The Grey Girl

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Chapter 5: 1932

Edgar felt himself sinking into the driver’s seat, becoming numb as the whiskey flowed over his tongue and burned his throat. The warmth spread through his body while his head felt that familiar disconnect. After a while, the pleasing sensations gave way as they always did to darker thoughts. The amber liquid changed from a comfort to the fuel for his anger. It brought back the same needling questions: Why am I the one stuck with all the lousy jobs while my stinking younger brother runs the main office with father? He stewed, sometimes hating his brother’s face. Another few drinks replaced the thoughts with just the emotions.

Blurred vision and angry depression caused Edgar to pay little attention to where he was going. The fields and dirt roads melted into one long stream of nothing. He was starting to creep into the oblivion that was always the goal at the end of the bottle. He was almost there when he recognized the gray-wool coat up ahead. Black tunnels crept into his vision, a vision that was tinged with red and already blurring into double. “It’s her fault!” he slurred, trying to point to her; his hand slipped across the wheel before falling onto the seat in an attempt to keep himself upright. “I mean I wasn’t going to hurt her. If she had been a smart girl and just gotten in.” His head spun as he tried to focus on her. She separated into two, then three. Squeezing his eyes shut, trying to clear his vision, shaking his head violently. There were still two or three of her in his vision. He growled out his continued anger. “I’m a handsome man, a nice man, a wealthy man. She was just a stupid country girl.” The whiskey bottle was at his lips again.

“She doesn’t matter,” a voice hissed in his ear. “You could do anything you wanted, and no one could do anything to a rich, important man like you.”

Edgar slapped the dash. “Damn right I can. I could…” His rant ceased with the heavy thud against the left side of the truck. The brakes locked, the tires screamed in chorus with the scream he didn’t realize he had heard.

The world stopped. All Edgar could hear was his own heavy breathing. He was leaning forward, arms up over his head. A pain, dulled by whiskey, throbbed on his forehead. Slowly leaning back in the seat, he noticed only one headlight was aglow. He giggled uneasily as his shaking fingers searched the floor until they found the bottle. He glared at the contents, noting some had spilled. The alcohol burned his throat. A low moan caused the bottle to slip from his lips, letting the amber liquid cascade over his chin falling into his lap. The cold air was a shock, clearing his head slightly as he found himself outside of the cab without knowing how.

The red glow of the taillights outlined a lump on the side of the road. “It’s a deer,” he slurred. “It’s only a deer.” A tear slipped from his eye as Edgar crept closer, the panic growing with each step. A cry broke the quiet, sending birds into flight from the field. Edgar fell back onto the ground, kicking uselessly, trying to get back. The lump moved. That was not what sent terror coursing through him. Deer had moved, jumped, and even run off after being hit. This one moaned. With a strangled cry, a hand appeared above the body. It clawed at the gravel. Transfixed with horror, Edgar watched as the hand tried to pull its broken body and legs off the road.

Over the agonizing cries and moans of pain, Edgar was mumbling. “Oh shit, oh God, oh shit!” Gaining his feet, he tried to clear his head. Steadying himself against the rear fender, he took several calming breaths even as the whiskey threatened to come back on him.

The voice was in his ear again. “OK, you’ve hit deer before; this is no different.” Edgar was staring into the bed of the truck. “Just move the corpse off the road, tell father you hit a deer, and get the truck fixed.” Shakily, Edgar nodded. “It is going to be all right.”

“Pl…please…help…me…” a weak voice called.

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