What if you were driving a desolate North Dakota highway in a hundred year storm and the only other car on the highway was…wrong? An intense thriller calculated to keep you in suspense.
A novella by Edison McDaniels
There are monsters among us. I mean this quite literally.
When I was a kid, I used to play like I was a werewolf. For a while, on any night with a gibbous moon or better, I roamed the neighborhood backyards and howled for hours. Damn near convinced myself I was the real thing, the half-human hound beast from hell. Sometimes, mostly this was to get back at girls—like the time Sallie Jameston poured water on my crotch and told the other kids I’d peed myself—I perched up on a brick wall and let go with a prime yowler. Got so I could do that so well even the dogs hid. I dunno. I imagined the whole world was full of monsters back then. It was up to me to save us all. A silly notion I suppose. A kid’s game.
Or so I thought at the time.
Much later—this had nothing to do with my childhood—I discovered there really are monsters lurking amongst us. I found this out one night in the dark and solitary whiteness of a North Dakota howler. That’s what folks up Dakota way call a killer blizzard. Fair warning though: that monster wasn’t a werewolf, or anything else conjured from my dreams or the great beyond. That monster was something much worse, the flesh and blood kind. A man as real as me.
And I killed him.
It wasn’t the most visceral moment of my life, but it was the most horrible. When I look back on it though, what stands out most is how very easily things could’ve come out different. But for that North Dakota howler, the grace of God, and maybe a little ingenuity on my part, I could have been the hunted instead of the hunter.
The killed instead of the killer.
Sit a spell at the table here and I’ll tell you about it. You might want to get yourself a cup of coffee and maybe a danish too, cause this is gonna take awhile. I’ll tell you now I ain’t never told this story to no one, but I need to tell it now. I got to get this thing out of me before, well, just before is all. You see, I got the brain cancer now. I dunno. The doctor tells me I ain’t long for this earth. He refused to put a number on it, six weeks or three months or a year, but I spent some time with docs when I was younger and I know how to read ‘em. And that white coat’s eyes weren’t telling no pretty story, whatever words came out of his mouth. Besides, I dunno but I can feel the cancer gnawing in me. Like a rat shredding paper it is. Every day I get up, seems like I’m less who I was just the night before. I dunno. Maybe that rat only chews at night. That’d be fitting.
I always did my best work at night.
What I got to say took place a long time ago. A whole lifetime. Not mine you understand (if not, you will). Anyway, it’s been three plus decades. The 1970’s, what some folks call the disco decade. I can’t quite remember the exact year. I use to know it, you can bet your ass on that, but not anymore. It’s one of them secrets that belongs now to the ages. The longer a man lives, the more secrets he accumulates. I’ll tell you now I have secrets—every man does—and most of them I’ll take to my grave. But I’ve lived a long time and with the brain rat eating away at me, I ain’t so sharp anymore. And so some of my secrets I’ve lost already. It’s a sad part of aging—maybe the saddest part of getting old—to admit that.
So it was the time of Saturday night fever and mirror balls. Either Jerry Ford or Jimmy Carter was in the White House that year. I dunno. It wasn’t that crook Dick Nixon though. I remember Tricky Dick had already been pardoned when all this happened. And Elvis had left the building I know that. I was in a McDonald’s drive thru when that particular little piece of death come over the radio. I had pulled up to the window and just paid when it came on how the king had upchucked in his toilet and probably choked on his own spew. The summer of ’75 or ’76 I think. Maybe later. I dunno. Look it up if you need to know exact. I do remember I ate my fish sandwich just the same. I ain’t no Elvis fan, but after he checked into the heartbreak hotel for that last time, he was all over the damn place. I spent a lot of time in my car back then, and I couldn’t hardly turn on the radio without being told I weren’t nothing but a hound dog or being asked if’n I was lonesome tonight in that sultry three dollar voice of his.
In those days I made a pretty good living as a traveling salesman. I didn’t do door to door exactly, not in the regular sense of it anyway. I went hospital to hospital. That was before computers and cell phones and that damned innernet thing. I dunno but back then, a man could be a man and make an honest day’s pay and look another man in the face and shake his hand. You ask me that’s the only way to do business. A man knows who he’s dealing with when he can look ‘im in the face. It’s the eyes that tell. The eyes tell everything if you’re prepared to see ‘em.
What did I sell you ask? I was what we used to call a blade man. Scalpels. Not the arts and crafts pansy ass blades either. Those don’t hardly deserve to be called blades. I sold surgical blades, knives with attitude you might say. The kind a surgeon might use to crack a chest or maybe cut out a diseased stomach. Or maybe do a appy, like I had when I was twelve. The brain rat ain’t got that memory yet. I dunno. Back then, I liked to think the surgeons couldn’t do their job unless I did mine. We were a team. I was their front man and they were sorta dependent on me, counting on me. I guess you’d say I was their go to guy…
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