you then Molly."
That night Matt sat in his room thinking over ever word Molly had said to him that morning. The one thing that stuck in his mind was her affair with the doctor in Oklahoma City, her one and only love affair that had gone bad and the reason she began to drift. But it was the casual way she spoke about the affair, like the sex act itself wasn't important only the loyalty to each other. Was she sexually repressed? Did she marry Pastor Anderson on the rebound? He knew that they had only been married a few months yet there was something else not said but intimated at — that she wasn't happy being married. Oh well, none of his business really, he only needed her for her contacts in the community.
Matt was waiting for Molly at the church when he saw her driving up in his rearview mirror. He got out of his car and waited until she turned off the engine then he opened the car door for her and helped her out. She was different this morning, much different. Instead of the pair of jeans and sweatshirt she had worn the day before today she was dressed in a short skirt, maybe two inches above her knees and a sheer blouse. Instead of the normal casual ponytail today she wore her hair was down almost to her shoulders. Matt could see that under her blouse was a camisole but no bra. Strange. Strange indeed he thought as they walked into the church offices.
Once inside Matt sat on the couch as he had the day before but Molly hopped up onto the edge of the desk. Sitting like that Matt could see up under her skirt, not too far but there was certainly thigh showing.
"Well Mr. Writer, what are we going to talk about today?"
She crossed her legs and Matt had a brief glimpse of her panties, white panties. Was she showing off for him? Why? "Well... uh I was thinking of..."
"I know what you were thinking of Matt and I was thinking of it all night too. You want to make love to me, don't you?"