writing

An Even Stranger Story



It was a sunny day without a cloud in the sky when Morgan Renfro first saw Jessica Thurman. Jessica was standing in a third-floor window of the Biltmore hotel, gazing at the farmer’s market below. Her dark hair hung down below her shoulders. She wore dark-tinted Ray Ban aviators and nothing else.

Morgan stared at her, transfixed and unabashed by his intrusion on her privacy. She wasn’t his type. She appeared older than he and was exceedingly gaunt, thin to the point of being anorexic. No breasts to speak of, but a slight roll of loose skin at her hips that made him think she hadn’t always been so lean. His attention focused on the thatch of dark hair below the loose skin and he felt the stirrings of his own arousal.

She chose that moment to turn her back and move into the shadows of the room. He walked immediately toward the front doors of the hotel where he pushed inside and took a seat in the lobby, choosing a table by the front window. He sat where the sunlight streamed past the painted letters that spelt Biltmore on the glass. Mo was curious and he was a patient man; there was nowhere else he needed to be. Mo waited.

He waited for Jessica Thurman to come downstairs. He didn’t know that was her name, yet, but her image was strong.

###

Jessica stepped dripping from the shower and dried herself with the thin towel embroidered to read ‘THE BILTMORE.’ It was too small for a bath towel and too large for a hand towel, but it was all she had. Naked, she pushed open the bathroom door and let the steam escape into the bedroom. She opened the window. The room had a musty, damp smell that she needed to abate.

Leaning over and surveying the street she jumped when she noticed the man across the way, only a couple of doors down. It was him, she was sure of it. Jess reached over and grabbed her shades so she wouldn’t have to squint against the glare and to conceal her stare. She pretended to look at the farmer’s market while she studied the man.

Yes, it was him, although this was a much younger version of him. The last time she had seen him was right before fleeing her home and coming to the Biltmore. She’d been scared then. She’d seen him as an ancient workman. He was an apparition standing at the end of the hallway wearing only untied and unpolished boots. His genitals had been pulled in tight as though he was cold and his pallored skin was finely textured, crinkled, and ridged. He’d been small, withered and bent. When he raised his arm and pointed at her, then crooked his index finger beckoning her closer she had turned and run. Wound up here, afraid to go back home, but not sure why.

She realized that he was looking up at her in the window. She realized that she wore nothing but sunglasses. She turned, walked away from the window and began throwing her things into her case. Jessica knew that he had seen her, knew that she had to flee. She hoped she could get away quickly enough. She feared it might be too late.


 

Random Scribbles · writing

The Haunt


Rain was coming, that was for sure. I should have known better. I should have checked the gas gauge. I’d been walking for an hour and still had 8 kilometers to get to Cooksferry. I hadn’t seen a single car.

You know that part of the road? That place with the long sweeping curve that just keeps getting sharper and sharper. Yeah, that’s the spot. Dangerous curve that. I was just beyond that curve, ‘bout a hundred yards beyond, when I heard her coming. I stepped off the side of the road and looked back. It was an older model MG cabriolet, painted that dark “English Racing Green”. The top was down, the engine was roaring, tires complaining as she barreled around the bend.

I think her mistake was downshifting as she came out of the curve. I think she didn’t need to do that. She should probably just have stepped on the accelerator and she would have come out OK. She would have flown right past me merely tousling my hair with the slipstream that tailed behind her car.

But, that’s not what happened. I could hear the whine of the engine change as she stepped on the clutch, separating the drive train. I could hear the engine rev when she tapped the gas with the clutch depressed. I heard the pitch of the engine change when she finished her downshift and dumped the clutch. It screamed in protest and the front end of the roadster veered immediately to the left putting her into a slide. I watched her fight the wheel to no avail until she quit sliding and started rolling.

The car rolled over and over right up to the sign. You know that crooked sign.

Cooksferry Roadhouse
Live Music – Dancing
Cold Beer

What little was left of the roadster came to rest up against that sign post. I thought sure she was dead. No one could have survived that crash. Imagine my surprise when she crawled out from under her ruined automobile. She saw me coming and waved me to slow down. “I’m OK,” she said.

Her blonde hair was worn in a shingle cut, she was probably in her early twenties, and she sported long white leather boots and a miniskirt. One eye squinted as she looked at me, “Who’re you? I’ve never seen you before.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” I asked.

“Yeah, I do this all the time.”

“What do you mean; you do this all the time?”

“I mean everyday at this time I crash this car right here. The first time was 1964 and I was killed. That was the worst one. My private hell is to repeat it every day until I make the bend and get to the roadhouse. The roadhouse was my haunt in those days, apparently this is my haunt now.” She grinned at her own joke.

I tried to wrap my mind around what she was saying, “You’re dead?”

“As a doornail, honey,” she laughed and began to fade.

I looked at the car and it was already gone. She was fading fast, “Don’t downshift!” I shouted but I didn’t know if she heard me.

***

Well, I got my gas, I got my car, I settled into Cooksferry and took a job at the roadhouse, tending bar. I never went back out to the sign. I didn’t want to see that horrible crash again. Then one day about two years later, it happened.

I could hear the car coming, I knew from the whine of the engine that it was her and she was moving fast. Leaping the bar, I dashed to the door and into the gravel parking lot. The green MG was barreling down on the roadhouse. She swerved into the lot, spraying pebbles on the cars in the first row as she came to a stop.

She saw me and waved as she nosed the convertible into a spot, “I finally took your advice,” she yelled, “Thanks, you were right.”

I followed her into the building. I had lots of questions but when I got inside she was nowhere to be seen. I looked back at the lot. Daryl was pulling his truck into the spot where she had parked. The MG was gone too. I guess the roadhouse is her haunt again these days. Occasionally a customer will send a drink over to the blond at the table in the corner but I never see her.


2nd Place in the Inaugural Grammar Ghoul Press Writing Challenge – Whoo-Hoo