Wendy’s Darkest Night!


   Wendy had just completed an all day session in Wichita, Kansas. Her photographer walked her out the back door of this six story building, the fire escape stairwell ladders retracted off the ground and a maze of black metal stairs extending left then right then left again to the rooftop. Wendy heard the sound of the engine of the familiar Challenger fire up and waved to her photographer as he saluted her through his rear view mirror off to the bar on this Friday afternoon with a hard right turn and out of view the distant reverberation of high performance gear shifting now reduced to an echo off the brick warehouses, loading docks, dumpsters and narrow greasy asphalt serving as her lone path.

   Exhausted from this assignment Wendy who had arrived at precisely nine a.m. and parked several blocks over on the other side of Murdoch Park was not prepared for a back alley exit let alone the sun now descending quickly the shadows of all street level views slipping into pre darkness, the difficulty of looking up into a still lit sky and back down to the walk ahead relegated hearing and smell her primary senses the anxiety of such  sudden dislocation from soft plush interior settings with familiar faces to an industrial back lot now fixated her gaze with each and every sound emitted from near and far.

   The whining of engines in all directions away from downtown signaled the start of a long three day weekend this Columbus Holiday in October.

   Wendy retreated a few steps and tried the large fire door from which she had emerged but locked it remained. She had a fair sense of direction and realized the shortest distance to Murdoch Park and beyond to the safety of her car was to traverse the deep part of the alley. Her instincts were affirmed when she glanced over her shoulder and noticed the street signs stapled to the sides of two buildings. One read “First Street” and the opposing read “Kansas”.     

   Wendy thought for a second and then murmured out loud! “Oh My”! She had followed the news of the local serial killer known previously as BTK who was serving multiple life terms for the murder of up to ten persons in the greater Wichita area. The killer learned to defeat ADT security systems and waited in the homes of his victims for them to return home at night. He bore grudges too especially for one Anna Williams who BTK sat in darkness in her home for hours until he became impatient and left while she a 63 year old woman spent a late evening with friends. The BTK killer was “absolutely livid” with Williams for escaping his clutches and death that evening in 1979 as admitted in his later confession to Police. [1]

   Wendy had followed this case closely and though this killer was locked away she recalled how BTK had taped a package to the back of a Stop sign at First and Kansas depicting the graphic murders of a family of four. [2] Wendy turned away and walked through the center of the alley towards the glimmer of a lit streetlight two blocks and one long alley away.

   The stagnant air smelled of grease, tar and chemicals the sole remaining anxious moment culminated when a pure white cat emerged from a nearby dumpster leaping straight in front of her forcing Wendy to break stride then the cat reversed course attracted to the sound of rats feeding on the remnants of grain in a poorly lit spur deep off the main alley; the high pitched screaming of dying rodents clutched in the claws and mouths of fleeing cats caused Wendy to shiver and quicken her pace.

   Finally the soft lighting and romantic aura of gas lamps pressed the shadows back into the alley and Wendy her brilliant platinum locks reflecting the dim glow in triumph jumped with both feet up and onto the sidewalk  and into the invisible current of a cool cross breeze.

   She remembered the folk lore of the Comanche Indians whose old people would don sheets impersonating boogey men to frighten disobedient boys and girls and the stories of Big Cannibal Owl who lived in a cave on the south side of the Wichita Mountains and ate bad children at night. [3]

   Wendy felt that she had been disobedient for allowing herself to be stranded in an alley at sunset by this photographer who was more concerned about ordering his first drink than escorting Wendy to her car. She turned right and walked towards Murdoch Park. The brief glint of light in an otherwise vacant street empowered her for the trip directly through the middle of the park her tree lined lane complimented with award winning but overgrown landscape replete with exotic bushes and shrubs.

   One alley down one park to go she thought as she stepped up and over the curb her heels clicking on the inlaid brick path. Her shadow like the light extended briefly but disappeared almost entirely blocked by the deep forested greenery in all directions a full moon appearing, disappearing and reappearing calculated to include the plane geometry of skyward angled vegetation the protruding light enhanced or diminishing with each step.

   A clearing appeared in the center of the park and as Wendy emerged from the faintly illuminated path she spied a lone figure standing on the path about twenty paces in front of her. She was relieved but with a renewed sense of anxiety as this was the first person she had encountered since the departing rear view feigned tribute by her playboy photographer.

   Wendy was a God fearing woman but was not registered at any one parish and only attended mass when invited to do so by her family prior to Sunday dinner. She appreciated that she had only one course of action as this large hulking person could easily outpace her if she retreated back into the forested part of the park. She was tired of being scared so she opened her purse and clutched the rosary her grandmother had gifted her for her first communion. She silently prayed the Our Father and marched directly into the path of the hardened looking male. Much to her surprise he retreated slightly and allowed her to pass.

   She proceeded to complete her journey through the park more dimly lit than ever the moon fading behind several clouds, the remaining path complimented with more trees and shrubs the sound of an occasional cone dropping from pine tree to the grassy and needle strewn floor below the only break from the stillness of her soulful commute this night.

   Wendy located her car, fumbled for her keys and noticed a parking citation neatly folded underneath the wiper blade. She pulled it out and put it in her purse the lone memento of this long October day and now chilly night. She reached over to open the glove box to retrieve some baby wipes to clear the sweat from her brow and bury her face in the fragrance recollecting her scary journey and as she was turning the ignition a swift thud exploded against her window.   

   Wendy shrieked the pent up fear and frustration emitting faster than her reflexes could contain her emotions. A flashlight illuminated against her window with the stern orders to please step out of the car.

   Wendy looked into her rear view mirror to the torrent of flashing blue and red lights relieved that it was indeed the Police.

   She did as ordered and produced her drivers license leaning against her car under the watchful eye of a patrolmen while additional cruisers arrived and the roving light of a helicopter shown on her and then rotated back into the park from where she just emerged.

   Wendy thought to herself this is a quite a lot of attention for a measly parking ticket.

   A few moments later an unmarked sedan approached the scene belched a quick and piercing siren then went silent. Two officers approached Wendy. They were dressed in blue jeans, t-shirts and sport coats their badges affixed to lanyards around their necks, their weapons in black shoulder holsters

   The lead detective spoke and asked her if she was walking in the park about twenty minutes prior. Wendy nodded in the affirmative. He then asked her where her friends were that she was walking with but before he could complete his sentence Wendy interrupted him and stated emphatically that she had traversed the path alone and hadn’t seen another person except for some scary looking guy.        

   The Detective looked over his shoulder and said:  “You mean that scary guy”. Wendy peered to where the detective was now pointing at the edge of the park and there in handcuffs and leg irons was the man she had seen in the park. Wendy said: “that’s him”.

   The detective replied that the scary guy had just murdered a young woman about the same age as Wendy and was caressing her dead body when they arrived. The Police asked him why he let Wendy go and he said because she was walking through the park with two huge men.

   A transport van arrived and the suspect was shackled to a metal bench in the rear.  A two cruiser escort guided the van through the back streets of Wichita and into the night. The Detective turned once again to Wendy and said: “you can go” and then he said: “this must be your lucky night”.

   Wendy knew it wasn’t luck it was the good lord protecting her with angels appearing as men to guide her through her darkest night! She thanked God and her Grandmother for the gift of the rosary. She drove directly to her new church walked up and leaned on the doors whispering through the crack between them!  “Thank you Lord! I love you” and as if by design and precisely at that instant in apparent reply a single bell toll erupted from the tower the echo traveling back to the heavens the lingering hum swallowed by the night the shroud of silence returning while Wendy arose from kneeling on the church steps returned to her car fired up the heat and powered down the windows the moon roof now fully retracted. Wendy gazed up and deep into the black sky the adrenaline rush to much to contain her crying, howling, laughing and growling vocalizations while accelerating to eighty on the ramp knowing though that she cheated certain death late last night pausing to recant the words she prayed while looking into her assailants face thy will not mine be done!

Happy Halloween~


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[1][2] Wikipedia and their affliated sources from “Dennis Lynn Rader”

[3] Wikipedia and affiliated sources from “Comanche”   <><

Black Crowes before the frost


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