A LONG WAY FROM HOME
“Please tell me we are not running out of gas,” Kyla said as she unbuckled her seat beat. Kyla and her cousin Jaylah were in Mississippi on their way to Tennessee.
“I could have sworn we just came from the gas station,” said Jaylah. The dark gray 2006 Volkswagen Passat slowed down. Cars were lined up behind her on the highway just waiting to get by. She pulled off to the side of the road.
“So, the car is just stopping for no reason then? I mean it’s not like I have to be somewhere in seven more hours,” said Kyla.
“Dude, just chill out. We’ll sit here for a few more minutes and see if it cranks up again.”
“Again? And what if it doesn’t.” Kyla put her head down and groaned. “I knew we should’ve left two days ago.”
“Stop complaining, you’re going to get to Tennessee by tonight, I promise.”
“This can’t be happening right now.”
“Can’t you just call a tow company? This car isn’t cranking, and you been at it for fifteen minutes now,” said Kyla.
“I know what I’m doing, we just have to give it some time,” said Jaylah. Twenty minutes go by and nothing. Kyla looked at Jaylah with her arms crossed.
“Fine.” Jaylah pulled out her phone and calls a tow company.
“Finally,” said Kyla.
“I have come to the conclusion that we are stranded on the side of the road. We didn’t even make it out of the city completely and we’re only two hours in.”
“Look, I don’t know about you, but I’m about to take a nap because it’s going to be a while before the tow driver gets here, so you can take one also or just stay up,” said Jaylah as she got comfortable in her seat, laid back with a blanket.
Kyla rolled her eyes, her lips pressed together in a tight thin line. She put her head against the window and got on her phone. Twenty minutes had gone by.
“Try cranking it up again while we wait on the man,” said Kyla.
“It’s not going to crank, I’ve been trying.”
“Well try harder,” said Kyla. “I’m tired of waiting on this man and your nonchalant attitude isn’t making it any better.
“And what are you doing, besides complaining,” said Jaylah. “Just shut up because I don’t mind staying like this. I’ve done it before.”
“Of course, you don’t because you don’t have nowhere to be,” said Kyla.
Jaylah shrugged her shoulders. She cut her music on.
“It’s getting dark real fast and still no sign of the tow truck,” said Kyla. “What’s taking them so long.” Kyla looked at Jaylah then at all the cars going by. Kyla was jealous.
Jaylah turns up her music and have a mini concert in her broke down car and that irritated Kyla even more. Kyla redirected her attention to the gas station across the highway. Maybe if I focus on the gas station and the people going in and out, the time will go by faster, she thought.
An hour later, the tow truck pulled up. It’s dark out and the only lights you can see is from the gas station across the highway. Kyla sat in the car as Jaylah got out and went to speak with the tow truck man. She couldn’t really hear what they were saying. Her cousin came back to the car and got her jumper cables. Kyla got out of the car.
The tow truck man tried to jump start her car, but nothing was working because her car wouldn’t crank.
“Yeah, you’re not going to get to Tennessee by tonight,” said Jaylah. Kyla just looked at her.
“I can tow your car, but the auto shop doesn’t open until the morning,” he said to Jaylah. “Do you guys have a place to go?
“I think my friend can help us.”
Jaylah got on the phone with one of her friends and he offers to let them stay the night with him since he was closer.
“I can give y’all a ride,” said the tow truck driver. “I don’t want to leave y’all stranded on the side of the road all night.”
“Thanks, we really appreciate it,” said Jaylah.
“Yea, thanks,” said Kyla.
“Holy bird,” said Michael as he stood in an open plain with nothing but dead birds surrounding him and his friend.
“Dude, what?” asked Jamal.
“You know, like holy cow, but instead these are birds,” said Michael. Jamal pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. He worried about Michael at times. Both Jamal and Michael were called to invest on dead birds that were dumped in the middle of a field.
“This is not what I had in mind when I said I wanted to be a detective,” said Michael.
“You wanted a case,” said Jamal.
“Yea, but this is weird and strange don’t you think?”
“This is Portland, everything is weird in Portland,” said Jamal.
They both got a closer look on the dead birds. Crows to be exact. They all had these weird marks on them, as if they were being experimented on.
“What are these red marks?” asked Michael. “It looks like their ears were shattered.” Jamal picked up the dead bird Michael had and examined three red dots on the inside of their wings.
“I don’t know, but it got to mean something, right?”
Michael and Jamal didn’t know what to do about all these dead birds. There were too many of them. The weird part about it is that all the crops were damaged. Dead crops and dead birds. Someone didn’t like these crows messing with their crops. Off to the side, Jamal saw something about the barbed wire fence. There was a big hole cut in the middle, as if someone was being sneaky. He notices a piece of clothing that was left on the fence. It looked like it had been from a shirt.
“Hey, look at this.” Michael picked up a bird and handed it to Jamal. “It’s been cut open.”
“The heart is gone,” said Jamal. “I’m pretty sure it goes for all the other dead ones.”
“Who has that type of time,” said Michael. “And what does someone want with a bird’s heart or hearts.”
“Don’t never mess with a person crops,” Jamal shrugged.
Across from the field was a small run-down, tiny shack. A windowless, one-room, rough timbered shack. It looked like no one was living there. Behind it was a mobile trailer. A tall slender man sporting a blue ripped up baseball cap with rugged blue jeans and a holey plaid button up shirt came out of the trailer.
“Hey, let’s go ask that guy if he seen anything,” said Jamal.
“And what if he hasn’t.”
“You never can be too sure,” said Jamal.
Michael and Jamal went across the street to the small run-down shack.
“What if we just wasted our time coming over here,” said Michael. Jamal stopped and squinted his eyes at Michael. Michael just shrugged. They walked past the shack making their way to the trailer. The tall slender man was on his way back in when Jamal and Michael stopped him.
“Can I help you two?” asked the tall slender man.
“We wanted to know if you saw anything weird across the street lately,” said Michael.
“Like what?” asked the tall slender man.
“Well you see, it’s just that there is a bunch of dead birds with missing hearts over there in the open field and we wanted to know if you know anything about that?” asked Jamal.
“I don’t know anything about no dead birds.”
Jamal kept his eyes focus on the man for a while. Jamal and Michael glanced at each other and stepped back.
“If you see anything, please give us a call.” Jamal handed the tall slender man his business card. The tall slender man just walked away.
With one last look, Michael and Jamal headed back to the car, but not before Jamal took the piece of clothing that sat on the barbed wire.
Jamal and Michael took a bird and bought it to the lab. They had someone examine it for them. The red marks on the wings were undetermined. It almost looked like their wings had been broken and attached back on. Michael and Jamal still didn’t know why the bird’s hearts were taken. It didn’t make sense.
Either that man saw something and doesn’t want to admit it or he’s really telling the truth, thought Jamal. Michael waved his hand in front of Jamal’s face; Jamal blinked his eyes a couple times and shook his head coming back to earth.
“Look, let’s go back to the field, I have a feeling we’re not getting all the information,” said Jamal.
Michael and Jamal stood in the open field, no dead bird in sight. The two men looked very confused with their mouths wide open. Jamal raised his leg and kicked the car very hard. Michael still had his mouth wide open. Jamal took no time in running across the street to the run-down shack. He went in with the gun in his hand. Jamal tore what was left of the shack apart. He had to find him. He went to the trailer and kicked the door in.
“PORTLAND PD,” he said. Just as he thought, everything in the trailer was wiped out. It’s like no one was living there anymore.
“He’s gone.” Jamal said.
“All because of some crops?”
“Told you not to mess with people crops,” said Jamal.
“Now what are we going to tell the captain?” asked Michael. Jamal stared at Michael, shrugged his shoulders and walked off. Michael took one last look and followed after him.
“Are you willing to talk or are we just going to sit here in this room all day?” asked the man as he looked down at his shiny gold Cartier watch.
“Well, I mean we can,” shrugged the woman. “I don’t have anywhere to go, so it’s fine with me,” the woman said to the man as she stared at the four gray walls.
“Look, just cooperate with me and this will be over sooner than you know it.”
“Like I said, I can be here all day,” said the woman.
The man stood towering over the woman. He rubbed his hands down his stubbled face. He sported a nice pair of khakis with a navy-blue button up. The woman just sat there. Her eyes fixated at the gray walls. Her fiery red hair was sleeked back in a nice tight bun as she sported sunglasses that hid her eyes.
The man paced the room.
“Ma’am, you know where your husband is, so just tell me.”
“And how do you know that?” asked the woman. “Just because I live with him doesn’t mean I get the rights to his whereabouts and if you knew how to do your job then you could find him without me.”
She grabbed her purse and stood up, looking up towards the man with her five-foot statue. She lifted her hand to turn off her hearing aid, but the man was quick to grab her arm and put it back down to her side.
“So then why did you make those accusations then?"
“Because that’s what you wanted, right? I tell you what you want to hear, and you make me sit here and act like you don’t know about him already.”
“You think this a game? Lives are at stake here, your life.”
“Well, I’m not dead yet.” She got up and opened the door.
“What are you doing?” asked the man.
“What does it look like I’m doing, I’m leaving.” The six-foot man went and slammed the door shut.
“I thought you said you had all day.” The woman looked annoyed. Thirty minutes had passed, and the man and woman still sat in the room. It was silent.
“So, you’re willing to risk your life to save your husband’s?”
The woman cut her eyes at the man as she sat and picked at her nails.
“Why can’t you just help yourself in this situation? What hold does he have on you?”
The woman stayed quiet as she pulled her sleeves to cover her wrist. The man went to comfort her, but she stepped back. He looked at her with concern. She put her head down.
“Look, don’t worry about me, okay,” said the woman. “I’m fine.”
“How can you say you’re fine, when clearly you’re not,” the man got in her face. “Or maybe you want to be trapped?”
The woman stood up hearing enough. The man grabbed her hand and held it. He looked at her with sorrow eyes. She looked away quickly and pulled her hand from his grasp.
She pulled out a plane ticket from her purse.
“So, you’re just going to run?”
“Yes, I am,” said the woman. “Find him without me.”
“But I can help – “, the door slammed shut.
The man stared at the door, thinking she would walk back in and change her mind. It was nothing he could do, and he couldn’t keep her there against her will. He stood there by himself, no woman, no track of the husband, and no evidence.