Subject: it was a dark and squirmy night...
Date: 15 Oct 1998 00:00:00 GMT
Organization: everyone and everything you fear
a peppy little tale I call...
Just Another Highway Ghost
The man was old, and looked like the desert he'd just driven through. The
dust clouded around him and near 'bout pooled up at his feet, it were that
thick. Poor fella hadn't had a bath in quite a spell, and didn't smell all
that pretty neither. He and the old gray 47 Ford pickup he'd parked outside
were of a pair, it bein' all beat up and wore out too, but it was obviously
a lot younger'n he was. With a confused, cautious kinda look on his almost
shaved face, he did that deceptive ol' desert rat shuffle some old timers
use to make you think they're slow, all the way from the truck to Molly's
Cafe. Now, I never did take a like'n to that fat mean old broad, but this
one time I agreed with that "who farted?" look perpetually plastered on her
blanched, fat-creased face.
"Well?" she sneered when she spoke, as was her habit. The old man looked
all over the cafe, and paid Molly no mind whatever. I thought maybe I could
grow to like this ol codger... anything that ruffles that mean old hen's
feathers has socially redeeming value, I figgered. "Well???" Molly had the
patience of a raindrop, and about as much common sense. Slowly, the old man
turned and looked at her for the first time, and it was obviously his turn,
from the look that came into his eye, to wonder who'd farted. Molly had the
kind of ugly that goes to the bone, comes back out again, then quirts on
things. I thought maybe I saw a trace of something else in his face for a
moment, then with a dry rattle that matched the rest of him, he asked
"Anyone seen a girl come in here, 'bout 19, black hair, pretty red dress on,
with an abalone comb in her hair?". Well, there was only me, Ben Tyler
(sleepin' off the second sixpack, as usual) in a booth, and Molly in the
place with the old man, but you coulda heard a rock sigh in the silence that
filled that room. It was the first time in a couple of years, and we'd
figgered the haunting was done.
Molly wouldn't say nothin, Ben was unconcious, so it fell to me to tell the
tale of how poor Sherri, Molly's daughter, had been run down by a car or
truck one mornin' some fifteen years ago. No one knew which, as Molly had
been the only one at the cafe at the time, and was out back prepin' for the
morning breakfast when Sherri was hit. The driver never stopped, and the
first trucker in for coffee was the one who found her, a fella from Tuscon
haulin books, which seems kinda odd seein' as how folks in Arizona can't (or
don't) read. The old man listened sadly as I recounted how, over the years,
many a man had come and asked after the pretty girl in the red dress with
the abalone comb in her hair, that they'd given a ride to this very place,
then watched her vanish in thin air, and lemme tell ya pal, the air out here
is thinner than most. Molly's hand shook with what I thought was anger and
the coffee pot went "chink, chink" against the coffee machine. If Molly
wanted to get worked into a snit about my tellin' the old guy, let her.
She'd worked everyone's sympathies to death and beyond over her "loss" of a
child that she never loved, liked, or understood, for damn near ten years,
and sure wasn't gettin' any more from anyone on that score. What the hell
right did she have to get mad at me? T'warn't like I tol' him nuthin about
her disgusting and alienatin' her poor husband Josh these 25+ years ago to
the point where the man hit the highway without any more than the clothes on
him and a zippo. I didn't serve up a word about how she'd beaten Sherri as a
child, 'til Sherrif Dayton told her that he'd take Sherri away from her.
Molly was afraid of bein left with no-one to hate, so from then on she kept
her tortures from leavin' marks. Not a word of this did I reveal to the old
timer; Molly could jam her wrath and indignation up her crack, assumin' she
could distinguish it from them other flab flaps!
"Run down, was she?" his eyes were locked, not on me, but on Molly. She
turned and openly drew her upper lip back in a more active, animated sneer.
That was when I saw the old man had blue eyes, pretty blue eyes, and I
wondered where I'd seen eyes like that before. Before Molly could dredge up
some bile to spit out, the old man asked again, hard this time, like a
soldier or a cop "Well, Molly? How did Sherri die?". Now, I recon he coulda
read the sign out front, but that was no sure-fire way to determine the
bloated heffer before him was Molly. He still said it like he was sure, and
as if he'd known her, and hated her, for a loooong long time. Molly musta
seen his eyes too, 'cause she took a step back, opened and closed her mouth
a few times like a fresh-hooked bass, and then, eyes ever widening, she
dropped the coffee pot with a crash. The dropped coffee went unnoticed.
Molly was too busy being shocked outta her 56 inch waitband knickers (sorry,
that was an ugly thought even in this context). "Josh?" Molly croaked in a
half whisper "Joshua, is that you?". The old bag of bones turned full body
to face her, real slow and deliberate like, the way a rattler does when he's
decided he's gonna have to DO somethin' about someone. His voice, high
pitched even for an old man, was getting clearer and harder every time he
spoke: "Molly, what happend to Sherri? Who killed Sherri? How did she die,
Molly?". Molly shrieked "You old bastard, you left me with your rotten
daughter, alone in this god-forsaken place, with no way out! You got a lot
of damn nerve askin after her after " she stopped suddenly as the old man
drew a good old fashioned snub-nosed 38 caliber revolver from his jacket.
Warn't no fancy ree-par-tee, no big screen action, just a whispered
question, this time pure and gentle and soundin' like a young girl "Molly,
why'd you killl Sherri?" and before an answer could be given, six shots were
squeezed off. To this day I don't know if I'd have stopped him if I could,
but there was a counter between us, so there was nuthin' for it. Molly took
all six shots square in the chest and crashed against the cash register, and
I almost felt sorry for her when she half gasped, half gurrgled, begging,
The old man peeled back the fancy Hollywood style mask and a pretty young
thing with hair like a ravens wing, an abalone comb in her hair, and her
daddy's pretty blue eyes looked on with somethin' that was almost pity, and
whispered "You pushed me down the stairs, and when I wasn't dead, you kicked
me and stomped me until my skull cracked. You go to HELL, Mama". Molly
slumped to the floor, dead before she got there, eyes still wide open.
"FREEZE! Put the gun on the counter, and your hands in the air!" Sherriff
Dayton's sillouette blocked the doorway. He rushed to Molly's side, and felt
her neck. Then he looked up and said "You're under" and I assume he was
gonna say arrest, but the person he was tryin to say it to was mostly
transparent, and fadin fast. We tried to hoist Molly's corpulant corpse onto
the counter, then a table, but finaly settled on leavin' her on the floor
and spreadin' a table cloth over her. Ok, over about a fourth of her. There
warn't a drop of blood nor any other mark of violence on her body. Ben Tyler
woke up in the drunk tank, and didn't know what had happened until I told
him three days later.
Later on I asked Paul Dayton what had made him stop in the first place, it
bein' mid-mornin' and all, and all he'd say was that trucks ain't supposed
to vanish in the rearview mirror in plain daylight, or any other time. I
recon he's right.
Don't suppose you'd know anyone who's hirin' an experianced fry-cook, would
hope you like it... it came to me while feeding ducks.
I gotta stay away from them fuckin' ducks! jeeez!
Happy All Hallows, campers!