Copyright (c) 2017 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Some of the things I’m describing are my best guess as to what went on. I was there but I couldn’t be everywhere. I’m a pretty good judge of people you have to be to do the kind of things I do and get away with it. This is the truth as I remember it. Why do I talk about all of this in the third person? None of us are who we were then.
The king and queen of the Cloverdale Senior Prom were voted for after a special assembly that displayed the talents and other attributes of those running. Gloria’s friends assured her she was a shoo-in. The school’s most popular girl wasn’t certain. One thing was sure, her enemies, and when you were as breathtakingly beautiful as Gloria you had more than enough, wanted her to crash and burn and die. Plenty of fake puffery and jealous scowls greeted Gloria as she tried to keep the designer dress she’d purchased from Wedding Bells from wrinkling inside a clear plastic garment-bag on her way to the stage dressing rooms. I was there in the crowded halls … although I tried not to stare.
“I haven’t seen you and Brian walking to classes together,” Marsha Hicks’ reflection sneered from a mirror as Gloria took the dress out of the bag. “Have you two broken up?”
Gloria knew her rival for Prom Queen had a thing for Brian, almost every girl in the school did. Marsha commandeered the mirror like an exotic vulture preening the feathers that covered her ample bosom, applying Yardley of London white lipstick and waiting for Gloria’s relationship to die.
“We’re not going steady … so knock yourself out!” Gloria knew Brian had his low times but she didn’t think he was that low yet.
“Oh I’m not interested in a wild-rocker,” Marsha sneered, “even if he is adorable. I want a guy with wherewithal someone like that new guy in town Ted … what’s his name. I hear his father doesn’t just have a money tree in his backyard … he has a whole forest of them!”
Gloria knew Marsha was lying and would be all over Brian before the day was through. She wasn’t worried about Brian falling for a sleazy-easy. He, like almost all high achieving guys needed a real challenge something worth working for. Brian always had and always would need to conquer and win what he wanted. She just wouldn’t let him take her for granted. The senior prom was probably the most important dance of anyone’s life and Gloria wanted Brian to blow-up at the dance, rescue her from Ted Evans and get his lustful reward at Makeout Lake later.
Gloria made a mental note to drop by Paxman’s after school. Like most of the high school students the new guy hung out there after working as a paralegal during a break from law school. She still didn’t have a date for the prom and if her plan was to work out she had to give Theodor Monson Evans III an opportunity to ask. A friend had told her that he’d been driving around the night before like a lost puppy obviously looking for her in his blue VW beetle. When she passed Brian in the hall he appeared to be simmering with anger, although he tried to hide it. She knew him well and she was going to know him a lot better. Gloria smiled; everything was going according to plan.
Brian drooled along with all the other high school boys as the contestants for prom queen lined up in the auditorium. They were all rare beauties but Gloria was exceptional. She was the only one he stared at. The black-mist with silver-stars House of Harlow gown she wore accentuated her strawberry-blonde hair and copious green eyes. A pang of jealousy stabbed at Brian’s heart as she promenaded across the stage. Some lucky guy would be taking her to the prom on Saturday night … and it wasn’t going to be him. When Brian thought about losing out he didn’t blame Gloria. From everything he’d heard Theodor Evans was a high achiever on his way to the top. A member of the young Republicans, Ted was the kind of guy who would turn into a successful businessman perhaps even a politician able to offer a wife the best things possible in life: cars, summer-homes and exotic vacations to all parts of the world. All Brian could offer her was a smile, a six-year old Harley Davidson Softail and a smoking Dodge-van filled with battered rock band equipment … besides he hadn’t even asked her to the prom.
“I’m voting for Gloria,” David Fess said as he marked his ballot. “Even though Marsha Hicks promised me and half the senior class a fifteen-minute romp in the backseat of her dad’s Ford for my mark.”
Brian laughed. “I’ve never known you to suffer from integrity before … when it comes to fat bottom girls!”
“Integrity? Never had it, never will!” David laughed. “Of course I’ll lie and say I voted for the gibblet! But I’ll be the first in line and I’ll cut the quarter-hour to five minutes to make up for it.”
Gloria sang a heart-full and excellent rendition of Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were for her talent and by the end of the song he could hardly breathe. What went wrong with their roller-coaster of a ride relationship? Brian thought. Why did everything have to be so hard?
“I’m voting for Gloria too,” Brian said as he marked his ballot, and then added wistfully. “There is no one in the world like her … and there never will be.”
It was just by chance that Gloria ran into Ted on Wednesday and that changed everything. She needed a pair of shoes to go with her dress and the ones she wanted were only sold in Missoula. It was dark and the ladies apparel store was almost closed when Gloria arrived. Ted’s blue VW was the only car in the parking lot. The store-clerk a pretty girl named Mona, who Gloria had met several times before, was helping put some packages into the Beetle’s tiny backseat. Ted’s right arm was wrapped and in a sling. It looked like it might be broken. “What happened?” Gloria said as she pulled to a stop next to the pair. Ted looked startled … and it took him a moment to respond. Something about the situation seemed strange to Gloria … she hardly knew Ted but it was as if she had caught him doing something wrong.
“I took a bad fall while hiking,” Ted stammered.
Mona quickly put the packages in the backseat and then left after a backward glance at the good-looking guy. Gloria could tell she had been attracted to Ted and she had obviously dashed the girl’s plans to get to know the young man better. “That’s too bad,” Gloria said. “I guess you don’t feel much like dancing?”
“You dance with your feet not your arms!” Ted smiled. “What did you have in mind?”
Gloria was born without shame and time was running out. “I find myself without an escort to the Senior Prom on Saturday night and I wondered if you might be available.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you this last week,” Ted said. “I was going to ask you that same question. Now I won’t have to worry about having you say no!”
“Great!” Gloria almost shouted her enthusiasm. Then she glanced at the car and her smile sagged. “Pick me up at eight. The dance starts at nine but cruising through town for at least an hour before is all part of the night.” Gloria didn’t tell him that after the dance Makeout Lake was also part of the ritual, but there was no reason. By the time the dance was over she would be with Brian.
Ted grinned. “Eight it is,” he said, “and don’t worry! I won’t be driving this piece of junk on Saturday night!”
“Not that your car isn’t great,” Gloria stammered. “It’s just that this night is supposed to be really glamorous!”
“Don’t worry,” Ted called after Gloria as she ran toward the store just as Mona was closing the front door, “You’re going to have the ride of your life!”
Thursday morning was marred by tragic news on all the television channels. A young woman’s nude and battered body was found alongside a dirt road just outside of Missoula. “I was there last night!” Gloria gasped as she told her parents. “Good thing I was with friends!” She remembered the empty parking lot with Mona and Ted.
“Your mother and I don’t want you going to that dance alone!” Her father was upset.
“Don’t worry. I’ve got that covered!” Gloria said as she stuffed a bagel into her mouth and ran for the school bus.
“Who are you going with?” her father shouted after his only daughter.
“Don’t worry,” Gloria’s mother assured her husband as she ladled scrambled eggs onto his plate. “She has a date with Ted Evans that fourth year law student renting a room from Sheriff Walker. You couldn’t ask for a more responsible or respectable young man.”
“I hope he’s strong enough to handle himself,” Gloria’s father said as he buttered toast and then watched his daughter get on the bus. “With a serial killer running around on-the-loose you need more than a law degree to protect the ones you love.”
Brian grew tired of the girls flocking around him in the halls of the High school. Everyone knew he didn’t have a date for the prom, and Gloria did. Brian’s band-mate David Fess noticed his depression and sang the wrong words to a Crosby Stills and Nash song while Brian got his science book out of his locker. “… if you can’t be with the witch you love … then just love the bitch you’re with!”
Brian had to grin in spite of his depression. “I’m serious,” David said. “I don’t mean that you have to settle for Marsha Hicks. At least a hundred girls would jump at the chance to go to the dance with you!”
“That might be so but none of them are the ones I really want.” Gloria happened to walk past with a group of chattering girls at this moment and she smiled at Brian. It was the last time he would ever see her.
Brian knew she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen in his life. For the past several days she was all he could think about … her and the meaning of true love. To truly love another then you care about them more than you do yourself. What he and Gloria had was special but the girl deserved more. She deserved the life that someone like Ted Evans could give her. Friday was the last day of High School. Brian was graduating … and it was time he moved on.
Saturday morning and afternoon were much more than hectic. Gloria was a little bit frustrated that she hadn’t seen Brian anywhere as she had her hair and nails done and picked up Ted’s boutonniere. He was probably off sulking someplace with his friends. Good! Let him sulk. When he got mad enough he’d come to the dance and take what was rightfully his. Gloria closed her eyes and dreamed about wearing Brian’s class ring and suddenly it was a wedding ring that he was slipping on her finger. Yes! This was shaping up to be the most wonderful day of her life. Gloria admired herself in a full length mirror. She had to admit wearing this formal gown glittering with stars made her look like the sexiest witch ever … if the spell she was weaving didn’t work on Brian then it wouldn’t work on anybody!
Ted pulled up in front of the house driving a black BMW. Gloria was a little annoyed that he parked out front and honked his horn. He had refused to meet her parents when she’d asked him on the phone and they really wanted pictures. Oh well! If everything worked out the way she planned it would be a short-night for Ted anyway.
Ted did get out of the car and open her car-door for her. His arm was no longer in a sling. ‘It was just a sprain,” he said. Gloria noticed he kept his face turned away from the house. She shook her head. What was he afraid of? He wasn’t that much older than her.
It seemed like every boy and girl at Cloverdale High School was cruising Main Street. Ted complained about the endless driving down Townsend Avenue turning right on Main Street, turning right again on Galbraith and making another right turn on Meghan Way before connecting again with Townsend. Ted played music on the radio but quickly changed stations each time the news came on. Gloria saw plenty of people she knew driving around. Many of them were hanging out of car windows having a good time. She insisted that Ted honk his horn. After a while she realized that all the windows in the car were tinted a dark grey and that no one could recognize her anyway.
She was looking everywhere for Brian and insisted that Ted drive past The Asphalt Massage, a biker bar just outside of town. Brian wasn’t even close to twenty-one but Gloria knew that he sometimes used a fake ID especially when his band needed to appear old enough to perform. She didn’t see his Harley parked in the lot there either. Ted was beginning to get annoyed. “I’m thirsty,” he said. “How about we go back to my place … and I’ll fix us a drink.”
“It’s almost nine. Let’s go to the dance.” Gloria told him.
The band playing in the High School gymnasium was good but Gloria had to admit Brian’s band was better. When she didn’t see him anywhere in the crowds of people surrounding the dance floor or out dancing she began to get worried. The first hour was at least bearable; she kept expecting him to burst through the door any minute and sweep her away. The second hour the smile on her face was visibly forced and she was beginning to get angry. She even talked her best friend into dancing with Ted so that she could go into the bathroom and ask all of her social contacts if anyone had seen Brian. The last hour was agony. She was furious that Brian hadn’t shown up to claim her and she was more furious with herself for coming up with such a stupid plan. Ted could tell she was upset and wanted to leave early but Gloria insisted on staying until they were the last ones out the door. She was still hoping without hope for a miracle but Brian didn’t show.
They drove around after the dance but Gloria was running out of places to look. She finally suggested that they drive to Makeout Lake. It would be just like Brian; Gloria thought to take some hussy out there … just to get even.
“I’ve heard of that place. It’s a pretty rough road isn’t it?” Ted was smiling for the first time in hours.
“An old logging road forks off from Canyon Road and goes to the lake just inside Motha Forest,” Gloria said. “Yes, it is a little rough.”
“In that case we better switch to my VW,” Ted said. “This car we’re riding in was borrowed.”
“I figured as much,” Gloria told him. Still she was surprised when they pulled into a used car lot and Ted parked at the back next to his bug.
“I’ve lived here all my life and I didn’t know Harrison Auto Sales rented luxury cars!”
Gloria was even more surprised when Ted used the same key-ring pulled from the BMW and used a different key on the ring to start his own car. “Does anyone even know you borrowed that car?”
“I hope not,” Ted told her. “That could get me into a lot of trouble.”
Gloria shook her head. It seemed Ted wasn’t the upstanding young upward moving Republican everyone thought he was. Still no one was perfect. She was more interested in finding out if Brian was at Makeout Lake and who he was with.
“Both these seats lay back all the way and I brought along blankets and a pillow,” Ted told her with a smile on his face. “The Lake sounds like my kind of fun.”
Gloria had been too busy wondering where Brian was and she suddenly realized Ted thought he was going to get lucky.
“Ted I’m sorry,” Gloria told him. “I’m sorry about tonight. I’m sorry for everything. You’re a very good looking guy but the truth is I’m in love with someone else and this whole night was just a setup to make him jealous.”
Ted glanced at her and shrugged his shoulders … as if he’d known all along.
“I’ll pay you back for whatever you spent and I am really sorry,” Gloria told him. “This night was really the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Can you just take me home now and call it a night. I really am very sorry.”
“The night’s not over yet,” Ted said. “I still think we might have a little fun!”
Ted started to speed up as they roared down Townsend but as luck would have it traffic was heavy and he hit a red light at Wallace Avenue. “I’m sorry,” Gloria said as she opened her door and jumped out. “But this date is officially over!”
A line of cars behind Ted were honking their horns and he reluctantly pulled away leaving Gloria on the sidewalk. There were still plenty of people driving around and she flagged down some friends and got them to give her a ride home.
Gloria’s father said it was late going on 1AM and at first refused to let her drive the family car but she shouted, bawled and insisted until he gave in.
There were very few cars in town and Gloria cruised slowly through all the parking spots at Makeout Lake looking for Brian or his bike but he just wasn’t around. She was crying real tears as she headed back to town. “I ruined this night. I ruined my life I ruined everything,” she sobbed. There wasn’t another car on the road when she saw Ted’s VW parked alongside the road with what looked like a flat tire. His car jack leaned against the back bumper and he was just prying off a hubcap.
Gloria truly did feel awful about what she had done to Brian but she also felt terrible about what she did to Ted. That’s obviously why she pulled over and stopped. She wasn’t the only one having a terrible night. Gloria was less than three feet away with only reflected light from the headlamps when she noticed the cast was back on Ted’s arm.
“You!” he said standing up and smiling. “I thought I’d lost you forever.”
“I feel terrible about everything,” Gloria said. “I just stopped to give you a hand.” She couldn’t help but stare at his arm in a sling.
Ted held up his arm and laughed. “Turns out it was worse than I thought it was.” He gestured to the trunk at the front of the car which was open. “Mind handing me my lug wrench?”
Gloria glanced at the tire Ted was prying the hubcap off from and noticed dirt pushed around the tire to make it look like it was out of air but things didn’t click at that moment. It was when she saw handcuffs, duct-tape and a knife in the trunk that she realized she was in trouble.
“Did I say I needed a lug wrench?” Gloria was just starting to turn when he hit her. “Stupid of me … it was right here in my hand.”
Brian had been riding for almost twelve hours with only quick stops for gas and pulled onto a scenic overlook just as he left Utah and crossed into Nevada. He walked around to stretch his legs and gazed up at the stars. Life is never what you expect not for anyone. Gloria was always his dream, that and playing music but it was time he woke up. California looked like as good a place as any to start over. Almost everything he owned was on the back of his bike. His parents could send his band equipment later when he found out what he was doing and where he was living. “I only hope that if Ted isn’t the right guy for you that you find someone who is,” Brian told the stars. Just then a super bright star streaked across the sky and lit up the desert. Brian smiled closed his eyes and he could almost touch Gloria again. “I just want you to know that I will love you forever.”
“Sure Ted raped her. She was gorgeous he would have been a fool not to … but he didn’t kill her! I swear! And that’s the truth! Did you know that Brian was here to see Ted and Ted told him the same thing? That’s how come Ted knows so much about what went on. Ted made him talk before he did.”
“Cut the bullshit!” Sheriff Walker kicked the chair the suspect was sitting in inside the special room inside Florida State Penitentiary. “You are Ted. Everyone knows that …even if your last name isn’t Evans! Now what the #$%$ did you do with her body?”
“I’m not the same person I was on that night,” Ted said. “No one is.” He took a drink of water from the glass sitting on the table. “I’m telling you God’s own truth. In less than fifteen minutes I’m going to find out what we were all really put on this Earth for. I’m going to meet God!”
“Okay, have it your way!” Sheriff Walker was frustrated this had been going on for years. Ted had been convicted of multiple homicides and was considered the worst serial killer in the history of the US. He had shown authorities where numerous bodies were buried. Why wouldn’t he cooperate on this one? “Let’s hear your damn story one last time.”
“I took my time … it was great!” Ted was starting to drool. “Even if she was mostly unconscious and bleeding. After I finished everything I wanted to do to her, I put her back in the trunk and drove to Magician’s Canyon. Everyone in town said the Earth swallows a whole river there and I figured it was the perfect place to dump a body!”
“So you strangled her there like you did the others?”
“No,” Ted said. “When I opened the trunk she was awake. I know what you’re going to do to me now … and I’m ready she says. I watched her climb out of the trunk and walk toward the edge of the ravine. I could hear the water roaring far below as it was sucked into the round like a giant drain. The brightest falling star I’ve ever seen streaked across the sky as she walked toward the edge. She was completely nude with long gorgeous legs and that long strawberry hair falling around her shoulders. I never seen anyone so beautiful.”
“And you say she jumped?”
“She looked up at the sky as that star, meteor or whatever it was streaked across and she said as if someone in the sky could hear her … I’m so very sorry!”
“And she went just like that?”
“She was looking so good I thought about maybe putting her back in the trunk and having a bit more fun later but she was there one moment … and then she was gone.”
Florida State Prison officials unlocked the door and the warden extended his hand. “It’s time,” he said gently.
Ted turned to Sheriff Walker as they led him down the hallway toward the electric chair. “She really was wonderful,” he said. “After all the things I did to her she kept saying she was sorry! I’ll never forget her!” Then Ted began to howl like a rabid dog in the loudest voice the sheriff had ever heard. “The lord is my shepherd … I shall not want …”
Sheriff Walker was in his car headed back to Montana when a news report came on the radio and said the nightmare that had gripped a nation for more than a decade was finally over. The news commentator said that now maybe things would get back to normal. “He’s never been to Cloverdale,” the sheriff whispered before he shut off the radio.
THE END ?