WhatAHoliday Chapter 4

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What Child Is This

The drive through northwest Texas went faster than I thought it would as the speed was nearly eighty miles an hour, or at least that’s how fast Garrett drove as we passed farms, ranches, small towns with mega-sized churches and football fields that rivaled Neyland Stadium at The University of Tennessee.

“The fourth stadium we’ve seen. Football must be king.”
“Football is a religion in Texas.”
“They both have large buildings. How big is your brother’s church?”
“They have a coffee shop and a bowling alley,” I replied.
“Jesus Java?”
“I’m sure there’s one called that somewhere in this state.”
“So, his church is huge?”
“They have multiple pastors, so he’s not the only one there.”
Garrett nodded and then sighed.
“Just remembering my grandad told me he was once a friend to the pastor in town at the old church.”
“Yep, they used to do a lot of things together. I think he said they fought in a war together. Grandpa had been invited to stay with him in the house connected to the church as a guest.”
A police car blazed past us without any lights or siren, so I guess we were okay to continue on at warp factor nine point two.
“The pastor had a a collection of wine. Not expensive vintages like that, but he had a lot.”
“Did he drink it all?”
“No, he filled the baptismal tub with it and was found swimming in it. I’m sure he had drunk a bit of it beforehand.”
“That’s a new one to me.”
“Not one of his shining moments. He said he regretted doing that as he lost a good friend.”
“There’s no chance of that happening down here, as they have this giant pool that opens up behind a curtain.”
“Can you swim laps in it?”
“My cousins have but they’re little, so.”
“A pool?
“As far as I know,” I said with a nod.
“That’s on my to do list. Did you pack a swimsuit?”
“I’ll find something,” I replied as we slowed down to exit off of the interstate and onto a frontage street in the city of Greenville. From there, we had to try and find a decent gas station. Decent in that it appeared to at least have running water and was not a massive truck stop.

“We’re here,” Garrett said as he turned off the engine. I’ll get some gas. Do you want anything?”
“No, thanks,” I said. He closed the door and walked into the connivence store. This may have been the final safe location for me. I still didn’t trust Adam. The ghost of Mr. Thomas could appear before me and tell me everything was going to be okay but I was still going to doubt him. Maybe he would be on his best behavior even with his neighbors and church superiors. I pondered removing the rainbow necklace around me neck or placing it under my shirt. I should have asked Garrett to bet me a bottle of water.

“I am not a fan of the price of gas in this town. You’d think with all the oil in the ground people would be swimming in it.” Garrett exclaimed as he climbed back in.
“Like wine?”
“Yeah, oh and a water slide park’s up the road a bit.”
“A ‘bit’ in Texas can be a mile up the road or closer to Dallas.”
“We should check it out, in the Spring,” he replied as he passed me a bottle of water. “Thought you’d want one.”
“Thank you.”
“Okay, so we got gas, now do we know your brother’s address?”
“No, my parents have that.”
“And we left them in the dust back in Texarkana.”
“Maybe Danny’s driving. We can expect them any minute.”
“Do you have your brother’s phone number?“
“Never wanted or needed to have it,” I replied with a shrug.
“Could have come in handy at this time.”
“Okay, let’s give them a call then and schedule a meet up location.”

We drove down a street that was reminiscent of any small city: A Walmart, a hardware store, Pizza Hut and a Mexican restaurant that looked interesting to go to one day.
I took out my phone and dialed Danny’s number since Mom never had her phone on and Dad refused to answer it while driving.
“Hey, Nikki.”
“Danny, where are you?”
“Looks like we’re thirty-five miles out of Greenville.”
“Going at 55 MPH?”
“Okay, is there a short order place somewhere near you?” Dad’s voice boomed through the phone. His temper would start to rise if he had to drive long distances that you would want to get out and walk the rest of the way, crank up the volume on your portable CD player or, it you were Seth, decide it was the perfect time to sing parody versions of Christmas songs.
“Umm, someplace called Whataburger.”
I motioned for Garrett to turn into the parking lot.
“Okay, stop there, we’ll find you. I’ll let Dad know.”

We parked the truck on the side of the building and gawked at the orange-colored building.
“It’s like a McDonalds from the 80’s was soaked in Orange Crush,” Garrett said. “I like it. They better have a decent burger.”
“We’ll see. We have about an hour to kill before they get here.”
I stepped out of the truck and closed the door to be met with a pair of eyes staring up at me from a little girl.
“Hello, are your parents here?”
The little girl shook her head.
“Are you lost?”
She nodded.
Garrett stepped up next to me and looked around at the cars in the lot. “This is how those kidnapping stories on Reddit start.”
“She’s just a kid.”
“Yes. A kid standing in the—feels like forty-two-degree temperature—without parents.”
“Yeah,” I replied as I looked around the lot as well. “I’m Nicole. Do you want to tell me your name?”
She shook her head.
“Are you hungry?”
“Are you planning on bringing her in with us?”
“Only is she wants to.”
“And this will be the reversal of said kidnapping stories.”
“You can come in with us if you want to.”
She nodded with a smile and followed us in. We took extra care to keep a few feet away from her, but I kept looking back to see if she was with us.
It was then that a woman’s scream startled everyone in a three-mile-radius. “Stop! What are you doing with my daughter!”
The woman was dressed in a heavy coat and boots. She looked more like she was ready to go mountain climbing and I was curious where said mountains were in Texas.
“She said she was lost and didn’t know where you were. We were going to let her sit with us until.”
“Come to me, Kaitlin, these two are trying to traffic you.”
“Wait just a minute,” I shouted. Garrett put his arm on my shoulder to pull me back and I shrugged him off. “Why would you say that? Do you think we have a big white truck with the words ‘free candy’ on the side? We were just going to try to keep her safe.”
“I’m going to call the police,” she said as she scooped the girl up and ran from the parking lot.
“Free candy?” Garrett asked.
“I would have bought her a burger. Do you think she’ll call the police?”
“We might as well order something while we wait for them to arrive.”

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A Trap?

joannebarbarella's picture

Seems very suspicious. A little girl apparently alone at a gas station and all of a sudden her mother appears when a kind stranger tries to take care of her.

no good deed goes unpunished.

no good deed goes unpunished.
and then people wonder why most people are afraid to stop and help someone.