Author's Note: And so the story of Alexa continues. Please read the prequel, Washed Away, for a better understanding of the characters and setting, although I try to explain things as I go. As always, I'm eternally grateful for reviews and constructive criticism. Enjoy!
Phil beamed with pride as he looked around the shop. He slipped his arm about his wife, Lisa, and smiled at her with excitement. She was equally happy about this milestone and very proud of her man. The two gazed in wonder at their newly opened motorcycle repair and custom design shop, Moto; they felt like two kids in a candy store. This was Phil's dream, his passion, the culmination of all his hard work.
Phil had hand picked his crew, and even though they looked a little weather worn sporting their tattoos and scraggily beards and ponytails, each specialized in a certain area that would be invaluable to Phil once the demand increased for his products and services. If the grand opening were any indication, business would be booming in no time. He couldn't have been more thrilled.
The people of Neosho seemed to know that Phil's shop would add another level of appeal to the small Missouri town, and they had begun pouring into Moto as soon as the doors had opened. Down the street from Moto was a classic car shop run by a gentleman of great reputation. In the other direction, there was an auto and motorcycle parts shop that also specialized in custom paint jobs. The three shops would not only compliment each other – fulfilling a need that the other two left wanting, but would also appeal to a very similar clientele, setting Neosho apart from other small towns in that area. Yes, the people of Neosho had been anticipating the opening of Moto for some time now, and were not in the least disappointed.
Phil and Lisa (good friends of Alexa Graham, a local amateur detective who solved mysteries and murders as needed by the Neosho Police Department) had moved to Neosho the previous year with the expectation of opening this very shop, hoping that demand for their products and services would be adequate to keep their shop afloat. They were very pleasantly surprised (actually, slightly panicked) when, on opening day, the shop had been flooded with product orders compelling every one of their crew to get busy immediately. This lent some happy chaos to the ambience of the shop, so that customers were duly impressed with the display.
Everywhere that Lisa and Phil looked, smiles abounded, so when Lisa walked into the back office, or the "hub" as Phil liked to call it, to go over a few last minute details, she couldn't help but hum a tune by her favorite band of the 1980s. Although slightly out of tune, she didn't care, as there was nothing that could bring her mood down – the day was perfect.
Or so Lisa thought… Shortly after one o'clock, a black malevolent cloud billowed into the showroom when the only person without a smile – Godfrey Davis – shoved his way through the door and began demanding services that Moto didn't even offer. The angry cloud that followed Godfrey was very similar to those one would see in cartoons – the ones that follow a person around and rain on only them – you know what I mean… When Godfrey found that the staff was unable to help him with whatever services he needed, he flew into a rage, ranting and raving, flailing his arms about, knocking over displays, and interrupting "real" customers from their business. The staff looked on helplessly as Godfrey would not be placated, no matter what they did.
After Phil had endured this tirade for a good while, in desperation he called CC (Chief Chris, Neosho's Chief of Police and Alexa's boyfriend) to help him. CC actually owed Phil a great debt of gratitude since it was Phil that had figured out where a kidnapper had been holding Alexa last winter. CC quickly had the situation under control, and escorted Godfrey from the building after securing an apology and a promise to pay for any damages.
"Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day…" Alexa sang to herself as she walked out to her car from the church building. The end of April was usually wet in Neosho, Missouri, but Alexa cast aside such thoughts like, "the farmers need this rain for their crops," or, "an excess of rain now means no drought during the summer months". She wished for nice sunny days, or in this case, a clear night so that she could at least see the stars. It had been raining or drizzling almost constantly this month, and Alexa was sick of carrying around her umbrella.
"Hey, Lex! I'll follow you in a few minutes, I need to help the pastor haul some stuff to his car," CC yelled as he leaned out the front door of the church.
Alexa turned around right as she reached her car, "Ok, honey. I'll see you at Dan's Diner in a little bit. Do you want a booth in the back?"
"Yeah, that sounds fine. I'll ask the pastor and his wife if they want to meet us there too," CC responded as he heard Alexa start her car. The engine roared as she pressed the accelerator to bring the car to life – actually, she just liked to hear the engine roar.
Alexa blew CC a kiss, which he promptly caught and pressed to his heart. He smiled at her with adoring devotion and mouthed the words "I love you". Sappy though this may seem, the two had a sweet and loving relationship, which often made the church teenagers gag due to the amount of disgustingly sugary displays of affection. The older ladies that had once glared at Alexa for her cell phone going off in church now sighed contentedly to see the tenderness between Alexa and CC. I guess love softens even the most judgmental heart – even in a Pentecostal church…
Alexa let the car idle for a moment, "Ooh yes, that sounds like fun. Ok, see you there," she waved out the window as she roared off, spun gravel and left a cloud of smoke behind her. CC knew without even looking that there were tread marks on the road.
He shook his head, sighed and muttered, "That girl is gonna kill someone with that driving some day. Of course, she'd probably mourn the loss of her car more than whomever she hits," chuckling, he went back into the fellowship hall of the church to help the pastor.
Alexa and CC had just spent a wonderful couple of hours at Dan's Diner with the pastors of their church. Her daughter, Tara, had school in the morning, and had caught a ride with some friends from church, so Alexa allowed herself to enjoy the evening without worrying about kids, school, or work.
The patchy fog reflected the lights of her 1965 Mustang as Alexa made her way at a moderate pace down the road to her house. Usually this road was pretty well traveled, but tonight, since it was almost midnight, the traffic was basically non-existent. Because of the fog, though, Alexa had decided to slow down to about forty-five mph, which was way below her regular speed of "on the floor". After all, as any driver with a lead foot will tell you, it's really a sin to drive slowly if you are in a 1965 Mustang. It really is.
It's actually mentioned in the Bible in Hezekiah 4:8, "And thou shalt not falter from driving thy chariot like unto Jehu." (Here the narrator must pause with a raised eyebrow and a slight smirk to say that there is no book in the Bible named Hezekiah, but Jehu was a real King of Israel known for his fast and crazy chariot driving. Just think how much worse he would have been in a 1965 Mustang…). This fake Bible verse was Alexa's mantra, and if she had believed in injecting permanent ink into her skin, she might have allowed someone to tattoo it on her arm – actually, no, she was too much of a chicken to sit through that kind of pain. Sadly, Alexa actually had a fascination with tattoos, but was the ultimate baby when it came to pain, so tattoos were completely out of the question for her. Besides, those old ladies at church would never have stopped sneering in derision at seeing her with a tattoo, and Alexa didn't want to be the reason someone missed Heaven (more smirking).
But when it came to driving like a madwoman, Alexa had no such squeamish feelings. CC, knowing that Alexa had taught Tara how to drive, insisted that Tara take a driver's education course, especially after he had experienced Tara's driving first hand, and had left the cab of his truck with trembling knees and a desire to kiss solid ground. But the narrator digresses… back to the story.
Rounding the curve, Alexa came upon a relatively clear patch of road, due to a sudden gust of wind. She was about to speed up when she noticed that there was a log in the middle of the road. It almost completely blocked her lane, and she had to swerve quickly to miss it. Since she knew that CC was following her about half a mile back, she pulled over to the shoulder of the road, intending to roll the log out of the way before he could run over it.
Imagine her surprise when she found that the log wasn't really a log, but a man who appeared to have been beaten and cast into the road. She quickly ran back to her car and pulled her cell phone from her purse. She dialed CC first since he would be driving up soon and she wasn't sure whether he would see her emergency flashers in time to stop.
CC answered the phone a few moments before he came upon the site where Alexa was madly waving her arms (she seemed to do this a lot in body-finding situations). He didn't even bother to speak on the phone, but snapped it shut as he pulled off the road and began sizing up the truly unbelievable sight. He opened his truck door and set one foot on the pavement as he took in the scene. He couldn't believe his eyes! He sighed in deep frustration bordering on anger.
"Alexa! What have you done to that man? You ran him over, didn't you?" and with a cold dread suddenly surrounding his heart, CC leaned back into his truck and radioed for backup.