Written by: Matt Molgaard
As amazing as some of Richard Laymon’s works may be, it can be said, with truthfulness, that he can be a bit predictable from time to time. Such is most definitely the case with The Lonely One, a story which inexplicably shows its full hand inside of three pages. Does that make the story any less enjoyable? Thanks heavens, no, it doesn’t. The Lonely One is a creepy little tale that seizes the attention immediately, despite the fact that the final outcome is as predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
Doreen is a lonely young lady. Attractive, isolated, and eager to stay that way, because she knows just what happens when attempting to pursue any form of romantic involvement with a man. Unfortunately for Ron, who spots Doreen alone, riding a carousel, he has no idea the secret Doreen harbors. Advances are made, warnings are issued, but Ron’s a persistent fellow who’s anxious to capture the affection of this mysterious woman.
It seems he’s the only one who fails to spot the inevitable fate that awaits him. Readers certainly know what Doreen is the moment she informs him that by avoiding her, he’ll “live longer”. Damn those hormones.
Laymon tales this story of a wolf in sheep’s clothing with the complete ease, leading readers through a very natural cycle. Although Richard keeps Doreen’s secrets swept under the rug, there’s obviously a murderous streak to the woman, and while readers are well aware of it, there’s no doubt that the story calls out and demands to be finished.
The subtlety that Laymon leans on is great, and makes for an easy read, yet extremely engaging piece of fiction. I’ve said it before: woman can be terrifying creatures, and Laymon’s creation in this specific case is no exception. There’s a sadness that brims beneath Doreen’s reserved surface, but there’s something far darker as well, and Ron, a seemingly good guy, is about to learn that he’s picked a really, really bad girl to flirt with.