FASTOPWhat follows is the beginning of another short story that will probably never be completed.  The place is real. Everything else is fiction.

There was definitely a face at the window. And below the face a body gleaming in the moonlight. A naked body. A man’s naked body. Cupcake growled. The man growled back, baring his teeth. The naked, growling man dropped to his hands and knees and pressed his face against the glass door.

Even in the darkness, she could see the blood streaming from the side of his mouth.

“I must be dreaming.” She thought..

The man – if man it was – rose to his feet and resumed his banging on the door. He howled like a wounded animal. The door vibrated. Philomena prayed it would withstand the assault.

Suddenly he stopped. He brought his face very close to the glass and seemed to smile at Philomena. Then he pointed to the river, turned and walked away – beckoning her to follow.

She tried the phone again. It was still dead.

“Cupcake we have to get out of here now.” Still wrapped in only a sheet she picked up the trembling cocker spaniel and grabbed her keys. Her car was parked at the top of their steep drive – 200 feet from the back door. Philomena opened the door and ran.

Cupcake barked.

“Shhh, Cupcake. Quiet, baby.”

The gravel tore into her bare feet. The little dog wiggled in her arms. The sheet wrapped itself around her bare legs. Her breath came in gasps.

“Thank God for remote keyless entry” she thought as the opened the car door and slid behind the wheel. She locked the doors and sat there holding Cupcake and trying to catch her breath.

Her breathing didn’t return to normal until she reached Rousby Hall Road and she could see the lights of the all night gas station.

She pulled in next to the full service island and sat there wondering what to do next. She honked the horn once – then again. The attendant seemed not to have heard her. He hadn’t moved from his perch by the window. She tried again. Still nothing.

“Shit! Stay here, Cupcake.” Philomena pulled the sheet up to cover herself and made her way into the Fastop.

“Didn’t you hear me, I…” She stopped. The attendant didn’t hear her. He would never hear anything again. He was dead His throat had been cut. A large filet knife lay on the floor at Philomena’s feet. Without thinking she picked up the knife and walked behind the counter to the telephone. Just as she was reaching for the phone the door opened.

“What the hell? Sammy! She’s killed Ronnie.”

“No. You don’t understand. I…”

Sammy grabbed her roughly from behind. The knife fell to the floor. The sheet dropped away and she stood naked in the Fastop – her hands covered in blood.

“I’ve got her. You call the cops.”

Philomena tried to free herself.

“Hold still, lady. Don’t make me hurt you.”

In just a few minutes, flashing lights and sirens signaled the arrival of the Calvert County Sheriff.

“What do we have here?” he asked as he lumbered through the door – his hand already on the gun that rested in his holster.

“Looks like she’s gone and killed Ronnie, Sheriff. Damndest thing. We caught her here with the knife in her hand and Ronnie’s head barely hanging onto his shoulders.”

The sheriff moved closer to see for himself.

Philomena stood next to the body, still naked. Sammy grasping her arms roughly from behind.

“Look here, Sheriff.” Harvey pointed to a pile of clothes over near the dough nut case. He bent over to pick them up.”

“Hold on, Harvey. That’s evidence. Leave that be.”

He pointed to Philomena. “Those your clothes, lady?”

“No they aren’t mine.”

“Well, if they aren’t where are your clothes?”

“I have been trying to explain. There was someone at my house – a naked man – trying to break in. I ran. I didn’t stop to get dressed. I just grabbed the keys and my dog and got out of there.” She pointed to the dead man. “He was like that when I got here.”

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