Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 10

Lilly couldn’t help staring across the table in nervous expectation at how the man she had been talking to all week looked like…

He was… chubbier than she had imagined…a mask really does change and hide the shape of the face. This reminded her of a Webtoon she once read, in which all of the characters had to wear masks to conceal their face. They were only allowed to take their masks off to their immediate family members and lovers. Who would have thought that this would become a reality for her as well.

But, he was not bad. Cute..maybe if you really squinted your eyes a little. Did he look like any of the blurred and pixelated photos on his dating profile? Nope. This was a completely different person sitting in front of her… She was such a fool. Who was this person? Was he going to try get something from her?

“Hey! You didn’t have to hide your face! You look alright!” She said, she felt nervous when she didn’t know what to say.

“I can see it in your eyes! You are disappointed that I don’t look like my photos right?”. He said, pointing out the obvious.

“Well, as you said they were really old photos right? Before you somehow gained 15 kg?”. She said trying to recall their previous conversation.

“Yeah something like that. I used to practice Muay Thai and kick boxing in the United States before coming here…But I didn’t do any exercise since I moved here. I cam at the worst time”. He laughed.

“Say, are you living on your at the moment?” He asked suddenly.

Why did he suddenly want to know about this she wondered?…

“Well kind of, I am sharing a house with a few other people..but I guess I have my own kitchenette and bathroom, so its not too bad. I just share the laundry room with the others.” She said carefully, she didn’t want to make it sound she lived alone.

“Oh…how much is the rent there? I need to move out from the place in the city soon and moving to your suburb should be cheaper I think…” He said.

“Oh..ummmm its probably about $300 a week? Not including electricity or Wifi…” She said.

“Oh…that’s still more expensive than I thought! I guess I will have to keep looking for a place sharing with more people”. He said disappointingly..

“Oh…What’s your budget per week?” She asked.

“Hmmm…Maybe around $150 a week?”.. He said hopefully.

“Oh…haha that’s half my rent…are you offering to share my rent?” She said nervously. What was he trying to hint at?

“No…of course not~! I don’t think I can afford that…especially since it doesn’t cover all the bills..I mean…I can offer to cook and clean for you if you would like, in exchange for board!” He said hopefully.

I don’t even know you mate, and you are already offering to move in she thought.

“Haha! Yes, that would be great. I am incredibly lazy to cook sometimes!” She tried to laugh it off.

“Oh YUM. This is really delicious!” She said trying to change the topic and focusing on eating her ramen instead.

“Yeah it is great! Thank you for the meal. Let me treat you next time to something nice and even more delicious ..” He said while eating some ramen.

They ate in silence for a few minutes. The silence was then broken by the iconic facebook notification sound coming from his phone. She could see someone had sent him a emoji of someone blowing a kiss flashed across the screen.

“Oh sorry about that! I should really put my phone on silent my phone during our date!” He turned his phone over and pressed a few buttons on his phones, I am guessing to turn off his notifications.

Strange. She recalled him clearly saying he had no social media accounts. Does she call him out now? was that weird? Hmm…So suspicious.

“Sooo anyway Lilly. Tell me all about you! What are you doing for a living and how are you surviving during covid?” He asked.

How about you tell me about YOURSELF? Is what she thought in her head, but she held herself back in saying it out loud.

“WELL to be honest, I am actually doing it pretty hard myself at the moment. I have a huge credit card bill that I have to pay off soon but I don’t have any money in my bank! I know this is quite sudden and we just met, but is there any chance that you could lend me $500? I actually need $1000, but anything helps”. She lied. She had read somewhere online that if you wanted to avoid being asked to borrow money, you have to ask FIRST. She hated lying but she had a gut feeling he would be asking her for money.

“….What?” He said, looking flabbergasted.

“Yeah, I am really sorry to ask you. But I promise to pay you back as soon as I get my next paycheck!” She said. Wow she should win an Oscar with her hopefully convincing act.

“Oh…sorry…I don’t think I can. Why don’t you ask you family or friends to lend it to you?”. He said sounding a bit pissed off.

“Yeah..too bad that are being hit REAL bad due to Covid too..”She said sadly.

“OHHH…I am SOOO sorry. I think I have to attend to an emergency at work!” He said looking at his phone screen which was blank.

“I’ll definitely make it up to you next time? My shout”. He winked and was off.

Sure you will..And that was the last time she ever heard or saw from him again. His number suddenly stopped working and as he “did not have” any social media accounts, he really was gone.

Good riddance Mr too good to be true.

——-

End note

Thank you for reading my first short story series!

Please stay tuned for more in the future 😀 !

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 9

They had just reached the food court and had put in their orders and were waiting for their food. She had offered to pay as it was a habit of hers to treat her friends, and plus she figured she had chosen this ramen place. He hadn’t even offered to pay… but ohwell.

“Soo…you said you worked as a chef she asked?”. Trying to break the awkward silence. Both of them had their masks on still.

“Yeah. Well, I am training to become a chef.. So I am just a kitchen-hand at the moment. But due to Covid-19 I think they will be reducing a lot of the staff, so I have a feeling I will lose my job soon”. He said sadly.

“Oh, sorry to hear that, do you have any ways of supporting yourself if you do lose your job?.” She asked.

“Well my mother has been sending money to me from Japan to support me. But I don’t want to rely on her so much….My lease for the apartment in the city will end at the end of this month as well, so I also need to look for a cheaper place to rent.”

“Oh..I. see… so no plans to go home? Do you like living in Australia?” She asked. She tried to sound as sympathetic as she could, but a part of her felt like he wasn’t telling the truth.

“Yeah, I want to stay here…but I can’t with no job and no money to pay rent.” He said somewhat sadly.

“Oh…is it hard to find another job at the moment?”. Lilly asked. She didn’t really know much about the hospitality industry, just that it had taken a huge hit because of Covid.

“Yeah it’s really hard right now. A lot of my friends have already lost their jobs and gone back to their home countries. I am really lucky to have had a job for so long. But I don’t think I will be able to stay when I lose my job too.”.

“Ahh that sucks”. She really did not know what to say or how to respond.

“I am also planning to go back to Japan for the death anniversary of my ex-girlfriend too, it might be hard to come back to Australia after that” He said.

“Oh, I see..yeah that’s true. There are limited overseas flights in and out of Australia at the moment and it’s so expensive!” She said.

Just then the food vendor shouted the number for their order and they went to get their food to eat outside as indoor dining was not allowed. They found a table and bench outside and sat down.

This was it, she was finally going to see his face.

“Well I guess we can finally see each other’s faces! Or we could eat with the masks on I guess..” She said jokingly.

They both went to remove their masks and put it on the table….

Short Story Series- You got Scammed – Chapter 8

Oh Shit. He had seen her already…well this was awkward. She slowly looked towards her right and saw the same masked man that she had seen in the video. Well, at least he was the same person in the video call. However, nothing like on his profile photos.

She quickly put her mask on and opened her door and went to greet him. She had to be polite at least. Scammer or not, he was still a person…right? Her strict upbringing meant she was always taught to be kind and polite to everyone she met. She took a deep breath and said..

“Hi! Are you Hiroshi?” she asked a bit nervously.

She couldn’t see his face, but she could feel him smiling through the mask.

“Hello Lilly! I am so glad to finally meet you! I have to say, you look better in person than in your photos!” He said delighted.

Ummm…how was she even supposed to respond to that? That he looked worse than his photos? Well, he looked nothing alike his photos?

“Uhh, thanks? I guess? I am pretty bad at taking photos of myself..haha, but I guess you are good at taking photos, because your photos looked cool?” … More like because you look nothing like your photos she thought to herself.

As if he had read her mind, he replied, “I do get that a lot! The photos on my profile are pretty old…I haven’t updated them in a while..haha…I gained a lot of weight since coming to Melbourne. I think I gained 15 kg since I got here in January…and the lockdown, you know..it changed how I looked haha…” His tone gave out the impression he was little nervous, but he seemed he had rehearsed this story multiple times.

“Oh… I see! Haha I think I gained weight too during this year…but I did some work outs at home…sooo I think it wasn’t that much”. Lilly said awkwardly.

“Are you disappointed? That I look worse in real life.” He asked suddenly in a somewhat sad tone with a hint of joking..

Wow. He was …So direct.

“Ohhh no I am not disappointed! Looks doesn’t matter that much anyway to me! Shall we go to the food court?” She stammered, trying to change the subject. Let’s get this over and done with.

“Yeah! Let’s go! I can’t wait to try this ramen store that you recommend!”

As they walked towards the food court, Lilly thought about how she would respond to seeing his face for the first time and getting to know him. It would confirm or reject the conclusion that she had that she smelled a catfish..

Short Story Series- You Got Scammed- Chapter 3

*BEEP BEEP BEEP!!”. Lilly rolled over in the her bed to press the ‘Snooze’ button on her phone. A minute later the next alarm started ringing…she always set at least 5 alarms in the morning because she had a bad habit of wanting to sleep in. She groaned and grabbed the phone to turn off the alarm. She checked for any notifications. Still none from Hiroshi. She got up, slightly disappointed. Maybe he wasn’t going to reply because she hadn’t given him her phone number…Should she have given it? Whatever…his loss. She got up and started getting ready for work…It was going to hectic day, as the manager of her team she had a pile of things that she had to follow up. Unfortunately as the Team Leader, it meant that everyone else’s mistakes became her problem to fix. Can someone remind her why did she take up the position again? Work took up most of her time and unfortunately she also took work home to do. I mean, she didn’t have much of a life anyways. Might as well just absorb herself into her work…Her friends often joked she was married to her job…haha she literally was.

Lilly worked in a large tertiary hospital and was the Team Leader of the Dispensary Pharmacy Team at Prince Alfred Hospital. Throughout Covid-19 she wasn’t able to work from home and still had to make the 20 km commute to work. The lighter traffic in the road due to Covid-19 restrictions was a welcome blessing actually, there were hardly any cars on the road as other professions had to work from home. She drove into the staff carpark and swiped her card to open up the boom gates. There was actually parks available thanks to some staff working from home. ANOTHER unintended advantage of Covid-19.

3pm. It was lunch time finally. She was starving…but was unable to escape to lunch because it seemed like every time she tried to go, someone came up to her and asked her to help them do something. Lilly had a problem with saying NO, she didn’t want to seem unapproachable, mean, or lazy. She was so afraid of what other people thought of her, she wanted to be the perfect leader. But even perfect leaders still got hungry. She hadn’t had time to look at her phone all day and she was dying to know if Hiroshi had replied.

There was a reply! 3 messages from Hiroshi sent at 11 am..finally!!.. she opened it up eagerly.
“Morning Lilly! 🙂 Sorry I fell asleep and just woke up.” said the first message. The second one said, “Sorry, I don’t use social media apps at all :(. Ever since my last girlfriend died 5 years ago I stopped using all social media accounts because it reminds me of her :(.”. The third and final message said, “Please can I have your number? I want to send you photos of the food I cooked!”.

Lilly scratched her head, no social media accounts? That was a pretty rare thing these days…She didn’t know what to do. She normally would stalk someone’s Facebook or Instagram accounts to confirm how someone really looked like and if they were a scammer to not. Hmm, but it looked like this guy had something bad happened to him…should she believe him? Should she just give him her number and try to find out more about him?