Estimated reading time — 22 minutes
As younger siblings tend to do, I absolutely worshipped my older brother Calvin. He always seemed like the coolest person in the world to me. Everybody liked him. He was president of his class, a star baseball player, and just had an all-around great personality. All the girls thought that he was such a stud, much to my surprise. And although he was older, Calvin wasn’t the stereotypical monster. I think that’s why we got along so well.
For one thing, he would never dream of hurting me in any way. When I told my psychiatrists this, they couldn’t believe it. An older brother that never once tortured his younger sister? There was no way one of those existed anywhere. But Calvin was different. His bedroom door was always open whenever I needed someone to talk to. He’d let me lie on his floor and listen to his records with him while he did his homework. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
As the two of us grew up, in a small town in the middle of Rhode Island, we only became closer. Maybe it was because of our family situation, but we both needed each other greatly. Our father was an alcoholic. He’d come home drunk most of the time, and take out all of his anger on us. Calvin never let him get to me, though. He would let me sleep with him in his bed most nights, so I wouldn’t have to hear our parents fighting through the bedroom walls alone.
Our mother was helpless, but tried her hardest. She was controlled by him, and was stuck in a bad situation. She often thought about leaving with us, but with our control freak of a dad, it was out of the question. Sadly, Mom died when I was thirteen. The autopsy showed that she had had an overdose on painkillers. They ruled it as accidental, but I was never so sure. After she was gone, our father only got worse. It got so bad that the second he graduated, Calvin moved into an apartment on the other side of town, and took me with him. Our father barely protested. I’m pretty sure he never wanted kids in the first place.
From then on, it was just Calvin and I, on our own in the big world. He attended the local community college, and worked part-time at a grocery store. It wasn’t the most glamorous thing, but it helped to get food on the table. I was hard to look after. I was deeply disturbed after such a tough childhood. I wasn’t good at making friends or being friendly. But my brother never turned his back on me. We were away from our broken home, and were happy just to have each other.
It’s at this point in our lives that we made the biggest mistake we ever could. The two of us didn’t know it at the time. But to this day, I still regret picking up that phone more than anything.
It was the end of summer, around 1976. The winds were brisk, as early September was approaching fast. Calvin and I had been on our own then for about two years. I was fifteen; he was nineteen. I remember that I was sitting at the kitchen table, finishing my homework. Calvin was working on fixing frozen TV dinners. The phone was in the living room. I jumped up immediately when it started to ring.
“Hello?” I asked into the receiver. It was Joey Malone. Joey was my brother’s best friend in high school. The two of them were practically joined at the hip, until they went their separate ways for college. Joey was in Miami, and I could hear the longing for his friend in his voice. After we caught up for a brief moment, he turned serious.
“Hey, lemme talk to your brother real quick,” Joey said. “I’ve got some news that I think he might like.” I rolled my eyes playfully and handed the receiver to Calvin. I could hear my brother laughing from the living room as he caught up with his old friend. They must have been on the phone for a good hour, because I had already taken our TV dinners out of the oven and had finished mine by the time Calvin walked in.
“Hey, sorry about that, Laurel,” He smiled softly, taking a seat across from me. “Man, you’ll never believe what Joey’s been up to!” I cocked an eyebrow suspiciously.
“Is he locked up in prison already?” I joked.
“No, but he might as well be. His neighbors are going away for Labor Day weekend, and he’s throwing a monster party in their house while they’re gone! He’s invited us to come and crash it! Can you believe it?” He chuckled, taking a bite of frozen chicken.
I should have known right then that we shouldn’t go. It was illegal to break into someone’s home, but even more illegal to throw a party in it. I should have known that it wasn’t a good idea. But I was naïve, fifteen-year-old girl. So of course, I agreed.
Calvin and I planned to drive up to Joey’s house. It would take us a while from Rhode Island, but the two of us were so stoked, we didn’t even care. We spent the long car ride blasting the Doors on the radio, and singing the lyrics way off key. This was definitely when I felt most content. Little did I know the terror that we’d be thrown into later that night…if I had, I would have made Calvin turn the car around and drive off a cliff.
We had been in Calvin’s truck for who knows how long. It was around nine o’ clock that night when we noticed that we were in a nowhere land. Our map said we were in New Jersey, but it didn’t seem like it.
“Are you sure we aren’t lost?” I asked my brother as I chewed a wad of bubblegum. He kept his eyes firmly on the road ahead of us, nodding his head.
“Of course we aren’t. Joey told me the directions himself.” I rolled my eyes, blowing a bubble.
We must have been driving through nothing but trees for another hour before I finally declared that we were lost. My brother had the crazy idea that his best friend was some kind of genius, but I knew better. Calvin was getting tired. I was getting restless. I had been sitting in the same position for too long, and I couldn’t feel my legs.
“Can we please pull over somewhere?” I whined.
“Don’t you think I would have about two hours ago? There’s nowhere to pull over to.” Calvin replied, stifling a cough. It turned into a slight wheeze, which caused my ears to perk up.
“Are you okay?” I asked him, concern filling my voice. He nodded, brushing it off as just a tickle in his throat. Usually that would have been enough to disinterest me. But that night, I was on full alert. Calvin had really bad asthma. I’d almost lost him many times because of it, which was scary to think about. Almost as scary as the endless road in front of us.
It was about thirty minutes later that Calvin began to get frustrated.
“Shit,” He’d grumble to himself. “That jackass had no idea what he was talking about.” I didn’t reply. I knew he wouldn’t admit that I was right. I was beginning to feel really uncomfortable with our surroundings. It was weird that we had driven hours through nothing but trees, only seeing another passing car every fifty miles or so. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was scared. Where were we going to sleep? On the side of the road? Just the thought of that creeped me out.
Both of us were hungry. At one point, Calvin had asked me to check the map to see if there were any rest stops or motels anywhere close. There weren’t. Not until it was about ten thirty. Calvin was practically falling asleep at the wheel, when my eyes fell upon a small speck on our ancient looking map.
“Calvin! Get up!” I shook him, excitement rising in my voice. “There’s a restaurant coming up in about twenty miles!” His eyes popped open.
“Are you serious?” He asked.
“Yeah! There should be an exit up ahead somewhere.” I couldn’t believe our luck. It did strike me as odd that this was the only sign of civilization for hundreds of miles, but I was so hungry, I didn’t care. I gave Calvin the directions to the place. There weren’t any signs in the pitch-black forests, but I knew that we were getting close.
Pretty soon, Calvin turned, and there it was. The place looked like your typical 1950s-styled diner. It was a small building with large glass windows, making it easy to look inside. I could see a few people sitting down. Calvin parked on the dirt road outside. I jumped out anxiously, dying to stretch my legs. It was a lot colder in that area. I pulled a sweatshirt over my head, as Calvin buttoned up his jacket. I could smell coffee and homemade pie drifting out through the sliding glass door.
Calvin and I walked side by side. As I looked up at the sign, I noticed there was another part to it that I hadn’t seen before. It flickered every now and then in the moonlight:
O’MALLEY’S FAMILY RESTAURANT
(MOTEL ON EAST SIDE)
We stepped through the door. The floors were checkered, and the rows of red vinyl booths were almost all filled. There were a few bustly looking men over at the counter, sipping hot coffee out of mugs. A woman sat with her young daughter, the two of them giggling softly as the ate plates of pancakes. A group of teenagers in leather jackets stood over by the jukebox. One slipped a dime into it, and some ancient tune by Buddy Holly started to play.
An unbelievable feeling of dread immediately fell over me. It came out of nowhere, but it wouldn’t go away. I immediately regretted pulling up there.
I didn’t even hear the woman come up to us.
“Can I help you, kids?” Her voice was soft like butter. I glanced up and was met with the dark eyes of an elderly woman. She wore a red dress and matching shoes, a dirty apron draped over her front. Her apple doll face smiled down at us, her silver hair gleaming in the lights overhead. I didn’t speak. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t open my mouth.
“Yes, ma’am,” Calvin said with a smile. “We’d just like a quick bite to eat before we hit the road again.” He poked me in the back, and I nodded my head feebly in agreement.
“Well, come on in! My name is Millie, Millie O’Malley. Welcome to our restaurant. ” Her laugh had years of age visible in every syllable. Yet, it made me cringe.
“It’s nice to meet you, Millie. I’m Calvin Duncan, and this is my sister Laurel.” I still didn’t feel right as I reluctantly took her hand in mine. She was somebody’s grandmother. But something about her made me uneasy. I guess I got that way around anybody new that I met, but bad vibes were coming off of her.
“Laurel. That’s such a lovely name.” I managed a weak smile as Millie let out another laugh. “Well, I don’t want to keep you kids just standing around. Come on, I’ll find you two a booth.”
Calvin and Millie were talking up a storm. I hung behind them, pretending not to notice. I learned that Millie and her husband Ted had opened the restaurant a couple of years ago after retiring. She was the hostess, and he was the cook. They didn’t have any children, which is why Millie enjoyed it so much when younger people stopped in. Calvin was always so polite. He laughed at her jokes and told her our sob story. When she learned that we didn’t really have any parents, her expression changed. Almost to one of…delight.
“Oh, you poor things. Well, consider me your mother for the night.” She handed us our menus as I took a seat across from my brother in the booth. As she walked away, Calvin opened his with a smile.
“Isn’t she just the sweetest woman you’ve ever met?” He beamed, his light brown bangs falling over his eyes. I didn’t reply. I slouched down in my seat, not bothering to look at meal choices. I suddenly wasn’t hungry anymore. My eyes wandered elsewhere. I watched as the teenagers by the jukebox drank Cokes straight out of the bottle and talked amongst themselves.
“What’s the matter? Are you feeling okay?” Calvin asked, concern in his voice. I just nodded my head. I didn’t answer when he asked me what I wanted to eat. I knew that I was getting on his nerves, but I honestly couldn’t care less. When Millie came over to take our orders, I remained quiet. Calvin ordered us pancakes and hot chocolate with a warm smile. As she walked away, he turned back to me, his expression annoyed.
“What’s your deal tonight, Laurel? You’re acting like a little kid.” He snapped.
“Don’t you feel the least bit uncomfortable around her?” I raised an eyebrow. Calvin looked at me, confused.
“What are you talking about?”
“Mrs. O’Malley. Don’t you feel it? She’s weird. Something about her doesn’t seem right to me.” I don’t know how he couldn’t see it.
“She’s just being nice. God, stop acting stuck up and try to appreciate what she’s doing for us.” Calvin shot back harshly. I rolled my eyes and didn’t speak to him for the remainder of our meal. I now wish that I would have. I didn’t know then that that would be one of the last moments I would ever spend with my brother again.
When our food arrived, Calvin thanked Millie for me. I picked at my food and stared down at my shoes. Calvin pretended not to notice. We never fought. We would have squabbles, and this was one of them. Calvin was always so patient with me. But I wasn’t an easy kid to look after. I often wonder if that’s what got my father so angry. I had trust issues from growing up in a home where I didn’t feel safe. I came off as cold a lot of the time, and my brother was usually the only one who could comfort me. But even he sometimes got fed up.
“I’m going to the bathroom,” I spoke for the first time in half an hour. Calvin just nodded his head, taking a sip of his drink. I slid out of the vinyl booth and made my way to the back. I locked myself in a stall and stood against the wall. I don’t know how long I was in there. I just needed to be away from that table.
When I returned, however, Calvin was talking to Millie and who I assumed was her husband, Ted. He was a bigger man, with a few gray hairs still clinging to his balding head. His greasy apron hung over khaki pants and a green flannel shirt. They were all laughing about something, Calvin stopping to cough now and again. I walked over to the table as quietly as I could. Calvin looked up at me and smirked.
“Well, speak of the devil.” He joked, motioning for me to come and sit by him. He must have forgiven me, or at least have been faking it in front of the O’Malley’s. I didn’t care. I clung to my brother tightly.
“I’ve been wondering what brought you kids all the way up here,” Millie said suddenly, her unsettling smile growing wider. “We don’t get many visitors up here.”
“We’re driving to Florida, to visit some old friends,” Calvin replied. “I’m glad that we found this place, though.” Millie glanced at Ted. He blinked, his expression changing to one of pleasure. They stayed silent for a moment, as if contemplating an answer.
“We’re a bit in the middle of nowhere, I guess,” Ted chuckled hoarsely. He was missing a few teeth. The remaining ones in his mouth were all yellow. I turned to look out the window. I watched the truck as the three of them continued to talk.
“Well, we’d really like to thank you folks for your kind hospitality. How much do I owe you?” Calvin asked, reaching for his wallet. Millie shook her head.
“No. It’s on the house.” When my brother tried to protest, she put a bony finger to his lip. He smiled in gratitude, getting up to leave. I jumped out of the booth and was just about to reach for the door when Ted blocked my way.
“Hey, what do you kids think you’re doing? You can’t go driving out now. It’s nearly one o’ clock in the morning.” I wouldn’t know. There were no clocks or signs of time anywhere in the diner. It was like we were in the Twilight Zone. I glanced worriedly up at Calvin, trying to signal him to keep walking.
“You two look like you’ve been driving all day.” Ted continued. “I don’t think it would be wise to be behind the wheel when you’re tired. Come on in the back. We’ve got a nice little motel where you kids can stay until morning.” I froze. There was no way in hell that I was spending another second with those creeps.
“That’s alright,” I tried to object. “We’ll be fine.” But my brother wasn’t so sure.
“I don’t know, Laurel. I’m really tired, and you’re still underage. I don’t want to put our lives at risk by falling asleep at the wheel.” Calvin said feebly. I shook my head and grabbed his hand. He was stronger than me, though. I got pulled back onto the checkered floor.
“Calvin!” I tried to object. But he ignored me, and walked back to Millie.
“I think we’ll take a room for tonight.” He smiled, pushing me behind his back. Millie grinned and winked at her husband.
“Wonderful. Ted will show you two to the motel across the way. If you’ll give me your car keys, I can go fetch your luggage for you.” My mouth was dry. I watched as my brother pulled his keys out of his back pocket. I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed on to the back of Calvin’s jacket as I watched Millie walk outside. He just brushed me off.
I trailed behind hopelessly. Ted led us into another building a few feet away from the restaurant. It was smaller than the diner, but only by a little. It was also made entirely out of logs, as if Abe Lincoln had built it only weeks prior. He and Calvin were chatting away about who knows what. Ted pulled a key out of his pocket and quietly pushed the door open.
The inside of the motel was depressing. The walls were made completely out of wood, and portraits of mountain landscapes hung on them in rows. An oriental rug lay on the floor, just underneath the front desk. There was a guestbook, a cactus in a small pot and a vintage looking handbell on top of it. I shuddered. There was a heavy draft in there, and it looked as if there had been a vacancy for years.
“Well, this is the place. I don’t think it’s necessary to have you two sign in the guestbook, so I’ll show you up to your room.” Ted smiled, his grotesque teeth glimmering in the light. He led us up a staircase on the right side of the lobby.
The hallway was lit by a few mothy, overhead lamps. It was long, and just like the rest of the motel, wooden. There were about five rooms on each side of us, the doors closed. It was a bit dusty, which started up another round of quiet wheezing for Calvin. I rolled my eyes. He got us into this. I felt no sympathy.
“Ah. Here we are.” Ted finally exclaimed. He stood in front of a room and pulled open the door. There were two twin beds with quilt blankets and feathered pillows. The carpet was a rusty red, the wallpaper slightly peeling at the edges. Some more paintings of mountains and seasides hung around on pathetic looking nails. I swallowed thickly. Ted reached over me, placing a meaty hand on the light switch above my head. The room didn’t look any better, as it was flooded with an eerie, orange-ish light.
“It looks very homey. Thanks a lot, Ted.” Calvin smiled. I slowly descended inside and sat on one of the beds. I could distantly hear Ted telling my brother where the bathroom was, where to go for breakfast, things like that. I watched silently as Millie returned upstairs with our luggage. I must have zoned out for longer than I thought, because when I looked back, the door was closed and Calvin was unpacking our suitcases.
“We shouldn’t be here.” I spoke for the first time in what felt like forever. Calvin remained silent as he tossed me my pajamas.
“What are you going to tell Joey? We’re supposed to be at his house by tomorrow.” I heard my brother let out a loud sigh. It was the kind of sigh that your father might let out at the end of a long day.
Calvin must have sensed my uneasiness. He walked over slowly and took a seat beside me on the bed. I felt his arm wrap around my shoulder and squeeze it tightly. We didn’t say anything. He rested his chin on my shoulder. I could hear his raspy breathing in my ear.
“We’re going to be okay, Laurel. You need to sleep.” And with that, he kissed my cheek and turned back to his side of the room. We faced opposite directions as we undressed and got into our pajamas. I reluctantly slipped under the moth-eaten blanket and cold sheets after sitting up in uncomfortable silence for nearly half an hour. There was no way I was going to sleep. I looked up at the dirty ceiling for what felt like hours, listening to Calvin’s breathing.
I don’t know what time it was when I woke up. I must have dozed off, yet I don’t remember it. Calvin is what woke me up. I heard him hastily throw his quilt onto the floor. His breathing was labored, as if he had just run a marathon. I lay up in bed.
“Cal? Are you okay?” I asked into the darkness. I didn’t get a response. The zipper to his suitcase was unzipped, and I heard my brother quickly rustling through his clothes. Eventually, he found what he was looking for and walked towards the door.
“I-I’m fine. I just need some fresh air.” Calvin gasped out, clutching his inhaler in his hand. Light flooded our room as he stepped into the hallway quietly. He had these episodes a lot. I always felt so helpless when he did. There was nothing I could do except watch with wide eyes as he struggled to breathe. I don’t know why I didn’t go after him, but I wish I would have. Those were the last words that I ever heard him speak.
He was out there for about twenty minutes before I finally walked out to check on him. It usually took him a little while to calm down from his asthma attacks.
But when I opened the door, Calvin wasn’t there.
My feet were freezing in the brisk air of the hallway. I rubbed my arms as goose bumps started forming on my pale skin. Looking around, panic slowly started to rise in my throat. I checked in the bathroom to see if Calvin was in there. He wasn’t. There weren’t many places he could go.
“Calvin?” I called out into the hallway. There was no response. I quietly walked back into our room and put on a pair of slippers. I snuck down the hallway and raced down the staircase. He wasn’t in the lobby either.
There is no worse feeling than being completely alone in a place that you don’t know. It’s even worse when the only person you want to comfort you isn’t there. One of the hallway lamps flickered overheard. I couldn’t help the tears that streamed down my face. My mind was racing with possibilities of where my dear brother could have gone. I wondered if he had stormed off and left because I was just that annoying. I was so caught up in my panic that I didn’t see what I had tripped on. I went flying face first onto the oriental carpet. As I turned my body around to try and ease the pain, my eyes widened in shock.
Calvin’s inhaler was lying on the ground. It was just outside the door to our room, where I had seen him go out earlier. It was then that I knew that something was seriously wrong.
Calvin wouldn’t leave that lying around by choice. He wouldn’t just drop it by accident. It suddenly dawned on me that wherever he went, he went unwillingly. I let out a sob. I called out his name one more time. I reached my shaking arm out and took the inhaler in my hands. I rolled the plastic around in my palm as I stood up, placing it in my pocket. We needed to get out of there. I didn’t care if he didn’t agree. Once I found him, we’d drive away and never come back to this fucking freak show.
I dashed back into our room and grabbed the car keys off of the bedside table. I didn’t bother grabbing anything else. My only focus was getting the hell out of there. I tiptoed down the staircase, the wood creaking underneath my feet. Pushing open the door, I ran as fast as I could towards the diner, my only exit to the outside world. The lights were still on inside, much to my surprise. I tried not to pay attention to the menacing trees leaning over me as I raced to the back door. I was prepared to pound on it until my knuckles were red and bloody, but it opened almost immediately. I quietly slipped inside.
I could see Calvin’s truck on the other side of one of the clear glass windows. It looked so close, yet so far away. I don’t know how much adrenaline was pumping through my body at that exact moment, but it took every ounce of strength I had not to just bolt then and there. The only thing that stopped me was the sound of a metal object clattering to the tiled floor behind me. It echoed loudly into my ears.
As far as I could see, there was no one besides me in the building. All of the customers were long gone. I spun around quickly. The doors to the kitchen were closed. When I tried to pry one open, it was locked. I kicked it as hard as I possibly could. I screamed out into the emptiness of the diner, for somebody, anybody, to come to help me. It felt like I’d been in there for years.
A dizzying wave of nausea overtook me. I heard that object clatter again, as well as a few barely audible whispers. Someone said “Shit!” and was quickly shushed. I had to hold my breath just to hear them again. Whatever it was was close by. My neck craned, trying to peer into the kitchen once more. The glass windows were hidden behind a black curtain, hung up so I couldn’t see inside. That had not been there earlier. I snuck around behind the counter and pressed my ear against the murky walls. There was a sudden silence. And then, the shuffling of feet on the tiled floor.
I don’t know what urged me to do it. It could’ve been the adrenaline, or the hopelessness that had overwhelmingly taken over my body that night. On the counter, there were rows of ketchup bottles and silverware. I grabbed a fork out from under a napkin and clutched it in my sweaty palms. I knew there was somebody, or something, behind that window. I wasn’t alone in there. I jammed the fork onto the glass. After about thirty seconds, the glass was starting to crack. I kept banging and banging it until it shattered in front of me. The millions of pieces seemed to fall in slow motion. I didn’t step back, though. For as I pulled away the sheet, nothing on earth could prepare me for what I was about to stumble on to.
A stream of smoke poured out through the broken glass. But even through it, I could see that the O’Malley’s kitchen was a typical diner kitchen. There were a few stoves and ovens. A refrigerator in the back held week’s worth of food. But that was not what caught my attention. The overwhelming stench of burning flesh filled my nostrils. I coughed and gagged, struggling hard to get a breath out. My eyes started to tear up. I flailed my arms in an attempt to clear a path, but found myself unsuccessful. The grotesque smell made me want to puke.
“Who’s there?” I recognized the voice. It was the voice of the man who had taken Calvin and I to our rooms a couple of hours before. I didn’t make a sound. I still couldn’t see, but eventually the smoke cleared through the broken window. My watery eyes soon adjusted to the fluorescent lighting. My mouth fell open in horror.
Ted and Millie O’Malley stood in the middle of the kitchen. There was a silver pot, about the size of a record player, resting on a table in the center. It was the first time that I got a good look around me. Blood was splattered on every inch of the walls surrounding us. It dripped down in streams and formed small puddles on the floor. There was cleaver clutched in Ted’s meaty fist, gleaming menacingly in the light. Millie stood beside him, a wooden spoon at her side. It was wet and covered in what looked like oversized worms. Intestines. I didn’t speak.
My attention turned to the pot, still boiling and bubbling. I saw my brother’s pajamas strewn into a pile in the corner. I could see clumps of his hair sticking to the sides of the pot. My feet stayed frozen in place as the stench of his burning flesh filled my head and every inch of my body. My eyes burned. My mouth was dry. I couldn’t even utter a scream.
“Grab her!” Millie snarled in a cackling voice. Ted lunged for me, but I was too quick. The fat ass fell on his front, face first into a puddle of Calvin’s blood. Millie grabbed the cleaver and threw it at the door, just as I pried it open and ran like hell. I ran outside the diner and flung open the door to the truck, jamming the keys inside. I could make out Millie’s body racing towards me in the night, but I started the car up faster. It sputtered for a moment, and then shot out like a rocket. I had no experience with driving, but that was not my top priority. I needed to find help.
Tears were streaming down my face, blocking my vision. I was having a mental breakdown as I whisked unsteadily through the New Jersey trees. I let out howls of despair. Occasionally, I’d spit up whatever food I had left in my stomach. The smell of that flesh wouldn’t leave me. I’m sure I nearly drove off the road at least three times. But I didn’t care. They had killed Calvin. They had killed my brother, and chopped him up and fucking cooked him. I pounded my head on the wheel, the horn blasting into the night. I could feel the blood trickling down the side of my face, seeping into my hair. My vision was starting to show spots.
I don’t know how long I had driven until I finally found a car on the side of the road. There was a man kneeling down to examine one of his tires. I jerked to a stop and flew out of the truck, slamming the door behind me. Vomit clung to the sides of my mouth, dried blood on my face, tears still gushing like a waterfall. He was an older man, with a wrinkled face and skunk streaks in his dark hair. I frightened him, for he stood back in fear. I knew I looked like a mess, a drug addict, whatever. I sounded like one too.
“YOU NEED TO HELP ME! THEY KILLED MY BROTHER! THEY KILLED HIM THEY KILLED HIM THEY CHOPPED HIM UP AND THEY KILLED HIM!” I remember falling to my knees and howling in pain. The man tried to pry me back up but I thrashed around in his arms. He groaned loudly as I kicked right in the gut by accident. I could distantly hear his panicked voice trying to get an answer out of me.
“Who?” He yelled through a thick Jersey accent. “Who killed your brother?”
I shook my head rapidly, gasping for air. The wind pounded at my ears as I tried to speak. The last things I could make out were his eyes gleaming in the darkness as I wheezed out the name through the pain. I fell hard to the asphalt.
* * * * * *
They tell me that I was practically frothing at the mouth when they found me. I had blacked out for a moment, and the cops assumed I was dead. But I woke up. I was screaming for Calvin, screaming for somebody to help him, screaming for someone to believe me. Yet, to this day, no one does.
O’Malley’s Family Restaurant had been torn down in the late 1950s. Once word got out that the seemingly friendly owners trapped their victims in their motel and ate them, it was barricaded and destroyed. Theodore and Millicent O’Malley were given the death penalty in 1956, twenty years before my brother and I pulled up that summer night. I later learned that they had killed over twenty travelers who crossed their paths, including a gang of motorcycle riders, a group of teenage greasers, and a woman with her young daughter.
When the man who found me finally brought me over to the police, I was in hysterics. I was handcuffed and thrown into the back of a patrol car. They drove me back to the exit where Calvin and I had turned earlier that night. Where the restaurant had stood mere hours earlier was just an empty lot. The sign wasn’t there. The building had disappeared. There was no motel, no sign that anybody had been there for years. It was just an empty patch of dirt, no sign of life anywhere. No sign of Calvin. I tried to explain. I cried for what felt like years. Yet, no one believed me.
The police searched for months on end, but they never did find my brother’s body. His final resting place had vanished into thin air. They never found any evidence of anything. I still had Calvin’s inhaler, in the pocket of my sweatshirt. I can’t tell you the number of times I shoved it in those cop’s faces, telling them that it was the key to finding out where he was. But I was a lost cause. They even had the audacity to accuse me of murdering him. My case was eventually out ruled due to lack of evidence, but my years of pain never stopped. The judge was convinced that I was mental and needed to be locked away. So they threw me in here, which is where I have been since the early autumn of ‘76.
I’m a grown woman now, writing this story down as a cry for help. I’m hoping that somebody out there will believe me, someone who knows what I’m talking about. I swear to God that I am not insane. I felt it. I lived it. It survived it. It’s not all in my head, yet that has been what all of these doctors and psychiatrists have been trying to convince me for years.
They said I’ve imagined it all. All this medication pumping into my body has turned my brain to mush. But I know that I didn’t. It was too real to have possibly been a dream. The only thing I still have to remember that night by is Calvin’s inhaler. I hold it on to it every day, never letting it go. It’s the only thing I have to remind myself that my brother was real. It’s the only piece of evidence that I have. It’s the only part of him that they will never be able to take away from me.
You won’t find anything about the O’Malley’s or Calvin Duncan anywhere on the Internet. It’s as if it was a tragedy meant just for us. It’s as if the whole world wants to forget. Yet, there is a road down in the midst of New Jersey. If you turn at just the right spot, you might see the ghostly hue of a diner, filled with life and joy inside. Don’t be fooled; it isn’t real. Keep driving, and don’t look back. But if you do happen to see a boy in the window, with mousy brown hair, kind eyes, and a loving smile, you should wave at him. You should yell out into the night that Laurel loves him and she misses him very much.
And you should tell him that she is sorry that she couldn’t have done more.
This post was uploaded by a patient from the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey.
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