The drizzle caused the recently paved blacktop in the culdesac to shine under the street lamp. It was an hour before sunrise, too dark for Xavier and James to be seen beyond the broad swath of the L.E.D. light. Standing at the timber fence that separated their land they peered at Professor Benjamin’s house across the street.
Said Xavier, “Professor Ben did say, at his retirement party, he was going on a Kenya safari for a month.”
“He did,” says James. “He was likely running late for his flight.”
“You spoke to him before he left?”
“I saw his car blaze out of this culdesac doing almost seventy about this time Saturday morning. I figure the last somebody I need to remind that we have children and elderly playing and strolling about is the Professor.”
“Saturday morning?” asks Xavier, skeptical. “You saw the professor race outta here?”
“Yeah,” says James with a nod.
“You’re sure it was him?”
“Yes, Black Italian sports car, dark tint,” states Xavier. “I saw him through the windshield, brushing that silver hair⎯, as usual, still keeping those waves tight. And his blue baseball cap with the Air Force symbol...was on the headrest. He’s retired military too, right?”
James chuckles.“On the headrest. Yeah, he’s retired. He’ll tell the police he didn’t want his good hat wrinkled when they pulled him over for driving in the rideshare lane with no passengers. He truly does not want that hat wrinkled, worn looking, or dirty. But he knew he wasn’t supposed to be in that rideshare lane. And that jet black Italian sports car that you saw that morning⎯It’s another Chevy Volt. He upgraded his old one to the 2020 sport model.”
Xavier smirks. “It must be me. But I seem to have missed the bowtie symbol. There’s no way that was a Volt.”
“Could it be it went by you in a blur?” asked James.
“And blended into the dawn, Like so many shooting stars. So amazed you were. You couldn’t speak your wish.” Xavier continued. “I remember the line from ‘Lunar’s Escape’ how could I forget. You remember my mother was a teacher who drilled quotes from ancient literature into us all the time. Still hard to believe how they’ve redesigned that thing. I need to make sure my retirement account has some top notch performing stocks.”
“It is a Volt. And it has some horses, my friend. I didn’t believe it at first either. The professor had to remind me⎯The same people who built the Corvette and the Camaro, built this. And then he puts his foot in the floor to give me a sample of its power. James looks at his watch and then back at the professor’s house.”
The wind pickups slightly. The drizzle morphs into rain. “I have to be at Lowe’s in a couple hours James to pick up the smoker. The clouds are supposed to clear by 1:00 this afternoon. I should be back by then, then we can talk.”
“Hold on, Xavier. Give me a minute. James looks at his watch again. What you’re about to see has happened about this time for the last two days. You say you saw the professor leave Saturday, three days ago.”
“Yes,” replies Xavier exasperated looking to the Professor’s house where James is focused, then back at James.
“What’s really bothering you, James? Look. The Professor gave you fair market price for that land. You should have built a house on it when you had the chance.”
James drops his head, turns, and looks at Xavier, then back at the professor’s house. “The land is not the issue. Building another house is not an issue. Is it an issue I didn’t take your offer for the land? Look around. We all have plenty of land. We all have a broad view of the mountains range. What more could we ask for, X?”
“Then what’s got you so wired,” Xavier asks agitated.
“There. Look at that window. That’s what’s got me so wired,” snaps James pointing to the window. “For the last two days she⎯it. I don’t what it is, has appeared in that window.”
The rain is now coming down heavy. A strong wind blows it sideways. The silhouette of a woman can be seen standing in the first floor front window. A bolt of lightning brightens the rural street to broad daylight illuminating James and Xavier's cloaked position. The figure in the window seems to be watching them intently as they are her.
“We have to call the police? Did you call the police?” Xavier asks drowned out by the clap of thunder. James didn’t need the question to be repeated.
“I called. They came the first time. They. We...found nothing. I think they felt it was a prank. And they were none too happy about it. The second night I used the key the Professor gave me. I went in walked through the den, the kitchen, his study. I went to place my hand on the knob of the front door to leave and someone⎯something lifted me off my feet and threw me across the room. I ran down the hall toward the back door and I was slammed into the banister.”
“How the hell did you get out?” asked Xavier his face scrunched up in shock.
“I have no idea,” said James shaking his head, frowning. “The lights went out after I was first thrown. I was lucky to find my way after that. I refused to stop running. Next, I found myself scrambling and stumbling through the professor’s front yard. Into my yard and then through my back door. I tell anyone else that story, Xavier...”
Says Xavier, “The news people, joe public aren’t trying to hear that, but you have to tell the professor. You can’t let him come home to that. What happens if we find him thrown down his stairs?”
“It’s an unbelievable story now, but if it’s found out what happened to me and I didn’t at least warn the guy…”
“Did you at least see a face⎯recognize anybody. We could call the professor in Africa...see if he might know who this person is haunting him.”
“No...Like I said. From the moment I reached for the door, the lights went out I was running into everything and knocking down everything that wasn’t nailed down. At least everything I wasn’t being thrown into.