Selena did a quick recall
of horror films she’d seen over the last decade.
Yup, this was how most
of them started, she thought sending up another silent prayer while giving the key in the ignition one final turn. The car didn’t even have the decency to feign a sputter.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!”
she yelled slamming the side of a brown fist into the steering wheel.
Real smart Selena break
your hand in the process, the little voice inside her head berated.
No service. Her cell phone continued to blaze at her as it had since she’d gotten into the mountainous region.
“Now what do I do?”
she asked no one in particular because there was no one to ask. There she sat
all alone on what looked to be a one-lane deserted dirt road. She peered through
the windshield at the towering red woods that seemed to meld with the darkened sky.
She hadn’t seen another car since turning onto the road, and had just thought about turning back to the main
highway when her car jerked several times before coming to a complete silent stop.
Well you can’t
just sit in here all night, the inner voice huffed.
Selena took a quick glance
out her side window if it weren’t for her headlights the twilight would have completely engulfed her on this moonless
night. A feeling of utter helplessness washed over her for the first time since
she’d embarked on her journey four days prior. Back then she’d felt
in complete control having sold her meager belongings she’d acquired since her divorce from Richard Mitchell III. Now all she had was a few suitcases full of clothes, a family photo album, her truck
and the proceeds from the sale of her other things that totaled to a whopping Fifteen hundred dollars.
nothing out there but a few animals who are more afraid of you then you are of them,” she told herself.
So go already, the
little voice urged.
Taking a deep breath for courage Selena stepped out into the cool October air, in
less than a month it would be snowing, at least that’s what the almanac said about the area. She bet the gigantic redwoods and pines looked picturesque in the winter.
The silence she encountered
was almost deafening. Where were the insects, she wondered as she rounded the
front of the car. The hood opened with a loud creak that seemed to reverberate
in the wooded area.
“Asta que, te conoci.” She began singing her favorite Juan Gabrielle song automatically. Richard had hated when she sang in Spanish feeling the need to remind her that she lived in the United
States whenever he caught her doing it until over the six-year span of their marriage she’d stopped altogether. After
their separation some two years earlier and their official divorce a year later she’d embraced her love of the music
again with fervor.
Considering she had no
flashlight, didn’t know much about the inner workings of cars, with the exception of checking her fluid levels everything
looked a-okay to her. A sound in the distance silenced her singing.
She listened for several
seconds, but there was nothing else.
You’re being silly,
her inner voice laughed. Rumbling overhead, had her casting cautious eyes to
the sky above.
Great, she thought wondering
when the clouds had moved in. There was nothing she could do now but wait, she
sighed slamming down the hood. There was no way she would try walking back to
the main highway in the middle of a rainy night. Besides there were no guarantees
anyone would even come along to help her.
She gratefully enclosed
herself back in the truck, securing the automatic lock. With nothing left to
do she grabbed her lightweight jacket draping it over her T-shirt clad form and hoped it wouldn’t get too cold that
If her mother and Richard
could see her now, they would be shaking their disapproving heads at her current predicament.
She could hear her mother’s prepared tirade.
“See mi hija, if
you’d just stayed with your husband where you belong you wouldn’t be in this situation.” The heavily accented Nicaraguan words flooded her brain, lord knew she’d heard the speech enough
over the last two years while Selena struggled to get her life in order. She’d
been tempted to tell her mother to just record it so she wouldn’t have to keep wasting her breath. She never did, never would have, because in spite of her mother’s tunneled vision on how her daughter’s
life should run Selena knew ultimately that she had her best interest at heart. That
was part of the reason she’d never confided in her the truth about her marriage to the wealthy, sadistic entrepreneur. Maria Constantia Sanchez-Johnson hadn’t wanted to see her daughter struggle
the way she had after Selena’s father’s death.
Maria had given all of
herself to her two children to make sure they never needed for anything, working her chubby brown fingers to the bone cleaning
homes for Colorado’s wealthy by day and running her own office janitorial service by night. She made sure that Selena and her younger brother Hector had the type of upbringing “respected”
Northern Americano’s should have, complete with dance and skiing lessons for her daughter and every type of sports camp
for her non-athletic rotund son.
Selena smiled at the memory
of Hector coming home one day to complain while their mother worked.
“I swear Selena,
that woman is trying to kill me,” he announced plopping onto his mother’s new floral sofa fresh from practice,
something he’d dared not do if she were home.
“She is not.” A teenaged Selena rolled her eyes. “It’s
good for you to get the exercise.”
“Good for me, you
just think everyone wants to be ultra skinny like you,” he jibbed knowing her slenderness was a sore point for her growing
up in their Black and Latino neighborhood where being thick was the preferred.
“Whatever Hector.” She didn’t rise to his bait this time.
“I know one thing, if you don’t get your smelly self off that sofa this flaquita is gonna call momma.”
Selena knew as much as
he harassed her growing up he’d also loved her. She could picture his mahogany
complexioned cherub face now. It was because of his selflessness that she was
able to end her pathetic excuse for a marriage.
The rain started with a
fury as if the very floodgates of heaven were being unleashed. At least she was
dry Selena tried consoling herself with the fact even as the outside chill seeped into the small confines of the truck’s
cab. She did a mental check of the clothing she’d brought, but didn’t
relish the idea of going outside to access the covered truck bed.
Well you can’t
sit here shivering all night, came the inner voice.
She looked out her windshield again, muttering, “You wanna bet.”
The loud rapping on her
passenger window had her jumping almost completely out of her skin, clutching at her chest as if to still her rapidly beating
She stared straight ahead,
refusing to look at what might be pressed against her window, her mind racing.
“What do I do?”
she mumbled under her breath, only to be answered with more knocking, this time followed up with:
“Hey, lady are you
okay in there?” a man’s voice called.
Just be cool, she
told herself willing her head to turn towards the now persistent tapping.
With a faux smile plastered
on her face she stared at the shadowed face of a very, very large man. She held
the gasp that threatened to surface.
“Roll down the window.” He ordered, his baritone voice booming through the glass.
Yeah right, she
though but said instead, “It’s stuck.”
She was proud at how easily the lie slipped from her lips.
The man mumbled something
under his breath she couldn’t quite hear.
“Our car broke down.” She continued. “My boyfriend should
be back any moment with help.”
The man stood there for
several more seconds as if contemplating a decision and Selena waited with baited breath, hoping her response would scare
The woman lied, he knew
it, had watched her car come to a shuddering halt from his position on the man made walking trail. He observed as she pushed open the hood, her profile illuminated by the headlights of the broken down contraption,
she was slender in build with rounded hips and a derriere, that looked plump and firm.
At first he’d suspected
she was one of the many reporters who continued to pay uninvited visits to him, disregarding the posted private property and
no trespassing signs. He realized she was in complete distress when she finally
climbed back into the cab hunkering down in her seat with a thin jacket as her blanket.
She was obviously a foreigner to these parts if she thought that would keep out the nights chill. People who visited the shared California/Nevada mountains were always in for a rude awakening when it came
to weather conditions. By day it could be warm and sunny, but at night the unmerciful
chill set in quickly especially as the fall season progressed.
Victor resolved himself
to having a police cruiser swing by to check on her, but the cold rain that began to poor steadily down had him stopping in
he barked against the biting spray, there was no way he could leave a woman sitting out there in these conditions. It would be no time before the climate in the truck became coolly intolerable.
“Look its almost
ten miles to the main road, if your boyfriend has found help he might have a hard time directing them to your location in
this weather. I’m surprised you came across it at all.” He yelled over the rain, peering in the dark vehicle at its occupant who wore a plastic smile on her face.
She was afraid, even a
blind person could see that.
Good, he thought. She should be afraid traipsing about in an unknown place in the middle of the night,
especially in that rust bucket that was barely passing for a vehicle.
“Thank you, but I
think it better if I wait for him,” she yelled back.
Victor stood torn in the
frigid pouring rain, he couldn’t in good conscience leave her there yet he was becoming soakingly irritated by the woman’s
“Listen, my name
is Victor Saldano, and my home is just half a mile up the road. I’ll come
back shortly with some help.” He tried to sound as non-threatening as possible.
be fine.” Selena couldn’t prevent the tremor in her voice.
What if he came back with
a weapon or something else to immobilize her she contemplated. A scene from Silence
of the Lambs flashed through her mind.
“Stay put.” The man who’d identified himself as Victor said before taking off in a sprint. Selena wanted to yell for him to stop but his large frame disappeared into the dense
trees on the side of the road, before she could put audio to the words.
Dear God, she could
feel the panic setting in.
Well you can’t
just sit here for real now, the inner voice rationalized.
“What if he’s laying in wait, hoping I’ll get out?”
You better do something
chica because either way he’ll be back soon.
Mind made up, Selena grabbed the baseball bat from the space behind her passenger
seat. When she bought the thing it provided the added sense of security she needed
to make the three state trek. Now she wondered if things progressed would she
be able to use the wooden object.
It’s either you
or him, her inner voice presented the options as she sprang out into the heavy spray.
“Shit!” She cursed at the first contact of the cold shower.
How the hell had the man stood outside her door for so long?
her inner voice explained.
“Yeah but I’m the one talking to myself.” She muttered looking around cautiously before taking off in the opposite direction spurred on by fear-induced
adrenaline. She stayed close to the road with enough nearness to the trees in
case she needed to seek refuge behind the trunk of one of the lumbering giants.
It wasn’t long before
the rain seeped through the thin barrier of the T-shirt and even thicker bottoms she wore, her soaked sweat pants weighing
her down until her gait became sluggish at best. Selena glanced behind her several
times expecting at any moment for the man to over take her now slow run.
She wasn’t sure how
much time had elapsed only knew that no matter what she had to keep moving.
How far had he said it
was to the main road? That’s right ten miles. Had she really gone that far? Had he lied to make her think
she was much further from safety than she actually was?
Her next look back infused
her with a new burst of energy, because in the distance she could make out a set of headlights moving steadily towards her.
* * *
Victor gave a cursory glance
into the abandoned truck seeming to have precognition that he would find the cab empty.
“What’s that?” The elderly woman behind him asked from the rear passenger seat. Victor saw the gleam of the woman’s white T-shirt before his mother’s declaration.
cursed as the object disappeared into the dark brush. The woman was trying his
patients. Not only had she interrupted his evening run, which had he not stopped
to investigate her presence he could have made it home before the rain started. Now
as it was, he sat sopping wet and probably ruining the interior of his car with his mother and bewildered daughter chasing
down a trespasser who he refused leave outside in the cold. This good Samaritan
crap wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, he thought as he pulled onto the side of the road at the point he thought the
woman had entered the forest.
He’d never seen someone
so skittish in his life, if it weren’t for his frustration he’d probably commend the woman’s self-preservation,
albeit late in coming. Once he caught up with her he’d find out why she
had driven down an obviously isolated road to begin with. He held back the next
string of explicatives as he threw open the door to run after her.