Blovian, North Carolina, is a small town bounded by speed limits of fifty-five miles per hour both north and south of its own forty-five mile per hour limit. There are no traffic lights and there is but one significant crossroad within the three-quarter mile Blovian township. The town’s police force was recently doubled, from one patrolman to two… and the second officer drove an unmarked black SUV. It didn’t take long for the unmarked car to become marked by the town’s two-thousand inhabitants. The officer’s aggressive ticketing of speeders earned him a nickname, Barney.
Blovian is laid out in square blocks on either side of the four-lane highway. There are only a few businesses located on the highway and almost no homes. The residential area expands east and west of the highway. Two quick stops, a post office, one bank (with abbreviated hours), a Taco Restaurant, a diner, Family Dollar, real-estate company, antique stores, and one small textile plant are among the businesses calling the Blovian highway home.
The street names of Chicago, Baltimore, New England, Philadelphia, with cross streets named for trees or fruits suggest a location other than the rural south of North Carolina. The names speak to aspirations earlier doused by the economic realities of Blovian’s developing neighbors. The healing power of mineral springs lost their attraction quickly, and the promise of a healthy future never materialized. Still, the town has a certain charm embraced by its inhabitants. The town was designed as a resort with expansion planned and prepared. The anticipated migration of Yankees, happened further north and west – just twenty minutes away. Things happen. Plans unfulfilled; dreams abandoned. People sometimes blame themselves; when, the reality is serendipity rules the day. Literally, geography is destiny. Bill and Emma don’t really understand destiny, they do appreciate responsibility.
Bill pulled his SUV off the road and onto the grassed median, parking behind a dogwood, and juniper bush. He flipped the switch on his radar and recording devices.
Come to papa…
His cell phone jingled and flashed Momma Bear on the screen. He slid the touch screen slider to accept.
“Hey sexy! This is Papa Bear, what can I do you for-“
“Oh, hush! Please. I’m in no mood!”
“What’s up, sugar.”
“Gonna be one of those days, I can tell. The natives are restless and it’s barely 9am. Miss Ellie has crapped on the floor, Father Richard is performing exorcisms over his cereal, and Jane… Well, Jane is being Jane… berating everyone and screaming for everyone to shut up and go home. And Linda, well Linda is just walking around in her usual fog, asking everyone ‘What’s wrong?’”
“Sounds pretty normal to me. Look, I’m camped on the median waiting for all the meat-head drivers who can’t read signs, babe. Gotta run. Forty-five miles per hour is the speed limit for a reason. Why do they think those signs are for everyone but them?”
“Listen to me, Bill-“
“Oh, shit. Here’s a fifty-one. Chevy Impala. Sorry Emma but I got to get on my horse-“
“Oh wait a minute, Bill. Let it be his lucky day-“
“Emma! I gotta-“
“What’s it gonna matter if one gets away? You can’t get’m all anyway. I gotta talk-”
“What’s it gonna matter? Are you serious-“
“There might not be time later. I’ve still got homework to do before my class tonight.”
Bill dropped the phone away from his ear and watched the Impala speed on up the hill. After a moment of repeated “Bill! Bill! Listen to me!” he raised the phone to his ear, while mentally noting a black BMW with dark windows pulling off the road. The windows probably exceeded the legally allowed tint.
“Bill, are you there? Bill?”
“I’ve only got a few minutes. Listen to me, there are some things I need for you to do. I’ve got to cover this house until four this afternoon and then go to class, the homework for which I have not finished.”
“There’s plenty of time. Those old people just bounce around in the rooms-“
“What do you know about what goes on here? Yeah but I have to do all the work others don’t do. I swear these girls are so far up Claudine’s butt. And I still have to do the dishes, laundry, clean up the kitchen, and all the med-tech stuff-“
“Babe, those folks are just waiting to check out anyway. I’m trying to prevent people from checking out! I’ve got work to do too, sugar plum!”
“Somebody’s got to help with these other things too, baby! You gotta stop by Harris Teeter and pick up a rotisserie chicken and bread for supper, Kelly and Kylie won’t be home from school until 5, I’ll be there by 6:30. Make a salad and heat some bread for the chicken. Oh, and deposit your check before noon.”
“Well don’t sound so enthused!”
“I got a community to protect, Sugar! I’m sick and tired of these people ignoring the posted speed limit, as though they don’t know speed kills!”
“Oh come on, Bill. Cool it. You get so hyped-“
“And you don’t? You’re always complaining that no one does their job-“
“That’s because they don’t!”
“Well, no one pays attention to the rules of the road, either! We have speed limits for a reason!”
“Ok, Barney! And please deposit your check before noon!“
“Well, you’re always complaining about the negligence of others and then the stupid care-givers that get in the way and actually do more harm than good-“
Bill and Emma argued a little longer before Emma simply ticked off her to-do list for Bill yet again and hung up. Bill worked his speed gun with a vengeance, and within two hours time, he pulled two pickups, three sedans, a Boxster, and a tractor trailer. Speed was not going to kill this day. The Boxster could surely afford to pay.
Emma spent her morning lecturing everyone who came through the building on how to handle the Alzheimer’s patient and the dietary needs of each person. Then, she grabbed her computer and sat out on the patio doing her homework for her nursing class tonight. She had to wipe off the table littered with cigarette butts. She cursed the foolish people still smoking after all these years of warning and advertising focused on the hazards of smoking.
These folks are in the healthcare industry, too. If I ruled the world…
Bill tucked his citation book inside his jacket pocket, pleased with his work this morning. When he did he discovered the check that needed to be deposited before noon, when the bank closed. Fortunately, everything was close by in Blovian. He pulled into the bank with fifteen minutes to spare.
The doors pushed open as he entered but that’s all he remembered until his phone rang ten minutes later. He raised the phone to his ear.
“Sgt, Wilson, speaking.”
“Bill! You gotta help me!”
“Linda is gone. I can’t find her? I was doing my homework and had to pee. When I came in I didn’t see her in the living room, so I checked her room and she’s gone!”
“Where could she go?”
“Hell if I know! But she’s gone…. Bill?”
Emma could hear heavy breathing on the phone.
“Bill? Are you there?”
The only sound Emma heard was a choked sob.
“What’s wrong? Bill?”
The voice was halting and slowed.
“They’re dead, Emma. Anita and Bethany. I walked into the bank, and they were lying on the floor-“
“Oh, my God. No.”
“Anita was still alive when I came in. She was gurgling blood and said two words, “Black BMW.”