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Cheryl Kaye Tardif

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Member Since: Aug, 2004

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The Car
By Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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I'm looking scary right now, with my leftover eye-makeup smeared under my eyes. The seams of the saggy bags under them betray my lack of sleep. I didn't get to slip away into a peaceful sleep like the rest of you probably did last night. Instead I got to call 911.

Twice.

©2005 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

 

 

 I'm looking scary right now, with my leftover eye-makeup smeared under my eyes. The seams of the saggy bags under them betray my lack of sleep. I didn't get to slip away into a peaceful sleep like the rest of you probably did last night. Instead I got to call 911.

Twice.

And before you freak out and wonder who had a heart attack, it wasn't like that. Well...not really.

It all started when Royale, the most wonderful guard dog of all, began barking at two this morning and wouldn't shut up. So Marc, my hero, went to see why. He told me later he had heard voices. Not that kind of voices...real ones! He looked out our side windows, then the front ones. Royale, our fluffy white miniature American Eskimo killer watchdog, continued barking and growling. 

Then Marc saw someone run across the street, stop in the middle, look both ways then run back towards our house. That's when he saw the shadows hiding behind the neighbor's gate.

By this time I was thinking that my hero needed backup, so I crawled out of bed and went to see what he was doing. I was shocked when he told me there were kids outside. I looked out the window and saw them huddling by the gate. Six--count 'em--six teens, probably no more than fifteen years old, were wandering the streets at 2:00 a.m. They were hiding in my neighbor's back yard.  

Marc started yelling at them. "Hey! What are you doing?" When they didn't answer, he shouted, "Get out!" 

One of the kids--a boy, I think--shouted something back. "Someone's after us." Some of the kids snickered.

"Get out or I'm going to call the cops!" Marc yelled.

Of course, me being proactive and all, I made my first ever 911 call. I explained to the cops that there were six young teens hiding in my neighbor's yard. I also told them that they said someone was after them, but that it was impossible to determine whether they were seriously scared or not. As Marc put it, why wouldn't they bang on doors if they felt threatened? 

The kids, seeing me in the window talking to someone on the phone, quickly banded together and ran across the street. They hovered in the path to Sobeys for a moment, then disappeared.

I have to admit, the entire thing left me feeling a bit unnerved. What if the kids were in real danger? What if someone 'bad' was after them? What if they had just vandalized my neighbor's yard or house? What if it was local drug deal gone bad and the dealers were hunting them down? What if they were all running away? What if they came back? What if I had imagined it all and they never really existed?

What if...?

Sometimes being a fiction writer with a vivid imagination is exhausting!

Marc and I had to wait, of course. We stood in the dark near the windows, but not too close in case someone decided to drive by and shoot the witnesses. I waited for the gunshots.

And then we saw it.

The car.

One lone car cruising ever so slowly down our quiet little street.

We ducked behind the blinds. Did the driver see us? Did he have a shotgun in the passenger seat? Maybe we just imagined that the car had anything to do with those kids. Group hysteria with only two people? Is that possible?

A car motor chugged. And then the same car slinked past our window...again.

"Call the cops, Cheryl," Marc said quietly.

Do you get charged extra when you actually use 911? I made two calls last night and I'm sure they're going to bill me.

"Ah, yeah, I called about five minutes ago," I said to the dispatcher. "I reported a gang of six teens in my neighbor's back yard. Well, there's a strange car that has--Wait! There it is again!"

The car slowed, its interior dark and eerie as it passed in front of my house. It drew parallel with my window.

And then it idled.

I couldn't breathe. It felt like the air from the room had been instantly sucked out.

A cop's voice asked me for a description. When he asked if I could see the license plate number, I wanted to smack the officer through the phone. I'm standing in my pajamas in my living room/Marc's office, looking out a window into the dark of night. How the hell would I see the plate number?

"It's a silver T-bird," Marc said, moving closer to the window.

I relayed the information to the dispatcher who said they'd have a car sent over right away. When I hung up, Marc shook his head in disbelief. "They actually thought we could see the license plate?"

I snorted in disdain. "Yeah. I wanted to say, 'Wait, I'll get out my laser-scoped sniper rifle and check.'"

Marc chuckled and sat down in his office chair.

"We have binoculars," I said. "Somewhere." I had won a pair a few years ago and even used them at a concert. Once. I haven't seen the binoculars since.

We saw the car pull away from our curb and continue slowly down the road. A minute later it turned around and rolled past again.

"The car," I said to Marc who had moved away from the window. "It's back."

We watched as the phantom-car patrolled the street, back and forth. 

Suddenly it stopped. 

A man with a husky build climbed out. He looked around and I am sure he stared right at us. Could he see us watching him in the dark from our window? His eyes scoped out the shadows between the houses. He cupped both hands to his mouth and yelled something but we couldn't make out the words.

Was he just a terrified father looking for his kids? Or someone who wanted to hurt them?

By this time, Marc had dug out the pair of binoculars from the mysterious 'somewhere'. He probably got them from the same place that ate our socks--or at least one of each pair. Of course binoculars would have solved the license plate mystery. But that would have made too much sense, and neither of us was thinking clearly. Hell, we had been in a dead sleep half an hour earlier.

Another ten minutes went by. There was no sign of the teens, but that damned car kept creeping along our street. We could see the parking lot of the Sobeys too. What the heck was going on there? Cars...lots of cars.

And then a police car went by the Sobeys, with its lights flashing. Relief set in. The police took a while but it looked like they were finally on the job. Whew!

The shrill ringing of our phone startled us, cutting through the quiet darkness of our unlit house.

"We're on our way," a cop said.

Confused, I said, "But wasn't that you in front of Sobeys with your lights flashing?"

"No, we just turned off onto 34th," came the reply. They were still three minutes away.

What the hell was going on out there?

I reminded the officer about the silver Thunderbird that kept slowing down by our house and he assured me they'd check it out. Ten minutes later, a police car drove past our house. It had been about forty minutes since Marc had first discovered the kids hiding in my neighbor's yard.

And of course me being a good neighbor and all, I had to phone them--after two in the morning--to let them know that, once again, they were sleeping through all the exciting action that our quiet street gets every third year. Darrel and Debbie's lights flicked on, front and back. Great, now we weren't the only ones awake.

I glanced at Marc who was peering through the tiny concert binoculars. "Don't let anyone see you using those," I warned. "They'll think you're a Peeping Tom."

"I need night vision goggles," Marc said seriously. Maybe a little too seriously.

He's been watching too many Bruce Willis and Arnie movies lately. But Marc is ex-military too. You know, trained to kill with a single deadly pinch or cosmic stare. Although if you saw my licensed-to-kill hero dressed in his faded, ratty blue housecoat, carrying a miniscule pair of 'noculars in one hand, the other frantically trying to keep the tie on his housecoat from coming undone...

The cars in the Sobeys' lot started to separate and a black sports car zoomed past our house.

"It has nothing to do with this," Marc said confidently.

The same black sports car zoomed past again, and I had a sudden thought. What if the silver car could change colors? Change styles? Reality set in. What if another gang was after these kids? What if...?

"Go to bed," Marc groaned when I voiced my thoughts.

Instead I dragged the chair from my office, sat beside him and watched the window like it was opening night for the next blockbuster. All I needed was the buttered popcorn. After a few minutes of inactivity, our window view became boring. Tiredness set in. There was nothing more we could do. So we did what we do best.

We went back to sleep.

I tossed and turned for about ten minutes. What were those kids up to? Were they in danger? Were their parents looking for them? Was that what all the cars were about? And if not, then how come those parents had no idea that their kids were cruising the streets and getting into trouble?

Just as I was fading off to sleep, I prayed that the kids would be all right. And I cursed the parents who probably slept mindlessly while I worried about their children.

In the final moment of consciousness, I heard one final sound before slipping into an exhausted sleep.

A dull chugging that sent shivers up my spine.

The car... 


 

~◙~

P.S. I'll let you decide whether this was real...or not. ~ CKT
 

       Web Site: Cheryl Kaye Tardif - author of Whale Song

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