A little bit more … “Anywhere But Here”

As I drove down the road shaded by towering trees, I couldn’t help but smile. Early
fall was the best time of year in New Mexico. Warm days, cool nights, the smell of roasting chile on the air. I chose the best time to come back this way, even though the season had never crossed my mind.

I turned onto a dirt road that wound around past a huge old cottonwood and an adobe house with no glass in the windows. Someone had been keeping this road up, it was smoother than the pavement I just left. A mile down the road, I came to the turn in to my destination: an antique mobile home park. Just inside the entrance sat several rusted out cars. I took a right turn and drove past several 70s vintage mobile homes. I pulled up beside a faded red and white house surrounded by chain link and dirt bikes.

He came out to the porch before I had even shut down the engine. He just stood there and watched as I shut down and climbed out of my dusty old RV and walked to the gate.

“Hey Bobby.” I opened the gate and walked toward him.

“Hey Shel. How you been?” He smiled and it was like the sun had come out from behind the clouds. He walked down the steps and wrapped his arms around me. “I’m surprised to see you here. You said you were never coming back.”

“Carrie called last month. She sounded scared, said she needed my help. I was in the middle of something up in Maine but got here as quick as I could. But she isn’t answering my calls and no one is home.” I looked up in time to see his face go dark. He looked down at me with sorrow in his eyes and I knew my worst fears had come true.

“Carrie’s dead, baby. She was shot in her own kitchen. The funeral was last week.” He tightened his arms around me as I buried my head in his shoulders and cried. Tears for my best friend and sister in crime, Carrie and for all of us and our turbulent past. Tears for Bobby, standing watch over the legacy we left him. Tears for my destroyed youth and wasted life.

“Bobby.” I looked up at him. “Do you know what happened?”

“It was related to work. She had stumbled on something strange, probably what she called you about. She told me she had gotten a couple of weird threatening phone calls and her boss had tried to pay her off. But I hadn’t seen her for a while before she died. I thought maybe it had blown over. The police don’t have a clue and they don’t seem to be looking very hard.” He stepped back and turned toward the door. “C’mon in, You can stay in my spare room tonight if you want or I can run an extension cord out to you.”

I followed him up the stairs and into the house.

The force of memories as I crossed the threshold nearly pushed me back outside. “I don’t know if I can do this, Bobby.”

He turned back to me and took my hand. “Just try for tonight Shelly. I’m here. I won’t let anything happen.”

I knew he was thinking back to the night I left. Carrie and I had gone out partying with some friends. It was way late when we got back to my house. Usually we would have called and made some excuse and I would have crashed at Carrie’s or called Bobby and he would have come and gotten me. That night, I was drunk and just wanted to go home. My dad was still up and my uncle and his friends were playing poker. Carrie drove off as soon as I got inside. By the time I got back out, I could hardly stand. I stumbled my way down to the corner and called Bobby from the pay phone. I swore I would never come back to New Mexico and in the ten years since, I had never been back.

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