Summer of The I-40 Killer Chpt 1

Chapter 1

We predators recognize each other.  We tend to meet in dark deserted places as often as crowded ones bustling with distracting activity.  But we know each other.  It may be a look, a nod, the way we move our bodies with confidence and precision.  We have nothing to fear but each other.

I had been dealing for the mob the summer the I-40 killer moved in next door, so I noticed my neighbors, who came and went, visited, moved in moved out.  Your life can depend on things like that.  And I never missed an episode of any of those true crime shows either.  Training videos, I called them.  People are generally stupid and make obvious mistakes. 

They were nothing to look at, at first, a man and a woman, one dark, one fair.  Childless, with all their Earthly goods in a white Chevy van.  They avoided eye contact, and any attempts at familiarity. 

Their demeanor was what first tipped me that something might be off.  I mean, if you’re on the run, and judging by their actions and my experience they had to be, you best go somewhere big, loud, bright, populated, where standing out is nearly impossible.  Not to a tiny little town where everyone knows everyone and all the social roles are clearly defined prior to birth.  Not and try to keep to one’s self.  Folks here are social animals, in each other’s business and suspicious by nature.  That’s why I exchanged friendly small talk with my neighbors and  inquired after the health of their kinfolk.

Of course, I was wrong.  They weren’t running.  They were hunting. 

I remember the sharp smell of blood one morning in August, one of those mornings that it’s already dangerously hot before the sun rises.  In the early light of dawn I saw him hoisting a deer via block and tackle high into a tree behind the complex where the honeysuckle and devil weed suffocated even the tall cane by the creek. 

He saw me, I could tell by the tightening of his jaw at the creak of the screen door, then the subtle release in the muscles of his naked shoulders, if only for a heart beat.  He tied the rope off quickly, looping it around the stump of a sapling, then cut the dead animal’s throat with one deft slice.

I turned and headed back inside, the image of the double-edged, serrated blade flashing behind my eyes.  Nice weapon.  As usual I took my nine to work with me that day, but I thought about him as I slid it under the seat.  It was a long way till deer season and I operate on a three-strikes rule.  Strike one.

To be continued…

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