I took this picture of the Junkyard, a few years back, around Halloween time. The sky was a gorgeous blue. I had just finished making a video touring around the Junkyard saying how I’d like to dress it up for Halloween. When I snapped this picture, the colors came out distorted. Perhaps, the Junkyard agreed with me and started decorating itself, or possibly it just likes to give a me a chill from time to time, which it has been known to do.
You will never catch me here alone at night. There are too many abandoned cars with untold stories of their own. What horrors might they have witnessed? Or caused?
Sunlight keeps the dark things away. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself when I go to work.
So with October almost upon us, I thought I’d dress up the “old lunatic on the loose” urban legend with a Junkyard twist. I’ve even added a special character based on the real Miss Kitty.
And so the tale begins, the first of four parts. The story is seen through Sammy’s eyes, as she and her boyfriend Ernesto begin another day at the yard.
“Another day, another dollar,” I mutter to myself as I unlock the front door to the Junkyard.
“Let’s make lot’s of money today, Sammy!” Ernesto calls out behind me. I hold the door open for him as he hauls in his new battery charger and tool bag.
Ernesto is a handsome man when he smiles, like he’s doing now, as he does often, whenever he’s thinking about money. Dark hair, dark eyes, strong and sturdy with a beauty mark on his right cheek that sealed the deal when I first saw him.
He kisses me on the cheek as he passes through the door.
The office is a disaster. I want to go home. I only left work an hour early yesterday. How could the guys mess it up this badly?
I glare at used car parts left haphazardly on the floor, empty water bottles forgotten on the front desk, and wads of paper carelessly dropped, three of which are lying close to the trash can.
“Oh, well. It’s not like I haven’t been doing this for the past two years,” I grumble as I grab the cat food and head outside.
“Miss Kitty!” I call out. I can feel her before I can see her. I always do.
I have a connection with cats. It’s not something I tell anyone. Who would believe me? As an only child, I was raised with cats instead of siblings, and for some unknown reason, we understand each other.
Miss Kitty is a tabby cat with green eyes. She found me a year ago when I was utterly sad.
Back then, I hated the Junkyard. The men didn’t like having to do business with a lady. I had customers that refused to talk to me, demanding simply to talk to one of the men. I wanted to quit. Badly.
But one day, Miss Kitty came out from the yard into the office crying to me. I fell in love, and hundreds of cans of cat food later, we’re inseparable.
Spending the day with Miss Kitty in the office makes the Junkyard bearable, so I’m still here. Ernesto’s happy, because together we own this place.
Today, she’s not running up to me which is unusual. I let myself reach out to feel where she is and follow through the pathway of cars. I find her sitting upright staring at a black Ford E-350 van. She looks at me and meows.
“Miss Kitty! This isn’t like you. Aren’t you hungry?” I ask. She returns to watching the van.
“Is there something inside?” I ask her. “What are you staring at?”
I start to move towards the van, but Miss Kitty hisses at me and runs away. Worried, I forget the van and follow her with my can of cat food in hand.
I catch up to Miss Kitty at the front office. She’s waiting for me and seems like her old self, purring and snuggling up to my boots.
“You’re in a strange mood, my love,” I tell her as I give her the food and head back into the office.
The regulars are already crowding around talking to Ernesto. These are mechanics that I see every day. Each morning, they gather around asking about new cars entering the yard or sharing with each other how business is going. I’ve come to like these guys, even though I don’t join in the conversations. Most call me Senora and refer to Ernesto as my husband, rather than my boyfriend.
“He was stabbed to death over twenty times. The police are over there now,” Paulo tells the others. He has a loud booming voice and a beer belly which he stuffs into overalls.
“Poor guy, he didn’t deserve it. He was a good man. Did they find the killer?” Lorenzo asks leaning against the wall with his hands in his pockets and his baseball cap on backwards.
“No,” Paulo answers.
“Who was it?” I ask Ernesto. “Do I know him?”
“Yep, it was Dave. His shop is one block over. They found him this morning,” Ernesto answers giving me a hug to ease the shock.
“Dave. Oh no, that’s awful. He was a really nice guy,” I say remembering his face and how he always acted like a gentleman.
The room stays silent. Nobody knows what to say.
A policeman breaks the quiet, entering through the front door, his walkie talkie buzzing with police talk.
“Hello, I’m Officer Frank Mackenzie. Are you the owner?” He asks Ernesto.
“Yes, I own this place. Can I help you?” Ernesto answers.
“Well, you might have heard that there was a murder in this area last night. I don’t want to alarm you folks, but we’re searching for the killer. We have reason to suspect the killer is Benjie Harris. He escaped a few nights ago from a mental hospital twenty miles from here,” Officer Frank pauses so we can take his words in.
“A looney bin?” Paulo asks.
Officer Frank politely ignores him and continues on, “Mr. Harris was a mechanic for many years. Most of his victims were either customers or co-workers.”
“How many people did he kill?” Paulo interrupts.
Annoyed but willing to answer, “Twelve that we know of, and two more in his escape from the hospital. He’s very dangerous.” He turns to Ernesto, “I’d like to search your yard. We’re searching all the nearby establishments.”
“Yes, of course,” Ernesto answers. “Is there anything we can do to help?”
“No, you can go about your regular business. I’ll just walk around and make sure the place is clear. Do be on the lookout for anyone suspicious. Mr. Harris is roughly six feet tall with blonde hair and a beard. He’s in his mid-forties. He has a tattoo on his right hand of a black 1915 Model T Ford. If you see him, call us. Don’t approach him,” Officer Frank warns us as he stares down everyone in the room to make sure he is understood.
After making his point, Officer Frank enters the yard. We watch him look inside every car.
“Okay, time to get to work,” Ernesto announces as he grabs his tool bag. “When John and Bill get here tell them to meet me by the forklift,” he tells me while heading toward the yard.
“Wait! I don’t want to be alone. What if the killer is here hiding?” I ask.
“He’s not. We have an alarm system. Our place was locked last night. Besides, the cop is here checking. You’re very safe. But I need to get started on taking off these parts or our customers will be upset,” Ernesto says as he walks off. Paulo and Lorenzo follow him out, not wanting to cut their morning conversation short.
Ernesto is right, I tell myself. The cops are searching the area. The killer must be long gone by now. I hold onto my walkie talkie and stare at the parking lot watching for anyone suspicious, ready to run if I see a blonde bearded man.
After what feels like an eternity, Officer Frank returns.
“It’s all clear. Man, you guys have a lot of cars!” He says and smiles.
“Over two hundred,” I answer.
“Make sure you set the alarm at night. I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to be at the Junkyard alone, especially you. Keep that walkie talkie with you at all times, okay? Call the police if you see anything strange.”
I think about Miss Kitty this morning. I don’t think that’s the kind of strange Officer Frank is talking about.
“Of course, thank you for checking the yard,” I tell him.
“You’re welcome,” he says as he turns to leave.
With all the men gone, Miss Kitty decides to enter the office and hops up on the counter beside me.
“What did you see this morning, Miss Kitty? Should I be worried?” I ask. I know it’s silly, but I can’t help myself.
She simply looks back at me with her green eyes.
I’m fully aware I can’t read her mind, but that doesn’t stop me from being scared. Something isn’t right. Something is not right at all.
Keep a watch out for Part II which will be coming out soon!