The Girl in Red

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a story that will make you wonder after it is over. Was it real or was it a dream?

Hank Eylar is a hard-working man that worked his fourth 12-hour day at the factory with his back beaten to a pulp. All he wanted to do is enjoy his favorite breakfast at his favorite diner. That is all that he wanted in his future when he drove his old, rickety Chevrolet towards the diner that is in the middle of the New Mexico desert where there is supposed to be frost by morning. The coyotes are at bay, probably hunkered down between the dunes with their bellies half-starved like Hank that is only looking at the road like the road is going to break in two and depart when something wicked will swallow the Chevrolet whole. He kept his eyes on the road when he realized that his truck is only going forty five miles an hour. He pressed on the gas a little and cranked the window when he can feel the cold air come into his eyes when he woke up a little.

Before his odd breakfast hours he used to drink up a storm. That did not help getting up three hours later with the crust in his eyes and the feel of something drugging him to the point that he did not know what is going on. Did he remember using the toilet when he got home? Did he remember closing the fridge door after getting a jar of pickles? Did he unplug the toaster oven that is on the kitchen counter? No. He cannot remember anything what happened within the hour when he drove with his gas gauge being on three quarters of a tank. The moon is up in the sky, signaling the middle of the month when he felt the urging of sleep come on when it is seven o’clock in the evening when he can see nothing but sand in the middle of nowhere. Hank lives in a double-wide trailer with the extreme heat and the extreme cold being his only bother in the only two seasons that are apparent in New Mexico. He has his furnace all oil up when it ran every thirty minutes from the failing insulation that is within the house as the cold came through the installations of the windows and through the poor ventilation of the vents every time the furnace come on.

Hank wished he had more when he arrived at the only diner in the middle of the New Mexico desert with his window still down when he realized that he jumped out, sighed, put the key back into the ignition, cranked it on ACC and rolled the window back up again. He made sure his keys are in his hand when he closed the door as he walked up the diner with only two cars in the parking lot. The lights in the parking lot are brighter than they are ever before when he walked up to the diner door and pulled it open, feeling the warmth on his body when he breathed in and breathed out, feeling better in a place that Hank knows all too well.

The jukebox played against the wall, a familiar tune that he cannot remember when he sees the dim lights in the diner like a winery that is getting close to closing time. He wondered why the lights are so dim on this night when he found out later that they are cutting the electricity down by 20% in the place to conserve. The rug past the front door says, “Welcome” when Hank Eylar saw the many pieces of paper, both print and written on the corkboard that is next to him when he found something that interested him that is scrawled in cursive writing:

Room Heater for sale! $35.00 and in good working condition; Call 580-555-2132

God I need a room heater. The furnace went on the fritz last week and I have no other measure of heat to warm the place up.

Hank took out his phone and made a picture of it when he put it into his pocket before putting it in hibernation mode. He is sitting at the diner now in warmth when he is nursing over a cup of coffee on the bar; already making his order with Mandy that is working this evening, pulling a double with one of the other waitresses that called off on her night that she is supposed to work. He thought about the heater that is posted on the paper when he sipped his coffee that is getting colder by the minute. He thought about his childhood, thinking about it more when he could not remember some parts of his childhood when he thought about the truth being that the older you get it is harder to remember the youth of a person that has aged along with the times. There is no one else in the diner at the moment when Hank Eylar heard a gentle song from the jukebox that is up against the wall when he did not remember the wind that is blowing outside. Did he drive through the night with the wind blowing? He could not remember. He is so tired with his job working to the bone when he waited for Mandy to come with the plate of home fried potatoes, bacon, three eggs over easy, and a tall glass of orange juice to boot. Hank felt like a child again when the door chimed behind him in the diner where he cannot see who walked in the foyer. He waited for someone to walk into the foyer when an elderly couple came through the door when Hank paid no mind to it, sipping his coffee and thinking about horseshoes for some reason. When was the last time he played horseshoes? He did not know when he came back to the time when he did not have to work so damn much.

He remembered the fall being so beautiful when the seasons passed him like a breeze that came and went before he realized that it was there. He remembered the summers lasting forever when he realized that he cannot remember last summer when he had to pull sixty hours at work and summer was pretty much meaningless to him when fall came around again like a slap in the face. Hank did not keep the maintenance up in the house when he realized before the cold came into the land in the evening that the window in the living room is cracked in three places when he wondered how in the hell did that happen? He could not believe it when the random tune on the jukebox ended and another tune came on that he can remember the tune but cannot remember who sings it. The jukebox is something that came from the 90’s with a pearlescent color that is marble blue on the trimming and made out of cherry which is an expensive jukebox considering when Hank looked at it for a spell when he remembered jukeboxes that played vinyl instead of CD’s. In its conclusion Hank realized that he has to be the most boorish person that ever existed on the face of the planet when he shrugged and realized that his coffee is finished.

Something tapped him on the shoulder when turned, realizing that it is the elderly woman that came in with the elderly man that is sitting in the nearest booth.

“Do you have a quarter? My husband wants to read the paper.” She is explaining about the paper kiosk that is outside when Hank took a quarter out of his pocket and presented it to the elderly woman. She thanked him and Hank is left alone again.

He called his mother two days ago but all he got is the voice mail when he scratched the stubble on his face. He moved his fingertips over something when he knew it is not his stubble, pinching it and pulling it off from his face. He looked at the foreign object, knowing it came from work when he sighed and dropped it onto the floor. Hank wondered what his mother is doing when he thought about lighting a cigarette when he realized that you cannot smoke in diners anymore. That is such bullshit not to smoke in a diner anymore.

The diner door opened and one man appeared wearing a fedora hat and a black suit. He took the hat off when he pondered to look around the diner when Hank did not look at him for a spell. He waited for Mandy to come with the fresh pot of coffee when he swirled the coffee on the bottom of the cup. He did notice that someone came in but he did not look in the direction when he felt the vibration in his jacket pocket when he pulled the phone out of his pocket, realizing that it is his boss from work when he sighed. He had to pick up the phone or otherwise find another job in the morning when he answered the call and placed it to his ear.

“How are you Earl?” He listened to what his boss said on the line when he closed his eyes and opened them. He now knows that someone is not coming back to work when he almost placed his head on the table, rapping it gently when he pulled his head back up and looked at the nails on his left hand being a little too long for comfort.

“Okay, I will be in there in a couple of hours.”

“No, you will be in there in the beginning of third shift tonight.” Earl said with some assertiveness when Hank just got off first shift just three hours before. Hank did not know how long he is going to go on with this when Hank closed his eyes again and opened them.

“Okay I will be there.” Hank replied when the phone cut off in his ear.

Hank pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at the Call End that is upon the screen.

“Asshole;” Hank whispered when he put the phone back into his pocket. He felt the wave of sleep come on when Mandy came out with the fresh pot of coffee in her right hand.

“I might have to get a carry out container, Mandy. I need to get two to three hours of sleep at home before I go back to it tonight.”

Mandy looked at him and noticed that he looks like he is going to fall over.

“You need to take better care of yourself, Hank.” It is none of Mandy’s business when she poured him a cup of coffee.

“You are working yourself early into the grave.”

“I know but I know one thing.” Hank looked at her in the eyes.

“I can retire from doing all the bullshit when I am dead.” Hank smiled when Mandy did not laugh at this.

“When was the last time you talked to Angie?”

“We broke it off. She needed someone to be at home more but she wanted to blow my money when pay day arrived.”

“Sorry to hear that.” Mandy looked at the stubble that is growing on his face.

“I’ll see if Mutt can put another egg in for you.” Mandy set the coffee pot onto the hot plate on the industrial coffee maker when Hank thanked her. He brought out his phone again and considered to look at something on YouTube when he shrugged and placed it back into his pocket again. He realized that he had to get his tire aired up on his truck when he turned and looked at the man in the black suit that is sitting in the booth, looking like he is not from around here.

“Hey Mandy,” Hank called her when she came to the bar.

“Did you hear about the ‘place’ that is outside of Monterey with the so-called archeologists that are digging for fossils?”

“Yeah but that was only from Old Man Bob.” Mandy did not look at the man that is sitting at the booth in black.

“Why do you ask?”

Hank looked down at the bar and shook his head a little.

“I been hearing some whispers about coyotes in the hills.”

Mandy stood there and cocked her head a little.

“What kind of coyotes?”

“The coyotes that come from the east to possibly start some trouble.” Hank heard about this from one of his coworkers when he probably knew it was a bunch of crap that came from someone that is just possibly starting wicked rumors. Hank just wanted some breakfast with the brain fog driving a little away from him. Not drinking does help and he feels a little better, feeling better so he can sleep with all the work that is driving him to the point that it is making him crazy for feeling so damn isolated.

He grew up in the southern part of New Hampshire and the conditions of the weather are a full one hundred and eighty degrees there. It snowed every winter. The people there are too friendly on the most part that made him almost wanted to puke. It was like they were wearing faces that are not true as they all watched the same programming on the television every night and talk about the leaves changing in the fall and the flowers that grew in the spring. It was like they were dead before death came knocking on their doors and Hank became disconnected with that feeling before his 15th birthday when he only wanted to find a way out of this place. He did eventually when mom died and he sold the property, getting enough money to come out to the desert to live with the heat and cold in the night in the months of November through February.

It was a better place than living in the New England States with all the walking dolls that are still out there that made him mad to high heaven. Now he is living in hell with no place out with money in his pocket and nothing else in his future but old age and death. What a wonderful life and this life pretty much sucks.

Hank looked at the dark part of the diner again when he thought about home being out in the middle of nowhere. It is kind of a good feeling but not really a good feeling when he thought in retrospect about the patch up job that was on top of the house when he thought about the little slip that could have brought him crashing down. He thought about the breaker job when he knew that he turned off the main breaker as he worked on the box that is within the enclosure in the back of his trailer. He could have made a slip and that is a bad slip that no one will know about when he has so little friends and no family in general in New Mexico. That scared him when he thought about it when he looked at the freshly poured coffee that is in front of him, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes still when he dreamed the dreams that made him happy for the most part of his life.

He kept dreaming about this woman that he had never met in his life. It was always the same woman that drove an old fashion Ford Bronco with the top off, turning an old truck into a convertible that was common at the time. She drove around with those shades she had on, never looking into her eyes when Hank was standing on the side of the road in an area that he had never seen before or ever traveled before when he jumped into that old truck, acting like he knew her all of her life when the dream faded and he woke up to the sound of the crickets that are playing their mating songs outside. Who is this woman that he is seeing in his dreams? He does not know when Mandy came out of the door that is hanging only on the hinges, rocking back and forth with no noise with the two plates arriving on the table when his stomach did a jump off of Lover’s Leap. He has been hungry since this morning before he went to work and plugged in those twelve hours with his boss telling him that if he wants an extra two hours the company will pay double-time for his troubles. That is a lie when he retreated that idea, wanting food and a lot of it when the paper towel with the utensil arrived with the plate of two eggs, buttered toast, three rashers of bacon, American fries, and a tall glass of orange juice when he thanked Mandy and dug in. He opened the yolk on the egg and dipped the toast into it, feeling good on eating when he joyed in the nurturing arts of food. He stopped eating when a headache came on for no apparent reason, trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes when he looked at the plate that doubled his vision a little when he kept his hands on the table.

Don’t faint. Not yet. Hank Eylar steadied himself when his vision is better when he hummed something in his throat that sounded like a tune, sounding not like a tune at all when he thought in retrospect. Another person came through the front door when Hank did not pay any attention to what is going on when he kept eating and kept eating like a man who has not eaten in fifty years or less. He looked at the wall past the bar from time to time, looking at the pictures on the wall when he cocked his head a little at the memorabilia of the images and textures that span a forgotten time within a forgotten age of people that grew up and remembered in old age what they are. He never figured who this person in the picture is when he realized that he is looking at a western picture image of Jimmy Stewart. What movie was that from? Was it the movie The Man who Shot Liberty Vallance? That is a good picture when he felt like he is dreaming again when he closed his eyes and remembered the face of the woman in the old Ford Bronco

Who is this woman that is dancing in the shadows of time that is not in his memory? He did not know when he opened his eyes, seeing Mandy standing there with a convincing look of concern in her expression.

“Are you okay, Hank?” She surmised.

“Yeah sure, I was just thinking about that Dodgers game last night. Man, did they suck.”

She smiled a little and then walked away a little perturbed. The Dodgers were not playing at all last night when the last game was three nights ago. She cocked her head and then shrugged when she went to the other table in progress to contend with their orders. The headlights from outside flashed into the windows in the front of the diner when they stayed through the windows when Mandy looked outside to see what the matter is? She did not know when there are two men at the table, one on one side of the bench and the other on the other side. They looked at Mandy and asked for two cheeseburgers when Mandy asked them what they will be drinking.

“Two large cokes if you sell Coca-Cola.” The other one looked outside when he started to look a little uneasy on the benediction of what is to come which he is right when he looked at the man with the fedora hat and signaled his eyes to him.

“Could it be that she is here?” He said when he realized that a man came into the door, holding something long and black in his hand when Mandy saw it and reacted with a scream when Hank turned and saw what went down. It is like a fever dream that he cannot wake up from for that he is awake when the barrel pointed at the one with the Fedora hat.

“You know that you are too late to cover up what came from the depths of the desert which you made.” The man kept the weapon level on the man when the man with the fedora hat upon his head did not show any emotion. He smiled and touched the brim of his hat.

“She got to you. Didn’t she?” he shrugged.

“She altered your mind. I guess and gave you a sense of pity about her.”

“I stayed loyal to her and look what you did!” He screamed when he pulled the trigger and the gun exploded in his hand, killing the man with the fedora hat, killing the man in the booth on the other side of the fedora, killing the hitter in the process when the fragments hitting Mandy in her chest that also killed her. Hank jumped off his bench seat and fell back to the wall with his mind trying to process this and what is going on.

“What the fuck! What?” He looked at all the blood that is on the other side of the diner with the brains on the window that is shattered and the blood puddles that are getting bigger and bigger upon the floor. He shook his head when he felt like throwing up when he did before he even realized it as the diner is filled with the acidic vomit as well as the sulfur and burning smell of fabric that has filled the room.

That is when the girl in red appeared, looking like a girl of about ten years of age that is pale in complexion. She looked like a ghost with auburn hair that came down to her shoulders when she did not look in the direction of what happened when she turned her attention to the man that is creeping back up on the wall with her eyes cold, dead, and cloven in black. She did not say anything for almost ten seconds.

“You have seen too much in this place and you have not seen me on this night.” She moved her hand up and snapped her fingers when Hank went to sleep with the scene escaping him like a dream.

He woke up in his bed with the sound of crickets coming from the open window. He did not remember what happened when he only looked at the ceiling, feeling like he got some sleep for a change. He got up, took a piss in the toilet in the next room and sat down at the foot of the bed with the overhead light on. He rubbed his eyes when he looked at the phone for some time when it beeped which made him jump. He got up and looked at the four missed calls on the indicator screen.

It is his boss when he called him back and placed the phone to his ear.

Submitted: November 10, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Adam Steele. All rights reserved.

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