Blast From The Past
A lot of weird things can happen late at night when you are working in a gas station. I took this job because I had been laid-off from my previous employer, and I needed work or else I was going to lose my apartment. They were desperate for help and I was desperate for a job. They put me on the night shift because I had the most availability and the least amount of problems. By problems, I mean things like kids and social activities. It was fine by me. I mean after all, I didn’t have a life anyway. The night shift was an easy one because hardly anybody ever came inside the store. Plus the owner didn’t care what I did as long as the coffee was fresh, the store looked clean, and the books balanced when he arrived in the morning. So I would get all of my cleaning done before the newspaper delivery man showed up in the morning and then I would spend the rest of my night reading the paper and making fresh coffee. I hadn’t been working more than two weeks at the place when I met her. She walked into my gas station and asked if she could use the bathroom. “First door on the left,” I said as I was staring down at the newspaper, not even looking up at her.
“Well, you’re offlay rude,” she said to me in a thick southern accent. “A girl walks into your establishment this late at night and you don’t even have the decency to look up at her? Some gentleman you are!”
I looked up from my newspaper, “Look lady.” I stopped dead in my tracks. She was gorgeous, completely out of this world. She looked like one of those pinup models from the 1950’s. Her hair was dark, like jet black dark. Her bangs touched her eyebrows. She was wearing a black skirt that was as dark as her hair and she was wearing this white top with this black lace around the front, which highlighted her chest. She was a knockout. I had never seen anything like her in my life.
My mouth hit the floor. “Gee, I’m sorry lady.” I folded up the newspaper and I walked out from behind the counter to point out where the restrooms were.
“Thank you,” she said to me and then she walked into the bathroom. I quickly went up to the register and I cleaned up my mess. I didn’t want someone as hot as her thinking this place was a pigsty or else she might not ever come back. She walked out of the restroom and started looking around the store.
“Can I help you find anything?” I asked her.
“This place, it looks so strange.”
“Yeah, well I’m sorry about that. The owner designed this place with the idea that if everything the customers wanted was in the back of the store, then people would be inclined to buy more stuff.” I completely made that up. I didn’t know what I was talking about. All I really wanted at that moment was to keep the conversation going and to keep her in the store. She had a confused look on her face as she though she didn’t know where she was. “Can I help you find something?”
“No, I guess I’m just…lost.” She started to cry, “And I’m scared.”
I saw my opportunity. I put my hand on her back. “Hey, take it easy. I can help you find what you are looking for, whatever it is.”
“I’ve lost my husband,” she said letting out a loud scream.
“Your husband?” I quickly took my hand off her back. “Well, when was the last time you saw him?”
“Just a moment ago. He was parked in the Chevy across the street. We were driving and the lightening was really bad. We hit a bump in the road and he thought he had a flat tire. We pulled over and I told him I was going to go across the street and ask for help. When I walked over here, I was going to ask my Bill to come over here and help me because I couldn’t figure out how to open up your door. I looked back and the car was gone.”
He left her there. The jerk just decided to leave her there. “Hey lady,” I started to say as I once again tried to get close to her. “You know, I could give you a ride home if you’d like.”
“I am not from around here!”
This night was getting better and better. “Well, we could go back to my place if you’d like, and you could spend the night there. I would even cook breakfast for you and from there, we could figure out a way to get you home in the morning."
“Really? You would do that for me?”
“Sure I would. We can leave right now if you’d like.”
“But what about your job?”
“Screw this job!” I shouted. “They don’t pay me enough to do this shift. Besides, the money isn’t all that great anyway.”
“You mean you are just going to up and leave your job just like that? What about your boss? What will he say?”
“Who cares,” I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s his problem, not mine. Besides, in this day and age, people quit their jobs without giving any notice all the time. And I’m pretty confident that I can find something that will pay me more than $8.50 an hour anyway.”
“You make $8.50 an hour? Wow, either your boss is mighty generous or you must get a lot of business in here.”
I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I just went with it. “Sure, if you say so.” I put my arm on her back again and said, “Come on, let’s get out of here.” We walked out of the gas station and to my car.
“What is this?”
“It’s my car.”
“Your car? It looks more like a spaceship.”
My car was a black 2009 Pontiac Sunfire. I was pretty positive it was anything but a spaceship. Once again, I just went with it. “Well, not exactly, but it will take you anywhere you want to go.”
“It looks like it could take me to the moon and back.” She looked up at the sky and gazed at the moon. “I would love to visit the moon. Do you think we will ever make it up there?”
I didn’t know what she meant. So I just started talking. “Well, you know if technology keeps advancing the way it is now, I am pretty sure all of us will be able to make it there in a few years.”
“Oh I hope so.”
“Yeah, me too,” I said just before I tried to lean in and kiss her.
She slapped me. It was the first time a woman actually slapped me. “What kind of woman do you think I am?”
“I’m sorry lady. Look, just come back inside the store and I’ll treat you to a cup of coffee or something.”
“No! I am not going anywhere with you!”
I had just blown my chances with her. “Alright fine then, just come back inside I’ll call a cab or something. Just don’t go all psycho on me or call the police.”
“I’m not going back in that store again until you and your spaceship are gone.” Her mouth opened wide. “That’s what you are isn’t it? You’re an alien! You’ve kidnapped me and brought me to this bizarre place.”
“You’re crazy lady!” I shouted and then pointed my finger at her. “Your husband left and you are stuck here. I was trying to be nice to you, but obviously you can’t see the big picture.”
“Oh, I can see the big picture all right.” She held up her hand as if she was going to hit me again, “You are trying to get me to cheat on my husband. Well it won’t work! It’s sad that we live in a world now where a man can go from not giving you the time of day one minute to being all over you the next. What year do you think this is anyway?”
“2015,” I answered her.
She put her hand down, and she just mouthed the numbers, “2015.”
“Yeah that’s right. Why are you so shocked?”
“That can’t be. This is July 3, 1955. My husband and I are going up north to see the fireworks tomorrow.”
I laughed at her. “Lady, its July 3, 2015. I can show you the newspaper I was reading inside to prove it.”
She turned pale white. She was white as the shirt she was wearing. And then she started laughing hysterically. “You know what, I'm not crazy. You're the crazy one. That’s what you are, you’re crazy!”
“Am I?” I asked her before stating my case. The year is 2015. I make $8.50 an hour. Cigarettes are a little over $6. That lighted sign up there says that gas is $2.75. And you are at a gas station at 3:45 in the morning! How many businesses do you know of were open at 3:45 in the morning in 1955?”
“YOU ARE LYING!” She screamed.
“If you think I’m really lying, wait till you hear this one: The President of The United States is black!”
“Enough! I’ve heard enough! I am walking down that road and I am going to find my husband!”
“Good luck!” I shouted back to her and then I walked to the front door of the store. I turned around to scream at her some more, but she was gone. I looked around the parking lot. “Lady? Hey Lady!” I didn’t get an answer. It was as if she just vanished. “Screw her!” I shouted to the wind.
I walked back inside to finish the rest of my shift. Ed (my relief) and Bill (the owner) came into the store. Bill walked around the store checking to make sure that I actually did my job. Ed got a cup of coffee before coming behind the register to clock in for the day. “How was your night?” Ed asked me just before he bent down to count the safe and make sure that my numbers were right before we changed over the drawer.
“It was fine,” I said, “except for this one girl who came in last night.”
“Really? Tell me about her.”
“She was smoking hot, and she was all dressed up too. She had on this black skirt that went down past her knees, but I could still see her legs and they looked great. She had on this white top that complimented her chest and her hair, oh man her hair.”
“Stop it,” he whispered.
“What? I was just telling you about her.”
“Just stop it,” he whispered. “We don’t talk about her around here, especially not around Bill.”
“Why? What is the big deal?”
Bill then shouted my name and he asked if he could see me in his office. At first I thought I was in trouble. Then he asked me about the girl. I told him all about her. I told him about how she came in and asked to use the restroom. I told him that she was lost and that her husband just left her here. The only thing I didn’t tell him about was how I tried to make a move on her. I left that part out because I didn’t want to get fired for flirting with a customer.
“Have a seat,” Bill told me. He then sat down in his chair and pulled out a few pictures from his desk. “Was this her?” He asked showing me the photos. Two of the photographs were of her by herself and one was of her with a young man sitting on a blanket in what appeared to be the middle of a field. The photos were in black and white, but she was wearing the same thing in each picture: The black skirt with the white top.
“Yes, that’s her,” I said and then I started to ask, “How did you…”
“That’s my wife Bettie,” he said interrupting me. “These photos were taken 60 years ago.” He then started telling me a story. “We took these photos just before we headed up north. We made plans to go see a big fireworks show on the 4th of July. As we were driving, we got caught in this huge lightning storm. It was the worst I had ever seen in my life. I heard a pop and I thought I had gotten a flat tire. I pulled over to the side of the road to check the tire and Bettie decided to run across the street to see if the gas station was open. I heard a loud crash and I saw a flash of light. When the light disappeared, Bettie was gone.”
I was shaking in the chair. “Did you go and look for her?”
“I did,” he said with a crack in his voice, “but when I asked the man at the gas station if Bettie had come in there, he denied it.” Tears started forming in his eyes. “I called the police and they weren’t able to help me.” Next, he pulled a sheet of paper with pencil markings on it from behind the photos. “A year later, some people said that they spotted Bettie at the same gas station she walked into that very night. The story was that she walked into the gas station and was frightened. When they tried to console her, she ran across the street again and disappeared.” He showed me the worn piece of paper. “After that incident, I sold everything I had and I bought this gas station. I have owned this very gas station for 55 years, and every time someone says that they have seen Bettie, I tell them the story of the night she disappeared and I write it down on this piece of paper.”
“So is she a ghost?”
“No! If she were a ghost, people wouldn’t think I was crazy. She picks up things. People touch her and she touches them. I have even touched her. You can't touch a ghost." Bill then told me his analysis of the situation. "I think that Bettie stepped through some sort of time portal and now she is traveling through time. That is why I think she appears out of no where and still looks the way she does.”
I thought now would be a good time to ask a question. “You said that you’ve touched her. I take it then you have seen her and talked to her yourself.”
“Yes, but she is not traveling through time in any specific order. One minute she will be in our time and the next time she travels, she will be back in the 70’s or 80’s or 90’s and who knows what time of day it will be when she appears.” He took a deep breath. “I have caught her a few times but the older I get, the harder it is to convince her that it is me. Three times I was able to convince her that I was her Bill, but the moment we set foot off the property, she disappeared exactly like she does every time. I even had a house built right next to the gas station, but it was no use. She steps off the lot and she disappears. So I sold the house and I gave up because now, I am too old to convince her that I am her Bill.” He stood up and patted me on the shoulder. “I am 85 years old and my time of owning this gas station is almost finished. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that I can come into work and have the opportunity to see my Bettie.” I was frozen in my chair, but before he stepped out of his office, he asked me to do him one favor, “When I am gone, just keep an eye out for her. Will you do that for me?”
I said, “Yes,” and I sat there for another minute thinking about how I just had an encounter with a blast from the past.