I’d just picked up a friend from the train. Let’s call her Gladys, because it’s a nice name and I don’t want to give her real one out. We rolled down the hill in my little Camry and onto the small concrete bridge. At the end was a stop light, with just one vehicle paused there. It was a white transport, like a short bus for school, but with state and police markings.
Waiting behind them, Gladys and I chatted idly about her job search. We
looked around my empty car, to the stone walls that artistically lined
either side of the bridge, and at the overcast sky. Anywhere but the
police transport in front of us. There was a mix of that awkwardness
about looking into other people’s cars, and the intimidation of police.
Eventually the light turned green and the transport remained at the
intersection. I frowned at the transport. Then Gladys asked something.
“Is there anybody in there?”
I craned my neck and looked through their rear windows. You could see up
the aisle of padded benches. There was no one in sight, even on the
driver’s side. I stuck my head out the window and noticed the driver’s
side door was open. So was the passenger’s exit. The transport simply
sat there, engine off, under the grey light of an overcast day.
“Where do you think they went?” I asked. I didn’t have many ideas.
Gladys shifted in her seat, trying to see over the stone wall to our
right. It was only a couple feet away, and only a couple feet high. On
the other side was a slope leading to the river. My imagination, being
my best friend, and best friends very often playing horrible tricks on
you, suggested a serial killer crouched on the other side of the wall,
lying in wait for a dumb enough local to get out of his car.
Gladys asked, “Should we wait?”
I didn’t know what to answer. Could you pull around a police transport?
Was this a traffic sting? I felt like, at best, I would leave this
intersection with a ticket.
The light went yellow, then red. No one came back. No driver, no maniac,
no state troopers escorting a convict after letting him take a leak. We
sat there behind this hulking vehicle, until the light turned green
Gladys developed this magnificent two-face act. She would look at the
transport and seem pathetically nervous, then look at me like this was
no big deal and I should go. She swapped between the looks dissociative
brilliance. No argument had to be made; she quietly convinced me that
something awful was waiting around here and we should let it be.
I gave in and pulled us around the left side of the transport. We looked
through all the windows. No one was there. The driver’s side door was
gaping open, and we could see through to the side of the road and the
grassy hill on the other side. I turned us onto the main road and looked
down the hill, expecting to see some explanation. There was no one
there. We didn’t even see another car on the road for another ten miles.
There was nothing about it in the paper the next day or blotter report
that weekend. I asked a couple of people who were in local law
enforcement, but nobody knew what I was talking about. I never found out
what was going on that day.