Once Kissed, Twice Shy

Did he? Didn’t he? Groupthink newcomer Christine Forte shows us her writing forte bringing the WTF in this unpolished pearl of a WTF!

by Christine Forte

Once Kissed, Twice Shy

Tom was lonely. He’d only been in Shanghai for three weeks and everything was just so unfamiliar. It was the same old story that he’d experienced in a different city of the world every year for the last three. Stuttgart, Detroit, Turin and now, Shanghai. He was so tired of the millions of first conversations, “Where are you from,” “What do you do;” all the polite nodding and smiling; watching people’s eyes glaze over with boredom as he tried to explain in layman’s terms exactly what it was that he did in the auto industry. He wished he could be excited about being in this new place, which was by far the most exciting of the cities his work had taken him. But his thoughts had become as gray as the smoggy sky above him.

One night when he was doing his usual shuffle from apartment to restaurant and back he barely registered the moderately attractive but very well-dressed girl barreling down the sidewalk at him until he crashed right into her. Apologizing and helping her collect her packages the episode still seemed insignificant when he arrived home, until he discovered his wallet missing. In its place was a plain white calling card with “You’ve been kissed – the Make-Out Bandit” written in elegant script. Immediately he thought of the girl.  He considered calling the police but his general sense of inertia and inability to communicate in Chinese stood in the way. Instead, he poured a scotch, felt sorry for himself for a while and went to bed. The next day he realized he should have canceled his credit cards and did so immediately, but not before she managed to make a few charges at Marc Jacobs and Family Mart.

As the days since the incident passed, rather than fading from memory, the figure of his Make-Out Bandit loomed ever larger and larger. He found himself daydreaming about the mysterious Make-Out Bandit. Who was she? Where was she from? Did she make a living from stealing or was it just something she did to amuse herself? Would he ever see her again? He starting seeing girls on the sidewalk who he thought were her but when he would run to catch up with them he would inevitably realize they were someone else entirely. He became obsessed with trying to find her and even went to view security footage at the Marc Jacobs and Family Mart where she had used his cards, but nothing conclusive could be drawn from them due to inaccurate timestamps at the former and too many people wandering around the latter. He left both places hugely disappointed as he could think of little else but finding the girl.

One morning before work he was searching through his drawers for some clean socks when he came across a paper bag that he didn’t remember seeing before. Inside were an entire box full of the cards which read “You’ve been kissed. The Make-Out Bandit” and a credit card receipt from their purchase bearing his signature. Holding the stack of cards he sat down slowly on the bed.