Chapter 2: DUDE, DON’T YOU FUCKING PLAY WITH ME!!!
The next day was another typical day as a cab driver doing another 12 hour overnight shift. Made pretty good money from last night for a weekend, and only a few bills to pay. I made real good money, but no life; drive and sleep, drive and sleep. What a life huh?
Heading back to the cab stand getting ready for another long haul shift, I was looking forward to doing more big fares, out of townees, tourists, drunk couples, guys wanting to show off their money to girls by throwing me $20 tips, wasted chicks flirting with me as long as they shower me with some affectionate dollars I can use to see my woman in Boston. Another day as a cab driver.
“Yo, One Armed Bandit! I heard you were killing it last night!” one of the drivers Travis was saying, smoking a Newport getting ready for his shift. “Oh yeah, I guess that goes around here a lot huh?” I said jokingly.
“Yeah dude, everybody was talking how good you were going from one call to the other”.
“Well, I really hope I can get a call from this girl I picked up last night, or this morning in Northburg. We were….” I stopped in my tracks because I realized that was not called in, or registered, and I have no idea if this guy is a snitch that would rat out anyone who would break company rules.
“Hey dude, I did the same thing. We’re out here trying to make a living. We got families to take care of. Sometimes you gotta hustle hard for them and bend the rules ya know what I mean?” he said winking at me gesturing an approval of scamming-the-system-type.
Travis was around in his late 40s, maybe early 50s based on his “man, kids these days got it easy, not like we did in the 80s..” conversations. Always in the 80s. But he was cool, been around the block longer than I’ve been alive. So I can imagine how much hustle he had to do to keep a roof over his head. I saw him more like an older brother any guy could easily talk to.
“Yeah, well I’m glad you understand” I said.
“So, tell me about this girl. Did she give you some? Gave you a hand job” he asked wanting the dirtiest secrets possible.
“Wha..what? No, hell no!” laughing at him.
“How old is she?”
“Well, she said her name is Laura. She was nice, but weird though. So you know it was storming last night, really hard right?” I asked
“Well, imagine seeing this chick walking down the street, the middle of the street mind you, with no coat on but a sweater, and jeans….in a 27 degree weather dude”. I looked at him to remind him how bazaar this girl was, and how my encounter looked.
“I would think she was nuts, or possibly running from someone” he replied.
“That’s what I was thinking too! That’s what she was doing bro.”
I described this girl in almost complete detail, then he abruptly interrupted me as if he got a big flashback, or apiphany.
“Wait, hold on, hold on, hold the fuck on. What did you say her name was?”
“Laura is what I got”
“Describe her again?”
“White girl. About late teens early twenties. 5’6′. White sweater, blue jeans. Brunette I think?” I replied, collecting my thoughts.
“I dropped her off at….”
“Whoa hold on! You picked her up and dropped her off?!” He asked, turning white, but looking more angry than concerned.
“She literally opened the door, she got in, you drove her home and dropped her off?!”
“Yeeeahh? So? What’s the problem? Nothing happened if you’re concerned about anything”
“Dude don’t you fucking play with me!” he said angrily as if I just confessed to murdering his entire family.
“Yo calm down, I told you nothing fucking happened. Shit! I should’ve at least got the phone number. I could’ve been her own personal driver on the side” I murmured, thinking of all the private clients I did have from doing just that.
“Dude, I’m fucking serious, don’t fucking play with me like this!!! Was her name Laura Albrighton?”
“I told you I didn’t get her last name, just Laura. She did remind me of the eighties though” I said remembering her clothes as if she popped out of a recent “Wham!” video.
But his reply disturbed and rattled me. He started getting angry all of a sudden, almost teary eyed, like he just got an intervention out of nowhere. What was it about this “Laura” girl that got him all worked up? Was the break up that bad?
But then he delivered me news that shook me to my core, and still give me goosebumps to this day. He stared me right in the eyes, tears streaming all over his face.
It so happened that another driver, April, overheard our conversation, and saw Travis breaking down from me telling him about this mystery chick.
“Go inside Travis. It’ll be okay” she said.
“No, I need to hear this!” Travis protested. But April’s gentle yet firm command got the best of him and walked into the cab lobby.
“What the fuck was that?” I asked, wondering if I did something, or said something wrong. “He asked for more info, I giveth!”. I retorted.
“No, it’s not that. You said her name was Laura?” April asked.
“Sit down for a second”
“Just tell me what’s up”
“Laura Albrighton. The girl you supposedly picked up…”
“No. No. I DID…pick up. I picked her up and took her ho…”
“Shut up and listen. The girl you picked up, Laura Albrighton. Age 24. Was walking home from a party after a big fight with her then boyfriend. She left the party while he and all the others was fucked up. She didn’t tell anyone she was leaving…”
“Wait, stop..how do you kn….” I interrupted.
“…A few hours later, someone, or some..thing, picked her up on Central Street in front of a tire store. It was raining, and it was cold just as you…”
“Wait, stop April. Stop this…” I said feeling cold running through my veins. Goosebumps coursing all over my skin. I could feel my whole body go numb.
“….just as you described the weather last night T. She got picked up, and the worst thing she could have done was take that ride, whatever it was”
“No. No you’re bullshitting..”
“She was reported missing a week later, they found her purse right in front of her driveway”.
“No wait, you said in front of a tire shop? I picked her up….it was a parking lot of a diner see? It’s not the same girl…”
“T….Laura, this girl that you thought you picked up went missing on January 8, 1985, exactly 34 years later from last night. They found her body six months later, 200 yards from where you dropped her off, wearing the same clothes you described”.
I went pale. Speechless.
“I…..ooooh God, I….spoke….to…her!” I said trying to catch my breath, trying to keep my sanity.
“I looked at her! I felt her get in the cab!”
“T, detectives investigated motives of who or what possibly murdered her for years”.
But Travis’s reaction is what alarmed me.
“Well, why is Travis so worked up about it? I know it’s a ‘small town’ where everybody knows everybody’s fucking business but really?”
“That’s because the boyfriend she was fighting with that night…was Travis. And he’s been angry with himself ever since. Begging her to forgive him for being a dick. But nothing was more painful than what he realized she was”
“What was she?” I asked in determined curiosity. “What was she?!” Now demanding an answer.
“Pregnant T! She was pregnant with his baby”
“Pregnant? She didn’t look pregnant to me” I said shocked. Saddened”
“Two months. They were both young. Figuring things out. They had a discussion about it but he claimed she took what he said the wrong way which prompted her to leave the party”.
“And the baby?” I asked, knowing the answer but not wanting it to be real.
“The baby died too. It was a double homicide”
But how the hell did she know all of this? Again, small town obviously, but how did she know all the details of their conversation at the party?
“How do you know all of this?” I asked out of a suspicious curiosity.
“T, like you said, ‘small town‘. Besides, in the Eighties in these parts, it was the crime of the century. All over the newspapers and news. And his statement with police was public, that counted him out as a suspect.”
It finally dawned on to me. She was nervous getting in the car. She was soaked. And her demeanor and behavior was bazaar, not wanting to walk home from the street. It all made sense. She didn’t stay on the road because she didn’t want me to see her walk in her home safely, she stood there watching me drive away…because she never made it home alive. She was dumped a few feet from her front door. Standing there, still wanting to just go home.
What a sick way to leave your diabolical work I thought regarding her murderer. Did he, she, or..it know where she lived based on where her body was recovered?
“Just don’t mention this to Travis or anyone anymore. He was really damaged by it, took decades to heal from, and I hope he can recover from this reminder” April said as I was walking towards my cab.
“No, I’m sorry..”
“No need to apologize, you didn’t know”
As I walked to my cab I had one more question to ask regarding that case.
“April. Did they find whoever murdered her?”
“Yes and no. They don’t have substantial evidence or proof of who the murderer is, but they do know based on eye witness account saying that she got….”, she paused for a moment to catch herself. “I just find it kind of ironic and fucked up that you saw her last night like that”.
“Like what?” I asked, the mystery was getting to me.
“Because her murderer was an out-of-town cab driver. They just don’t know who the cab driver was”.
That completely explained why she hesitated to take my ride even in a stormy night. She possibly relived that fateful night again, on the anniversary of her disappearance. And the fucked up thing about the whole situation? Her murderer drove the same colored cab.
The question I continuously ask myself today is; did I enter another time warped dimension when I picked her up?
It is said that it’s a local legend in these parts. That every January 8th, if it’s raining hard, people have seen her walking, shivering, shaking, on the same road.
And I can now say that after being a staunch skeptic, I know believe in ghosts. And Laura was reaching out to me…from the dark dimension.