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The Man in the Old Blue Truck

by

Kathryn Lynch

I

The Old Lady was thoroughly enjoying her retirement. Some days she was busy. On other days, she put her feet up and spent the day dozing off and on. The schedule was up to her. She was the "master of her fate" so to speak.

She lived in a trailer in a redwood forest in northern California. The road from the busy street to her home and further into the woods was in poor condition, leaving a lot to be desired. It discouraged visitors and the Old Lady liked it that way.

Her companions were two large dogs, mutts who let very little get by their keen senses. One had been picked from a box at the grocery store. The other had come from the dog pound. They were devoted to the Old Lady, and she enjoyed their company. They spent their time sleeping in the trailer or running in the yard which they reached through a large dog door.

She had lived on the property for six years adjusting to her new life. It wasn't easy at first, going from being a sixty hour a week attorney to the isolation and quiet of a life in the forest. Every day she walked with the dogs, cruised the internet, played games on her computer, watched the news on TV, and built a fire in her woodstove. Every morning when she made coffee, she relished the fact that no one and nothing could make her get up early to hustle for anything.

II

She noticed the old blue truck pass by her home one afternoon. A few minutes later the truck went past in the other direction, headed for the busy road.

She ignored the vehicle as there were two houses at the end of the road. It was not unusual for the neighbors to have visitors.

Two nights later she was awakened by the furious barking of the dogs. The clock read 1:40 a.m.; she had been sleeping for about three hours. The Old Lady could hear a vehicle driving on the road, slow down, and stop nearby. The dogs were patrolling back and forth at the fence. One was barking. The other was howling like a wolf. She could make out a vehicle in the shadows. It was an old truck, perhaps the one she had seen before. Within a few minutes, the truck fired up, backed up, turned around and was gone.

It took the Old Lady a long time to relax. The dogs had returned to the trailer and they were now sleeping. She knew that it was unlikely the truck would return that night, but the incident had unnerved her. She knew that she would instantly recognize the sound of the motor and she resolved that the next time the vehicle returned, she would call the Sheriff.

Twice a week, errands took the Old Lady to the local feed store. She was waiting in the line for service when she heard a familiar sound. Looking out the store window, she could see the old blue truck, engine running, driver smoking a cigarette. Fear gripped her as she made her way to the store's restroom where she hid for about 10 minutes. When she emerged, the truck and its driver were gone.

At home, the Old Lady began to listen for the old blue truck to return. One night, a week later, she was filled with fear as the familiar sound came down the road. The vehicle pulled to a stop adjacent to her trailer, triggering the 9-1-1 call. "I need help", she told the Operator. "Please hurry!" She was told that a Deputy was on the way but she knew that her location was 10 miles from the Sheriff's

Office. It would take time.

When help arrived, the old blue truck had just headed down the road. The Old Lady thought that the truck driver might have met the Deputy Sheriff head

on, but that was not to be. He was gone.

Two Deputies returned the following day. After some time outside, they told her that there was no evidence that a truck had parked nearby, no other signs of disturbance, no footprints--nothing. They urged her to see a doctor and explain her fears to him. It dawned on the Old Lady that the police thought she was a Nut Job, and that she was basically on her own.

III

Now she lived a life ruled by fear and waiting. Sleeping fitfully in the day time, she held vigil at night, sitting in a recliner drinking black coffee, her fully loaded .357 Magnum pistol in her lap. To maintain the advantage, she did not turn on

lights or the TV.

Her thoughts obsessed on the man in the old blue truck. She would "get him", she pondered. She would show the police that there really was a man and that she had taken care of the problem without any help from them--"Thank you very much!".

He finally came. She heard the old engine on the road, creeping ever so slowly toward her trailer. When the vehicle parked behind her residence, the Old Lady quietly opened the door. Waiting for the man to come around to the front, she held the pistol with both hands.

Now she opened fire, rapidly discharging six shots into the night...

IV

The Sheriffs were summoned by a neighbor who heard the gunfire.

They found the Old Lady sitting on the bottom step of her front porch, gun in hand, completely out of it, unresponsive as to time and place, unable to relate what had happened. They confiscated the weapon and called an ambulance to the scene.

The paramedics declared that the Old Lady had gone completely mad. The past police report had found her to be delusional, but she had now gone over the edge into a world of her own. They transported her to the mental hospital in

town for evaluation.

The local paper wrote a feature story about how isolation and fear had led to the Old Lady's madness. She had imagined a "bad guy", where none existed, to the point that the "bad guy" had frightened away her sanity. The reporter was sympathetic when he related how she had few friends, and that she seldom shared her personal thoughts with others.

V

The man in the restaurant picked up the newspaper left behind by another patron. He read about the Old Lady who had gone mad, a cautionary tale about mental illness arising from loneliness and isolation. She was in a catatonic stupor, unaware of her surroundings, totally withdrawn.

Climbing into his old blue pickup, he knew that all of the obstacles were now gone and he could steal anything he wanted from her trailer. He would wait until night time to take her computer, her CD collection, her TV, anything of value that he could hock at the pawn shop or peddle on the street.

He knew the way well. This time he parked out in front of the trailer, and as luck would have it, the front door was unlocked. Stepping inside, he played the flashlight back and forth, searching for the light switch. He had taken just a few steps when the dogs, who had not eaten in four days, leaped upon him and tore him to pieces. His screams penetrated the forest, but no one heard them.

 

Epilogue: The newspaper story was also read by an Animal Control officer who remembered that the Old Lady had two licensed dogs. He obtained a Court Warrant to enter the residence to remove the dogs as abandoned animals.

He and a fellow officer were horrified to find the animals hovering over chewed up human body parts, obviously the remains of a man.

The police, who examined the old blue truck parked outside, were able to identify the victim as a known local thief.

After 10 days the dogs were humanely euthanized.

The Old Lady never recovered. To this day she spends her time rocking back and forth in a straight backed chair, staring into space.

Copyright   Kathryn Lynch 2012

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