Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Things I've Seen

June, 1992. 

About 2 in the morning. 

Megan and I had gone out. We'd been at the diner alone--since I started dating Johnny, I wasn't part of the ice house dancing trying to drink cheap beer by Jason's truck crowd. But Megan and I were still friends, for the moment. She was heading to Finland in July to be an exchange student, but I had a few more weeks. 

I dropped her off at her house in Alvin and headed home via back roads with no names, straight perpendicular lines slicing up the scrub. I knew these--they were a shortcut of sorts, no traffic lights, if you could avoid getting bewildered and turned around. I knew my route. When I reached the turnoff towards Pearland, I realized the thing I thought was a post of some sort at the corner was a man, shaved head, standing stock still, staring at me, something small in his hand, held close to his face, like a phone.

Except it was 1992. Maybe a walkie-talkie?

I drove down the short road to the one that becomes McKean once it hits town. I turned right, and saw a pick-up truck parked almost in the ditch, lights out.

I passed it, and my brights caught two men in stetsons and jeans dragging what looked like a woman into the ditch. About a tenth of a mile past them, I thought to myself, "I wonder if they need help?" and made a three point turn. The truck lights came on as my brights caught it, and they U-turned fast, heading away from me into the darkness.  

I realized suddenly what I had almost done.

Home wasn't far away. I woke up my parents, shaking, in tears from the terror, the possibility. We called the Brazoria County Sheriff--we didn't have 911 out that far yet--and they wanted me to come out and show them where.

My dad drove me to the spot, and big barrel chested men in state troopers' hats shook our hands. They had spotlights directed into the ditches, but you couldn't see the bottom all the way, not into the water. Those ditches on the side of the road were almost always filled with water, some up to 5 or 6 feet deep. No sewers out that far into the unincorporated county.

"Well," the officer said, "it's too dark tonight to get down in that ditch. Probably was, bunch a drunk Mexicans helping their buddy back into the truck when he fell out." My dad and I nodded in response and we drove home.

"But Dad," I said after I'd stopped shaking, trying to be reassured by the officer's words. "She had a navy blue skirt on. Her head was sagged against her chest. Her shirt was a blouse--white, buttons, collar--and she had long blonde hair."

He listened but he didn't respond.

I wasn't supposed to see what I saw. Whatever it was, I was a witness to something I shouldn't have seen.

I still wonder where they dumped her, after I spooked them.

1 comment:

  1. McLean was the road. Lots of bodies dumped out that way back in the day. The rice canals were worse. You wouldn't recognize that at all these days. Turn right out of Springfield heading to Alvin/Manvel and directly to your left is a new junior high/high school complex. McLean turns into 4 lanes and that County Road 56 is 4 lanes all the way to 288. That ditch you saw that night is now master planned communities for miles. It is like visiting the moon. Completely alien. You left Pearland and the sign on the side of the road said population 16509. It read 126000 now.