Chris Till

4. Mary Lou Thorsen

In Stoner Noir on April 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm

On May 25, 1985, in Kuwait, a suicide bomber bombed the motorcade of the dictator of Kuwaiti. The dictator survived the assassination attempt, but the bomb killed four, including the bomber.[i] Iraq blamed Iran and increased its bombing of Iranian cities and shipping. Iran responded by bombing Baghdad and ships using Saudi and Kuwait ports.[ii] 

Maureen and Amber

     “So, what do you think happened?” asked Amber, laying on her back with eyes closed. “To that Mary Lou girl?”

      Beneath the afternoon sun, Maureen and Amber sunbathed on white plastic lawn chairs in Maureen’s mom’s backyard. A tall board fence kept the backyard private.

      “Well, I had a pretty intense dream about it,” replied Maureen uneasily. Where Maureen was a slender beauty, Amber was short and busty. Both wore bikinis: Maureen’s with a pink, yellow, and orange flower print and Amber’s all black and skimpier.

      “Uh oh,” said Amber. “Your dreams usually come true.”

      “I know. That’s why I’m freaking out. I really have a feeling I know who kidnapped her.” Maureen sat up, packing a small metal pipe from a plastic sandwich baggie.

      “But they don’t even know if she was kidnapped or ran away or what. Right?” said Amber, shielding her eyes from the sun while looking over at Amber.

      “She was kidnapped by some boys down by the Bahas,” said Maureen matter-of-factly, rolling up the baggie and dropping it under her chair.

      “What?” replied Amber incredulously. “The Bahas? Who was it?”

      “Okay, I’ll tell you but you gotta swear not to tell anyone. Here, you hit it first. There’s just like two hits in there.”

      Amber took the pipe and lighter from Maureen. The metal of the pipe and the sweat on her lips combined to give the weed a sweet and salty metallic taste. She took a deep hit, held it, and exhaled slowly.

      “It was that devil boy,” Maureen whispered conspiratorially, looking around. “The one who always wears the Black Sabbath and the Iron Maiden t-shirts.”

      “No way!” exclaimed Amber. “Weasel? That guy’s a little creepy, but, still, I’ve partied with him a bunch of times. He’s always following Ox around.”

      Amber handed the pipe back. Maureen took a small hit and put the pipe under her lawn chair. Looking down and adjusting her bikini top, she exhaled.

      “I saw it in the dream. It was like a vision. He molested her at the Bahas in some kind of Satanic sex ritual then took her away in a black van.”

      “Damn,” said Amber, sitting up and looking at Maureen with alarm. “You should call the police. Nick says Weasel’s gay for Ox, but, still, it’s just a dream, right?”

      Unseen by Maureen or Amber, peeking over the fence, a young boy with a Asian face and a black buzz-cut mohawk watched the girls sun bathe. Shirtless, he licked his lips.

      “You know my dreams,” Maureen said, adjusting the orange towel beneath her and laying down on her back again. “How many times have they come true? Like always. Those two should be in jail.”

      “Maureen, you’ve got to call the cops. If that guy really did it, maybe that girl’s alive and your information could save her. Plus, I don’t want those guys running around if…” Amber trailed off, adjusting her bikini top to just cover the tops of her nipples.

      “I’m not calling the cops,” Maureen said quickly. “They’re such dicks.”

      “Some kids were talking about Isaiah ’cause he like split the day after she disappeared,” said Amber quietly.

      “Yeah, I thought that too. But no, it was that Weasel kid,” said Maureen confidently.

      “So, you knew her? Mary Lou Whatsername?”

      “No, I think I saw her around, but never talked to her. I guess she was like super shy and didn’t really have friends or anything.”

      They sat in silence. It was a windless blue sky afternoon.

      “So, what’s it like going out with Nicky?” asked Maureen. “You miss the Ox?”

      Amber didn’t answer for a while. She just lay back shaking her head.

      “Oh right, I definitely miss Ox,” Amber replied sarcastically. “If he wants to go out with that tramp Angela, more power to him. Keeps her away from Nick, anyway. But Nick… is different. He’s just so sweet in private. He’s still like a dick when people are around but…”

      “Nick’s really hot in some weird way. Does Ox still want to kick his ass?” Maureen stretched her long legs out and pointed her toes.

      “Who knows? It’s so stupid. Ox like made out with Angela that same night, so he’s like got no right to be mad. Guys can be so dumb.”

      “It’s weird thinking of you going out with Nick. Like a month ago, you hated him.”

      “I know. Well, he’s fun and really sexy, but… like I don’t want to be in another serious relationship right away, y’know? I wanna just, like, have fun. What about you? You gotta miss Isaiah. Talk about cute.”

      “He broke up with me. What am I supposed to do? Pine? Not. He did leave a sweet message on my machine yesterday though.”

      “Ah. You still love him.”

      “No, I don’t,” said Maureen peevishly and somewhat convincingly.

      “So, you gonna go out with that cute nurse dude from the psych ward?” Amber put her forearm over her eyes. The little mohawked boy now had a pair of small red water balloons in his hands.

      “What? No, he is so boring. He just talks and talks and talks. I think it made Isaiah jealous though, which was fun. Let’s take a break. You want some water?” Maureen sat up on the side of her lawn chair.

      “Sure.” Amber sat up too and ran her fingers through her hair. “Who’s that?”

      “What?” Amber pointed to the corner of the fence where the boy had been spying on them. He was gone now.
      “I think that weird little kid was spying on us again.” Maureen picked up the pipe, lighter, and baggie from under her chair. They stood up and walked to the screen door at the back of the house that led into the kitchen. Both girls straightened the seats of their bikini bottoms.

      “I’m serious, Maureen, you should call the police. That whole thing gives me the creeps big-time. Nick said it was probably Satanists too.”

      “Yeah…” Maureen said, fixing two tall pink plastic cups with tap water and ice. “I should. I hate the idea of him on the loose, after having done God knows what to that Mary Lou girl. I didn’t know her, like nobody did, I guess, but still…”

      “It’s like a serious crime. She was just walking down the Prairie Path and like vanished? We’ve played on the Prairie Path since, like, ever, you know?” Amber leaned against the refrigerator, bumping it lightly with her butt.

      “I just hate the idea of calling the cops. They’re like the biggest perverts of all. Just the way they look at any pretty girl is gross. You call ’em,” said Maureen, handing Amber a cup and turning on the counter radio. “Those old pervs would love you.”

      Over WMET, the Beatles sang, “all you need is love, love, love is all you need.” Maureen started marching around the kitchen to the ending of the song, pretending to be in a marching band. Amber smiled and sipped her water.

      “You’re the one with the information. So, don’t freak out, but I’m going out to dinner with my mom’s boyfriend tonight. And we’re going to The Breakfast Club. It’s nothing weird. He’s just really nice. My mom’s on some kind of business trip. Don’t tell her, though, okay? Or Nick, okay?”

      “I wouldn’t dream of it… That suit looks good on you. You just get it?”

      “Yeah,” said Amber, blushing.

      “What?” asked Maureen, leaning down against the counter with her legs straight, changing the radio station. “Walking on Sunshine” and “Don’t You Forget About Me” came on for five seconds each as Maureen grimaced and kept turning the dial.

      “Nothing,” replied Amber.

      “Yeah right. Let me guess.”

      “Ummm…” Amber muttered something unintelligible.

      “Your mom’s boyfriend got it for you, didn’t he?”

      “Yeah, but I swear it’s not like that. I’m never getting into something like that ever again. He’s more like a dad to me, you know?”

      “I wish my mom had a boyfriend who gave me stuff.”

      “Yeah, it’s cool, huh? Plus, did I tell you? He’s a photographer too and thinks he can get me some sweet modeling jobs in Chicago.”

      “Tell him to get me some modeling jobs too. I’m broke.”

      “Yeah, you could totally model, Maureen.”

      “If my skin’d clear up.”

      “It will. I don’t know though, it’s weird, sometimes I worry that, you know, guys just like me ’cause of that way I look and, like, if I model, like, maybe that’d just make that whole complex worse.”

      “Guys do just like you for your body, though.”

      “Shut up. I’m serious.”

      “All the guys say you got the best tits in town.”

      “Shut up! Really? Anyway, so, seriously, I’ll tell him about you too if you want.”

      “Whatever. You really think I should call the police?” With the intro to Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle” playing on WLUP, Maureen sat down on a plain wooden chair at the kitchen table just inside the back door.

      “No, it’s just a girl who was kidnapped a couple blocks from your house by some kind of Satanic pervert, who cares.”

      “All right all right. It’s just that I’ve never called the cops before. They’ve always been, like, the enemy. I’d still feel like a nark, even if I know that Weasel belongs in jail.”

      Maureen played with the tips of her hair, looking for split ends. Amber sat down at the other kitchen table chair.

      “Just call right now,” Amber said, finishing her water. “Then, we’ll go do our backs. I gotta leave pretty soon for my dinner thing.”

      “Oh man. I don’t even know the number.”

      “That suit looks sexy on you,” said Amber, as Maureen checked the phone book.

      “Perv,” said Maureen, dialing the number. “Well, I never thought I’d be a police informant, but…”

Angela and Rose

      “I freeze up every time I see him,” said Rose, lingering around the pay phone at the train station. “He’s just so beautiful.”

      “God, Rose,” said Angela. “Don’t be such a chicken. He’s just a guy. Anyway, he likes you.”

      To anyone but their mothers, they could pass as identical twins with their fried fluffy blonde hair and skinny, shapeless bodies. Still, Angela was loud and sassy while Rose was dark and quiet.

      “Did he say that?” The Chicago and Northwestern commuter train arrived from Chicago and dozens of business suited men and women filed out, heads erect and briefcases in hand.

      “They look like a bunch of slave robots,” said Angela. “You gotta promise to kill me if I ever start wearing a suit and commuting. Pinky swear?”

      “Okay, I promise to kill you if you start wearing a suit and commuting. Pinky swear.” Rose wrapped her pinky around Angela’s pinky.

      “You’re a pal.”

      The train rumbled west, heading for Wheaton. As quick as the train had arrived, the commuters disappeared to their cars and castles.

      “Anyway, Ernie’s just passive,” said Angela, staring at Rose. “Like Mr. Mellow. You gotta seduce him.”

      “Oh my god. I’d have a heart attack.”

      “No you wouldn’t. Just like I’m gonna seduce Nicky and get him away from that slut Amber-ger. I don’t know what he sees in her besides she’s got like disgusting big boobs.”

      “I thought you were going out with Ox?”

      “Yeah, right. We’re not like ‘going steady’ or whatever. I just wanna have fun. Like the song. Ox is just my boy toy.”

      “Gotcha.” Moon faced, Rose leaned against the payphone.    

      “Okay, if you’re not gonna do it, I’ll call him. I want some bud.” Angela put a quarter in the phone and dialed the number.

      “No! Don’t call him!” cried Rose.

Ernie

     Shirtless in the late afternoon sun, Ernie reclined in a lawn chair on the redwood back deck of his mom’s house. She was, of course, at work, and he was, of course, singing and playing guitar.

      “Years ago, in days of old, when magic filled the air, ’twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.”

      With golden wavy hair flowing past his shoulders and the kind of boyish face that didn’t grow whiskers, he looked more cute than handsome, like a Robert Plant teddy bear. In the chair next to him lay a rolled up sandwich baggie that he kept winking at.

      With an inward grin, he stopped playing, picked up the baggie, unrolled it and pulled a dried mushroom out. The cap and stem were intact. Tilting his head to the side, he stared at it and bunched his lips.

      “Hello, mushroom friend,” he said endearingly and kissed it.

      In the next moment, he popped it into his mouth and began chewing with great relish. Looking down at the baggie, he pulled out a long cap-less stem, kissed it and popped it into his mouth. Rolling the baggie back up, he tossed it back on the chair and began playing again.

      “But Gollum, the evil one, crept up and slipped…” The kitchen phone rang. He ignored it for three rings then got up with his guitar.

                   Angela and Rose, Part Two

      As soon as Angela dialed the number, she forced the phone into Rose’s hand. Rose tried to avoid taking it. From the concrete platform outside the train station, they could see half a dozen grade school boys emerge from the downtown candy store across the street. The boys eagerly compared their candy purchases.

      “What are you doing?” said Rose, in a panic.

      “It’s a phone call for you,” said Angela smiling.

      “What? Oh my god,” said Rose, reluctantly taking the phone.

      “Hello? Hello? Who’s there?” asked Ernie in an fake English accent. Across the street, an Asian boy with a black buzzcut mohawk pushed another taller boy.

      “Oh, hey. Hi, Ernest. It’s Rose. Of Rose and Angela. How are you?” she asked nervously.

      “I’m all better now that I’m talking to you, sweetheart. What’s up?”

      “Oh nothing. I’m just calling from downtown. How are you? No, I mean… That’s good. Ummm. What’s going on?”

      “Just hanging out playing guitar, getting ready for practice.”

      “Cool. I love you guys. I mean, I love your band’s music. Baited Hook rules. I, uh…” Across the street, the boys now laughed at each other and made their way down the street, cheeks wide with candy.

      “Baited Hook! What’s up Ernie, you freak?” hollered Angela into the phone. “Come get us.”

      “Is that the lovely Miss Angela?” asked Ernie. He sat down at the kitchen table with the phone propped up to his ear and quietly strummed some chords.

      “Yeah. So, um… Cool. Hey, you have any ‘books’ right now?” asked Rose.

      “‘Books’?” questioned Ernie. “Oh, ‘books.’ Actually, no, I don’t. My dude’s coming over to practice tonight so maybe later.”

      Angela had her ear up to the phone, listening in.

      “Cool, so meet us out at the Bahas later,” Angela demanded, as Rose shifted the phone’s mouthpiece. “There’s gonna be a big bonfire party out there tonight.”

      “Yeah?” said Ernie. “Maybe.”

      “No maybe, you freak,” called Angela into the phone. “Promise.”

      Ernie laughed.

      “You’re the freak, Miss Angela. Sure, I’ll come and I’ll bring some ‘books,’ all right?”

      “Right on, brother,” said Angela.

      “Thank you, Ernie,” said Rose. “I hope you have a really, really great practice. You guys are really talented. Um…”

      “Thanks. Cool,” said Ernie. “Okay, see you two later.”

      “Take it easy,” said Rose.

      “Don’t forget the books, freak,” shouted Angela into the phone as Rose hung up.

Maureen’s Vision

          As the afternoon ended, Maureen sat on a wooden chair in her mother’s attic listening to David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album on a portable record player and smoking a Marlboro Red. Maureen had long black hair with straight bangs and wore cut-off jean shorts and an American flag halter top over her flowered bikini.

      From her perch, she looked out of the small dormer window to the street below, waiting for the police. “Five Years” played: “pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing, the news had just come over the air, we had five years left to die in.

      Finally, the cop car arrived and pulled into the driveway on the side of the house. She stopped the record and went downstairs to answer the door.

      “So, you have some information about Mary Lou Thorsen’s disappearance on May 11?” Sergeant Casino began. He was a sturdy man in his 40s with a cop mustache, sunglasses, and a tired look. They sat at the kitchen table just inside the back door. 

      “Yes. I didn’t know her. Her younger brother is my age. I walk down the Prairie Path all the time and… Whatever happened to her is just not right.”

      “Miss, we can all agree with that. If you’ve got information, it’s good that you called.”

      “So you know the Bahas? Down off the Prairie Path?”

      “Who are they?”

      “It’s a place, not people,” she said with exasperation. “The kids call it ‘the Bahas.’ It’s where everyone parties. Or where like the burnouts and pseudo-hippies or whatever party.”
      “I see. And where is that?”

      “Like between the Prairie Path and the railroad tracks, there’s this big empty area. Of woods. It’s like a no man’s land. Like if you kept walking on Whittier, past Walnut, past the Prairie Path, up the hill on the edge of the Path? Well, on the other side of that little hill, the land goes down and that’s the Bahas.”

      “Okay. That’s where the kids ‘party,’ you say?” The cop began taking notes in a small notebook.

      “Yeah, pretty much every weekend night, there’s a bonfire party out there, like ten or fifteen kids, getting drunk and smoking or whatever. All those kids with the Black Sabbath t-shirts and the Iron Maiden t-shirts. If Mary Lou disappeared on the bike path, I’d check around there. Some of those kids are like little devil worshipper wanna-bes. Not all of them, but some of them.”
      “What are their names?” he asked.

      “I don’t really know them or their names,” Maureen said, shifting in her chair.

      “Don’t lie to me,” the cop said sternly, drumming his thick fingers on the table. “What are their names?”

      “I don’t know,” she said, looking down.

      “Yes, you do,” he said, raising his voice. “Look, Miss, an innocent teenage girl about your age disappeared in broad daylight on the Prairie Path, less than a half mile from right here. Whoever did it should be in jail. I think you know that. That’s why you called. Now, please, what are their names?”

      Maureen sat up straight. Looking at the cop, she pulled up the front of her halter top and crossed her legs.

      “Okay okay. Weasel. I don’t know his last name. And maybe that kid Nick, too, I don’t know. They’re all pretty dark.”

      “All right,” he said, writing down their names. “How do you know this?”

      “Look,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I’ll just tell you, okay? I’m psychic. I just am. I had a vision of… bad things happening to her, down in the Bahas, okay?”

       “A psychotic vision, you say?” the cop said, slamming his notebook shut. “Look, Miss, this is a serious police…”

      “Psychic!” she interrupted. “Not psychotic. And I am serious. Some of those kids down there are really dark. They’ve got like ‘666’ written on the rocks. There’s this one big flat rock they call ‘The Sacrificial Altar.’ You’ll see. It’s screwed up. You just got to…”
      “I don’t have to do anything, Miss, and you should watch your language. Have you actually heard anything real or seen anything real having to do with Miss Thorsen’s disappearance? Or is this all just your so-called ESP? I do know you were recently released from the mental ward at Mercy Center.”

      Upset, Maureen began breathing heavily. She shook her head.

      “Never mind. Forget I called, I’m just trying to help, you jerk.”

      “I told you once to watch your language,” the cop barked, standing up. “I could arrest you for obstructing police business. Is that what you want?”

      Maureen bit her lip and kept her mouth closed. The cop stood over her, looking down. His knees almost touched hers. She pulled up the front of her halter top again.

      “I tell you what,” he said, hands on his hips. “Your mother’s not home, right? You’re a nice girl. A pretty girl. I want to give you a break. Just relax and…”

      “12-10,” the radio on his belt called. “Sergeant Three. 12-10 at 475 Duane.”

      Casino reluctantly pulled the radio from his belt.

      “This is Sergeant Three. Responding. 475 Duane Street. Please confirm address.”
      “Yes, that’s correct. 475 Duane Street.”

      “I’m on my way. Over.”
      “Over.”

      “Have a nice day, Miss,” he said sarcastically. “And do me a favor, next time, I don’t wanna hear about any of your psychotic, woops, I mean ‘psychic,’ visions.”

      Sergeant Casino slammed the screen door shut and left. A small tear formed in the corner of Maureen’s eye.

Ernie Trips Down the Street

     With his black guitar case in his hand, Ernie made his way north down Park Boulevard at dusk. First, he looked down at the concrete sidewalk squares. The concrete seemed to be made of an infinite number of tiny pebbles glued together in a most marvelous fashion. Then, he looked at the tree bark on the trees he passed. It looked like gnarly medieval armor. Eyes wide, he started grinning.

      “Hey Ernie, man, you need a ride?” asked the passenger of a dark green 1980 Ford Fairmont full of teens that stopped in the street by Ernie. A tape in the car played Van Halen’s “Dance the Night Away.”

      “What’s up, dudes? Nah, I’m cool.” Ernie stopped on the sidewalk.

      “Yeah? Party at the Bahas tonight, man.” Another car stopped behind the Fairmont.

      “I heard. I’ll probably be over after practice.”

      “Bring the whole band, man. See ya.”

      “Baited Hook rocks!” another kid shouted out the window as the Fairmont sped away.

      Still standing on the sidewalk, Ernie looked up at the sky. The shade of blue gradually changed as he watched. It was now royal blue. Ernie liked royal blue. He grinned again and rolled on down the sidewalk humming.

Party at the Bahas!

“Dude, what is this music? Some New Wave crap?” Ox asked. Almost a giant, he wore a black Jimi Hendrix t-shirt and cut-off Levis vest. Six teenagers, four boys and two girls, sat around a small bonfire in the Bahas that Saturday night. A tape deck played The Cure’s “Let’s Go to Bed:” “I’m shaking like milk.”    

“Man, just listen to it,” Tommy the Elf, a tiny red-haired punkish boy, said. “It’s absolutely great music.”

“Dude, put on some rock and roll. Put this on,” Ox demanded, trying to hand Tommy a tape. Tommy wore a white Clash t-shirt.

“Blizzard of Ozz? Yeah, that’s okay, but it’s the oldies, man… When’s Ernie getting here with the weed?”

“He’s getting here an hour ago,” Angela snickered.

“Who’s got a cigarette?” Ox demanded. “Nick, gimme a smoke man…”

“OPC’s your favorite brand,” Nick replied, playing with his butterfly knife. Wiry, he had a shaggy mohawk and a homemade tattoo of a skull glowering on his left bicep.

“What?” Ox asked.

“OPC’s your favorite brand, fool. Other People’s Cigarettes. Why don’t you steal your own?”

Nick threw a Marlboro Red at Ox and offered his pack to the two girls. They each took one.

With his eyebrows raised, Tommy eyed Nick. Nick shook his head, sighed, and threw a cigarette at him. The fourth boy, Weasel, sat quietly next to Ox, lost in his own head. Wearing a black and white Iron Maiden jersey, Weasel had a pointy nose and long stringy hair.

“But now you gotta put on my music, dude,” Nick said. “Put on something metal or punk.”

“Yeah!” said Ox. “Screw that poser garbage.”

“It’s not poser garbage, you dork. Where’s your tape?”

“So, is your new girlfriend coming out?” Angela asked Nick sarcastically.

“Amber?” asked Nick, looking down. “Naw, she’s doing a girls-night-out thing with her mom.”

“I don’t know why you’re so into her. She’s short and has like disgustingly large breasts. She’s like a freak of nature.”

“Sounds like jealously, Miss Angela. How ’bout you and your new boyfriend?” Nick asked, eyeing Ox. From the tape deck, “Goodbye to Romance” played.

“This is not metal,” said Tommy, looking at Ox with disgust. “This is like poser lounge music.”

“He’s not my boyfriend. Yet. But he’s madly in love with me,” said Angela. “Right, Ox?”

Oblivious to Nick and Angela’s conversation, Ox pushed Weasel off the log they sat on and shifted over to his spot. Weasel just readjusted to sitting on the ground and watched the small fire.

“Anyway, I met this totally hilarious kid at Tiffany’s Cafe,” said Angela. “Corey. He’s like 14 but is totally cool. He’s like the star of that movie they’re filming at Glenbard… Corey something. He was sitting with like the Glenbard West High School Thespian All-Stars, that goofy freshman kid Sean Hayes and, whatsername? Amy Carlson. We split and he got me super-st-st-stoned in the alley.”

Rose nodded and Nick ignored her. A quarter of a mile away, beyond the ridge that hid the Bahas, two police cars parked on the corner of Whittier and Walnut Street with their lights out. As an old yellow-jacket Chevelle Malibu with a loud engine and a burnt out tail light rounded the corner, each officer exited his car. Without conferring, the two strode towards the Prairie Path in the darkness.

A quarter-mile away towards downtown, also heading towards the Bahas on the Prairie Path, Ernie carried a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft bottles in a paper grocery bag. Wearing mirror sunglasses at 10:30 at night, he wore a plain black pocket t-shirt and his usual faded jeans.

Starry starry night,” he sang to himself, kicking up the tiny white limestone gravel on the Prairie Path. Indeed, the night was black, moonless and starry.

Back at the Bahas, “Mr. Crowley” played on the tape deck. Ox and Weasel mumbled along, playing air guitar.

“Hey, you guys, go get more wood,” commanded Nick. “I’m keeping you in smokes. You keep me in fire.”

“Gimme another smoke and I’ll get some,” Ox said.

“Yeah right. Get some wood and I’ll give you a smoke. A good amount of wood. Enough to really get this thing cooking. It’s new moon out, almost, let’s…”

“Come on, let’s get some wood,” Angela said to Rose, standing up and pulling the other girl’s hand.

“I’ll guard the fire,” Rose said, without smiling. “You go.”

Ox and Weasel walked off into the woods. Nick spun his butterfly knife on his forefinger.

“Hey Nick, you ever hopped a train out here?” asked Tommy.

“Huh? Yeah, one time, me and Oreo and Fat Tommy were out here and this train comes by like super slow. Me and Oreo jump on the ladder on one of the boxcars. We didn’t give a damn, but Fat Tommy couldn’t pull himself up. He kept jumping and like falling on the rocks… So, me and Oreo… What’s that noise? Anyway, Oreo is a nut job, he gets up on top of the boxcar and the train starts…”

“Dudes!” whispered Ox loudly, running back to the fire. “Split right now, that dick Casino and some other cop are just coming down the hill.”

“You two are coming with me,” Nick said coolly to the girls, standing up. “I know this place like the back of my heart.”

The three other boys instantly ran towards the railroad tracks. Nick quickly led the two girls further into woods away from the direction of the cops.

“Dick ass cops,” Nick said quietly, as Angela giggled. “Come on.”

In the dark, coming down the ridge towards the Bahas, the two cops saw a bonfire glimmering through the trees.

“Those freaky kids are gonna try to run,” whispered Sergeant Casino.

“Probably, but we’ll catch at least a couple of ’em,” whispered the younger one, pulling his gun. Sandy-haired, he an identical cop mustache as Casino. “Jesus knows what kind of mind drugs they’re on. When we get right up to the fire, we’ll hit our flashlights and surprise ’em.”

“Put that gun away, you idiot, before you shoot yourself,” whispered Casino, annoyed.

As if they were sneaking up on a Viet Cong village, the two cops moved silently towards the bonfire, unlit flashlights in hand. Silhouetted by the firelight, the younger cop saw three figures dash away from the fire toward the railroad tracks. He turned on his flashlight and ran sprinting through the brush after them. Casino shrugged and walked to the abandoned bonfire.

As the younger cop thrashed through the woods, Ox struggled with a tangle of honeysuckle vines by the rocks of the railroad tracks. The younger cop caught up with him.

“Glen Ellyn Police!” he shouted. “Don’t move and get your hands up right now.”

Tangled in the honeysuckle vines, big Ox froze and almost began to cry. Suddenly, pointy-nosed Weasel appeared from the side and shoved Ox out of the bramble.

“What the hell you think you’re doing?” shouted the younger cop, moving forward and grabbing Weasel by arm. Weasel didn’t resist as Ox ran up the rocks to the railroad tracks and disappeared into the night.

“You are under arrest, slimeball,” said the younger cop, roughly cuffing Weasel’s hands tightly behind his back.

Meanwhile, Ernie walked down the Prairie Path, getting close to the cut-off to the Bahas.

Years ago, in days of old, when magic filled the air, ‘Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair. But Gollum, the evil one, crept up and…” he sang to himself.

“Frickin’ Ernie, you maniac,” exclaimed tiny Tommy panting, stumbling out of the bushes along the Path, carrying his tape deck. “Dude, the nimrod police are busting the Bahas. You gotta get off the Path. Seriously.”

I guess I’ll keep rambling,” sang Ernie, gracefully stepping off into the bushes on the edge of the Path and stashing the bag of beer.

“Come on, my elfin brother, it’s cool,” said Ernie. “Just dump anything you got here and we’ll come back in an hour and get it. Where is everybody?”

Looking around, Tommy cooled down. Ernie was right. They didn’t have anything illegal on them.

“Yeah, screw the police,” Tommy said, still out of breath. “Let’s walk downtown. I don’t know. Everybody skedaddled when the cops came. Like roaches when the kitchen light comes on.”

“Alas,” said Ernie. “And my two favorite girls? Rose and Angela? Wherefore art they? Hey hey hey.”

Ernie offered Tommy a Marlboro Red and they headed back towards downtown.

Maureen and Amber, Part Two

      “Yup, I told the dick cop just what I told you,” Maureen told Amber over the telephone. Late that night, Maureen sat at the kitchen table of her mom’s house. She touched the cool brown linoleum floor with her bare feet, then lifted them up.

      “No, I didn’t tell him anybody’s name. I just said, like, ‘the burnout dudes who hang out at the Bahas.'”

      “Well, I’m glad. Good for you,” said Amber.

      “Yeah we’ll see… My mom is driving me crazy. She’s just a selfish bitch. As soon as she got home tonight, she went straight to her room. To get drunk. As usual.”

      “That sucks.”

      “Yeah I know. So, how was your big date? Did he take your picture in your hot new bikini?”
      “Stop. It’s not like that at all.”

      “Sorry. I’m just kidding, Miss Sensitive. Okay?”

      “Yeah. It was nice. It’s like having a dad for once, you know?”

      “No, I wouldn’t know,” said Maureen looking out the dark window on the kitchen door. Because it was light inside, she couldn’t see outside at all. Someone could be three feet away from the undraped window and she wouldn’t know it.

      “But I’m glad for you. Maybe he’ll be your new stepfather someday.”

      “That’d be cool. Just to have a real regular family, you know? Anyway…”

      “Do you call him ‘Daddy’?”

      “I’m serious, Maureen. Cut it out.”

      “Okay, okay. Yeah, well, call me tomorrow, okay?”

      “Okay, I love you.”

      “I love you too, sort of. Just kidding. I do love you. Bye.”

      Maureen hung up. She felt like someone watched her from outside the house. As goose bumps rose on her arms, she walked to the living room.

Maureen’s Backyard

      Laying on the sofa in her mom’s living room reading a romance novel about Vikings abducting farm girls, Maureen heard a strange noise from the backyard. Putting the book down, her eyes focused on the dark backyard window.

      Three pale faces with tongues out smooshed up against the window glass. Shocked, Maureen’s heart skipped a beat.

      “What the hell?” she said aloud, reaching for the protection that was not there.

      Nick, Angela, and Rose cracked up laughing at Maureen’s reaction. They signaled with their hands for her to come outside. She shook her head, feeling like the victim of a bad practical joke, and walked slowly around to the back door.

      “Shhhh,” Maureen said, opening the door and stepping outside. “Don’t wake my mom up. She’ll freak.”

      “Hey Maureen,” Nick and Angela said, as Rose hung back, silent.

      She led the group into the back of the backyard. Angela snickered.

      “What’s up?” Maureen asked.

      “Pigs just busted the Bahas,” said Nick, lips snarled. “They might have busted the Ox, the Weasel, and the Elf. Not sure.”

      “Hmmm,” said Maureen, pursing her lips. “What’d they bust ’em for?”

      “Who knows?” said Nick. “Whatever they want. I think the Ox had some weed.”

      “That’s a cool shirt,” said Angela, referring to Maureen’s American flag halter.

      “Thanks, Angela. So what are you guys doing besides scaring me half to death?”

      “You should of seen your face… Yeah… So, can we like hide out in your back yard for a minute? We just came straight from the bust,” said Nick.

      “I guess,” said Maureen. “You got a smoke?”

      “My smokes are your smokes,” he said, shaking out a Marlboro Red for her. They sat Indian style under an overgrown blackberry bush.

      “I guess Amber thinks Weasel might have had something to do with Mary Lou Whatsername’s disappearance,” Maureen probed.

      “Really?” said Nick. “She never said anything to me.”

      “That dim bulb?” said Angela. “I mean, I love that guy, but he couldn’t plot a trip to the grocery store.”

      “He was in jail that day for that weed thing with Ox anyway,” said Rose quietly.

      “In jail? He was?” asked Maureen, swallowing. “For sure?”

      “Yup. Remember? Him and Ox got pulled over in Weasel’s mom’s car. Ox had weed, but Weasel said it was his so they arrested both of ’em.” said Angela. “I remember looking for them that day ’cause there were so many cops on the Prairie Path, but they’d gotten busted the day before.”

      “Damn,” said Maureen.

      “Damn what?” asked Nick, looking at her strangely. A car sped by on the street in front of the house. It did not have its head lights on.

      “Oh, just, damn I hope they catch whoever did it,” Maureen said.

      “Neither of their mom’s would bail ’em out for like three days,” said Rose in a hushed tone.

      “Ah, that girl probably just ran away,” said Nick. “Her family’s real weird. Her older brother’s my age. He was a… I don’t know what, but a real specimen.”

      “So Ox and Weasel were in jail then?” asked Maureen again.

      “Hey, so you’re doing better?” asked Angela.

      “Huh? Yeah,” said Maureen. “Mercy Center is super-boring. I’m just glad to be out. I met a cool guy in there I’m gonna go to the Dead up at Alpine with. A male nurse. Super cute.”

      Angela and Rose sat side by side with their arms around each other. Nick looked at Maureen with a compassionate look. He started to say something, stopped and put his hand on her bare knee.

      “Good,” said Angela, looking straight at Maureen. “I’m glad you’re doing better. We were real sad to hear you, uh… had to go to Mercy Center and all. You belong in the outside world.”

      “Really? Thanks, Angela. That’s nice.”

      “Same here,” said Rose sincerely. “I’m really glad you’re okay.”

      “Thanks guys,” said Maureen, genuinely touched. “Really. That’s real nice. You guys thirsty? I could swipe some of my mom’s wine. She’s probably passed out by now.”

“No Clues in Search for Missing Local Teen”

Glen Ellyn News May 16, 1985

            Searching through the tall grass and woods along the Prairie Path over the last week, the Glen Ellyn Police have found no clues regarding the whereabouts of missing 19-year old Mary Lou Thorsen. Thorsen was last seen along the bike path in Glen Ellyn east of the Taylor Street Underpass on the early afternoon of May 11.

            “We’ve had a big group of community volunteers comb the area,” said Police Sergeant Phillip Casino. “We’ve had dogs out there. Nothing. It’s like she just vanished in thin air.”

            Thorsen is a 1984 graduate of Glenbard West High School. She lives with her family several blocks from the Prairie Path and occasionally walks the Path recreationally.

            “At this time, we are investigating her disappearance as a crime,” said Casino. When last seen, she wore green jeans, a red windbreaker, and white tennis shoes. Police ask that anyone with any information about her location or disappearance to call the Glen Ellyn Police Department immediately.

Glen Ellyn Police Interview with Douglas Cummings May 20, 1985

This is Sergeant Phillip Casino on May 20, 1985. Uh, Douglas, could you please state your full name?

            Me? I’m Douglas Jonathan Cummings.

Thank you, Douglas. We’re just going to go through some of the stuff that you did on May 11. Now, you had said before that you were on the bike path, the Prairie Path, that day?

            I guess. Yeah, me and Jamie were riding bikes.

Jamie? That’s your friend? What’s Jamie’s full name?

Jamie Matheson. I don’t know his middle name. He’s in the sixth grade with me at Ben Franklin Elementary School.

Okay. Great. So, about what time were you and Jamie on the Prairie Path?

I don’t know. Jamie has a watch that his mom gave him, but it was in the afternoon. It was a Saturday. We went the Good-BY Ranch and bought some candy. I got a big thing of Watermelon Now-or-Laters and Jamie got some Good ‘n’ Plenty, I’m pretty sure, and, yeah, so that’s what we did.

And then you went for a bike ride on the Prairie Path?

Yup. Well, we were just walking our bikes ’cause we were eating the candy and stuff. That girl was standing on the bike path crying. Jamie said “hey, you lose your kitty cat?” to her. He’s always saying weird stuff to strangers and stuff and she just looks at him and says like “no” real quiet and spooky-like and, um, that’s what happened.

Okay, the girl who was crying. Did you know her?

Nope. I never seen her before in my life. It’s the girl who’s picture’s in the paper. Mary Lou Whatsername.

Okay. What did she look like?

Just like the picture. Like her hair was almost white, like blonde. She looked like a teenage girl pretty much. Her hair was messy. Skinny.

Was she with anyone?

Nope. You know when you come up that hill from the Good-BY onto the bike path then it levels out? That’s where she was. Just crying and stuff. Yup.

Was she walking towards the Good-BY Ranch or away from it?

She was just standing there. Crying and stuff. Jamie said “hey, you lose your kitty cat?” or something just to be funny and we just like walked down the path after that. We ride down to Hill Street almost to Lombard and back and that’s what we do.

Did you see anyone else on the Prairie Path that day?

Well, Jamie. I seen him and that girl. And I don’t know. Maybe. Sometimes them teenagers hang out on the Prairie Path, but I don’t remember for sure.

Which teenagers?

Well sometimes you see them teenagers with the black t-shirts and the long hair. The burnouts or whatever. But I don’t know.

You don’t know what, Douglas?

I don’t know if I seen ’em that day. I remember that girl ’cause of the reason that she was crying and Jamie said that funny thing to her. I guess we kind of laughed when he said that about her kitty cat. He says funny stuff. You should ask him, maybe he saw other people and stuff.

What was the girl who was crying wearing, Douglas?

Clothes and stuff. I don’t know. Like a preppy girl or something. Maybe. Girls clothes probably.

Were her clothes dirty or clean?

I guess they were clean, but I don’t remember them being dirty probably.

When did you realize it was the girl that people are looking for?

I seen her picture in the Glen Ellyn News. My mom gets it in the mail and I seen it on the table. I says to Jamie, “that’s that girl what was crying on the Prairie Path. The one who didn’t lose her kitty cat you know” and he said “yup, that’s her all right.” Her picture was on the front of the paper. And then I told my mom and she called you guys and made me come down here.

Is there anything else that you remember from that afternoon on the bike path?

Well. No. I guess not. We was eating candy and that girl was crying mostly. I kinda felt bad that we joked with her and all. Afterwards when her picture was in the paper and all, but we didn’t mean nothing bad by it. Just funning around, you know?

Glen Ellyn Police Interview with Jamie Matheson May 24, 1985

This is Sergeant Phillip Casino on May 24, 1985. Jamie, could you please state your full name for the record?

            For the what? You don’t know my name? You’re the cop.

Well, as I told you, we’re tape recording this and it helps to have the interviewee state their name on the tape. This is Sergeant Phillip Casino and I’m interviewing Jamie Matheson on May 24, 1985. Jamie, I’d like to talk about stuff you and your friend Doug Cummings did the other day on the bike path.

            Am I in trouble?

No, Jamie, you’re not in trouble at all. As you know, a young woman in town has disappeared and you and Doug might have seen her that day on the bike path the day she disappeared? Is that correct?

I don’t know. I heard a girl disappeared but I sure as shootin’ don’t know nothing about it. I don’t know what that kid Jamie told you. I let him hang around sometimes but we’re not really friends.

I see. Well, do you recall seeing a young woman on the bike path that day?

How’m I supposed to know? You see lots of people on the bike path. Joggers. Old dudes with canes and funny hats. Like families riding their bikes and stuff. I seen an old Chinese guy on there once but I ain’t bragging about it. I’m sure I seen girls on the bike path but how’m I supposed to know?

Thank you, Jamie, that’s very helpful. Now, Doug said you two stopped at the Good-BY Ranch and bought some candy then walked your bikes up the bike path by the Underpass that day. Does that sound right?

If I’m not in trouble, I don’t have to talk to you, right? I just came down here ’cause my mom said I had to, but I can leave if I want, right?

Of course you can leave, Jamie. You don’t have anything to hide, do you?

            Like what?

Doug said you two saw a young woman on the bike path that afternoon, right after you’d left the Good-BY Ranch. Does that sound right?

Look, I see lots of girls. How’m I supposed to know? Do you remember every girl you ever seen?  I do know I didn’t do nothing wrong.

So, you didn’t see a young woman on the bike path that afternoon?

            (no response)

Do you think Doug Cummings was lying when he told us you two saw a young woman on the bike path that afternoon?

I ain’t saying that and I ain’t not saying that. He might have seen what he said he seen. How am I supposed to know? I ain’t him. I do know that I don’t know.

You don’t recall seeing a young woman crying on the bike path that afternoon?

            Crying? Who was crying on the bike path? Say, you got any candy, Mr. Boss Man?

Would you like some candy?                    

            Is there an echo in here? Why are you being condescending?

You can have candy after you answer my questions, Jamie. I’m not the enemy. We’re trying to find a girl who disappeared, okay? An innocent teenage girl. We don’t think you or Doug had anything to do with it, but we think you might have been the last known people to have seen her. Okay?

            Okay what? You sound upset. Maybe you should switch to decaf.

We think you two might have been the last people to have seen Mary Lou.

I don’t remember seeing any girls or anyone. It ain’t a crime to buy candy or ride bikes on the Prairie Path, is it? And I don’t have to talk to you anyway. I know my rights. I don’t want candy from you anyway, copper.

You don’t recall asking a young woman if she’d lost her cat that afternoon?

            You crazy. I know my rights. I’m taking the Fifth.

Jamie and Doug

            On May 29, 1985, outside of Los Angeles, the killer known as the Night Stalker entered a beige house through its unlocked front door around midnight. After assaulting and killing the two residents, he drew two pentagrams on the walls of the house with red lipstick.[iii]

      “Can’t believe you narked me out,” said Jamie, shaking his head dramatically. A glorious summer afternoon, he rode his banana seat Schwinn bicycle downtown Glen Ellyn alongside Doug. Jamie looked Asian and had a buzzcut black mohawk. Taller, Doug looked like a clean cut preppie boy.

      “I didn’t nark you out. We ain’t in trouble, Jamie. You don’t think it’s weird that that girl disappeared that day?” 11 years old, both boys had loaded water pistols tucked into the waist bands of their jeans.

      “It ain’t my problem, Officer. Let me tell you something I learned a long time ago. Never snitch. Mind your own business and never snitch. Them’s the golden rules.” Jamie practiced riding with no hands on the handlebars. He wondered if maybe somebody somewhere held a contest for no-hands bike riding. If so, he figured that he might just win the contest.

      “I didn’t snitch!” Doug said, upset.

      “Oh yeah? Then how come the coppers called my house. They about scared my mom to death, having her bring me in to talk about some girl I don’t even know’s disappearance. You owe me.”

      “I owe you what?”

      “I’ll think of something.” Without talking, the boys pulled up across the street from the downtown post office at the drive-up mail boxes. Parking their bikes on the sidewalk, the boys crouched behind the mail boxes.

      A woman pulled up to the mailboxes and rolled down her window. She looked to be in her early 40s and wore a scarf around her hair like a Mennonite woman. As she reached out to put two letters into the box, the boys whipped out their squirt guns and sprayed her with water.

      “Stop that, you nasty boys!” she said, shoving her letters in the slot. The boys kept spraying. With an angry look on her face, she quickly rolled up her window and accelerated away.

      “Why do I never get tired of this game?” Jamie said. Doug laughed and licked the dripping tip of his green water pistol. Several minutes later, a tough-looking man in a white Ford F-150 pickup truck drove up to the mailboxes. When he rolled down his window to drop off a letter, the two boys jumped up and nailed him with water from their squirt guns. The man tried to open his car door, but it smashed against the mail boxes. He accelerated forward two feet and opened his door.

      Jamie and Doug ran to their bikes and rode away laughing. As they shot their water pistols into the air and whooped, the man chased them for half a block before giving up. The boys hid in a downtown alley for a couple minutes then rode over to the bakery.

      “So what’d you tell the coppers anyway?” Jamie asked.

      “Look, my mom made me go. I told her that I’d seen that girl whose picture was in the paper. I didn’t know we were like the last people to see her alive or whatever before she disappeared.”

      “You tell ’em what I said to her?”

      “I might have told him that you said something goofy to her about like ‘why you so sad’ or something, but that’s all.”

      The boys parked their bikes in front of the Flour Barrel, the downtown bakery. They liked to go there and hassle the cute 20-something woman who worked there. As walked up to the bakery door, a skinny teenage boy walked by in a dirty McDonalds uniform. He had tears in his eyes.

      “What’s the matter, young fellow?” Jamie asked. “Your dog die?”

      The boy in the McDonalds uniform looked at Jamie evilly and passed by. The boys stepped into the bakery.

      “Damn, why people always crying around us?” Jamie asked, walking into the bakery. “Hey Tina, you’re certainly looking lovely today.”

      She rolled her eyes and said nothing. Jamie walked up to the counter and stuck his skinny chest out. Doug stayed by the door where a railing protecting the display cookies was low.

      “Little boy, if you try to steal cookies again, I’m calling the police,” she said. Jamie moved away from the display railing.

      “So, what’s the word, hot stuff?” Jamie asked. She crossed her arms and looked out at the street.

      “Are you going to buy anything or are you just here to annoy me?”

      “Mostly the latter, but a little of the former,” Jamie replied. “That blouse sure makes your chest look big.”

      “You are one obnoxious brat,” she said, crossing her arms tighter.

      “It’s a compliment!” Jamie said. Doug glanced out the window and saw a white Ford F-150 park across the street from the bakery.

      “Dude! Let’s go!” Doug called. Jamie looked out the window and saw the tough-looking man get out of the truck. The boys ran out the front door and hopped on their bikes. The man tried to chase them on foot again, but quickly gave up. The boys rode back to their alley hideout.

      “That’s hilarious,” said Jamie. “That guy’s stupid.”

      “He’s a regular do-do bird,” said Doug.

      “A first class numbskull.”

      “A for-real Denny Dimwit, as my mom says.” The boys caught their breath.

      “So, you tell the cops what that girl said to us?” asked Jamie.

      “Nope.” Jamie looked at Doug quizzically.

      “Yeah you did.”

      “No. Scout’s honor, I didn’t.”

      “Why not?”
      “I told you, man. I ain’t no nark.” Jamie nodded and sucked on the end of his orange water pistol. “Hey, anyway, I gotta go. My mom’s actually making dinner tonight.”

      “Cool. Later.” The boys slapped five and on the side. Jamie rode home quickly. He lived in a large ranch house with a half basketball court in the front driveway on the edge of downtown.

      When he got home, he went straight to his bedroom and shut the door. Going straight to the closet in his room, he pulled a Penthouse from a backpack on the floor. It was the February 1985 issue. Laying down on the bed, he propped up on a pillow and opened the magazine. He liked reading some articles first, to build up anticipation before looking at the wonderful photographs.

      This issue had an interview with a serial killer named Henry Lee Lucas. In the interview, Mr. Lucas proudly bragged of traveling back and forth across the USA for years, murdering hundreds of strangers for the thrill.       Finally, Jamie turned to the first pictorial, which included explicit anatomical photographs of an 18-year old starlet named Christy Canyon. In one quote, referring to her modeling career, Ms. Canyon stated, “I really like what I’m doing, and don’t know when I’ll move onto something else. I’m having too much fun.” I would love to kidnap that girl, Jamie thought to himself, feeling amorous.


[i] New York Times, May 26, 1985.

[ii] David Schaffer, The Iran-Iraq War, 77-78, Lucent Books 2003.

[iii] Id.

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  1. looks like 3 Stooges Curly with a mohawk after a diet

  2. Good suspense building in the details.

  3. Thank you velly much.

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