Body in the Trunk

Body in the Trunk

by Melissa R. Mendelson
* Amazon

 

It was a hot night at the Red Lit Diner. The sun had already sunken in, but the heat refused to die. The air conditioners bit the dust, and the fans were begging for their torture to end. Yet, they pushed and pushed all that they could, forcing the cool breeze to cover those still inside, but the sweat continued to drip down. And heat-stained glares fell across the smoky windows, trying not to think of what was found outside or who was still there with them, and they were all melting inside. All of them except for her.

She was sitting on a red stool beside the counter, picking at her bagel and butter. She then slowly sipped her glass of water, ignoring all their burning stares. Her blue jeans were faded and ripped. Her black boots were small and sharp. Her feet should have been dying trapped by all that leather, but she didn’t seem bothered. And she picked crumbs off her black shirt, scratching the face of one of those men seen on the CW, and he stared up at her, captivated with wonder and fear.

The boys had stopped at the Red Lit Diner for a late dinner snack. Coffee and Beth’s famous hot Apple Pie, and it was smoking. The vanilla ice cream was soup by the time it reached them, but they piled it in, ready for a long night. And it was going to be a long night when they had seen her outside, checking the contents of her trunk. They told her to freeze, but she didn’t even bat an eye. Instead, she smiled and walked inside, leaving them to stare at each other.

Jimmy was never a man of faith. He even went so far as to say that God wasn’t real. If he was, why did he let this world get so bent out of shape? His partner was the polar opposite, and when he saw her, he felt physically sick. His knees buckled, and he’s still outside, sitting in the squad car. Jimmy couldn’t feel it, and he was the one that called me. Should I call for back up, he asked, and I responded that I would handle it. But when I saw her, I felt it too.

You here about the trunk,” she asked before downing another sip of water. Her voice was velvet. Sweet with a sting of toxic. She still refused to look at me. “I don’t have all night,” and she slammed the glass down. I didn’t jump. The rest of the folks did.

Yes,” I forced myself to say, reaching for my gun, but something deep down inside said that wouldn’t do. And she smiled as if she had heard that “I’m here about what’s in the trunk,” I nearly barked. “Why is it in the trunk?”

What would you do if you had Hitler in the car?”

What,” and I watched her sip the water. And I could’ve sworn that her tongue was black.

What would you do if you had Hitler in the car,” she repeated.

I wouldn’t let him out.”

Exactly,” and now she turned toward me. And for a moment, her face vanished, revealing nothing but pale flesh, and I felt like I was going to be sick. A few moments before, I was craving Beth’s famous hot Apple Pie, but that soft, vanilla pool nearly had my stomach spitting acid. And she smiled again. “It’s my penance,” she said, softly as if she felt bad for me.

For what,” I asked, forcing the bile back down.

You don’t want to know,” and she drank more water. And then she swatted at a fly that touched the remains of her bagel.

You know, I can’t let you leave.”

Can’t,” and she looked at me. Her eyes folded over mine, and I felt empty, carved out like a Halloween pumpkin. “Or can?”

There’s a body in your trunk,” I whispered, trying not to alarm an elderly couple, who was attempting to pay their bill before making a run for it. “I have to take you in,” and she laughed at that. “What’s so funny?”

Are you so sure that you want to touch me,” and she stood up from the red stool beside the counter. “Might not be the smartest thing, sheriff.”

I could shoot you,” and I was surprised at those words that came out of my mouth. I hardly fired my gun. Maybe, I shot someone a few years back, but that was a long time. And again, she smiled as if she heard that. “Who’s in the trunk?”

A very, very bad man.”

Hitler,” and she shrugged in response. “And you’re what? Driving cross-country with him back there?”

I drive everywhere.”

You don’t sleep?”

Only a few hours. That’s all I need. Trust me. The things that I see… It would rip more than the sleep from you,” and she slammed a hundred-dollar bill on the counter. “Are we done here? I would like to keep moving before the sun comes up.”

You a vampire,” I asked, trying to be funny.

I’m worse,” and my smile vanished. “Name’s Keeper,” and she held her hand out to me. And for a moment there, it looked skeletal like a Halloween costume. “No,” and she pulled her hand away. “Good man,” and she moved past me.

I don’t know why I did it, but I did it. I grabbed her by the arm, and I felt like an invisible hand suddenly reached inside and squeezed my heart. I dropped to my knees and tried to breathe. I released her arm, and despite all the damn heat, I was ice cold. My skin was blue, and Jimmy took a step closer, reaching for his gun. But I waved him aside, and she looked at me, half amused and half full of pity.

I told you,” and she leaned closer to me. “Not to touch me. Now, are we going to keep on playing, or can I go, sheriff?”

You can… You can go.”

Good,” and she moved toward the glass entrance doors. “You are a good man, sheriff,” she said. Then, she looked over at Jimmy. “But you aren’t,” and Jimmy shuddered at that.

Why did you let her go?”

Shut up, Jimmy.” I was now standing up, but I was so cold. I wanted those damn fans to shut off. I wanted the heat to raise up another notch. I wanted that hot Apple Pie to be boiling. Something deep inside said that I would never be warm again. I would never sleep again. When she walked outside the Red Lit Diner, she wasn’t alone. She packed my soul up and tucked it right in the back, right next to the body in the trunk.

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