Friday, May 29, 2015

The Girl From Far, Far Away, Aurelia's Diner, Gallup, New Mexico

“Take my hand-cuffs off…please.” The young girl pleaded from the back of the patrol car.
          Ed looked at her and nodded. She was seventeen, thin and average height. She had a pretty oval face, with cupid lips, and wide brown eyes, all framed with light brown hair. The girl next door, but something wasn’t right.
          Releasing the handcuffs, Ed stepped back and she exited the back seat, glancing up in the sky. She pointed and smiled, “They’re coming for me.” She said.
         The officer looked skyward and saw a shooting star streak across the night sky, moving west to east, flaming out over New Mexico. He stood in the parking lot which had been dusted by a brief snow squall. The clouds had cleared and now the clear, night sky was resplendent with a multitude of stars.
The girl laughed lightly. “You’ll see.” She said.
         Ed had decided they should eat as they had gotten a late start from Phoenix and been slowed in New Mexico by the snow. He found a diner off the I-40 outside of Gallup that looked interesting, pulled in and parked. She gathered herself and they walked to the brightly-lit diner. Going inside, he steered her down the narrow isle; red covered booths were on the left and a long counter with stools on the right. They took a booth in the back.
        The diner was busy with a number of people at the counter and most of the booths full. A pony-tailed blonde came over with menus and took their orders for ice tea with a smile.
         Ed’s prisoner had been arrested in Phoenix for assault, but research showed there was a warrant for her in Albuquerque where she was accused of a double homicide, the killing of her foster parents. Ed had volunteered to escort Jill Brand back to New Mexico where she would face the more severe charges. He planned to drop his captive off in Albuquerque then take Route 285 south to Roswell and spend a day at the museum. He scoffed at conspiracies, but was fascinated by them: the North Carolina Brown Mountain lights, the Phoenix sightings, and the mother of all UFO conspiracies, the Roswell Incident. The trip was his opportunity to visit ground zero and see the UFO evidence in Roswell.
       Holding the menu, Ed peered over the top at the girl across from him. She was slight, not powerfully built. It was hard to reconcile the Phoenix boy’s broken nose and two strangling murders in New Mexico with his youthful prisoner. The waitress came and Ed ordered the meatloaf special. Jill ordered the same.
       “I’m dangerous.” Jill said her brown eyes sad. “Something’s wrong with me.” She sighed.
       Ed sipped his tea, baffled by his captive. She appeared oblivious to the serious charges she faced in New Mexico. He had seen pictures of her dead foster parents and both were big bodied. How Jill strangled two of them was a puzzle.
        Checking the diner wall clock, Ed noted it was almost eight and he needed to call his wife, a routine when away from home.
        Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash, as if a lightning strike. Everyone in the diner tensed, waiting for the sharp thunder clap, but it never came. In a few seconds the bright light faded and some in the diner went to the windows, staring out and talking softly.
       Ed sat back and looked out the window, but the parking lot was still. He turned to Jill and was shocked to see she was gone. Looking around, he saw the waitress coming.
       "Your friend in the girl’s room?” The waitress asked, setting down two large plates of the meatloaf special.
Ed nodded. He supposed Jill had gone during the lightning flash. Remembering to call his wife, Ed checked the wall clock and saw it was 8:20. He sat back mystified as he had lost 20 minutes. He got up and went to the rest rooms, knocking on the woman’s door, and then peeking in, but it was empty. He checked the men’s room, but it was empty too.He stood in the hallway, rubbing his chin.
      Walking to the front of the diner, Ed went outside and checked the parking lot. He looked in the patrol car, but there was no trace of Jill. Glancing up at the sky, he saw a shooting star heading east, but then it was gone.
He turned as someone called and he saw it was the waitress at the diner door. "Where'd she go?" She asked from the steps.
      Ed walked over and looked up. “They took her home.” 
      “Oh, where’s home?” The waitress queried.
      “Far, far away.” Ed said.

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