Beyond The Grave
“Damn it, you piece of crap!” Exasperated, Katie banged on the dashboard as the car rolled to a stop alongside the highway. “I should have known that piece of shit would sell me a piece of shit.” She was referring to her ex-boyfriend, who sold her the clunker. It was the third time this week her reliable transportation became unreliable. Note to self, stop being so trusting.
Dumping the contents of her purse into the passenger seat, she found her cell phone and flipped it open. “Great, no service. What else is going to go wrong in my life?” She put on her emergency flashers and got out to open the hood. Steam was billowing out of the radiator.
She popped the hood and bent down to look inside. “No clue what I’m looking for, but I’m sure the steam isn’t a good sign.” Frustrated, she leaned her butt up against the bumper.
Katie held the phone up into the air, hoping it would make a difference, it didn’t. “Oh, come on.”
The highway seemed deserted.
Folding her arms across her chest, she sighed heavily.
All she wanted was one free weekend to party with her friends down at the hot springs; was that too much to ask? Her friends were probably half-blitzed by now. The thought of hitchhiking ran through her mind, but she quickly nicked the idea. Too dangerous.
Patience wasn’t one of her virtues, so she decided to walk west along the highway in hopes of getting a cell signal. The flashing “no service” caused her to turn around and walk east, in the direction she had come from.
“Yes!” she shouted. The bars jumped from one to three. She thought about calling the rat bastard ex to come to rescue her. It would serve him right but then she remembered her dad had paid for a subscription to Triple-A, and by luck, he had put the number in her phone contacts.
After giving the call center her location, they told her someone would be out with a tow. She should stay with the vehicle and lock her doors.
Katie walked back to her car and locked herself in.
* * * *
It took Old Hank fifteen minutes to find the vehicle in question. He drove the Dually a little past the car and backed up to it.
The door squealed as he opened it. He looked around.
Kate got out and walked over to him.
“You are a lifesaver,” she breathed out. “I thought I’d be stuck here all night.”
“Let me grab my light so I can take a look under the hood. Looks like you may have blown a gasket or a radiator hose.” Old Hank shuffled to the toolbox on the back of his truck.
As Old Hank placed a protection blanket on the side of the car, he hooked the light up under the hood. Katie leaned in on the other side, watching him.
He touched some hoses, pulled out the oil spike, and pushed it back in to check the oil. He loosened the radiator cap.
“Do you see anything?” Katie asked, anxious to meet her friends.
“Hard to say; it looks like it could be several things. I can tow it back to my shop and put it on the lift to get a better look at it.”
Kate groaned, “Damn. I was hoping to get back on the road. My friends are waiting for me, and I can’t call them to let them know what’s happened. I’m sure they’ll be worried. Is there any way to get you to tow my car to your shop and drop me at the rental car place? Or at least drive me to an area where I have cell service. I’m sure my bestie will come to get me. And then on Sunday, we can come by to see if you’ve got it running, and I can pay you?”
Hank scratched his gray beard and smoothed out his out-of-control mustache. He shifted back and forth with his feet. “Well, tell you what. I have an extra vehicle at my shop. It’s for my customers who need wheels. Save you a little money on a rental.”
It’s was Katie’s turn to think. “You sure it’s no trouble?”
“No trouble at all. Do it all the time. Your plans don’t have to change, and I get all weekend to tinker around with your car. Fix it right.”
“Well, okay. I’ll call my friends from your shop, so they don’t worry. Go ahead and hook her up.”
Old Hank got the car up on the tow, and Katie got into the passenger side of the five-ton Dually. She felt self-conscious as she lifted her leg up to get into the truck. The cutoff jean shorts were a little too short and showed off more than was respectable. Old Hank was behind her in case she needed some help. She had seen how he had stared at her breasts when she was looking at the engine.
They drove along the frontage road of the highway, heading east again. It was a bumpy ride in the cab of the heavy truck. Katie tried calling her friend, but it just rolled over to voice mail.
They came upon an old farmhouse with a gravel driveway. Katie noticed all the oil drums neatly lined up on their sides as they entered the property sitting high up in the truck. She looked over to her right. Two rusty shipping containers sat to the right of a three-bay garage. As they approached, spotlights popped on, giving her a better look at the place.
“Do you live alone?” Katie asked.
“Sometimes,” Old Hank responded.
Katie’s intuition kicked in, and her heart started beating faster.
Hank pressed a remote, and one of the garage doors rolled open. “The keys to the loaner are in my office. Grab your stuff out of your car; I’ll be right back.”
The sun had set about an hour ago, but it wasn’t completely dark yet. Her mother called it “twilight.” She pulled her overnight bag from the back seat of her car and waited for Hank. She could see him through the window of what must be his office. He was looking at something on the desk. He opened the top drawer and pulled out what looked to be a metal clipboard.
She could see his mouth moving as if he were talking to someone. Odd. He said he lived alone. Maybe he was on speakerphone to Triple-A, letting them know he had picked up her car.
It was quiet out here. Katie looked around. She could see old car parts lying around on the ground. The oil drums looked like a makeshift fence and ran along with the property. Looks almost like a junkyard than a mechanic’s shop, she thought.
Fishing around in her purse, she found the half-empty pack of cigarettes and lit one up. She took a deep drag and blew it out. Her nerves were on edge. What’s taking that guy so long? The light went off in the window where she had been watching Hank. Oh, good, I can finally get back on the road. Stamping out her cigarette, she walked over to the opened garage door. Looking inside, she didn’t see another car. Maybe he has it somewhere else.
“Hey? Where’d you go? Is there a problem?”
“I don’t want to be rude, but my friends are waiting for me, and it’s getting late.”
“Sir?” Katie walked back over to the tow truck. A dark silhouette appeared at the back of the truck. “Oh, there you are.” Katie realized she had been holding her breath and let out a loud ‘whew’ and a giggle. “You had me spooked.”
“Sorry, ma’am, I’m a little hard of hearing. Got your keys, and the loaner is out back of the garage. Follow me.”
“Um, is there any way you can grab it for me and bring it up? It’s kind of dark out here, and I’m afraid I may trip over something.”
“That’s why I got this here flashlight.” Hank turned the light on and pointed it at her face, blinding her.
Katie threw up her hands to block the bright light directed at her eyes. As she did so, Hank stepped a few feet closer. He grabbed her wrists, and, in an instant, she was handcuffed. Katie screamed, but Hank was ready for that too as he stuffed a greasy rag into her mouth. An explosion hit her head, and the blinding light disappeared.
* * * *
Katie’s family and friends were frantic to find her. They searched everywhere for Katie’s car or anything that would explain where she disappeared. The police exhausted all their resources. They called in a Special Agent with the FBI from the Kansas City office. Still no clues as to where Katie may have gone.
The Triple-A tow truck driver was questioned, but his story never changed. By the time he got to the area he’d been dispatched, Katie and her vehicle were gone. He assumed she got the car running again and took off, forgetting to call off the tow.
A decorated officer of the law, FBI Special Agent Daniella Keezar, was noted for solving several cold cases and catching the serial killer who was responsible. All because she had an uncanny ability to think outside the box, no matter what that entailed.
So, when she called on a famous psychic medium to channel Katie’s spirit, they hit pay dirt. Or at least Daniella thought.
“We are gathered here tonight in hopes of channeling Katie Thornbird’s spirit. Katie, if you are here, please step forward. Use me as a channel. Can you tell us where you are? What happened to you on the night of August 3rd? Did you know your kidnapper?”
The room was silent as they hoped and waited for answers.
Katie’s mom began to cry softly.
The psychic closed her eyes and began rocking back and forth. The room chilled. When she opened her eyes, she stared blankly ahead, and her voice was from beyond the grave.
“Damn car. Waiting…dark…scared. Old man…big truck…promised…alone…sometimes…large metal boxes…drums…”
“What’s she saying?” Katie’s mother interrupted.
“Worried…mom…love… I’m okay now…peaceful…dark…more than me…”
“Do you know where you are?” asked Daniella. “Do you see anything, a landmark?”
Daniella jumped up. “I know where she is!” As she ran out of the room, she called her partner. “Rodriquez, get your butt to the off-ramp of I-70 W and Blue Springs Blvd. I’m on my way, wait for me. I’ll fill you in when I see you.”
As they awaited more back up, Daniella explained to Rodriquez her hunch as she looked through her binoculars to see if there was movement on the property. “The old farmhouse off the frontage road on I-70 West, the one with the rusty blue oil drums being used as a fence. Or is that old fuck hiding dead bodies? Who cleared that bastard anyway?”
Rodriquez shrugged. He looked out the tinted windows of the black SUV. “You know how many times that place has been searched in the last few years? Plenty and nothing.” They sat in silence, waiting for their warrant.
“Did they ever dig?”
“Not that I’m aware of, nothing in the case files.”
“I’m gonna tear that place apart with a bulldozer and a digger. The first body we uncover, I’m gonna rip that old fuck’s beard off with my bare hands.”
“Ouch! I’ll pay to see that!”
As a line of black SUVs pulled up behind them, Daniella gave a roping motion out her window. “Let’s round this bastard up!”