Photo credit: David Gomes

I could have sworn Jason Voorhees was stalking me.

I’m serious. For the past four nights, while I worked on my final exam, all I could hear was the chih chih chih ca ca ca he made before killing his victims. I guess if I ever did run into him, I would try and spark a conversation with him and talk him out of killing me.

A lot of people would run and hide from him, but not only am I superbly out of shape, I kind of think he’s misunderstood in a way. Who knows? I’ve watched those movies a million times when I was younger, and no one ever tried to talk to him.

I know, I know.

That move never worked in his movies, but people have often described me as “persistent” and “unable to read rooms.” However, I always lived by the motto, you never know until you try.

It’s the same motto that led me to go on a blind date with someone my friend knew tonight. Besides, I needed something to break up my routine, which mostly consisted of locking myself in my dorm to write my final project.

I want to become a composer, and this year my advanced music theory class at NYU made it a requirement to have one final composition created before graduation. My teacher, a film buff, made us write a song to one of our favorite movies.

Of course, I chose to write the final song to Don Kamplan’s unfinished masterpiece “The Search for Infinite.” Ever since I was a kid, I loved movies. Kamplan was one of my idols. He died before he could finish “Infinite,” which needed to be scored. Instead of finishing it, his family stopped production and years later released it on YouTube for free.

So for the last four days, I’ve been up trying to figure out exactly how I wanted to write my piece. I literally haven’t slept, partly because I need to pass and mostly because I had an intense bout of insomnia.

Now, I was sitting on a bench in Central Park, looking like a total asshole. I needed to work on my final, but something in my chest was telling me this would be good. Even if I could hear Jason whispering his song every time the wind whizzed past me.

For a split second, I decided I was going to leave. That is until I saw the girl I was supposed to meet. She was tall, skinny, and pale white. Dressed in all black, she carried a small purse in the shape of a cat and had turquoise streaks of dye cutting through short black hair.

I could hear the orchestra gently vibrating its strings. The nervous build-up reverberated through quick plucks of the violins while violas gently filled the empty space. And then the music was gone without a trace… writer’s block still followed me even when I was out of my dorm.

A few more steps and we were face to face, and she was reaching her hand out to greet me. I was dumbfounded; I knew who this was. At one point, I was absolutely in love with her.

“Ophelia?” I asked, blushing.

“Hey, it’s really nice to meet you,” she said.

“We’ve met before,” I could feel the music coming back.

“Oh?”

“It’s me, Aadi. We went to high school together, I sat behind you in advanced trigonometry. I cheated off you like…a lot,” I said, awkwardly laughing.

“I….Have no idea what you’re talking about dude,” she replied.

Chih chih chih ca ca ca.

“Oh, okay. Well, I guess…” I began to say that I should leave. I was totally

embarrassed.

“So, Aadi, since you apparently already know me and I know your name, we can skip the bullshit introduction phase and skip to the next part,” she smiled.
I would have liked to have treated her to the best Italian food she’s ever eaten. In my mind, that would have been Sevegni’s in Manhattan. Admittedly, I had it only once when my parents hauled me here from Ohio but I was hooked. The way they mixed their red sauce and how it blended with the giant meatballs that came with their pasta blew my mind.

Of course, being a broke college student with no job and a monthly stipend of 300 dollars, Sevegni’s would have to wait. No, instead I took Ophelia to the second-best Italian joint in New York — Two Bros Pizza, the best damn dollar slice you could get.

We sat on the corner while we ate our food. Normally I would have attacked it like a caveman. After the fiasco in the park, I decided not to rock the boat too much and enjoy the time I could spend with her.

The sun began to set, and I couldn’t help thinking that this was ripped straight out of a cliche rom-com. Two star-crossed lovers in New York on a blind date, the script writes itself.

In between bites and small talk, I snuck glances at her. She was almost exactly how I remembered her in high school. Her short black hair danced above her shoulders while she told me the story of how she moved to New York.

In broad strokes: she attended Kent State University in Ohio because she needed to stay close to her mother who was extremely sick. During her Junior year, her mother died, which meant that she was no longer required to stay in Ohio. New York had always been her dream city, so after her junior year, she took her classes online and moved here.

I told her my back story too. I told her that during the weekend, I work as a dog walker to cover what my stipend couldn’t. I told her how I go to NYU, and I study law (a total lie but I wanted her to think I was normal). I also didn’t tell her I was almost certain Jason Voorhees was stalking me. I didn’t want to scare her away.

Slowly, the music began creeping back into my head. This time a sluggish but cheery piano led the way as a small pack of horns followed behind it. Next came the…

“Can I be honest with you?” Ophelia asked, scaring the music away.

“Sure!” I said, smiling.

“I really hate blind dates.”

Chih chih chih ca ca ca.

“I hate them too actually,” I replied.

“Like this is weird right?”

“Oh totally.”

“Do you… actually, mind if we cut this short?”

“Oh, huh…” I didn’t know what to say.

“It’s not that you suck or anything,” she replied as if to read my mind. “I’m really not good at these things.”

“I get it,” I replied. “I have a final project I need to work on anyway. Let me at least walk you to the subway.”

“Sure,” she said.

It took us just a few minutes to get to the subway, but the entire time we walked, all I could think about was the sudden change of heart. Why make it seem like you wanted to do the date but then immediately change directions? Was I that bad of a human being? Did I forget to shower beforehand?

When we got to the MetroCard vending machine, Ophelia turned to me and smiled.

“I guess this is my stop cowboy,” she said.

“You take care now y’hear?” I said smiling back.

I turned around, feeling like a sack of potatoes that were sitting out in the sun all day. Out of every single date I’ve ever been on (ten total) this has got to be ranked the worst I’ve had. Sure, in high school, I went on a date with a girl who brought her friend along, thus making it a hangout. Sure, I also accidentally punched a girl I was dating in the face while trying to put my arm around her. But those don’t rank nearly as high as “immediately ditched after the first slice of pizza.”

Taking a deep breath, I scratched for my phone, which was hiding away in my right jeans pocket, and got ready to put in earbuds. At the very least, I could listen to a podcast and get some inspiration for my project on the way home.

Before I could pick an interview and press play, I could hear a loud “FUCKING KIDDING ME?” I turned to see what was going on and saw Ophelia struggling with the machine. Actually, it looked like she was getting ready to go twelve rounds with it. I put my phone away and hurried back over to see what was going on.

“Hey! Hey. What’re you doing?” I asked, nearly out of breath from the short jog.

“This fucking machine ate my card, and now it’s not letting me get a new one.”
Looking around, I counted almost 30 pairs of eyes staring back at Ophelia.

“I’ll tell you what, how about I pay for this ride, and you can Venmo me the money,” I said, trying to diffuse the situation.

“Are you sure?”
“Why not, what’s the worst that could happen?” I said.

Swiping my card, we walked over to her train and stood in silence while it came.

“I’m really sorry about this,” she said.

“Don’t worry about it. Surprisingly, this isn’t my worst date,” I said, lying.

She laughed and smiled. A few minutes later, her train arrived. We said our goodbyes, and she started to board it.

Chih chih chih ca ca ca.

The hair on my neck stood up as the sound of the music echoed off of every wall in the crowded subway. Cautiously I turned around, and immediately my heart sank. Twenty feet away from me stood Jason Voorhees looking right at me. Frozen in fear, I tried pinching myself to make him go away, but it was no use. I could have sworn he was real, I mean, the people in the subway were moving around him as if he were real.

In his right hand, his machete glistened under the subway lights. I could hear his grunts as he got ready to charge me and hack me to bits. I decided the talk-it-out method would not work.

The bell to Ophelia’s train rang, signaling it would leave soon.
Quickly, I moved to the doors as they began to close and Jason started his charge. The doors closed behind me, slightly catching my shirt as one end kissed the other.

Jason stood on the outside of the train, watching me as I slowly drifted away from him. I knew he was in my head (did I?) but I felt safe knowing I got away from him.

“Uhm, Aadi?”

I turned around and locked eyes with Ophelia, who looked like she was getting ready to listen to a podcast.

“What are you doing?”

“Uhm, nothing really. I just realized I had something I needed to do where you were going.”

“Really? You have errands to run in Jersey City?”

“Uhhhhhm…. yes….I do. Jersey City has the best fish markets..?” I said, hoping she didn’t smell the bullshit.

“Okay well…you can sit with me if you want. I guess.”

I quietly took a seat next to her and tried to ignore the uncomfortable moment the best I could. We got ten minutes before I had to break the silence.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Uhhhh, sure?”

“Why did you end this date?”

“What?”

“Well, I was going to leave at the park. Then you stopped me and kept it going.”

“Yeah?”

“Why did you do that if you knew you didn’t want to be there.”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t have to lie to me. I didn’t really want to be here either at first.”

“At first?”

“Well yeah. I thought this would be a blind date but…”

Out of nowhere, the train went black.

“Attention passengers. It looks like there’s been a slight power outage.” said a voice coming from the train’s speaker. “Hang in there with us, and we’ll get this train going in no time.”

“Fucking great,” Ophelia muttered under her breath.

I sat there, stewing in my question for what felt like hours. I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep or talking to Ophelia, but it felt like my heart was beating through my chest.

“Uhm,” I said. “I don’t want to be that guy but…”

“Oh. You really want an answer, huh?” she asked.

“It couldn’t hurt.”

She took a deep breath.

“I just don’t think you’re that interesting of a person.”

“What?” I replied. I almost thought she was kidding.

“At first, I figured I could warm up to hanging out with you,” she said. “Maybe I was overreacting but then while we were at the pizzeria it just seemed like you wanted to be somewhere else.”

The one time I decided not to act myself, Aadi thought.

“It just feels like you’re the Webster’s Dictionary definition of a guy,” she said, bluntly. “You’re like the human version of tofu before it’s pressed and cooked.”

“Wow.”

“I’m sorry… this is why I hate blind dates.”

“It’s okay,” I replied. After that, we sat silently in the dark the rest of the time the train was off. It would be another hour before the lights flickered again. I pulled out my phone and earbuds and started looking for an album to kill time.

“The National, huh?” Ophelia said, staring at my phone.

“Yeah, I got hooked on them after seeing that fighting movie with Tom Hardy in it.”

“With Nick Nolte?”

“Yeah! Have you seen it?”

“I have two brothers, of course, I have.”

“Well… Do you want to listen to them with me?”

“Sure.”

Handing her one of my earbuds, we sat in silence until the power returned to the train. When it did, a wave of relief washed over me. I closed my eyes and wiped my forehead of sweat that had accumulated as I anxiously tapped my feet next to Ophelia while we listened to music. I knew this meant our time together was coming to an end, but I — suddenly I froze in terror.

Chih chih chih ca ca ca.

How the hell did he get on the train? There he was, sitting directly across from me, his machete laying across his lap as he politely made himself smaller to fit more people in seats. His yellow, cracked eyes were locked onto me like a laser-guided rocket. I began tapping my feet harder and tried to make him go away by closing my eyes repeatedly — each time harder.

“Hey, are you okay?” Ophelia asked.

I kept blinking, harder and harder and harder until it hurt the sides of my face. It was no use, he just sat there, gently tapping his fingers on the machete. I knew that the second I moved, he would lunge his blade into me.

A few more stops and I could make a run for it.

Ding.

“Well this is my…” Ophelia began to say as I made a run for it out of the train. I got halfway up the stairs before I turned around to see he wasn’t there anymore. Taking a seat I put my head in my lap breathing heavily.

I closed my eyes and opened them to see Ophelia standing in front of me. I begin to apologize for my freak out but before I could say the words, a machete plunges through me. Ophelia smiled and revealed a mask from behind her dress.

“So..so..sor..” I tried to apologize for whatever I did wrong.

“Dude,” I heard her say.

Suddenly I was back in the real world. Ophelia sat next to me quietly apologizing to people walking past us. We sat there for a few minutes while I tried to come up with something to say.

“Wanna grab a drink with me?” She said cutting through the awkwardness.

“Huh?” I replied.

“Do you wanna grab a drink? You could use one.”

“Sure,” I said.

We left the subway and walked to the nearest pub to grab a drink. I decided now was probably a good time to explain to her what was going on. I told her how I haven’t slept in days because I was working on my final project. I told her that I was imagining Jason Voorhees was stalking me because I was obsessed with him when I was younger.

She just laughed and asked me more about myself. One drink turned to two and two turned into four. Without realizing it, we were on our date and to both our surprise- it went pretty well.

By the time we got to her front door, it was almost midnight. We said our goodbyes and I turned to leave.

“Hey,” she said.

“Yeah?”

“You’re not even gonna try and come in?”

“I would but, honestly I haven’t slept in so long I’m not sure if any of this was real.”

She laughed, walked down the steps, and grabbed my phone to put her number in it. Handing it back, she kissed me on the cheek and told me to call her before turning back.

“I was wrong by the way. You’re not boring,” she said while going inside.
That night I laid in bed looking at the ceiling of my dorm room thinking of our date. I closed my eyes and slowly drifted into sleep, the sound of music dancing around my head.

I knew Voorhees wouldn’t be stalking me anymore.

The next morning I wrote down my composition. I’m not sure if Don Kamplan would have approved, but that’s not who this was for. Before packing it into my bag and rushing to class, I quickly wrote its title down

“Ophelia.”

Alex Kamczyc is an award winning journalist covering politics and culture in Cleveland. He studied at Kent State University under Connie Schultz.

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