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The Fog-Fiction by Kevin Eade
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Texas Redux-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
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Transitory Unease-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Howie's Cell-Fiction by Chris McCartney
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Stones Girl-Fiction by Don Stoll
One Day in the Suburbs-Fiction by Mitchel Montagna
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Happenstance-Fiction by Michael Stewart
You Were Supposed to Be-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
The Last Time I Almost Used-Flash Fiction by Jennifer Carr
Swimmer-Flash Fiction by Mark Cotton
Wordsmith-Poem by Meg Baird
Hey, Aunt Libby-Poem by Alex Salinas
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The Ladderites-Poem by David Spicer
My Kind-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Night Colors-Poem by Luis Berriozabal
Doc's Death-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Gopher-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
A Hot Summer Night After Wine-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Conception-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Married Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Sea World-Poem by Robert Halleck
Early Morning at a Friend's House in 1972-Poem by Robert Halleck
Pelican Bay-Poem by Robert Halleck
Right Through the Heart-Poem by David Boski
Sky Burials-Poem by David Boski
Third Time's a Charm-Poem by David Boski
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Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
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Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

ym75texasredux.jpg
Art by Kevin Duncan 2019

Texas Redux

A Barry Wilder Short Story

Kenneth James Crist

 

Sometimes a guy just accumulates too many memories, and that’s okay if they’re good memories, but in the period of a year and a half, I’d lost three of my best friends. My best friend and lover Iva Gonzalez, retired from the Natrona County sheriff’s in Wyoming, had been killed by gunfire in my own garage. My best male friend, Roland Nesper, also of Wyoming had come to live with me after Iva’s death and had finally succumbed to a heart condition that had plagued him for a couple of years.

Then there was our dog. Commando Cody was a big, deep-chested Doberman and a badass law dog in his own right. I say our dog because none of us really owned Commando, and yet we all did, as much as a person can really own another living, breathing entity.

After Iva and Roland were gone, there was only me for Commando and he went through a grieving process just as surely as I did. He would pace the house, longing for Iva, because she had been his favorite. I had placed her old, comfortable leather bomber jacket in his bed, so he could at least smell her, even though I had taken him to the mortuary, and he had sniffed her remains and wailed with the rest of us, crying out his love and his loss.

I was never sure of his age, but I was quite sure he passed away of a broken heart as much as any illness. I buried him in Iva’s jacket.

Months later, I found a Jack Russel terrier someone had abandoned in a National Park in Arizona and she quickly learned to ride the motorcycle with me.

I had my encounters and adventures and tried to move on, but the ownership of the Harley Davidson that Iva had enjoyed so much was wearing on me, and in October, I went looking for a trade.

I settled on a new Kawasaki Voyager, a 1700cc V-Twin with fairing, bags and tour trunk, decked out in candy red paint, in fact the same exact color that Boomer had been, another Kawasaki two motorcycles back.

When I got it home, I parked it in the same spot Thumper had always occupied and let Bonnie out into the garage. She walked around the new machine, its pipes still ticking as it cooled down, and she kept glancing at me. Finally, I scooped her up and set her on the saddle and she continued to look the bike over. Finally, she jumped down and went to the door to be let back into the house, glancing back only once. Apparently, the machine met with her approval…

During the next few days, we bundled up and rode quite a bit. I figured if I could get the first 600 ‘break-in’ miles on the bike, we could maybe squeeze in a fall ride before the weather got stupid. I say stupid because we live in Kansas, and fall and winter weather in the Sunflower State can change with startling rapidity. As many farmers have said, “Ain’t nothin’ between Kansas and the goddamn Arctic Circle but a bob-wire fence and that’s only one strand.”

As we completed our warranty-required break-in and then got the bike back to the dealer for its first maintenance stop, I watched the ten-day forecast for Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Daily highs were still hitting the high sixties in Texas, seventies in New Mexico and eighties in Arizona.

Meanwhile, the Kawasaki was taking on a personality. The first thing I noticed was that sometimes, when idling in neutral, it would suddenly bang into first gear, killing the engine. It did this a number of times and it was a little disconcerting when it happened, as there was never any warning. Then for several days, it decided to turn the stereo system on and off by itself. This could be while sitting, or rolling, made no difference. On the way to the dealership, it reset both of its trip meters without me touching anything. Twice. I told the service techs about these anomalies and they assured me they would check them out. They found nothing amiss.

In the end, the bike settled down after I named her. I decided Christine would be a good name, after the haunted ’58 Plymouth in the Stephen King novel. I was convinced at that time that she, too, was haunted.

In the first week of November, we packed my stuff and Bonnie’s accoutrements and headed out. I had decided we would go as far south as we could without crossing into Mexico, then head west as long as the good weather held out. Bonnie had her own leather jacket, boots and goggles. I stopped short of trying to fit her with a helmet. Most dog’s skulls, with the possible exception of the bulldog breeds, just aren’t shaped for a helmet, and if it isn’t fitted properly it does little or no good in an accident.

When it was warm enough, she would always prefer riding in front of me. When it got colder, she would opt for the back seat and more frequent stops to cuddle and warm up.

On the first night, we found a dog-friendly motel on the south side of Lubbock. On the second day, we found lodging in the only open motel on the east side of Marfa, Texas. I knew Marfa was a pretty remote area and that was why it had been chosen as a location to shoot the movie, “Giant” with Rock Hudson and James Dean. I had forgotten about the legend of the Marfa Lights, until I spotted a brochure in a rack in the motel office. They had a viewing area just a short ways east of town set up just for viewing.

There were stories, as there always are about any unexplained phenomenon, and the consensus seemed to be that the lights were attributable to car headlights on highway 67, which heads south toward Presidio. Or UFO’s. Or ghosts. But then, according to the brochure, the earliest anecdote commonly cited as an observation of the Marfa lights is that of the cowboy Robert Reed Ellison in March 1883. This was while he was herding cattle through the Paisano Pass southwest across the Marfa plain. Too far back for automobile lights. Bonnie and I decided we would go have a look. First, we went and ate at a Dairy Queen, the only place in town that seemed to be open, then we went back to the room and curled up for a nap.

I woke up at ten P.M. and it was plenty cool outside, so we bundled up and warmed the motorcycle and headed out. It was a brisk ride of only nine miles, but when we got to the viewing area, Bonnie was ready to get off the bike and warm up. There were several other cars there and a number of people standing or sitting in the semi-dark area. Bonnie had to move around and greet them all and be fawned over by one and all. She looked pretty spiffy in her leather jacket, with her goggles and scarf hung around her neck. Some people gave up and left and we settled in on a hard concrete bench to watch.

The profusion of stars was amazing, the Milky Way being clearly visible and after a while the car lights from the highway was more of a nuisance than anything else. By midnight, the tourists had all left and Bonnie and I had the place to ourselves. We could hear the occasional yip of a coyote in the distance, and Bonnie would growl once in a while, uneasy at the thought of something out there in the dark that she couldn’t readily identify.

I was bored but also stubborn and I decided we’d give it some more time. Then, I apparently dozed off. I awoke with a start when Bonnie gave out a yip. She was clearly agitated, doing her “spin trick” where she whirls madly in one direction, then reverses directions. She does that when she’s excited and also to score extra treats. I looked up toward the mountains to the south and saw six green lights in a slightly curved line. The lights faded to blue, pulsed back to green, faded to orange, pulsed back again. Bonnie was standing now, her forepaws on a low cement block wall and her face pointed toward the lights. I reached out and touched her and she was vibrating, almost buzzing. I sensed that this wasn’t just excitement…it was dread.

Whatever we were seeing, it was moving slowly toward us, and I was feeling a low, soft vibration coming through the concrete bench under my ass. I stood up stiffly and moved forward, stepping out from under the canopy of the viewing center. To my right, a soft, feminine voice said, “What the fuck is that?”

I glanced to my right and saw a smallish woman in a long black coat. In the dark, that was about all I could make out. Maybe some dark hair and light-colored skin. She wasn’t smiling. I had no clue when she had arrived.

“I have no idea, but I think we’re gonna find out…” I said. The vibration was getting stronger and the lights were getting closer. They were also pulsating more rapidly. I could see a faint glow below the lights, which seemed to be reflecting off the ground.

“That’s a goddamn flying saucer!” She was stepping carefully back, and I got the impression maybe she had experience in the military, and she was looking for cover. Not a bad idea, under the circumstances. Bonnie yapped and did her spin trick again. The lights grew nearer. Maybe a mile out, now. I had a small flashlight in my pocket, and I pulled it out and switched it on, pointed at the cement. I could see grains of sand and fine gravel dancing in the vibrations now.

I reached down and scooped up Bonnie and we stepped back beside the viewing building with the woman. There were small lights set into the walls, low down, to keep people from tripping and injuring themselves. By the lights, I could see her features. A spill of dark, unruly hair. A closed, tough-girl face. A trim body, a little heavy in the breasts. The term trailer-trash ran through my mind.

Abruptly, the vibrations stopped and the lights, including my flashlight flickered. I glanced at the lights out on the desert and saw the clear circular shape of a hovering disk and then it suddenly accelerated silently and flew directly over the viewpoint. I stepped out away from the building to watch it, as it banked to the east and climbed, accelerating at a rate that could only be termed as astonishing. In about seven seconds, it faded to a speck and was gone.

From my side, the woman said, “Holy shit! Look at that mother fucker go!”

I said, “Yes indeed. That was amazing. I’m Barry Wilder, by the way.”

“You on the bike?”

“Yup. When did you get here?”

“Bout an hour ago. I think you might have been snoozin’. Zippy there was on high alert, though. Good little watchdog.”

“Oh, sorry. This is Bonnie.”

“Hi. I’m Sissy Bowman. Sorry, Margaret, actually. I’ve been called Sissy most of my life.” We shook hands solemnly. She even shook with Bonnie.

“I think we just got treated to something most people never see,” I said, “we should feel privileged, I guess.”

“All I feel is fuckin’ scared. Sorry,” she laughed nervously, “language. I’ve always had kind of a potty mouth.”

“I was a cop, Sissy. I’ve heard every dirty word in every language you could imagine. Think the show’s over for tonight?”

“I’d bet on it. From what I’ve read, people report actual sightings out here maybe five times a year. Guess we were just here at the right time.”

“Well, I knew these things existed. I accidentally caught a picture of one out in California one time. Didn’t even know I had it until I was looking at the pictures later. Looked smaller than this one, though.”

“I’ve always thought people who saw UFO’s were nuts or just seeking attention. Now, I guess I’m part of the lunatic fringe.” Her grin was infectious in the darkness. Looked like she had all her teeth, too. Always a plus…

“Well, I guess we’ll head back. Nice meeting you, Sissy. We may see you on down the road.”

“Where are you staying?” She was starting to walk toward the parking area.

“We’re at the Maverick on the east side of Marfa. Seemed to be the only place open.”

“Yeah,” she said, “me too. See ya later…” She slipped into her car, an older Ford Fusion, tan or beige or one of those colors that are really non-colors. She started up and pulled out. Bonnie whined and looked up at me.

“Yeah,” I said, “she’s pretty nice, huh?” We mounted Christine and fired up and pulled out. I kept Sissy’s taillights in sight. Watched her pull in at the motel and drive further down from our room, which was right on the northeast corner. I parked and locked up and Bonnie took a last run before we went in. She did her business and then went down to Sissy’s door and sniffed around it. I whistled softly and she came down the sidewalk, stopping twice to look back.

Inside, I undressed, went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth and jumped into bed and got under the covers. I was cold from the ride back, and Bonnie jumped up and snuggled in against me. I got back up and went to my bags and got out my Smith and Wesson Shield semi-automatic and put it on the nightstand on the opposite side of the bed from the door. I climbed back in bed and settled in again. It was one thirty-five in the morning and I yawned and turned on my right side as I always do when I’m ready to sleep.

I think I had actually dozed off a little, when Bonnie growled and I was instantly awake. Then there was a light tapping on my door. I reached to the nightstand and snatched up the Smith and stepped out of bed. Went to the window and eased the curtain aside. Sissy was standing on my doorstep, hugging herself and looking around.

“Hang on,” I said, loud enough I figured she could hear me. Not loud enough to wake everybody else in the place. I grabbed my jeans and slid them on and unlocked the door. Bonnie was right there to give her a quick sniff, then she jumped back up on the bed.

“I’m sorry…this was probably a bad idea,” she said, “but I need to talk to someone and we both saw the same thing…”

“Come in, come in, you’re letting out what little heat there is.”

She was in shorts and barefoot. White shorts. Nice tan. Black female-type t-shirt. Nicely packed. “Girl, where are your shoes? You’re gonna freeze your ass off.”

She pushed her hair back on one side, hooking it over her ear, a gesture I would get to know very well in the next few days. “I run around barefoot all the time. Done it all my life. Winter…summer, doesn’t make any difference…my brothers used to say…shit, I’m babbling…”

I reached over by the bathroom door where there was a rack with a shelf and an extra blanket. I handed her the blanket and gestured at the only decent chair in the room. “Have a seat.”

She sat and pulled her legs up under her and wrapped up in the blanket. “Were you asleep?”

“Just barely, no big deal.” I wasn’t gonna start off lying to this woman. After tonight, I might never see her again anyway, so what did it matter?

“I’m sorry…”

“Stop apologizing, If I didn’t wanna talk to ya, I wouldn’t have answered the door. Okay?”

On the bed, Bonnie was lying with her head on her paws, looking like she was watching a tennis match, her eyes flicking back and forth to each of us as we talked. It was almost comical. I stepped over and sat down on the bed and ruffled her fur and stroked her.

“What’s her name again?”

“Bonnie.”

“Oh, yeah, right. She’s very calm with strangers.”     

“Not always. But she’s already decided you’re okay.”

There was silence for a moment and outside I heard a lone coyote yip a couple times. Then Sissy said, “So. Did we see the same thing? Was it a ship or did I see something that wasn’t really there?”

“I saw a good-sized, saucer-shaped craft. A classic UFO. Could be something the military is messing with or could be…”

“What?”

“From off-world. Another planet, another galaxy, another dimension. We’ll most likely never know.”

“Should I be scared? Because, so far I am. Kinda.”

“I don’t think so. I didn’t feel threatened by anything I saw. I think we should feel privileged to have seen it.”

“What if they know we saw them and decide…” She left the sentence hanging, as though she was afraid to complete it.

“What, to come after us? Look, thousands of people have reported these things for years. I don’t know that any of them have ever been harmed. I think UFOs and aliens are like snakes. They may not hurt you, but they might cause you to hurt yourself. Would you like some coffee?”

“If you’re gonna have some, sure, I’d take a cup.”

I got up and went to the bathroom where the little two-cup coffeemaker lived. Filled it and started it. I called out, “Cream and sugar, right?”

She said, “How’d you know that?”

“I was a cop. We know things.”

“Okay, Mr. used-to-be-a-cop, what else do ya know about me?”

 I thought about it as the coffeemaker chuckled and belched and then I took my shot. “Okay, let’s see…you’re…recently divorced and childless. You are adrift right now, looking for a new place to settle in and practice your skills. You’re kind of soured on men right now, but you really like men, or maybe only if they’re nice guys. You are not easily frightened, but tonight something spooked you and it wasn’t just the UFO.” I got up to pour the coffee and asked, “How’m I doin’ so far?”

When I stepped back into the room with the two cups, my Smith and Wesson was in her hand and there were tears on her cheeks. She didn’t point the weapon at me, but she gave me an almost hateful look and said, “Who the fuck are you, Barry Wilder? Did my ex send you to track me down? Is that what the fuck this is all about?”

I set her coffee down very carefully and held out my hand for the gun. “No. I’m not part of anything weird or creepy, Sissy. Swear to God. I’m just good at figuring out people. Been doing that all my adult life.”

She turned the gun over, reading the numbers and lettering on it, then gently placed it in my hand. She shook her head and sighed and said, “Okay, but that was a little too close. Remind me not to ask you any of that shit again.”

“Deal.”

“Why do you carry the gun?”

“Because I’m not strong enough to carry a cop everywhere I go.”

“No, seriously.”

“Okay, seriously. When I was a cop, I worked every kind of crime from shoplifting to triple homicide. I saw a lotta victims. And the thing that always went through my mind when I was dealing with someone who got robbed or beaten or murdered was, ‘if this person had only had a gun, this shit would have turned out differently’. So, as long as I can safely carry a concealed weapon, I will. I refuse to be a victim.”

“But what about the police? They’re supposed to stop crime, right?”

“The police very seldom stop anything. Their role is reactive. After you’ve already been victimized, they show up. They may or may not catch the perpetrator and begin the process of prosecution. But the victim has still been raped, or robbed, or killed. You know what they say, ‘When seconds count the police are only minutes away.’ ”

“Guess that makes sense.”

“I am amazed every day in our country that everyone doesn’t pack a gun.”

“You mean like in the Wild West…”

“Sissy, the Wild West didn’t have any kind of murder rate compared to most modern U.S. cities.”

“Let me ask you something. And if I’m outta line, you tell me, okay?”

“Okay…”

“Can I stay here tonight, with you and Bonnie? Cause, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep down there in that room by myself.”

“Why don’t we do this. We’ll sleep in watches. I’ll watch for four hours while you sleep. I’ll wake you at six. Checkout is at eleven.”

She drank off the last of her coffee and got up and slipped into my bed. Bonnie looked at me like, What the fuck?? I took the chair and killed the lights.

I really meant to sit for four hours, but after Sissy was asleep, I got up and stole the other pillow and got as comfortable as I could in the chair. At least it reclined. When I woke up, sunlight was trying to burn through the curtains and my shower was running.

There were enough coffee packets left to make two cups, so I got the machine going and waited for Sissy to finish up in there. After a while, I heard the shower cut off, and in another ten minutes, she came out, looking refreshed and well rested. I handed her a cup of coffee and she looked at me over the rim and said, “Your turn. Kinda surprised you didn’t come in and join me.”

“Don’t know ya well enough, yet. Don’t feel like you’re not attractive or anything, or that I’m not interested, but I figured it was a little early to make a pass at ya. Didn’t wanna be rude.”

She thought about that and then said, “So casual sex isn’t your deal, huh?”

“I find the older I get, the more I need it to mean something.”

“Okay. Well, I guess I’ll go get into some clean clothes. Which way you headed today?”

“I’m open. I’m kind of a master of the ‘no destination’ ride. Given a choice, this time of year, I’d stay south because it’ll be warmer.”

“How about we head towards Tucson then,” she said, “and maybe tonight you’ll get lucky.”

“Okay, I’ll get us packed up and we’ll head out. Need to find a breakfast place.”

In about twenty minutes, we were headed up the highway toward Las Cruces, New Mexico and we were just a couple miles out of Marfa, when Sissy abruptly pulled over. On the right side of the highway was a tourist display, showing the characters from the movie Giant, larger than life and in full color. There was James Dean, with the Winchester rifle across his shoulders and Rock Hudson in that yellow ford convertible, the house in the background, and music from the movie soundtrack playing from some hidden speakers somewhere. I dug out my phone and Sissy and I both took pictures, just like real tourists. We stood at the fence for a few minutes and then, she abruptly turned around and reached up to me, lacing her fingers behind my neck. I pulled her in for a nice, soft morning kiss and then patted her butt and said, “Let’s cruise. I’m hungry.”

It was forty miles before we found a place to eat, and it wasn’t much, just a small place next to a gas station with a dirt lot. Bonnie stayed with the bike while we went in and got a table. As soon as we had coffee, she said, “Am I coming on too strong? I sometimes tend to do that. I mean, when I meet a guy I really like, and…shit. I’m babbling again.”

I reached over and took her hand and told her about some of my recent history. About Iva and Roland and even about Commando. I ended with, “So, I feel like I’m kinda vulnerable right now. I haven’t been with anyone since Iva was killed and, well…”

“I get it, Barry. I can back off a little.”

“Not necessary. I’m just kinda being careful, ya know?” About then our food came and we dug in. I saved some scrambled egg and hash browns for Bonnie, folding the food up in a spare napkin.

As we were eating, Sissy suddenly leaned over closer and whispered, “You notice that guy over there in the suit?” She cut her eyes to her left. I had in fact noticed him when he came in. The suit was black and kind of shiny. He wore a black fedora and had shiny black shoes and equally shiny black sunglasses, which he didn’t remove. Now she was making me jumpy, too.

“What ya think,” I asked, “classic M.I.B.?”

“What’s that?”

“Men In Black. Think he’s gonna come tell us to forget what we saw? Maybe threaten us?”

“Don’t joke around, Barry. Fucker’s makin me nervous…”

“Yeah, I get that, but he’s probably somebody’s grandpa, out for a tour of the Great Southwest. Don’t worry about him. Worry about me. I’m the one that’s probably gonna attack ya tonight.”

As we finished eating, I saw the man stand up and put money on the counter, then he walked out, not waiting for change. He went out and around the corner of the building and out of sight.

“There. All gone. See? No problem.” I’d no sooner spoken than I heard Bonnie out there, raising hell. I slid out of my seat and Sissy started to get up, but I said, “Wait here.” I reached back and pulled my Smith and headed out the door.

Bonnie had placed herself between the odd man and the bike. Her hackles were raised and I could tell she wasn’t just pissed. She was scared, too. The man was squatted down with one hand extended, trying to make friends. Bonnie wasn’t having any of that shit.

“Mister? I was you, I’d step the fuck away.”

He stood and turned and took in my size and the pistol in my hand, safely pointed at the ground, but still ready. He stepped back away from both me and Bonnie. His accent when he spoke was strange. I wasn’t able to place it.

“I assure you, I meant no harm. I merely wished to pet the dog a little…”

“She clearly doesn’t want anything to do with you and I trust her judgement. I don’t either. Best walk away while you still can, Sir.”

“No need to threaten me, Mr. Wilder. Like I said, I mean no harm.” He walked toward a shiny black Chrysler 300 as I stood there wondering if I’d heard him right. This fucker knew my name? Why? Then Sissy stepped up beside me.

“So you and Mr. Creepy introduced yourselves, did ya?”

“No. No, we didn’t…”

“But…he just called you by name. How could he know…”

“Yeah, no shit.” The Chrysler was pulling away now, almost to the street. There was no license tag visible on the back and as it went out of sight around the building and onto the road, I said, “Quick. Get in your car. I wanna try and keep him in sight.”

I quickly mounted the bike and Bonnie jumped up behind me. I fired it up and pulled out to the street. The Chrysler was nowhere to be seen. There were three miles of empty road looking at me and nothing to see. Sissy pulled up beside me and her window was down.

“Where the fuck did he go?” She was looking both ways up and down the highway.

“I’ve got no clue, Babe. He’s a hell of a fast driver or he just evaporated into thin air.” I thought for a minute and then shut off the bike and got off and pulled Bonnie’s food out of my jacket pocket. Sissy shut her car off and got out.

“Told ya that fucker was creepy,” she said. There was no hint of humor in her voice. None at all. We stood watching Bonnie devour her breakfast and then she trotted off to go examine the weeds and read the doggy mail. When I looked back up at Sissy, she reached for me and again I held her, thinking how good it felt to have a woman in my arms again. This time I didn’t let go quite as quickly.

*      *     *

Ten minutes later, we were back on the road. I let Sissy take the lead and I told her I would flash my headlight whenever I needed to stop, be it for gas or whatever. She tended to drive pretty fast, staying seven to ten miles over the speed limit at all times. I wondered if this was just a habit or if she was spooked and felt better psychologically outrunning any perceived threat. There was something strange going on, that was for sure, but I knew trying to outrun an unknown danger was a fool’s errand. Until one knows the direction the threat is coming from, one is just as likely to be running directly toward it. At any rate, I figured we had not seen the last of our friend in the Chrysler 300.

Since the Kawasaki would only make a maximum of 200 miles on a tank of fuel and gas stations could be few and far between, I opted for stopping every hundred miles to gas the bike and take a stretch, use the restroom and maybe get a smooch from my new girlfriend. We proceeded through the day and made Tucson by about four in the afternoon. She pulled off the interstate and turned left, passed under the overpass and into a Ramada Inn. I rolled up beside her and she buzzed down the window.

“This okay, Or do ya want somethin’ fancier?”

“Nope, this is fine. I don’t do fancy.” We parked under the canopy and ten minutes later we had a room with two double beds on the far back side of the complex. She put the car in front of the room and after I unloaded Christine, I put her in a corner spot and locked her down for the night. When I got back to the room, Sissy was in the shower and this time I went in and joined her. Bonnie took her choice of the beds and got the one nearest the door. Sissy and I came out of the bathroom and straight into the other bed, where we spent a couple hours getting better acquainted. As soon as Bonnie figured out what was going on, she snorted and curled up and made a point of ignoring our antics.

Sissy was smooth and sleek and well-toned. Five minutes into our first time together, it was clear there was no shyness to this gal. She made it clear that she enjoyed everything I was doing to her and I was doing it all.

I spent quite some time playing with her and kissing all the places I like and soon, I had invaded her most lovely spot, licking and sucking her until she came, squealing and digging her nails into the back of my head. As soon as her orgasm started to wane, I quickly mounted her, wrapping her up tight in my arms so she could barely move and I slow-fucked her until she came a second time, this one longer and more powerful than the first. I was slightly behind her and she was laughing and holding her hands on top of my head as I came, in case the top of my head tried to explode.

By seven, we had boinked and napped enough we were hungry. We fed Bonnie and I walked her, then we took Sissy’s car and went to find dinner.

Less than a mile up the pike, we found a steakhouse that seemed clean and not too busy. We held hands like teenagers while we waited for our food. I was relieved that Sissy wasn’t the gushy, giggly type. She hadn’t seemed to be very nervous when we first made love and I was pretty surprised at her sense of fun and games in the sack. While we got through a couple of mediocre steaks and salads, she slipped off one shoe and parked her bare foot on the seat on my side of the booth, so that I could rub her foot and reach up the leg of her jeans whenever my hand was not occupied elsewhere. It was clear that she liked to be touched a lot and that was working for me. So, when I saw the black Chrysler pass by out front, I didn’t do anything to call her attention to it.

Almost an hour later, we were back at the room, and we lingered in the car for a couple minutes, smooching and fooling around a bit, getting tuned up for round two. I had a hand up under her shirt and was enjoying the way her boobs seemed to fit my hands perfectly, when I happened to look out the car window and saw Bonnie curled up on the ground beside the bike. I knew we had left her locked up inside the room. I said, “What the fuck…?” and got out and called her.

She came to me in a sidling crouch, about as apologetic as any dog can ever be. I scooped her up and soothed her and she shook and quivered with nervousness.

“How did she get out?” Sissy was petting her too and letting her know it was alright.

“Someone was in our room, that’s how.” Sissy started for the door with her key out, but I said, “Wait.” I held out Bonnie and said, “Take her and wait over by the car.”

As soon as they were on the other side of the car, I drew my Smith and opened the door. I expected to find the place trashed, but everything appeared to be as we’d left it. I moved quickly through the room and checked the bathroom, then called Sissy inside.

“Nothing missing?”

“Not that I can tell. Bonnie must have slipped out and they couldn’t catch her. If they weren’t here to steal, then maybe they left something.”

“Like what?” She was glancing around apprehensively.

“Like maybe a camera or listening device.” I proceeded to check everywhere there might be a bug. I took down the smoke detector, checked the air vents, looked under the beds and other furniture. I found nothing. Finally, I sat down on Bonnie’s bed and told Sissy about seeing the Chrysler go past the steakhouse.

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me?” She wasn’t really pissed, just a little put out that I’d let it slide.

“I was havin’ too much fun playin’ with yer toes and I didn’t wanna spoil the moment.”

She kicked off her shoes and flopped back on the bed and placed her right foot up on my chest. As I started to massage it, she suddenly pinched my nipple with her toes. She had a hell of a grip and it smarted like crazy. “Ouch! Goddamn, Woman! Cut it out. Fuck!”

“That’s what ya get when ya don’t share, asshole.” She was grinning evilly and going for me again, this time with both feet. I flopped on top of her and started tickling some sensitive places I’d found earlier. In a minute, she had dissolved into helpless laughter. Bonnie moved to the other bed, smug in the knowledge that she was forgiven for not being a vicious attack dog.

*     *     *

I had been sound asleep, deep in a dream about low-flying saucer-shaped vehicles and a sense of dread, strange men in black suits and constantly being watched. Bonnie was at the door of the motel room, whining in a high pitch. Her tail was tucked under and, as I watched her, she began digging at the carpet, trying desperately to get out. Sissy was nowhere in the room.

I stepped out of bed and pulled on jeans and grabbed my Smith and Wesson. At the door, I tucked the gun in my waistband and picked up Bonnie. It was the first time she’d ever growled at me. I eased the door open and stared out into the parking lot. In the stillness, Sissy stood straight up, wearing only panties and a sleep shirt, her back arched and her hair floating as she looked straight up at the dark, infinite sky. Her bare feet were six inches off the ground and there was a faint, energized glow around her, as if she were holding a positive electrical charge of thousands of volts.

Bonnie struggled and fought in my arms, whined and yipped and then, incredibly, she bit me. Right on the same nipple Sissy had pinched with her toes.

I dropped her and she shot out the door, just as Sissy was whisked away, straight up into the sky. Bonnie was spinning madly around in circles, yapping as though she was losing her mind. I ran out into the parking lot and saw the same saucer we’d seen at the viewpoint east of Marfa, or its twin, as it cruised casually away to the north.

Seconds later, Bonnie ran back into the room and disappeared under the bed farthest from the door.

I stood there for a long time. What do you do when someone you know is abducted right in front of you? Call the cops? That would be about as useless as anything else one might do. I was pretty sure the Tucson P.D.’s jurisdiction ended at the city limits and I’d just be treated as another old nut job, someone to be snickered about at squad meetings for a few months until the next good laugh came along.

I walked up and down the parking lot for a while, trying to get a grip, trying to translate what had happened into terms of reality. Into terms I could be comfortable with. Finally, I looked at my watch and realized it was after four in the morning. I went back in and coaxed Bonnie out from under the bed and crawled back under the covers. I pulled her close to me, just to let her know I wasn’t pissed about her biting me. I knew I’d never make it back to sleep. And then, incredibly, I did.

Dawn was breaking in the east when I woke up. Sissy was standing at the window, naked, her back to me. Bonnie was nowhere in sight. I said, “Hey. Are you okay? When did you get back?”

She slowly turned toward me and with a chill, I observed that she held my Smith and Wesson pistol in her right hand, the barrel socked tightly under her chin, pointing straight up. The angle was perfect to blow her brains out. I saw a single tear sliding slowly down her face alongside her nose. I started to move across the bed, but I knew with certain dread that I’d never reach her in time. She pulled the trigger before my feet hit the floor. The gunshot sounded like a cap pistol. Not loud at all.

Then, instead of her blood and brains spraying onto the ceiling, it was as though a dozen invisible wires cut down through her and she was sliced into strips and yet she remained upright, then the invisible wires cut through her horizontally, more quickly now and then again from front to back. She stood for another second, staring at me and then there was just the hint of a smile before she tumbled into a pile of children’s blocks, made of flesh and bone. I could smell her blood and viscera, and I heard her last shuddery breath.

I sat up in bed with a scream locked in my throat and Bonnie shot off the bed and straight to the door. No Sissy. No pile of what had been Sissy, either. The pistol lay on the nightstand, where I’d placed it earlier. I realized I had been dreaming and shook my head to clear the cobwebs. I let Bonnie out and went to the bathroom for a wicked pee. I put on coffee and brushed my teeth. Bonnie had started raising hell outside and I figured she was being rude to some stranger who was just packing his car to leave. I pulled on jeans and went out to get her.

Bonnie was at the driver’s side door of Sissy’s car, scratching frantically at the back of the door opening. I stepped back into the room and grabbed the keys from the cabinet by the TV and went back out. Clicked the remote and unlocked the car. As I opened the door, Sissy sat up in the back seat, looking around, her face blank and sleepy.

“How…how the fuck did I get out here?” Bonnie was in the car with her now, trying to lick her face. Sissy was pushing her away. “Stop, Bonnie. Cool it! Barry? Why am I sleepin’ in the car? Did we have a fight?”

“You don’t remember anything?”

“No. What…? What happened? Somethin’ bad?”

“Naw. C’mon, let’s get you inside…”

I took her in, fed her coffee and got her showered and cleaned up. Took her to breakfast. She really had no memory of being snapped up by some kind of goofy tractor-beam, or whatever. And I decided maybe that was best. We spent another five days on the road and then I brought her back to Kansas. We are staying at my place and I have no idea how long this arrangement will last, or when she might get abducted again. Or if they might decide they need to check me out next. For all I know, they may have already done that, and I just don’t remember it.

I have looked Sissy over from the top of her mop of dark hair to her cute toes, seeking any mark that might indicate an examination or some kind of tracking implant. And I feel stupid doing those things, but that’s what abductees always claim, that they were examined and invaded and implanted with something. I have found nothing. Only time will tell. Right now, we are happy, and I’ll settle for that…

But that black Chrysler is out there, moving around, always just on the edge of my vision, or maybe five cars back in traffic. I never get a good look at it, but I know it’s there…



Kenneth James Crist is Editor Emeritus of Black Petals Magazine and is on staff at Yellow Mama ezine. He has been a published writer since 1998, having had almost two hundred short stories and poems in venues ranging from Skin and Bones and The Edge-Tales of Suspense to Kudzu Monthly. He is particularly fond of supernatural biker stories. He reads everything he can get his hands on, not just in horror or sci-fi, but in mystery, hardboiled, biographies, westerns and adventure tales. He retired from the Wichita, Kansas police department in 1992 and from the security department at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in 2016. Now 74, he is an avid motorcyclist and handgun shooter. He is active in the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard, helping to honor and look after our military. He is also a volunteer driver for the American Red Cross, Midway Kansas Chapter. He is the owner of Fossil Publications, a desktop publishing venture that seems incapable of making any money at all. On June the ninth, 2018, he did his first (and last) parachute jump and crossed that shit off his bucket list.

Kevin D. Duncan was born 1958 in Alton, Illinois where he still resides. He has degrees in Political Science, Classics, and Art & Design. He has been freelancing illustration and cartoons for over 25 years. He has done editorial cartoons and editorial illustration for local and regional newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous small press zines, e-zines, and he has illustrated a few books. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019