Tuesday, October 29, 2013

True Stories of John: The Prison Transport

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 again.

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.


  1. I wonder if she had anything to do with it?

  2. Okay, this has inspired me to finally record the true story of the mutant thistles.

    One thing I have learnt is that all of the really whacked-out stuff never makes it to the news.

  3. Oh my gosh! What a perfectly frightful Halloween story- I can't believe it's true!

    I'm with you on the overactive imagination- if it were me I would've lost my shit a little bit imagining scenarios of murderous convicts escaping and slaughtering the locals.

  4. That is the sort of mystery which haunts me forever, and pops up in the dark hours to jangle my brain. And in the dark hours my imagination has super powers. Rather a lot of them.
    On an unrelated note - you asked if you could make use of one of my images. Of course.

  5. So weird.

    Happy Halloween! (I'm catching up on your blog posts - and though my comments are less frequent, please know that I do read and enjoy your writings!)


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