When the Trailer Trash Gang found a tent in the woods - Chap 3
I don’t remember yesterday.
And not in a, “Now what was it I had for lunch?” kind of way. I literally remember nothing about Wednesday, October 14th, 2020. It’s a blank space for me. I remember going to bed on Tuesday night, after having perhaps a little too much red wine. And then I remember waking up this morning with a bit of dry mouth and an urgent need to go to the bathroom.
But Tuesday’s gone. And the envelope is open, its contents strewn about my desk. Sheets of paper filled with illegible scrawling in a language lost to time — if it was ever of this world to begin with. I know how to decipher it, and I know most of what it says. What I don’t know is how much I read aloud yesterday, or what consequences that will have tomorrow.
Missing time wasn’t something we ever concerned ourselves about as kids, either because we didn’t notice it or we just didn’t care about it. The first time we lost time was after the ritual at the clearing, after dancing around the stone. But it certainly wasn’t the last time.
When we finally made our way back home that night, we were expecting a butt whupping. After all, we all knew the rules — home before dark, or else. But strangely enough none of our parents cared, or even noticed, that we were returning well after the sun had set.
A simple “Well, there you are,” was all that I got from my mom upon stepping across the threshold of the trailer. “You missed dinner, so we’ll consider that your punishment. Now go to your room.” So I did, and I laid there in the dark holding the key in my hand, feeling a dull warmth emanating from it, holding back the desire to use it right away.
The next day was a Sunday, so Andi and Huck went to church as usual while Teddy and I did our chores around the house. I was distracted, and my efforts were subpar according to my mom, who repeatedly threatened to send me back to my room if I didn’t pick up the slack. Teddy came knocking on the door around noon, but was sent packing by my mom, telling him that I’d be out when she was satisfied I’d done my chores.
It was probably around 1:30 that I finally finished, looking out the door to see Teddy tossing rocks into the woods from my front yard, laughing as my dog ran back and forth on his run just at the end of the forest. We wandered off toward the others’ trailers to see if they were back from church yet, when we noticed a strange car driving slowly up the hill toward us. It was an older car, but something fancy. No markings, with very dark windows all around. We stepped out of the road as it passed and suddenly sped up, zipping up and around the loop with a deep guttural rumble from the exhaust. The sound ripped through the relative silence, like a bomb was dropped right in front of us. It was the kind of sound that you don’t just hear, but you feel. The kind of deep bass rumble that a roll of thunder makes when it comes close after the lightning strike.
We hauled ass across the yards between us and the other side of the loop, stopping around the corner of the Mongomery’s trailer. We weren’t supposed to be in their yard, they’d made that exceedingly clear, but with their driveway empty we assumed they weren’t there. We peered around the corner, hiding as much as we could, waiting for the car to pass. But it didn’t. Minutes went by, and still nothing. We looked quizzically at each other — there wasn’t anywhere for a car to go other than to one of the trailers or around the loop. And the loop wasn’t long — maybe a quarter mile in total. The way that car had torn off, it should have been barreling down this side of the loop in no more than a minute.
We looked at each other, serious faces showing the concern that only the superstitious could have, then burst out laughing. Obviously the car had stopped somewhere along the loop. Just because we’d never seen the car before doesn’t mean it wasn’t someone visiting. And the old Olsen place was for sale, just around the top of the loop. We stood there like idiots when we heard a car pulling into the driveway in front of us, hearing a door slam and Mrs. Montgomery yelling for us to “GET THE FUCK OFF MY LAWN YOU GODDAMN LITTLE SHITLETS!” at the top of her lungs. We split down between the homes toward the green belt that separated the “north” and “south” sides of the park (they weren’t really “north” and “south”, but we always referred to the top of the loop as “due north” and the bottom as “due south”).
And there we made the most incredible plan known to man — we’d split up and take either side of the loop, meeting at the top, looking for that weird car along the way. Mostly, we just wanted a better look at the car — both Teddy and I were burgeoning car guys, with our dads regularly working on various cars and putting up with our “help”. But looking back I’m pretty sure there was something else going on in our heads too — or maybe that’s just me projecting onto what actually was an innocent interest.
We rochambeaued for which side to take, and when Teddy threw Spock ears I boxed him playfully upside the head. “Fine, you take my side and I’ll take your side, weirdo,” I decided for us. We each lived on opposite sides of the loop, me on the “west” and Teddy on the “east”. He pretended to put his fists up to fight, then fake-punched himself in the face, and turned away to walk up the west side of the loop. I did the same for the east side.
It was mid-day, the Autumn winds cutting in across the airfield and over the park. There were all the usual sounds of a sunny Fall weekend — kids playing in their yards, a couple guys getting in the last grill before the rainy months locked in, dogs barking. There was no guttural exhaust, no revving of an engine, no sign of the strange car at all. I walked the distance, covering the northeast quadrant slowly and with attention to detail. Nobody had garages, though there were a few carports, so there wasn’t any place that the car could have hidden. But it was nowhere to be seen.
I reached the top of the curve, where there was a small “park”. I use the term loosely – it was merely a plot of dirt with the top of a large round boulder sticking out from the ground. It wasn’t buildable, so whoever built the place decided to just make it a “park”. Teddy was sitting at the top of the rock, one of his favorite spots in the trailer park to sit and contemplate the obvious.
“Report, sergeant!” he shouted as I came into view.
“Sir, nothing, sir!” I responded, mirroring his bravado.
“Weird, me neither,” he said as he slid down the rock and walked over to me. “What the fuck?” he asked rhetorically.
“No clue, maybe we missed it?”
“Not a chance — we hauled ASS across that lawn, and even if we didn’t see it, we’d have heard it wouldn’t we?”
“Then they must have gone back the way they came, while we were trying to catch a peek.”
“Are you dense? C’mon, Gomer. I just said we’d have heard it. You heard that thing, it must’ve been some kind of super turbocharged V12 to make that kind of rumble.”
“Yeah, I didn’t just hear it, I felt it when he gunned it.”
We stared into space for a minute, recalling the feeling of deep vibration inside when the strange car gunned its engine.
“Wait, what’s that?” asked Teddy as his attention turned across the road in front of us, toward another undeveloped parcel. This one wasn’t intentionally abandoned unlike the rock park — no, this was originally intended to be a road leading to the next phase of development of the park. Something that was planned long before we moved there and wouldn’t happen long after we left. At one point, it had probably been an actual dirt road, but now it was just another field covered in low brush and Scotch broom.
Teddy walked up to the dirt and kicked at it. I watched him shaking his head as I approached, heard him muttering, “No way. No fucking way.”
Right there in the dirt were tire tracks, leading into the brush and certainly off into the forest. None of the brush was disturbed, none of the Scotch broom pushed away. But the tracks were undeniable evidence that something had passed this way, and not too long ago.
We stood there, in complete disbelief, looking up at the woods and down at the dirt. And that’s when we saw it — the flash of two headlights coming from inside the woods. it looked like two eyes blinking at us from the distance, and we could feel something smiling behind those eyes.
That’s when we ran.