Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
It was night and two guys in classic car traveled down a lonely stretch of I-95 in Pennsylvania. The one in the passenger seat had a pensive look about him. The driver reached down to fiddle with the radio. They slowly pulled ahead of me. Squinting through the darkness and the bug-dotted windshield of my eight year old Isuzu I observed a blue bumper sticker with the words in white “Hilary ‘08” on it. “God damn it. I hate those guys.”
Gabe looked at me inquiringly, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. “You mean guys who look like they’ve been pulled out of some teen drama on basic cable?”
“Huh? No. Guys who leave bumper stickers up from previous elections. For fuck’s sake Hilary didn’t even win the primary.”
“Where are we anyway?” Gabe stretched out until his hands touched the car roof. Admittedly that wasn’t that much of a stretch, he was one of those shaggy looking wiry fellows.
“Just out of Jersey. You think you can help me stay awake? The Blush Twins back there aren’t much of a help.” My sister Prissy and her friend Claire were passed out in the back seat. When they drank more then they were used they had the tendency to turn as red as tomatoes. That limit was two glasses of red wine.
Gabe mumbled something that sounded like “alcohol camels” and responded, “Yea sure. There’s not much to talk about though, Jack.”
“Well it’s night and Halloween is a day away. You ever seen anything that could be considered paranormal?” That was always a good topic if two people need to stay awake through the night. I did not even need to worry about a “no.” Even the most logical human being has had that one weird experience, whether it was a bad trip or one of those waking nightmares experienced during sleep paralysis.
“Well, uh, no. But I swear to God, Jack, this one time when I was five I remember flying. This isn’t paranormal, but I had this one reoccurring nightmare back before my father left. Haven’t had it recently, but I remember it pretty clearly.
“I was about eleven and remember lying in bed listening to a shouting match in the living room. My bed room was on the second floor, so I couldn’t make out exactly what they were saying except for the occasional ‘Fuck you.’
“Then I dunno, time passed, I fell asleep. The hall lights were out and screaming stopped. The doorway to my room was half open. Next thing I know I can’t move, not even blink. But I could see things moving on the walls, man. It was trippy.” Gabe was rubbing that scraggly blond thing on his neck he called a beard as he told his story.
“Don’t stop there. What kind of things?” I said.
“Shadows, man, shadows. But not like those stories on the internet. They had hair, like people hair. They were flat to the wall except for the hair. It was like the hair was three dimensional and the rest of them was two dimensional. They had different color hair too. I mean black and brown, normal people colors, but some of them weren’t people shapes. They did have people hair though, they all did. I could hear—
“I could hear them say, ‘Carry on my waywar—” The radio turned on without warning. Prissy had left the damn thing on at max volume, the girls in the back stirred with a bunch thrashing thumps.
I shut the radio off. “Sorry about that, my elbow must of hit the dial.”
Gabe gave me a weird look before he went on. “I was saying I could hear whispering and feel tingling on my toes. It felt like when a dog licks your toes. That’s when I saw it, the big it, or her, I really don’t know. All I know is that thing was boss and all the rest of them were bitches, ‘cause they all scattered off to the corners. She had really red hair, Christmas present red, and curly too. Its thin shadow was stretching out from behind my bedroom door.
“I didn’t hear her voice, dude, I felt it. Not like telepathy, like felt it reverberate in my skull. Almost as if it were that loud nagging voice in your head when you’ve done something real bad. She said, the voice in me said, ‘Dear—
“John on DVD this Friday at Wal-Mart.” Blared the radio again.
I shut it off again. “I guess I should get that looked at, sorry. Go on.”
Gabe went on, “It said, ‘Dear soul, you have grown so much. Why you’re so pink and cute, how’d like to come home with me? I could just dress you up with gravy. Look at those crinkles on your forehead you look just like a juicy jelly donut. The powdery dough is always the best part of a fresh baked donut.’
“I didn’t see a hand, but it felt like she pinch my cheek. Then the licking would not stop!” Gabe pounded the “would”, “not”, and “stop” out on the passenger side of the dash board.
If I had not been focusing on the road ahead of me Gabe would of seen the wide eyed bewildered look in my eyes. It was not over the dream, I have had weirder. The bewilderment extended from the clearly unresolved issue that were clearly bubbling beneath Gabe’s Chewbacca-like surface. “It was just a dream, Gabe. I’m sorry I asked. Relax, I‘ll drive the rest of the night. One of the girls can take over in the morning.”
The night after our chat in the car we spent the night in some shit motel in northern Georgia. In the morning we found Gabe feet up in a garbage bin behind the Waffle House next door.
Credited to Tower.