P6: Hinterlands.

The man named Rob is visibly dispirited, morose; one can nearly find it palpable when within the propinquity of him. He is a man seated alone at the end of a lively bar, ornate with women laughing open-mouthed with big hair and men in pressed suits. He’s off in his own hinterlands, on his third Jameson on the rocks, light on the rocks, and he stares into the veneer of the wooden bar top before him for so long without blinking his tired, bloodshot eyes, that the fake, oval lantern above him reflecting onto it becomes dimly reminiscent of a summer moon.

The weight on his shoulders is sheer, like lace, but heavy as leather, and he hardly carries himself up tonight. He’s more wont to slouching after hours of brainwork, as if the stringing together of detail upon detail into an intricate mental map exhausts all the senses so, that it makes one lean into themselves as if desiring the refuge of the curled position of a fetus, before it is flushed, pushed into this pitiful world that it never had a say in joining.

Ashley was her name.

Ashley Bitsuie, he says out loud.

Rob purchased this hotel for the week, and he may purchase it for longer. He doesn’t pick up his daughter from his ex-wife until weekends, and the last time he saw his daughters face, she had said something that still haunts him now:

Daddy, I wanna be just like you, she’d said.

He scoffed and said, no you don’t.

Yes, I do! I wanna save people, just like you, she’d said, so innocently that it agonizes an empty gut.

I don’t save anyone, he said, by the time I know about ‘em, it’s already too late…

He came back to his room late, swerving like a car out of its lane in the long hallway that leads to his door. He does not fester long admiring the mediocre art on the walls, because none of it makes sense to him. None aside the blurry figures of confused faces, which he finds himself creating tales for: the artist was trying to convey anger, helplessness, he thinks; the artist was trying to make you look in the mirror, read yourself. You’re that stain, that blur, that lash in the eye, that old drunk fool…

The room illuminates when he flicks the lamps on beyond the burden of the heavy door, and all along the walls are photos of the crime scene, statements he’d already gathered. Some from earlier, with only one lead given by a coworker, and much red sharpie used to emphasize clues with thick circles: a strange man who had checked into the hotel last week, who seemed to take a liking to Ashley. Whom her coworker, Regina, had said that Ashley apparently left with on the night of her murder.

This being the very hotel she was employed with, he had asked if there were any security footages he could review… none. But he got a name and an address, and that was damn fine for him, just like the acrid lure of the coffee they brew in the early mornings here. He would question her grandmother, gently, since she’s old and rickety and faint of heart, but his partner had said that she knew nothing, was genuinely upset, and he wasn’t too sure if her heart could take anymore questions, or anymore harsh memories.

Ashley.

Ashley Bitsuie, he says out loud.

There’s a Polaroid unlike all the others tacked to the wall. This one is happy; Ashley is grinning in the sun, holding down a hat curved by the push of the desert winds. She is smiling with somebody else, someone stern, with a tight-lipped grin, as if grinning doesn’t come easily to them, but in the eyes he is light and full of the same happiness that she is.

She is smiling with Rob.

I’m not solving this murder, he says out loud.

I’m proving to myself that I didn’t do it.

 

TO BE CONTINUED…


[ ‘Girls That Vanish At Night: New Mexico, 1986′ is the continuation of a short horror series told episodically by Samantha Lucero. To catch up on series 1, go here. ]


P5: Memory.

before.

No, please… I wanna live… she’d implored, tears from both burning eyes stumbling down hotly in a race to the curves of her jaw.

The severity hadn’t settled in her features like powder in fine lines or the pores one gets as the pertinacity of age needles the helpless face and weathers the lukewarm spirit in icy gales, but keeps all pain locked behind the eyes. She takes this doggedness as a game, and only as a precaution did she weep before the few folk gathered.

They are red-faced religious zealots convinced that they’re faintly touched by something celestial, with stares like beams from moonlight towers, high and mighty and distant. Two tall-haired women feathered and coated in aqua net, basked in the vaporous, undead radiance of fluorescent lightbulbs. The man is dark and hollow, handsome in a bygone era, like a man sucked out, shriveled against his own bones, slender and tall, white as a ghost, with big eyes like a lost animal.

Mother was absent much for the lonely girl, grandmother raised her, still this pain with her where the cord that connected her to her mother ached with a phantom agony as motherless children share, and it bore a hole she walked around with like an invisible mark only others with the same hole could see. Savoring the intensity of the spirituality others felt around her, while inside she secretly remained unconvinced, ASHLEY had been around. Out and about from the reservation, or the rez, as it’s called, searching for something, and that something had found her. And when it did, she only had more questions… piled upon the other questions that had, as yet, still no answers, and nobody had those answers. Nobody. 

That thing in the plains had scratched her face up pretty bad, some kind of wolf, and ever since she’d been sick. Was it rabies? Nah… they’d given her that shot at the hospital. She’d have been dead by now if it were. She didn’t tell grandma a damn thing about the wolf, the old woman far too superstitious, said she’d fallen on a cactus.

Her ‘prayer group’ was convinced it was the devil lodged inside of her. They had to get it out of her, they’d said. And there they were; they looked surreal, like a carnival of gaunt, starved souls, staring at her.

We aren’t like that other group, they’re a cult, he says, stay away from the likes of ‘em. Only on rare occasions do exorcisms cause death, his teeth were yellow as he grinned and his clothes reeked of tobacco and thrift stores that she used to shop at as a kid, too poor and too far away to find something new.

You’re all a cult, said she, one big fucking cult, that has no idea what’s going on in this world, no more than anybody else…

You can’t go out on the full moon, few days from now, the apparition of a man says, that’s when the devil—

And although they had begged, she had left.


[ ‘Girls That Vanish At Night: New Mexico, 1986′ is the continuation of a short horror series told episodically by Samantha Lucero. To catch up on series 1, go here. ]


P3: Cursed.

Rob’s Notes, 24 OCT 1986.

1:38PM

Wasn’t the girl? Mother caused a scene, told her step aside, give me her name, name: Corrine Green, worried, sincere … girl showed when younger man name: Carlos Almada, teenaged, brought daughter Virginia to scene. Mother and daughter wept: hold onto each other, could’ve been you. Ask them about local area– pretty quiet, few strange people, Adam, Serena, Bradley, house on the corner with overgrown lawn, at night driving home with windows down, the overfamiliar sound of howling.

Girl is Jane Doe (for now?). Local P.D + F.B.I. not allowed to meddle in Native American Affairs, girl believed to be from nearby reservation, few girls gone missing over the past 6 months, marks on face hidden underneath red dress -was covering-.

We’re F.B.I., but we can meddle…

Jane Doe had object in right ear:

* small, red glass bead.
* inserted post-mortem into vagina, western diamondback rattle.

where was she?

  • few girls visit “spiritual retreat”: source, Carlos, seen up by flock of trailers (weirdoes?) out past Cedar Mountain, drugs?
  • strangers on the Turquoise Trail, tourist time.
  • local sex offenders, one in jail at presumed time of murder, other at work.
  • face hardly recognizable; mortician repaired, make-up, good pictures to ask around, thank Halley with coffee. no sexual assault; no sign of struggle; ‘animal’ tore face apart.

(not the animal they think).

3:00PM

Find out her name, she deserves a name—cursed, have to do all work tonight. Full moon tomorrow.

5:45PM

At night, nothing in the roads but travelers to or from destinations, mostly Colorado and Texas plates. I sit and watch to get a sense of the land; to get an idea of what could be behind the curtains.

Nothing out there, that’s what makes it beautiful. If there were more of anything, more people, more clutter, it would spoil everything with noise, lights, garbage, emotional pollution—the outer land would show the insides of the minds that filled it. Man builds his empire with his mind, but from his heart. And you can see inside the true hearts of men by looking at their cities, you can know the man who built it, the man who lives there, by knowing what kind of place a man loves and stays in: this place is open, quiet, the mind fills with thoughts the way the mouth fills with saliva. You become a passenger.

The people have a sense of waiting; waiting for what?

6:01PM

I arrive in time for a ceremony at the (cult?) retreat. Cedar Mountain.

Tall, slender man, dingy long hair, never stops grinning, caucasian. Don’t like the look of him. Women in all white, four of them, flowers in their hair, small children holding hands, two toddlers, one infant in a woman’s arms. Questions to ask:

Have you ever seen this girl?

She ever come out here for one of your ceremonies?

Ask all present, even children.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED…


 

[ ‘Girls That Vanish At Night: New Mexico, 1986′ is the continuation of a short horror series told episodically by Samantha Lucero. To catch up on series 1, go here. ]

 


 

 

P1: The Red Dress.

MADRID, NM: 22:39 hrs.

 

The body is ordered quietly alongside the miry vein of the dirt road, surreptitious, unnerving in the forlorn look of it for seeming uncannily etched there or precisely carved and pale-painted, right into the southwestern landscape; it is grotesquely exquisite.

The body has ceremoniously rested here a long while, awaiting discovery with a mute patience, and in its dreamless death it doth rest eternal; some elsewhere realm they say the ancestors embrace her troubled ghost. Here the body she left behind lies with spatters of old, dried blood being wetted and carried red and away by baptismal raindrops soldiering over her. The young hands are draped aesthetically on bruised ribs, and she seems coldly to glow in the defunct amnion of night. A girl too soon returned to earth with filth caught beneath the fingernails; a hint at an earlier struggle evidently not won. The face and the head are covered with what they’ll eventually come to know as her own red dress, and the unclothed hips take the voyeurs eyes downward to naked, outstretched legs the warm color of cozy adobe homes, posed rigidly straight together down to the ankles underneath the telling shine of a shy half-moon. A shock of dark pubic hair blots the onlookers eyes.

No reveler drunk in their nightly rapture of dancing in the packed mineshaft tavern takes note of the dead, for they’ve yet to fan their merry-making out of the moist wooden doors, and into the pouring streets.

Here the crowd come now, with a cojunto accordion at their backs wafting out, ecstatic and oblivious.

 

to be continued … 

 

 


 

 

[‘Girls That Vanish At Night: New Mexico, 1986′ is the continuation of a short horror series told episodically by Samantha Lucero. To catch up on series 1, go here.]

Brakes-Jimmi Campkin

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When I look into her eyes I see the violence of a life disappointed – the crush of society and the comedown of feeble Men. I see those pupils glowing amber in the sunset and red for the rest of the time. I know about the Bowie knife inside her jeans and I know about the expulsion from school as a teenager for trying to hang a boy who lifted up her skirt.

In arguments, I see her sometimes reach for the blade, but she toys with the hilt as a stress relief. She tells me I’m fucking other women, I tell her she’s destroying other men, and neither of these things are true. She only kills boys – those not worth losing sleep over – and the rest of us have to keep our guard up.

She told me; I have this weird dream where I wake up paralysed, and I feel my flesh melting into the bed, and then through the floor, and then I somehow become… I dunno….at ‘one’ with the world. I can hear plants growing and the soil turning and the plates of the Earth floating and bumping. And then I wake up, and I realise I can move, and I feel sad. She looks at me with an invisible question hanging between us. I wish I knew the answer she needed. I wish I knew the question.

One day I will confess the big ‘L’ I feel about her….

I want her always, so I can ‘Live’.

©️ Jimmi Campkin

Original photograph by Jimmi Campkin