He parked his 1990 Honda Civic in the gas station parking lot, away from the gas pumps and people entering and leaving the quaint store. A group of teens were scrubbing down a Ford Taurus next to a sign, Free Car Wash.
Easing himself from the vehicle he headed toward the glass entryway. If he didn’t make eye contact with anyone, maybe they wouldn’t even know he was there. He’d get his twelve-pack and be on his way.
“Good morning,” woman called out to him. She was plump with vermilion-colored cheeks.
He nodded and kept moving toward the store.
“Would you like me to wash your windshield?” She asked stepping into his path.
“No thanks. I’m in a hurry.” He tried to move around her.
“I’ll be quick; I promise.”
He sighed and looked about. “What is all this?” He nodded at the people in red t-shirts pumping gas and washing windshields.
“Servolution, it’s a local outreach. We are serving our community through free car washes, oil changes for single parents, neighborhood clean up and such.”
She smiled at him, her dark eyes lighting up. “Jesus commanded us to love one another. Servolution is one way we do that.
The man thought of the young girl, maybe six years old, lying in his trunk, tied and duck taped. Tonight he would rape, torture, and finally kill her.
“Listen lady, I’m sure you’re very nice and all, but I’m in a hurry. Besides, after the things I’ve done…”
“God will forgive you. We all do bad things sometimes, but God is good.”
“How can you say that? You don’t even know me. For all you know I could be a serial killer.” He turned toward his car deciding to skip the beer.
“I’m a murderer—or at least I was—and he forgave me,” she called out after him.
Quickly, she closed the gap between them, her short legs pounding the pavement.
“When I was sixteen I got pregnant, had an abortion.” She paused catching her breath.
The man stared at her a moment and thought back to what he learned in Catholic school. By their definition she was a murderer.
Without another word, he slid into the driver’s seat and headed toward highway 67. Irritation grated his nerves. Why had he listened to her? Why did he let her get to him? He once again pictured the innocent face, the cobalt eyes of his small hostage.
As a child he had believed in God, but he was just a kid. Besides, if there was a God out there, would he really let him do the things he’d done to those girls.
“Okay God,” he said mostly in jest. “If you’re real stop me from what I’m about to do.”
Without warning his car began to shake. He gripped the steering wheel. Despite his foot on the accelerator, the car’s speed declined rapidly. This was just a coincidence, he thought, glancing at the gas gage—full.
The car sputtered to an eventual halt on the side of the road.
Nausea gripped his lower intestine. This couldn’t be happening. He had planned everything so carefully, watched her for weeks, knew her schedule, her parents’ schedules.
Stepping out of the car, there was no denying what he had to do.
He popped open the trunk.
She squinted against the bright sunlight and maneuvered her thin body as far from him as possible in the confined space.
“Listen,” his voice was gruff; he could taste the remnants of his breakfast. “I’m going to take you out of here.”
She shook her head furiously, the sun reflecting off the piece of duck tape concealing her mouth.
He couldn’t believe that he was even considering letting her go. All the nights he had envisioned her little body, her fear; it now seemed revolting.
“When I let you go, you run to those houses back there.” He pointed over his shoulder.
She just stared at him, unresponsive.
“Are you listening to me girl?” He hissed, unsure who he was angrier at, her for still being there, himself for his weakness, or God for making his sweetheart detestable. He never should have stopped at that gas station.
She nodded slightly.
The moment her feet touched the ground, he was back in the driver’s seat, not even bothering to shut the truck. The engine roared to life, a lion loose from its cage. Without looking back, he drove away. His vehicle worked just fine.
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