A Secret Grave 118: Indifference

 

There were three people ahead of them at the checkout line, all with carts loaded to the brim. Alicia wanted to go to a shorter line, but Emil, tuning into a divinatory capability he didn’t know he possessed, said, “No, this one.” And so they stood uneasily with Alicia’s one purchase and a few they’d picked up along the way – Zantac for Emil’s heartburn, a pair of socks, shampoo, and two crisp Granny Smith apples from the produce department. When they pulled up to the cashier they both felt brain dead and exhausted. What a lot of pressure to be in this hostile town, combing the aisles of Walmart for an unknown and virtually anonymous assailant from many years ago. All they had to go by was a psychic’s tip and really, how reliable was that?

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austin psychic

Gharith Pendragon, Psychic

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Not very. Gharith had success finding kidnapped and/or murdered children, as well as predicting romantic outcomes, earthquakes, floods, weather disasters, and the locations of shipwrecks, but to identify Harrison, Arkansas as the home of Alicia’s rapist (not to mention his name, Richard David) seemed pretty random. Alicia stifled a yawn as she put their items on the conveyer belt. She couldn’t wait to get back to their luxurious five-star hotel in Bentonville, with its noted chef and fine collection of avant garde paintings and photographs in the lobby. She wanted a strong espresso and maybe a nap!

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21c museum exhibit

21c Museum Hotel 005, Scott McLeod, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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And so Alicia didn’t pay too much attention to the cashier. That is, until she heard his voice, which was sharp, scratchy, and slightly high-pitched. When he said, “Find everything, folks?” she felt tingles of horror run up and down her spine. That voice was the same as the one that had enumerated all the awful things he was going to do to her when he grabbed her by the hair and flung her down on her bed over thirty years ago. “I’ve been watching you,” he’d said. “You belong to me and I’m going to fuck you like you’ve never been fucked before.”

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It all came rushing back in nightmare sharp detail: the man’s hand clamped over her mouth, her face shoved into the pillows, the slash of the knife across her thighs, the creepy voice telling her she was his forever as he pushed up her skirt and shoved himself inside her, the certainty that she was going to die. Now, shaking badly, she forced herself to look at the man’s face, which was completely bland and revealed nothing – no recognition and no particular expression other than indifference and the kind of blankness that comes from hours of tedious work. He was somewhere in his late fifties, a grey-haired man with stooped shoulders and a paunch. The name tag on his blue vest read “Ricky” and beneath that “Our People Make The… Difference.”

 

To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ https://www.pinterest.com/larrymarshall/street-photography-tips/

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