Urban Legend: Halloween Salsa Night

    “It happened at a club not far from here on Halloween night,” DJ Max looks at the lot of us hanging around outside drinking.

    The live band is playing, so DJ Max is taking a break before it’s his turn to entertain us again. He’s been in this dancing scene longer than most of us, for almost thirty years now. Dancing has been good to him. He’s charming, friendly, and the women adore him.  

    I settle in with my drink to listen to him talk. I have an hour-long drive home tonight, so I’m drinking a soda. My best friend, Suzie, was supposed to make the drive with me, but she’s sick with the stomach flu. Halloween only happens once a year, so I decided to make the drive solo. Plus, I had already bought my costume, a 1920s red flapper dress with fringes that look fantastic when I spin.

       “Her name was Daisy. She was a new dancer, and this was her first Halloween Salsa Night. Daisy had to drive two hours to the Salsa club, south on the 101 Highway, taking country roads and backways,” DJ Max begins, making eye contact with each of us, to make sure we’re listening.

    “I heard it was a guy named David,” Efrain interrupts.

    “And it was the Pacific Coast Highway,” Pablo, a plump Salsero, blurts out before taking a swig of his beer.

    “Wasn’t it north? She was headed to a club in San Francisco, right?” Maria pipes up, swishing her long curly locks with a flick of her hand, as she takes a seat next to me.

    “Like I said,” DJ Max gives them an annoyed look, which seems to be enough to quiet them. “Daisy was headed south on the 101 Highway, and she didn’t care about driving alone at night, because more than anything, she wanted to dance with Fernando.”

    “You mean Ricardo,” Rodrigo interjects.

    “Look when you tell the story, you can call him Billy, Bob or Fred, all right. But Fernando,” DJ Max raises his voice a little louder and stares us down with a raised eyebrow, challenging anyone to interrupt again. We stay quiet. Satisfied, he continues, “was the dancer that had captured Daisy’s heart. When she danced with him all her troubles floated away. He was exciting, the best dancer in the area. When he danced, people watched. And when Daisy danced with him, she felt beautiful,” DJ Max pauses so we can let his words sink in.

    I know that feeling. I feel that way about Daniel. He’s an amazing dancer and when I dance with him I feel like I’m able to move in ways I never have before. Every time I visit the club, I hope to see him. He’s sweet. Daniel always asks me for a dance, but never more than one. He dances with everyone.

    “Daisy was so excited to get to the club that night she forgot to fill her gas tank before leaving town. She didn’t notice that it was only half way full until she was miles into her drive. She shrugged it off. Daisy figured that she could always stop off to get gas on her way back,” DJ Max takes a sip of his beer. He doesn’t have to say what we all know. That is a mistake that will get her later.

    I feel fidgety. I don’t exactly like hearing a Halloween story about a woman traveling alone at night. At least I breathe easier knowing my car has a full tank of gas.

    “Now, Fernando was a player. There were so many women after him, even though he wasn’t the most attractive looking guy. His hair was receding and his belly expanding, but that didn’t seem to bother the ladies. Because when he danced with them, he treated them like a queen. Unfortunately, he didn’t treat them that way off the dance floor, and that made more than a few jilted women upset. In fact, one was mad enough to slash his tires, so he never made it to the club that night,” DJ Max looks at the men and shrugs. A few of them look guilty, all of them take a swig of their drink.

    “Daisy was extra excited that night, because Fernando had finally noticed her the Saturday before. He had asked her if she was coming to the Halloween Salsa Night. Unbeknownst to Daisy, Fernando had asked all the women that same question. But in Daisy’s mind, it meant that Fernando would be waiting for her. She used part of her rent money to buy an expensive costume and had her hair professionally done, just for him. But, he never showed.

    Daisy was the last one to leave the club, hoping to the last minute to see Fernando. She cried as she drove home and didn’t remember to fill her gas tank. It wasn’t until Daisy was deep into the back country roads that she stopped crying long enough to realize the tank was empty,” DJ Max takes a breath and shakes his head.

    “Daisy never made it home. Her car ran out of gas, and cell phones don’t work well in the middle of nowhere. She tried to flag down a car, but a tired truck driver didn’t see her standing in the middle of the road, and she was struck dead,” DJ Max lifts his drink and everyone follows his lead. They take a big swig for Daisy.

    “It’s said that Daisy visits the Salsa clubs on Halloween night. She’s searching for her Fernando, desperate to be in his arms twirling about the dance floor, feeling beautiful. Most of the time, she’s disappointed. At midnight, she vanishes, once again sad that Fernando never showed up. But every now and then, Daisy finds a dancer that is so talented she believes he’s Fernando. In her happiness, she’ll kiss him on his cheek. But it is the kiss of death, and her lips are as cold as ice. That’s how you know you’ve danced with Daisy,” DJ Max finishes his tale.

    “Yep, my friend Joe said he danced with her last Halloween in Miami,” Michael chimes in. “She was a gorgeous blonde dressed up as Marilyn Monroe. He was pretty sad when she disappeared at midnight.” He laughs before taking a drink.

    “So, follow these rules on a Halloween Salsa night,” DJ Max starts up again. We groan and laugh.

    “First, never drive alone, go with friends!” He starts. I feel a chill on that one. Oh well, I’m here. What can I do?

    “Second, if you have your heart set on a beautiful girl give her a kiss before taking her home,” he nods to the guys. They seem to agree.

    “Third, if you meet a stranger on Halloween, check to see if they’re around after midnight,” he smiles at us. “Okay, that’s it for me. I’ve warned you. The band is singing their last song. I have to get back to work. Come on, baila! Get off your asses. It’s time to dance!”

    I trail behind the group as we head back in. I watch from the doorway to see if I can find Daniel on the dance floor. So far, he hasn’t shown up, but that’s to be expected. The best dancers come a little late.

DJ Max is setting up while the band finishes their last song. The dance floor is buzzing with excitement. I watch Superman dipping a French maid. A pirate furiously spinning Cinderella. And then, I see Daniel. He’s wearing a Zorro costume.

The classic black hat and mask create an air of mystery, but his green eyes and devilish grin are a dead giveaway. He has a signature style. No one else moves like him. He captures the nuances of the music with such expression, I could watch him forever. But suddenly, I am whisked away to the dance floor by Dracula.

    “Are you having fun?” Vlad the Impaler asks. I nod as he signals a right hand spin.

    As I dance with Dracula, I catch glimpses of Daniel. I’ve been dancing for five years, but I’m nowhere near Daniel’s level.  I’ve been practicing every day, trying to improve, hoping he’ll notice. He’s so incredibly handsome tonight dressed all in black. Just the thought of him approaching me makes my heart race. Will I ever grab his attention?

    Oh, well, I decide to forget about it for now. Dracula and I are having too much fun to worry. This is Halloween night, and Daniel is here. I give into the dance and enjoy feeling alive. The music pulses through everyone and without having to say a word we all feel connected.

    My song with Dracula ends. I start to leave the dance floor, but I feel someone touch my shoulder. I turn and see Daniel’s green eyes. Have they always been this green? He’s smiling. He holds out his hand to ask for a dance. I place mine in his, and off we go.

    Yes, I’d know him anywhere by the way he moves. I’ve been dancing with him for five years now, just one song at each Salsa Night, but somehow it’s added up. I can follow him flawlessly. I know he can feel it too. We are completely in sync. He pulls me in closer this time. Holds me for longer. I hear him laugh. I see him smile more. Tonight is different. All my hard work has paid off. After the song ends, he doesn’t let me go. We dance another.

    And another.

    In fact, we dance so many songs in a row, I lose count. This is what I’ve always wanted. I wish he’d take off his mask and hat. He’s intoxicating in his Zorro costume. I’ve always had a thing for Zorro, but we feel so close tonight. I’d love to see his whole face as we dance.

    “This is the last song before midnight!” DJ Max announces. I turn to look at him. He’s holding his drink in his hand. I think he’s had one too many. With a big smile, he winks at me, an inside joke for those of us who know Daisy’s story.  

    He plays my favorite song. Before I know it, Daniel has me flying about him. Has he ever danced this good? He surprises me with new combinations, and I love it! He pulls me close and this time he doesn’t let me go. I feel how warm he is and my heart pounds as I’m sure there is something real happening between us. I laugh, and he lets me go into crazy twists and turns about each other until the song comes to a finish.

    I end up in his arms, and he leans in close. I take one last look into his green eyes before his lips touch mine.

    He pulls away.

    “Your lips are cold. They’re like ice,” I hear him say. I open my eyes and see him staring directly at me with a weird look on his face.

    “Daniel?” I ask. He shakes his head and takes a step back. He bumps into Pablo.

    “Whoa, watch it, Jacob,” Pablo teases as he puts a hand on Daniel’s shoulder to steady him. “Are you okay?”

    “Yeah, Jose. There was a beautiful girl dancing with me, and she just disappeared. Did you see where she went? She was right here wearing a red flapper’s dress,” he tells him pointing straight at me. Both men look through me as if I’m not there. I wave my hands. There’s no reaction.

    Pablo looks around the room and then at me, square in the eye, and tells Daniel, “Nope. I saw a girl like that earlier when I was outside, but I don’t see her anywhere now.”

    Daniel shakes his head and walks off, almost bumping into me as he passes by.

    I run to the bathroom and lock myself in one of the stalls. I can’t stop trembling.

    Why were they calling each other different names? Why did they pretend I wasn’t there? DJ Max’s story and Daniel dancing with me all night, did Daniel and his friends pull a prank? Did Daniel realize how much I liked him and decide to make fun of me? They’re probably out there laughing with DJ Max right now, having the best Halloween night ever.

    I see a Halloween Salsa Night flyer taped to the back of the stall door. I remember how excited I was last week when I saw this advertisement. DJ Max wearing a Frankenstein costume with a Salsa band behind him. I feel so angry at him. I could scream, but something catches my eye. I take a closer look at the flyer, and I feel my hands tremble. It doesn’t say DJ Max. No, it says, “Salsa Halloween with Ghoulish DJ Gary.” Shaking, I leave the bathroom.

    I walk through the club, but no one notices me. The bouncers at the door don’t even bother saying goodnight as I pass by. I just get in my car and drive. I just want to go home.

    For most of the drive, I feel numb. I replay the night. The creepy story, DJ Max, Daniel, dancing, the poster, and none of it makes sense. I just keep driving.

    It isn’t until I am on the quiet country road that I start to relax. It was a hoax. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they recorded it on their cell phones. Tomorrow I’ll see it posted on Facebook. Everything from the urban legend to the icy kiss, an elaborate scheme that they can use to advertise their next Salsa Halloween. I breathe easier.

    I glance down at the gas tank, grateful that I filled it earlier before heading out. My heart skips a beat. It isn’t full, not even half full. The gauge is hovering right above empty.

    I’ll never make it home.

    I take a deep breath. Even if I didn’t dance with Daniel, didn’t I have a good time? The music and energy of everyone around me, feeling so alive. And wasn’t Zorro to die for? His green eyes and devilish smile watching my every move. So what if Daniel didn’t show up this time. There’s always next year.

A Junkyard Horror Story Part IV Sammy vs. Benjie

Special Note:  This is the final section of a four-part series. If you haven’t read Part I, Part II, and Part III, please scroll to the bottom of the page so you can start the tale from the beginning.

I resist the urge to run straight out back where the cars are neatly stacked in tidy rows. Instead, I cut to the right and go behind the office into the oldest part of the yard where the cars are crowded together, and there are more places to hide.

I move quietly and quickly, trying not to disturb anything that might make a loud noise. I listen for everything, but hear nothing. No footsteps behind me.

Did he follow me out? Or is he still waiting for me in the office? Sitting on my chair, fiddling with his knife, biding his time until I do something dumb like make a run for the door.

A thought strikes my mind that chills me. What if Ernesto comes back? What if Benjie gets to him first?

The awful scenario plays before my eyes. Ernesto walking through the door unaware, and Benjie plunging his knife into him over and over.

I shudder. That horrible knife! I wince at the possibility of it cutting into my skin, going deep, of what it can do to me.

Don’t go there! I warn myself.

Instead, I focus on the bat in my hands. I recall feeling the thunk as it struck his body. This is not impossible! If I hit him once, then I can hit my again!

I have to stay hidden. I crouch low behind a grey Chevrolet Venture van. I don’t want to go any further into the yard. If I hear Ernesto call out for me. I want to be close enough to warn him.

The cars above me give some cover. I consider hiding in the van, but nix the idea. If I stay in one spot, Benjie will find me. I don’t want to be trapped. No, I have to stay mobile.

I feel my hands shaking, so I grip the bat tighter. No matter what, I will whack him as many times as I can I vow to myself.

He’s a giant! My fear talks back. Look at Dave and Bob, they’re both dead! Strong guys, mechanics who worked on cars for years. What can you do?

The weight of the bat gives me an answer. So help me, I will take out his legs and cut him down to my size.

I see Miss Kitty sitting in the row next to me. I’m crouched close to the passenger side fender and she’s just a few feet away. Her back is to me. She doesn’t look in my direction. I don’t dare call out to her. She keeps looking straight ahead.

I hear footsteps coming up on the other side of the van, heavy steps. I see his plaid flannel shirt through the car window and smell his stench. That nasty smell of not bathing for days. He’s heading towards Miss Kitty.

Why doesn’t she run? She must know he’s behind her! He’s almost close enough to grab her. She’s not moving! I see him start to lift his knife.

He’s not hurting Miss Kitty! The thought burns through me as I swing hard and I swing low. I hear the crack of the bat as it hits the shin.

“Aagh!” He cries as he doubles over to grab his leg.

“Keep hitting!” I yell at myself as I strike again whacking his upper arm and watch as his body wrenches in pain.

It’s not enough. He starts to get to his feet.  He’s not staying down.

I hit him again as he starts to rise. This time he stumbles back into a car.

The car is missing its door, so I’m expecting him to fall into the front seat, but that’s not what happens.

He’s sucked into the vehicle. That’s the only word for it. The car sucks him in with such force that his back slams into the passenger side door, and I hear the thump of his head against the glass.

We look at each other dumbfounded.

He tries to lift himself up, but he can’t. He’s stuck. Superglued. Banging his arms in panic, pulling on the headrest, trying anything to free himself, but nothing works.

He looks at me again. Hateful eyes, as if I am to blame. I shake my head as if to say no, it’s not me. His lips curl into a half smile as he throws his knife at me. I see the blade, but before the tip crosses the threshold of the car it disappears into thin air.

Benjie’s eyes grow wild. He starts screaming, but the sound is drowned out by a dozen car alarms. The yard is alive with the obnoxious alarms coming from all directions.

I watch Benjie scream in terror with his mouth open and eyes wide. His fists pounding the car, but I can’t hear him.

He melts into the front seat and the passenger side door. Any part of him touching the vehicle dissolves into it.  Quickly going away, even down to his head resting on the front seat. His hateful eyes still looking at me. Blaming me. Until that too is gone, and there is not a single trace of him left. The car looks as it did before.

The car alarms stop. All is quiet.

Should I be afraid? Benjie is gone, right? I didn’t imagine it, but then again I can’t exactly believe it, either. Whatever it was, it saved me, didn’t it?

Miss Kitty breaks my thoughts. She hops onto the front seat of the car and looks at me with her green eyes.  She wants me to come to her.

I’m scared, but I trust her. I lean inside and nestle my fingertips into her soft fur. I feel her love, and I feel safe. Gratitude. Miss Kitty reminds me to be grateful.

“Thank you,” I whisper inside the car. Miss Kitty purrs. Satisfied, she rises and hops out of the car. I follow her to the office.

“Sammy! Sammy!” Ernesto’s voice fills the yard.

“Over here!” I yell back.

I watch him run towards me. His eyes scanning all around. His hand clutching the crescent wrench.

“Sammy, the police think he’s here. They found a hole in the fence between our yard and Steve’s place. There’s footsteps leading onto the yard. They’re searching the place. I’m so glad you’re safe. I’m sorry, Sammy. I never would have left you if I’d known!” Ernesto’s voice has a slight shake to it. He holds me close, but his eyes keep scanning around us.

I see several police officers enter the yard, guns drawn, looking into the cars.

“Did you see him?” Ernesto asks.

“Nope,” I answer. Yep, I’m lying. The guys here never listen to me. They never take me seriously. Even Ernesto, who I love dearly, would never believe my story.

“Is Steve okay?” I ask.

“He’s messed up really bad, but there’s a good chance he’s going to make it. Sammy, I’m going to close the yard until they find Benjie. It’s too dangerous,” Ernesto announces as he pulls me closer to him.

“No way!” I look up at him and smile. “Listen to me, I don’t think we have to worry about Benjie Harris anymore. I’m sure he’s long gone. Let the police search the yard and then it’s back to business.”

“Really, Sammy? You’re not scared?” Ernesto laughs.

“Of course, not. I don’t think the Junkyard will let anything bad happen to us. We belong here,” I laugh and snuggle up to him.

“You’re sure?” He asks one more time.

“Yes, my love. Another day, another dollar!” I place the bat on my shoulder and walk hand and hand with Ernesto back to the office.

The Junkyard is open.

Thank you for reading! I’ve posted a video on my Facebook fan page, Raeshell Rozet, the Dancing Writer, sharing my thoughts about the story. Please subscribe to my blog and like the fan page, so you can stay up to date on all my latest stories.

A Junkyard Horror Story Part III Batter Up

Special Note:  This is Part III of a four-part series. If you haven’t read Part I and Part II, please scroll to the bottom of the blog and click on the previous links to read “A Junkyard Horror Story” from the beginning.

“Sammy, are you seriously bringing that to work?” Ernesto grins at me as I walk into the office.

“Another day, another dollar,” I answer back. I like feeling the weight of the bat as it rests on my shoulder.

I’m not a baseball player, but I am good at swinging things. My Grandpa, a sports connoisseur, taught me to play tennis.

I remember Grandpa’s words, “The power doesn’t come from the shoulder. It comes from the shift in the weight of the legs, the turn of the hips. The whole body, the power comes from the entire body and drives through the arm.” Grandpa would tell me this again and again. Then, I would practice for hours.

“Just don’t whack me by mistake!” Ernesto shakes his head and smiles. I’m a sucker for that smile, even after being together for ten years. It gets me every time. “At least, you’re here. Bill and John aren’t coming in,” Ernesto’s smile disappears after breaking the bad news.

“Really? Why?” I ask, even though the answer is obvious.

“They called in sick, but I think they’re just chicken shit scared. Most of our neighbors are closed for the day. Steve, next door, has the only shop open on the block,” Ernesto tries to smile again, but his eyes tell me that he’s worried.

“Paulo and Lorenzo aren’t here. That’s unusual,” I say out loud as I realize how quiet the office is with just the two of us.

“Nope, looks like you’re the only brave one,” Ernesto says as he takes my hand and pulls me close to him.

“I want you to go home,” he tells me as I settle into his arms.

“Are you closing the shop?” I ask. I know money is tight. We’re struggling to make the rent by the end of this week.

“Yes, we’re not going to get many customers today, and it’s not safe. Not with everyone gone. I don’t want you in the office alone. In fact, I don’t want you here at all.”

“Are we going to make the rent?” I see the worry cross his face before he can hide it.

“I’m closing the shop, but I’m staying to take off the engine for Francisco. That will cover the rent for this month,” Ernesto answers.

“Alone?”

“Yes, I’ll lock up the place. I’ll be fine. When I’m done, I’ll head home,” he kisses my cheek to reassure me.

“I have a better plan. We lock the doors. You take off the engine, while I stand guard with my bat. Then we head home together,” I take a step back, stand tall, and place the bat back on my shoulder. 

I’ve watched Ernesto work seven days a week for the past two years. He loves this place. No lunatic is going to take away his dream, not when I have a bat in my hands.

Ernesto smiles back at me. He knows how stubborn I am. He shrugs his shoulders and starts to gather his tools.

I might sound brave, but I’m terrified. Still, I’m not letting him stay here by himself. So, the two of us head out into the yard. He gets to work on the engine, and I keep a watchful eye out for any movement. So help me, I will spot Benjie if he takes one step in my yard.

Hours go by without so much as a sound. Ernesto and I barely talk to one another. It’s a silent agreement that we want to get this over quickly and head home. I try to stay alert as possible, because with Ernesto focused on his work I’m the only one watching out for us.

“Help me! Somebody please help me!” A gut wrenching scream cuts through the quiet. A man in pain calls out. It’s not just pain in his voice, but terror. You can feel it.

“That has to be Steve!” Ernesto jumps up from under the car. We run towards the office.

“Sammy, I want you to stay here,” he tells me.

“No! I’m coming with you. I’m not having you go over there alone,” I can feel tears ready to spill out, because I already know what he’s going to say.

“Not this time. I might have to fight, and I can’t be worried about protecting you. Listen to me. I want you to lock this door behind me and don’t open it for anyone! You hear me! No one! You are safe in here,” Ernesto gives me the look that tells me arguing is not an option.

“I’ll call the cops,” I tell him trying to think of anything I can do to help.

“Not yet. We don’t know what’s happened. He could have just had an accident. I have a cell phone. I can call them. If I don’t call you in five minutes, then go ahead and call the cops, okay?” He grabs our largest crescent wrench and heads next door.

With my hands shaking, I try to lock the door behind him. Damn it! I forgot it’s hard to lock the door with my keys. I’ve been meaning to get new ones. I have to jiggle it for a while to get it to work. By the time I have myself safely locked in, tears are already running down my cheeks.

I try to breathe and calm myself. I still have my bat. It hasn’t left my hands all day. But what can I do to help Ernesto? He’s over there without me. What is he walking into?

I look up to see Miss Kitty standing just outside the door leading into the yard. We always prop it open so she can come and go as she pleases. She’s a few feet away. She must have heard me crying.

“Miss Kitty,” I call to her as I start to walk towards her. I see her look beyond me and hiss. In the reflection of the window I see a figure and without thinking my body reacts.

As I turn, I use the power of my legs, hips, and everything I have within me to swing. I hit him full force in the chest. I feel a thunk and remember to carry my swing all the way through just like my Grandpa always told me.

I only watch for a second as Benjie stumbles and falls. His hand with that wretched black 1915 Ford Model T tattoo gripping a long bladed knife.

I have no chance of unlocking the front door in time, so I race into the yard. My right-hand clutching my bat.

I don’t dare call out to Ernesto, because I don’t want to get him killed. Besides, if I scream I’ll give away my location.

I’ve locked Benjie in here with me. Neither one of us can leave.

And I’m thinking, he must be extra pissed off at me. I did just crank him with my bat.

Stay tuned! Part IV (the conclusion) will be coming soon!

Visit my Facebook fan page, Raeshell Rozet, The Dancing Writer. I’ve posted a video on my page talking about this part of the story.

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A Junkyard Horror Story Part II Benjie Harris

Special Note:  This is Part II of a four-part series. If you haven’t read Part I, please scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link “A Junkyard Horror Story” to start the tale from the beginning.

“Another day, another dollar,” I mutter to myself as I pick up the empty Mc Donald’s cup and toss it into the trash bag. Every day, I walk the yard picking up garbage. Why can’t these guys throw away their own trash?

I feel uneasy after yesterday’s news about Dave’s murder. Ernesto checked the yard this morning and reassured me that it’s safe, but I don’t really believe him. All I see are hundreds of places a killer can hide. The chicken skin on my arms whispers that I am right.

There are so many freakin’ cars! They are stacked in pairs, one on top of the other, forming corridors throughout the yard. The cars are constantly being shuffled around, so a clear passageway in the morning can become a dead end by afternoon. It’s an acre of ever-changing twists and turns.

A person can get lost in this labyrinth. I can’t count how many times I’ve searched for Ernesto out here, shouting his name into the wind, only to eventually give up and wait for him to resurface on his own.  

As I approach the office, I hear Paulo’s voice bellowing out. Bill and John, our workers, are standing next to Paulo, hanging on his every word. Bill, dressed in a blue plaid shirt and jeans, is a foot taller than the rest of the guys in the room. The kid is only twenty and never talks much.  John is shorter, wider, in his mid-fifties, and always smells of cigarettes. Ernesto is center stage behind the counter. Lorenzo is in his usual spot holding up the wall. I see Old Man Conroy in the mix. Conroy is in his late sixties and has been a mechanic for over forty years.

“Benjie did it again! That bastard got Bob. Stabbed him to death in his own shop! The cops still haven’t caught him,” Paulo shakes his head and stretches out his arms to show his disbelief. He continues on, “Benjie better hope that the cops catch him before I do. If I get my hands on him there’ll be nothing left for the police!”

Although none of us think Benjie has anything to fear from Paulo, we share his anger. I can’t believe it. Bob was one of our regulars. He called me every day asking for parts.

I feel shaky and lightheaded as I understand what this means. The police search didn’t scare Benjie away. He’s still here.

“You do realize that Bob’s place is on the corner, that’s only half a block away,” John points out as he looks at Ernesto.

I feel my heart in my throat. I didn’t know that Bob’s place was so close to ours. That’s too close. An uneasy silence takes over the room as we think about what that implies.

“I knew Benjie about ten years back before he went nuts,” Old Man Conroy breaks the silence. “We worked together at Jose’s Auto Repair shop, before Benjie bought his own place.” He pauses waiting to see if anyone wants to say anything, but we are silent as children listening to a ghost story. Old Man Conroy clears his throat and continues on.

“Quiet guy, real quiet. Kept to himself. But he got the work done and didn’t bother anyone. He had a real liking for the Snap-on tools. You know, the real expensive ones?” Conroy laughs as if remembering an image from the past, “Benjie’d be wearing torn up jeans and shoes with holes, but he had himself a nice set of tools.”

“Yeah, those are nice. I don’t keep any at the Junkyard. Tools are lost and stolen too easy here,” Ernesto jumps in.

Conroy nods in agreement and starts up again, “I remember when Big Fred tried to steal himself one of those beauties. Benjie caught him. Didn’t say a word. Just walked over and broke the big guy’s nose. Blood was sprouting everywhere. Maybe even broke a couple of teeth, I think. All it took was one punch,” Conroy shakes his head obviously still impressed even after all these years.

“I thought Fred would sue, but something about the crazy look in Benjie’s eyes made him think otherwise. A week later, Benjie quit the shop and bought himself his own place. I didn’t see him much after that, but shortly after the killing started,” Conroy pauses to look around the room catching our eyes. As if to say to us, it’s starting again, watch out.

“Who did he kill?” Paulo’s loud voice snaps us out of the story.

Conroy smirks and looks at Paulo, “Well, you’d think he’d kill the loud fat ones. You know the ones always interrupting and running their mouths off. But no, the scary thing about Benjie is that he’d kill anyone. Customers would stop by his shop and then never be heard of again. A fellow mechanic might get an unexpected visit from Benjie and be found dead the next day. Cops found one grandma stuffed in the trunk of her car, dead for three days and stinking, but the car was in good repair and washed clean.”

I watch the men in the room. I can see the guys shifting the weight of their feet, fidgeting, like most men do when their scared but afraid to show it.

“None of us felt safe until they caught him. No one suspected that quiet old Benjie was doing the killing. Never heard of a motive. It’s like he just woke up one day and decided to start killing,” Old Man Conroy finishes the story and starts to walk towards the door.

“Well, I’ll be heading out now. You won’t be seeing me for a few weeks. I have some vacation time saved up, and I’m thinking now is as good of a time as any to use it. Best of luck to you guys. Watch out for one another,” and with that Old Man Conroy walks out the door leaving us to chew on his words.

His words haunt me for most of the day. The guys are all in the yard. Bill and John are outside chatting and possibly working. Ernesto is showing off his 1950 Ford Deluxe to Paulo and Lorenzo.

The office is too quiet. There is nothing to distract me from Conroy’s story. I feel ready to jump out of my skin. I imagine Benjie sneaking up behind me ready to strike.

Even Miss Kitty is missing today. She usually hangs out in the office with me, but I haven’t seen her since breakfast. That’s it. I decide to go looking for her. I’ll drag her back in here with me to keep me company.

I try to feel for her location and only one thought comes to mind. The black van. It’s silly, but I decide to try my luck.

Spooky as ever, I find her sitting in on the hood of the van looking at me. She doesn’t hop down and run towards me like she normally would. No. She waits for me.

I’m scared. Even though I know that Officer Frank checked the yard yesterday and Ernesto looked around this morning, I have a bad feeling about the van. It feels wrong. But looking at Miss Kitty sitting on the hood, it’s almost as if she wants me to come to her.

 I swallow my fear and decide to look inside the van myself. I’m not a wuss. Maybe seeing that there is no boogeyman hiding in there will settle my nerves.

My hands tremble as I grip the sliding door handle. I take a deep breath and ready myself to run if I see anyone. I slide the door open. Thank God, there is no one there. I breathe easier. I look around me instinctively to make sure there is no killer behind me like in the movies. But no, it’s just me and Miss Kitty.

As I’m ready to close the van door, a red and black object catches my eye. It’s a screw driver lying on the backseat. I recognize the signature handle. The red handle with two black stripes on the sides, a Snap-on screwdriver. My right-hand shakes as I pick it up. Miss Kitty meows and rubs up against my boots reminding me where I’m at.

“Let’s go, Miss Kitty,” I tell her, hoping she will understand. I walk quickly to where the guys are. I watch to make sure Miss Kitty is following me. My eyes dart everywhere praying I don’t see Benjie. I feel the panic racing through my body as I rush over to Ernesto gripping the screwdriver in my right-hand.

“Ernesto!” I call out as soon as he is in earshot. The guys look up at me, all of them; Ernesto, Bill, John, Lorenzo, and Paulo but then go back to talking amongst each other. Paulo being the loudest, of course.

“Ernesto,” I start to tell him as I reach his side, but he puts out a hand as if to tell me to wait so Paulo can finish talking.

Impatient, I decide I’m not waiting. “Look at what I found in the van!” I show him the screwdriver. He doesn’t react.

“It’s a Snap-on screwdriver!” I tell him. Still, no reaction.

“I found it in the black van. Miss Kitty has been acting strange lately. She’s been hanging out by the black van instead of with me, just staring at it. As if something was inside it. I took a look for myself and found this, a Snap-on screwdriver!” I hear my voice sounding high-pitched, not the calm tone I want to use.

The men look unimpressed, and Paulo starts talking again, “You should have Rodrigo paint it for you. He gives the lowest price.” I feel ready to scream at someone. How can they be so stupid!

I hold the screwdriver up high and speak more slowly so they can connect the dots, “Remember, Old Man Conroy said that Benjie liked Snap-on tools, right?”

“You think that belongs to Benjie?” Ernesto laughs and the others join in. “Anyone could have left that here. I think you’re just getting worked up because of Conroy’s story. Everyone tells lies around here. I bet he didn’t even know him!” The guys all nod and look at each other in agreement.

“I don’t think he was lying. I’ve been around a lot of liars, and have seen many here at the Junkyard,” I stare down the men around me. “I think he was telling us the truth. I have a bad feeling about this Ernesto, a really bad feeling about this!”

“Okay, I’ll check the yard again so you’ll feel better,” he kisses my cheek and Paulo starts talking again.

I walk away. I turn one last time to look at them huddled around the 1950 Ford. I think it will be a long time before he checks the yard, if ever. Yeah, I’ve worked the Junkyard long enough, I know when someone’s telling a lie.

“I’m heading home!” I call out to him. He might have tried to argue with me, but I didn’t stick around to listen. Why should I? They don’t listen to me.

I gather my stuff. Miss Kitty jumps up on the counter for one last snuggle.

“Don’t worry, Miss Kitty. I’ll be back. No one messes with my Junkyard,” I whisper into her ear and listen to her purr.

 Stay tuned! Part III coming soon!

Check out my Facebook Fan Page, Raeshell Rozet, The Dancing Writer. Each time I write a blog, I post a video on my fan page talking about the inspiration and thoughts behind the story. Please subscribe to the blog and like the fan page to stay up to date! Thank you for reading!