“I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind” Edgar Allan Poe
By Saira Viola
She had hungry city eyes — hold you, squeeze you. then fuck you over ‘till you die eyes. Harry had seen those kind of eyes before many times.
He pulled into the lay by and smiled. A disposable I’m-in-for-the-kill type of smile .It stopped half way between his lips – cruel creepy.
‘Thank God it’s you! I’ve been waiting over an hour for a ride, my car broke down, it stopped about ten minutes from here. And I can’t get a signal on this thing.’ She jiggled her phone around desperately.
‘It’s a dead spot for cells — must be the mountains or something but the good news is there’s a car mechanic an hour’s drive away. I can drop you off if you’d like?’
‘Oh thank you so much Harry Right?’
‘Yep.No problem at all. Sorry, I forgot your name.’
‘Tiffany. You’ve been in the bar like a gazillion times — you should know that by now.’
‘Nothing – you look like a Tiffany is all.’
‘Yeah.’ He grinned sheepishly, faking shyness.
‘And what er do Tiffanies generally look like?’
‘Well, a lot like you beautiful big blue eyes and blonde curls.’
She lowered her head bashfully and started twiddling with her hair.
‘Thanks Harry that’s awful sweet. Would have been convincing if you’d remembered my name!’
Harry said nothing but started drumming his fingers on the steering wheel.
Tiffany pulled out a pack of smokes.
‘Do you mind if I..?’
‘No go ahead.’
She lit up slowly and took a nervous puff.
‘So you live close by Tiffany?’
‘Not far from Studio 7, you know next to the bar down town?’
‘Yeah – strippers bar.’
‘They call it exotic city.’
‘Huhh.’ Harry nodded and turned the radio on.
The opening lines of ‘Be my Baby’ by The Ronettes was playing.
‘Love these old records.’ Tiffany started singing along to the track moving her head in synch with the lines “Be my little baby – for every kiss you give me I’ll give you three….’ Harry did his best to ignore her until she slid her legs onto the dashboard.
‘So you got plans for tonight?’ he asked.
‘Yeah we’re going to Zombie Land. You?’
‘On the hunt for something new, tired of all these small town pricks.’
‘Yeah I’m sorry about all that. I read it in the local paper…’
‘You know the death of your girlfriend?’
‘Nikki.’ Harry’s face tightened and his hands clamped the wheel harder. ‘That’s the trouble with itty bitty places they feed on gossip and crap.’
‘Sorry I wasn’t …’
‘Forget it .Tiffany I already have.’ There was a sharp sting in the air. They drove on with radio chatter filling dead space. Harry remained tight lipped.
Outside the sky was washed dirty, stained with violent shades of navy, grey and charcoal. Inside Harry’s head a storm was brewing.
‘How long before we get there?’
‘About thirty minutes.’
‘Great. I’ll be able to make it to wo…watch out!’
A bloodied figure ran smack in front of the car. Harry flipped the wheel, double braked and skidded to a slippery stop in the middle of the road.
Before them a young girl of around 17, her face bruised and her clothes torn.
‘Oh my God. What…’
‘Are you okay?’
Tiffany nodded, trying hard not to sob.’
‘Stay here.’ Harry got out of the car and walked towards her. He took slow purposeful steps, his eyes flickering with pain.
‘It’s okay you’re gonna be okay.’
The girl shrieked and as Harry tried to coax her back to the car he reached out to hold her and found nothing but a pile of wet stained rags.
‘What the fuck?’ He stood stone still. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He flinched and turned around. It was Tiffany. She looked shaken and scared.
‘Did you see that? The – did you?’
‘I mean I thought I saw it – a young girl but it could have been a trick of the light or some kind of weird image you know they say this stretch of the road is haunted.’
They walked back to the car in silence. Harry reversed and turned then pushed hard on the gas speeding down the freeway.
‘Don’t go so fast.’
‘Shut up Tiffany.’
‘Cut it out Tiffany I know the game you’re playing.’
‘I –I’m not sure what you’re talking about you can drop me off at the next stop.’
‘Yeah because little Miss high and mighty says so.’
‘No -it’s look -we had a scare and I just want to get out.’
Suddenly the doors locked automatically. Harry gritted his teeth and Tiffany’s cheeks turned bitter sweet –brick red. Her lost vulnerability on show for all to see.
‘Why d’you lock the doors?’
Harry faked indifference, ignored her and carried on driving.
Slowly she opened her purse and took out a colt 22 pistol.
Her lips were half parted and her eyes were glistening with desire, an ugly rabid hunger.
‘I’ve waited a long time for this Harry .Now pull over.’ Her voice was firm .She thrust the gun into his cheek.
‘Okay okay Easy.’
‘It’s been going round and round in my head about Nikki. How she suffered. What you did to her. Decapitation, a punctured lung, tortured her for days – drugged her -stole her fucking soul. You couldn’t shut it off. I watched you afterwards. I know what you did. Nikki was my sister. She had been missing for weeks. And now it’s your turn.’
Harry looked dazed. He pulled over. The lines on his forehead were twitching and his hands were clenched.
‘I don’t know what you think you know. Niki never spoke about her sister.’
‘You didn’t know her. Niki’s not even her real name. She’s called Erin. Her name’s Erin.’
‘She was running away from a stalker, she changed her name, changed everything about her to escape guys like YOU.’
The gun was still pressed against Harry’s cheek.
‘Now get out.’
Volts of fear clung to them both but for Harry it was too much to stomach.
‘Why are you doing this?’
‘Stop talking – just walk up to those bushes.’
‘You can’t do this. Please,I’m innocent.’
‘You’re pathetic begging for your life like a fucking nobody. You know that, pathetic.’
He moved his hands over his ears.
‘Keep your hands up.’
As Tiffany climbed over the rocks a flood of light hit them, and she stumbled to the ground hitting her head. Harry turned towards her, snatched the gun, and shot her twice in the head and three times in the stomach. ‘Be my baby ,’ He whispered. Brain, guts and bile painting the wild tableau with death.
Buzzards were circling ahead and Harry was listening to the song of sorcery. He opened the car door and drove. The radio was channel switching by itself: first country, then church music, finally German opera. He sensed it almost immediately, a scaly bony being touching his fingers at the wheel. He gasped and looked beside him. It was a skeleton dressed in pink chintz and rose. He felt his head explode and the car accelerate at God speed. It was as if a thousand suns were blinding the land. POW! Burn! Crash!
Two days later: ‘News just in of a bizarre car accident .No known survivors and just a human skull smashed to pieces found in the passenger seat…investigators are at the scene…’