Reinventing the Night
by Jacqueline Moran Meyer
Part 1 appears in this issue.
As I leave the bar I feel free and sober when the cold air hits my face. After a few minutes of walking, headlights shine on me from behind, casting my body’s long shadow on the sidewalk ahead. The car isn’t passing and slows down as it approaches me. I walk faster, keeping my head down and resisting the urge to turn around. The old car hovers beside me for what seems like forever.
I glance over at the banged-up Camaro with its black-tinted windows that prevent me from seeing the faces of anyone inside. The heavy thumping of the bass coming from the music playing through the car’s speakers is so loud that I’m sure it’s causing the concrete to vibrate beneath my feet. I’m also certain that the driver is someone from the bar. My guess is, it’s Pink Polo and his friends. The passenger side window begins to roll down and the music blaring from the car abruptly stops.
“I’ve been worried about you,” Sears calls out.
“Hi. I’m fine,” I say, and I start walking a little faster, still keeping my head down.
“It’s nice and warm in here, and you must be freezing out there. Let me drive you home. Trust me; I’m completely harmless. If anything were to happen to you, I’d never forgive myself.”
“You don’t even know my name. No, thanks. I only live a few blocks away; I’m sure I’ll manage.” I immediately regret my snarky tone.
“You aren’t even wearing a proper coat. Who let you leave the house dressed like that?”
Now I’m annoyed. I can wear whatever the hell I want, I think. I stop, pivot, and glare at him harshly through the window as he brings the car to a stop.
“I understand. Beautiful girls shouldn’t accept rides from strangers... blah, blah, blah. I’ll just follow you in my car until I know you’re safely home.”
OK. Sears will not take no for an answer and has convinced me that he’s not going to leave me alone. I decide I’ll get in the car with this guy, but in my head I’m singing, “I’m scared; I’m scared; I’m scared.” But I’m not scared. I’m just cold.
“OK. Fine. I’ll get in. Thank you.”
I try to open the passenger side door but can’t. Worrisome. He skips out and around the front of his car and uses a key to unlock the door for me.
“After you. And I know what your name is. Your name is Princess.”
That sounds like something I would say, I think while he grips the back of my head a little too roughly, pushing me down into the seat of his car. He slams the door shut harder than is necessary and walks around the front to the driver’s side. He scowls and mutters to himself as he settles in behind the steering wheel.
“It’s only a few blocks away. Turn left on Driftwood Drive,” I say.
He doesn’t respond.
I move my hand toward the radio dial to turn on some music. I want to cut through the silence. He grabs my wrist and pushes my hand away.
We say nothing.
He passes Driftwood Drive, and I can sense the familiar evil that is in control of this car.
“Oh... you missed my turn. It’s so easy to do. We can turn around in any driveway... There’s one. Or there... Oh, there’s an easy one to turn around in... All right, you missed that driveway, but you can take the next left.”
I know I’m speaking too fast, and I sound genuinely panicky. He’s gripping the steering wheel like a vice with one hand and running his calloused fingers through his hair with the other. No more words are spoken between us until we reach the bridge.
He is taking me to the beach. I stare out the window and realize that I have been here before.
My family used to come here when Maureen and I were little; we were reasonably happy and well cared for back then. But the bad memories that outweigh the good ones come flooding back. Our parents fought constantly toward the end. At night, Maureen and I would put our ears against our bedroom door, straining to hear what they were saying once the screaming had turned to whispers. A month before our mom died, we heard snippets of a terrible conversation.
“I’ll kill you all if you leave me, Mary. You know me, and you know I will. The girls will be first, and I’ll make you watch. I’ll kill you and then myself. I love you that much. Don’t make me do it.”
Maureen and I were terrified.
One night, my sister and I were sleeping out at separate friends’ houses. Mom gave us each a big hug before we left. Dad so rarely allowed us to go anywhere that he must have been furious when he came home and found us gone. Dad didn’t know where we were that night. Had he known, would he have tried to find us? If he had, Maureen and I wouldn’t be here now.
When I walked home the next morning, I didn’t know that Mom was dead and Dad had been arrested for her murder. When I arrived at the door, I was greeted by yellow crime tape, police officers, and a hysterical Maureen.
Maureen screamed, “Mom’s gone forever, Peg! Dad basically is, too, the bastard. I hope he dies of old age on Death Row or gets a needle in the arm to finish him off.”
The vile words spewing from Sears’s thin lips brings me back to the present moment. It won’t be long until we get over the next bridge that leads to the ocean.
I manage to tune Sears out and my thoughts return to Maureen. After the murder, Maureen and I visited different psychic mediums in an attempt to contact our mom, but we had no luck. One psychic referred us to her witch friend.
“Eva truly has a gift. She is the real deal. For a price she will grant you one wish; just be careful how you phrase it.”
We went into the city to visit Eva. Surprisingly, she didn’t live in a grimy back alley apartment. Rather, Eva lived in a luxury prewar apartment on Park Avenue. The apartment had at least fifteen-foot ceilings, sleek modern white furniture, and beautiful paintings and artwork covering the walls. She was a tall and striking young blonde that looked more like a Coppertone model than a vessel of vengeance.
“What is your wish?” Eva asked curtly, after we handed her a hundred-dollar bill.
“We want to rid the world of people like our father,” Maureen said.
“And I want them to be terrified before they are gone,” I added.
Recoiling from Sears’s touch, I am jolted back to the present. Sears menacingly strokes my hair with his calloused hands. I keep my back turned to him and shift closer to the window. I’m paying much more attention to what he is saying, now.
“You’re so fucking stupid to accept a ride from a stranger, but I won’t be a stranger for long. You’re so dumb. A stupid moron.”
“Did I tell you that my dad is a police officer?” I do not turn to face him.
“No. You’re lying,” he says with a little less bravado. Then he adds, “Which precinct?”
“I’m not lying. His name is Michael Fitzpatrick. Deer Park, 108th precinct,” I assert.
“You’re not even a good liar. Even if it’s true, it’s too late now. I bet your dad will be relieved to be rid of his stupid whore daughter.”
I double down. “I’m not lying.”
“You know what, Princess? I checked the weather for tonight. The temperature is dropping, a lot. I can take off all your clothes and leave you on this empty beach to die.”
We’re over the second bridge and traveling down a sandy road. I don’t move as he proceeds to spew evil in my direction.
“Every year, they find a body or two out here. And I know who puts them there.”
“Why are you trying to scare me? It’s not funny.” I turn to face him. My eyes are clear and dry. I’m angry.
“What’s wrong with you? You don’t believe me? Usually, stupid girls like you are crying by now.”
“I’m glad I told my sister to write down your license plate number before I left,” I lie.
“Impossible,” he laughs.
“OK. That’s a lie, but she did take your wallet, asshole.”
Technically, that is a half-truth. Maureen didn’t take his wallet, but I did, and it’s in my jacket pocket. I nabbed it when he was reaching over the bar to get the drinks. Pickpocketing is a compulsion of mine, one that I am not proud of, but it can be useful. I have quite the collection of wallets from people from all walks of life.
He checks his back pocket with one hand, and when he realizes that his wallet is missing, he shoots me a terrifying dead-eyed stare. He is screaming obscenities now, waving one arm in the air and shouting about all the demented things he’s going to do to me. I turn around again and look out the window as he pulls off the road and heads down a narrow secluded path that’s just wide enough for his car. After a few minutes of driving, the car lurches to a stop.
“You ruined everything. This is all your fault,” he accuses. “Maybe your sister is still there. I can go back and get her when I’m finished with you.”
He sees my shoulders moving up and down and says, “Thank you! Finally! I’ve been waiting for some tears.”
I try to open the car door even though I know I won’t be able to.
“The door is locked. You can’t leave. You’re trapped in here with me, Princess.”
We sit there, and I feel his eyes boring into the back of my head as he watches my shoulders continue to heave up and down.
“Yes, you should be crying. You deserve this.” He grabs my hair and yanks my head around to face him.
Confusion washes over his face when he realizes that I’m not crying at all, and I’m laughing instead. I’m laughing out loud now.
He must also see something else because he quickly releases his grip on my hair and starts hollering. His eyes are bugging out of his skull like a cartoon.
“Don’t touch me! What... are you?”
He screams and claws at the door handle, but I move swiftly, pinning him down with my knees as I place my rotting hands with their peeling flesh around his neck.
He can’t stop shrieking.
“This isn’t real. This isn’t possible. Please, get away from me. Stop!” Sears begs.
I turn a little to see what I can of my face in the rearview mirror. Oh, I am hideous. I’m always a little surprised by what I look like, because my appearance is never exactly the same in these situations, but nothing scares me anymore. I am unrecognizable. My face is misshapen and swollen. My skin is mottled red and purple with thick protruding veins. My lips are split and broken with puss-oozing sores. And the pièce de résistance is the army of maggots marching out of my nose.
“Wow, Sears, you are a twisted one.”
I gape at him with a smile that must make me look even more grotesque because he begins to wail and plead for mercy.
“Am I still your Princess?” I demand. “Scream and cry all you want. Have I turned into your biggest fear? That’s what I do. You made me like this, Sears. I turned into the worst thing that sick, evil people like you can imagine.”
I have done this so many times, and it never gets less satisfying.
“I’d like a little mood music. What do you think? You won’t be able to push my hand away this time. That wasn’t very polite, Sears,” I say over his screams.
Careful to keep him immobile, I reach around and turn on the radio.
“Perfect!” I squeal, as George Michael’s song “Faith” streams through the car’s stereo.
“I love this song. Baby, I know you’re asking me to stay / Say ‘Please, please don’t go away.”
While I’m singing, my hands tighten around Sears’s neck, and I slowly strangle him to unconsciousness. I wait patiently for him to come to, patting his face sometimes and cooing softly to him to help move the process along.
When he awakens, I do it all over again. And again. And then again. I’m very patient. I enjoy when his eyes flutter open, and he sees my face and starts to scream. Eventually, I can no longer revive him, and then I know my job is done. It never gets old.
I toss his body in the trunk before I transform back into my wholesome and youthful exterior. Glad to be the one left alive in the car, I drive back over the bridge to get back to Maureen. The sky is clear, the stars are shining, and there is one less Sears in the world to hurt people.
* * *
I find our Buick about a block away from the Golden Leaf and park behind it. We don’t actually live around here. Every Saturday night, Maureen and I pick a new hunting ground. We change our looks a little every time. We don’t always go to bars, though. Sometimes we go into the city and walk the desolate streets or wait at bus stops late at night, looking for predators and killers.
Maureen gets out of our car, walks toward me. I get out and lock the passenger side door with a key on Sears’s key ring.
“Everything went OK?” Maureen asks.
“Yep. The door won’t open without this,” I say, while showing her the key.
“Clever,” Maureen says. She rolls her eyes and hops into the passenger seat.
We speak when I am settled behind the wheel and have shut the door.
“You were gone a long time, Peg. I’m tired, and I want to go to sleep. I wish you’d stop playing with them before you kill them. It’s a little sick, and you take forever. I really don’t think it’s what Eva had in mind,” she says.
“I think it’s exactly what blondie Eva had in mind! You do it your way, and I’ll do it my way. He’s still in the trunk, by the way. We should dump him and the car somewhere and torch it. I read that the police have that new DNA evidence thingy now. We can’t be too careful.”
“Let’s sit for minute. It would be so much easier if we could make it look like he was in an altercation. Then we could just leave him here. Evidence of him being in some kind of bar fight would probably be enough, then we could just wipe down your prints, or something,” Maureen suggests.
“How was the rest of your night?” I ask.
“That guy, Brooks #1, was a bust. I was wrong, again. He was a decent guy. I am either losing my touch or finding nice guys on purpose. I almost felt like I was on a proper date tonight. Don’t get me wrong, I know we are doing something good.”
“How did you end the night?”
“He drove me ‘home,’” she said, adding air quotes around the word home. “I just picked some random house and said he could drop me off there. He asked if he could kiss me on the cheek, and I said ‘sure.’ I gave him a fake name and number, and I walked around the back of the house and waited for him to leave. Then I came back here to wait for you.”
“Great. No mistakes. We only kill the bad ones. There are some good ones; that’s always nice to remember. We’re doing a good thing,” I say, trying to get back to business. I don’t like it when Maureen gets soft.
“Yes, I know,” she says.
“I think we should bury him,” I say.
“OK. We have a shovel in the Buick, right? We can ditch his car off the pier, I guess.”
“I hope so. I have to say that I’m surprised by who is in the trunk. I thought another guy was going to be the one this time. Did you see that guy I was talking to, the one wearing the pink Polo shirt? I thought for sure it would be him or one of his friends,” I say.
“No, I didn’t, but I bet you called him Pink Polo in your head all night.”
Just as I’m about to respond, there’s a light tap, tap, tap at my window. I roll it down just a crack to see who it is.
“Pink Polo?” I ask.
“What?” he replies.
My sister and I quickly take in the activity outside Sears’s car. One man is holding a knife that he’s scraping across the passenger side door. Pink Polo palms a baseball bat, clearly intending to use it at any moment. They all start banging on the windows and trying to open the locked doors. They’re howling.
“We’re so happy you came back. Get out, ladies, let’s play,” Pink Polo says.
Maureen and I look at each other and crack up.
“This is our lucky night,” I say, while the bat cracks through the back window, shattering it into pieces.
We’ll get home tonight, but it’ll be a little later than we’d thought.
Copyright © 2019 by Jacqueline Moran Meyer