International Writers Magazine:Dreamscapes
Pringle and the Stalker
first inkling I had of the problem was when my friend and fellow
science-fiction writer Al Abrams called.
I wonder if I can come over and talk to you, he said.
Sure. Ellen and I would like to see you.
Its been a while.
Id like to bring my new girl friend Kathleen.
I didnt know you had a new girl friend. Sure, wed
love to meet her.
a problem, he said.
Uh, oh. Dont tell me shes a witch, too.
When Al had broken up with his last girl friend shed turned
out to be a witch and had put a curse on him. Hed
suffered all kinds of misfortune, until my wife Ellens Uncle,
Claude Pringle, had intervened and brought the curse to an end.
What? Oh, no, not at all. Kathleen is
the furthest thing in the world from being a witch. Shes
an angel. But there is a problem.
What have you done now?
Well, its really Kathleens problem. I
thought maybe your Uncle Pringle would be able to help.
Its, well, shell tell you when we come over.
Okay. We arranged for them to come the next
afternoon. I was curious about Als new girl
friend, the angel, and I wondered what her problem was.
We were all sitting in our living room, drinking the coffee and eating
the cakes that my wife Ellen had prepared. Al was
right, I thought, Kathleen was an angel. She was a lovely
girl, in her twenties, with long brown hair framing an oval face and
large trusting brown eyes. Her features were almost perfect
She spoke in a soft voice that was like water running in a brook.
It was clear that Al was gone on her, and I couldnt blame him.
After wed talked about a number of other things, including Als
latest book, which was doing very well, Ellen finally asked, So,
Kathleen, you have a problem my Uncle Pringle might help you with?
Kathleen looked down at her slender white hands.. I hate
to bother you, she said.
Thats all right. My Uncle Pringle has a knack
for solving peoples problems.
Yes, I know. Al has told me about him.
But I dont know if he can help me.
Kathleen has a stalker, broke in Al. This
guy keeps coming after her and he wont back off.
That doesnt sound good, I said. I
assume youve gone to the police?
Kathleens done everything, said Al. Restraining
orders, the whole bit. It seems they cant do anything
until he actually attacks her and then itll be too late.
I saw that Kathleen had tears in her eyes. Look, I
can see its painful for you to talk about your, uh, situation.
Why dont we see Uncle Pringle and you can tell him all about it.
If anyone can help its him.
Uncle Pringle had worked in several government agencies, just which
ones it was hard to say, but whatever they did was top secret.
Now he was, he said, a consultant, although just what he consulted about
also wasnt clear. After my last encounter with him,
during which time a notorious gangster whod threatened a friend
of ours had been found murdered, I wasnt sure I wanted to
know any more. Youd think hed have an office,
but he said he preferred to operate from a bench in one of the city
parks. He said it gave him a chance to be outdoors and to
On the appointed day, all four of us---Kathleen, Al, Ellen and myself---went
to the park. Uncle Pringle, as usual, was seated on his
bench, feeding the pigeons. He was a small white-haired
man who looked remarkably like the old English actor whose first name
he shared, Claude Rains. After greetings and introductions,
Kathleen said she had a stalker and she couldnt get rid of them.
Uncle Pringle nodded. Yes, they are notoriously difficult
to get rid of. And I suppose the police told you they couldnt
do anything unless he committed a crime. May a ask you a
Kathleen seemed much more composed; Uncle Pringle had a way of calming
people. We found out that her stalker was a man named John
Clinton, in his thirties, ordinary-looking, not a person youd
think was a threat. Kathleen had met him through an online
dating service. She and a girlfriend had tried it on a lark.
Hed taken her to dinner, then back to her place and had behaved
perfectly. Oddly, hed hinted at having a top-level
but secret government job, possibly in the CIA. He couldnt
tell her anything more.
Shed gone on a second date with him, to a symphony concert.
This time he brought flowers and when he saw her home he told her he
knew she was the girl for him, they were fated to be together.
He kissed her, or tried to, and tried to do more until she finally told
him he was going too fast for her. Then he drew back and
said he understood, he knew shed come around. He wanted
to know when hed see her again; she said shed call him.
It so happened that Kathleens girl friend ran into John Clinton
when she brought her automobile in to a car wash. He was
one of the workers; she recognized him from the photo on the dating
service website. She of course told Kathleen.
There went Clintons tale of being a CIA agent. The
rest of Kathleens story had a familiar ring to it.
When she didnt call him, Clinton called her. When
she refused to take his calls, he showed up at her apartment. Hed
found out where she worked and sent her flowers, candy and other gifts
there. Finally, he accosted her after work and tried to
push her into his van, but a few of her co-workers came to her assistance
and he drove off. That was when shed gotten the restraining
order, but hed ignored it, calling her at all hours, e-mailing
her constantly and lately the calls and e-mails had become more threatening.
Here, she lost her composure and said, I dont know what
to do. Im really frightened.
Thats understandable, said Uncle Pringle.
Lets see. Stalkers are usually insecure young
men. Thats why he wanted you to think he was possibly
in the CIA, to impress you and boost his ego. I think we
might be able to work with that.
Here Uncle Pringles cell phone rang. Excuse
me, my dear, he said. Oh, hello, Barack.
Yes, I see. Well, I wouldnt try bowling again.
I might have a few suggestions. In Washington tomorrow then.
A young friend of mine, he said. Now,
where were we? Yes. Your stalker.
Its clear that hes fixated on you. We must do
something to take him out of the picture.
You can call on one of your, uh, contacts, I said, and
have him, uh, removed.
Uncle Pringle smiled. Youre thinking of our
late gangster friend. No, that was an extreme case.
I believe theres another way. We must arrange to meet
with this Mr. Clinton.
Oh, no, cried Kathleen. I couldnt.
I meant that I would meet with him. And perhaps my
nephew-in-law can accompany me; hes familiar with my methods.
I want you to invite him to your apartment the next time he contacts
you. You wont be there, of course. Well
be there instead.
He calls and e-mails me all the time, said Kathleen.
Then it wont be long before youll have seen the last
Uncle Pringle and I sat in Kathleens darkened living room.
The doorbell rang. Ah, eight oclock.
Hes right on time. He called out, Come
in, the doors open.
John Clinton came into the apartment. As Kathleen had said,
he was ordinary-looking, but he also looked fit and able to fight if
it came to that. I hoped it wouldnt.
are you? he demanded. Wheres Kathleen?
The young lady is fine. She asked us to see you on
Why should I believe you? If youve done anything
He advanced toward Uncle Pringle,
his fists clenched.
I said shes fine. Now sit down.
There was something in Uncle Pringles voice, a hard edge, that
was very authoritative. Clinton sat.
Now, said Uncle Pringle. Kathleen is an
extraordinary young woman, youll agree.
Shes a jewel, said Clinton. A
Yes, a princess. Youll recall that to win a
princesss hand a man has to be something special.
You tried to pass yourself off as that, but she found out you worked
in a car wash.
Thats just temporary. Ill do anything
to win her.
Good. Youll have your chance.
Do you remember Osama Ben Laden?
Sure. The Al Qaeda guy.
Some may have forgotten him. But a special
force is still hunting him. Taking part in Osamas
capture, that would be special, wouldnt it?
Clintons eyes lit up. Yes, yes.
Uncle Pringle took out a business card and handed it to Clinton.
Call the number on the card. Mention my name, Claude
Pringle. He stood up.
Clinton stared at the card as if it contained the answer to all of his
problems. Thank you, he said. Thank
you. Tell Kathleen Ill e-mail her when I can.
Im sure you will, murmured Uncle Pringle.
I met Uncle Pringle at his usual bench the next week. Did
Clinton call your friend? I asked him.
Oh, yes. He wouldnt miss the chance to win Kathleen.
Where is he now? Is he actually hunting for
Well, he believes he is. Hes with one of the
tribes in the mountains of Afghanistan. I dont believe
they have e-mail there.
But if they find Bin Laden?
I said he believes hes looking for him. Its
very unlikely that theyll find him. A few other men,
undesirables, have been dispatched to join with the native tribes there.
None has returned, as yet. Your friend Kathleen need
have no fear.
I called my friend Al Abrams. Your Uncle Pringle is
quite a guy, he said.
He continues to amaze me.
The next time Al and Kathleen visited, she showed us the engagement
ring hed just given her.
© Martin Green June 2008
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