Crime Time (Chapter Seven, page 1 of 3)

Previous Page
Next Page

One of the minions in Betsy's organization had arranged for a pleasure car for her weekend, courtesy of her boss who felt guilty for her frequent out of town travel. We breakfasted and were on the road by the agreed time. Howie stood in front of his modest hotel waiting for us.

The trip took us out of the District on the Maryland side as we headed west through picturesque rolling hills and farm lands. Most of the route was via Interstate roads and easy driving. Betsy chatted away while Howie, as nervous as a groom, simply listened. I drove and contributed minimally to the conversation. Our route scooted between Pennsylvania and Virginia for three hours until we crossed into West Virginia and traded a major highway for winding secondary roads. We stopped briefly for a fast food lunch.

Our GPS guided us up and down and around and around for the next hour and a half. We were forced to stop on three different occasions as Howie, a back seat passenger, became frequently nauseous. It was coal country, or had been, as much of the depressed countryside screamed of poverty. Finally, approaching noon, we crossed over a wide stream. A sign welcomed us to Brockville.

"I guess that was Alder's Bridge's bridge," I said, breaking the silence.

We motored by moderately maintained modest houses and empty spaces before turning onto the main street. Store fronts interspersed with vacant lots lined one side of the street while the other remained absent of any buildings except a closed gas station and a dollar store. Not a person was visible.

"Look familiar?" I asked, breaking the reverential silence.

Betsy pulled to the side. "Let's walk," she said.

Howie bounded out of the car and crossed to the newer side of the street where he had a better view of the few older buildings that remained. We followed behind him. Most of the store fronts were boarded up and a fifty foot blackened gap separated the two largest structures. Howie moved forward for a better view. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks and abruptly sat on the curb. With his hands to his face, he burst into tears, shocking us. Betsy scootched down and put her arm about him.

"I'm sorry, Howie. I wanted it to be your Alder's Bridge too."

He tried to speak but it took a few moments before the words were understandable. "It is," he said, slowly rising to his feet. "This is where I visited." He rubbed his face with his sleeve. "God, I'm sorry, breaking down like that. It's just so . . . impossible."

Betsy took his hand and we moved further down the sidewalk.

Previous Page
Next Page

Rate This Book

Current Rating: 3.5/5 (797 votes cast)

Review This Book or Post a Comment