Hey all - I couldn't post Flash Fiction Friday posts the last couple of Friday's because of work and family commitments, so you get a Writer Wednesday Double Feature today!
Getting Take Out
"Did you want to get some pizza?" he asked.
"Sure. I'm always down for pizza. Where were you thinking? The new place?" she asked.
"I was thinking maybe the place at the edge of town. I know it looks kinda dingy but I hear the pizza is great" he said.
"You mean the place where all those women go missing?" she asked.
"Well, yeah. But you're not going alone. Nobody is going to get you.
"Maybe we'll catch the serial woman nabber. Be citizen detectives or whatever" she said.
"We could be heroes."
"Let's go" she said.
The pizza place had a sweet greasy smell. It was dark inside, she referred to it as 'mood lighting', he referred to it as 'dive bar chic.' The two opted for a pitcher of beer that wasn't quite cold enough and a pepperoni pizza. Between bites and sips they scoped the area out - searching for any suspicious looking people.
"What do you think he looks like? You think he's a trucker type? Picking up girls as he drives in and out of town?" she asked.
"Yeah probably - or many that's too obvious. Maybe he's someone you'd never expect."
"Like an IT guy? Like you?"
"Haha. Maybe not that inconspicuous."
"Woah. Check her out!"
"You think a woman is kidnapping other women?"
"No no no. Just in general. Her outfit is...something."
He turned his head to look at the woman. He expected a provocative outfit, but instead he was met with a smattering of patterns and colors. It was definitely different than what most people in their conservative small town wore.
"She must not be from around here" he said.
They continued eating and drinking, and trying to figure out who in the restaurant could be responsible for the several missing women - but came out empty handed.
"Should we get a box for our leftovers?" she asked.
"I'll go grab one. I need to run to the restroom anyway" he said. He got up from the table and walked away. When he got back, he had a little sweat on his brow.
"What's the matter? Why were you gone so long? I could have been kidnapped ya know?" she asked.
"Most of the mens room was out of order so there was a line. But you'll never guess what I overheard when I was getting the box" he said, setting the box down.
"The woman from earlier? With the outfit? I guess she skipped out on her bill. I overheard them talking about it when I was up there. Speaking of which, I also paid our bill."
"Was it a lot? Is that why you're sweating?"
"No - just ate too much pepperoni" he said, patting his belly.
They walked to the car, he opened the driver side door and got inside.
"You didn't lock the car?" she asked.
"I guess not" he said. "Good thing there's nothing valuable in here."
There was a thud in the trunk.
"What was that?" she asked.
"Just some old junk. I meant to take it to the donation center today and forgot. I'll do it tomorrow"
They kept driving.
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The Other Side of the Tracks
Amy lived on the other side of the tracks. I don't mean that metaphorically - she actually had to cross the train tracks to get to her house.
"I thought that you had to go to another school if you lived over there? Isn't it like technically a different district or something?"
Amy shrugged. She wasn't much of a talker. I liked that about her. She didn't have any drama. She didn't have boy trouble, or girl trouble, or any sort of trouble it seemed like. She was always happy to just walk quietly home together, sometimes stopping to pick a flower or pet a stray cat. She seemed to take joy in these small things.
I didn't have any classes with her at school. In fact I rarely saw her in the halls, but she was always outside the school when it let out, wearing a well-used backpack and a light jacket no matter the weather. We started walking together at the start of the school year. I'd walk with her to the tracks, she'd cross them, and I took a left to go to my street. There was a faster way home, but I was never in a hurry to get home and start my homework.
"What's your house like?" I asked.
She shrugged again. "Kinda small, but nice" she replied.
"Are you allowed to have friends over?" I asked.
"Yeah. Do you want to come over and look at my room?" She seemed excited to have someone ask.
"Sure! I can hang out for a little bit."
I crossed the tracks with her when we got to them. Her neighborhood was in a wooded part of town. The streets weren't paved, and the houses were spread out. Hers was at the end of a dead end road.
It was small, like she said. White, or at least it would be after a power wash. Dandelions were scattered across the lawn. I saw something shiny in the tall grass.
"Do one of your parents smoke?" I asked after picking it up. It was a lighter.
Her eyes grew wide, like she was scared of it.
"Put it back" she demanded. So I did.
Her house was unlocked, and nobody else was home. I thought it was odd that her family wouldn't be worried about someone breaking in, but then again, they didn't have much to steal. I never even spotted a TV when I was there.
Her room looked like a little girls room, with rose patterned curtains and a large doll collection. We chatted for a bit while we brushed the dolls hair.
"This one is my favorite" she said, acknowledging the one she was holding. It looked a lot like her, with the same hair and eye color.
After a while, I decided to head home, it was starting to get late and I didn't want my parents to be mad. Her parents weren't home yet, but I didn't say anything - I figured that was normal.
I didn't see her after school the next day, I figured maybe she was sick, so I decided to swing by her house and check on her.
Except when I got there, the house was gone.
Not, like, disappeared gone, but burned down gone. Barely a frame remained.
"Hey!" I heard a voice yell to me. "You shouldn't be playing near that building. It's not safe." It was a neighbor walking their dog.
"What happened?" I asked.
"That house burned down years ago - not sure what happened. I guess a young girl started it or something. I don't know why they don't just tear this building down. It's dangerous" the neighbor continued on with their dog who was eager to finish the walk.
I started to walk away - feeling so confused. I was just here yesterday.
I picked up a rusty lighter from the grass.