[Rockford Twins, Doug & Bill: Declared missing December 7, 1966]
“Doug, hand me that sparkplug right there.” I point to the new plug sitting on a greasy metal tray on the other side of the Chevy. Doug’s hands are already trembling from the frigid temperature, now dipping into the teens. He fumbles the plug, dropping it into the engine cavity. “Dammit, Doug!”
“Well, you should’ve grabbed it yourself, Bill.”
“Clearly.” As correct as he may be, it doesn’t help me now. I don’t think Dad has a spare in the garage and he’ll, no doubt, call me a dumbass for losing the one I did have.
“You get under there to watch for it and I’ll see if I can knock it loose since I saw where it fell,” says Doug. Of course, he saw where it fell and of course, I’m the one crawling on the cold ground.
“Fine, but make it quick. It’s freezing down here,” I say as I shimmy under the truck. I see him poking around with a screwdriver above me and then I hear the promising rattle of the sparkplug. “That’s it! Knock it loose.”
But just as he’s about to get it, he stops. The bright shop light peeks down through the engine above me as he steps away. “Hey. Hey! What are you doing?” I shout but receive no response. I slide out from under the truck to find Doug staring into the woods that surround our yard on three sides.
“Did you see it?” asks Doug. His face drips a hesitant fear but he doesn’t break his gaze from the treeline.
“No, I was under there waiting on you to finish helping me.” He shakes his head, unphased by my frustration.
“It looked like that thing Jay saw, I think. I didn’t see the red eyes he keeps muttering about but it was huge.”
“You’re an idiot. It was probably a crane. We’re like a mile from the swamp. Come on,” I say pushing him to move on from it. In truth, I have heard Jay’s story and our proximity to T.N.T. has me questioning my own logic.
“No, Bill. I’m telling you it was huge. Taller than us.” At 6’3, that statement holds a least a little bit of water when coupled with his concern.
“Well, your eyes haven’t turned bloody black and you seem like your brain still works. So, I think we’re good.”
“It’s not really Jay I’m freaking out about,” says Doug, finally turning his head to make glaring eye contact.
“Betty. Didn’t you hear?” I shrug.
“Jesus, Bill. Try paying attention to something other than shop class for once. She went missing a couple of weeks back. And the only thing her parents could pinpoint as out of the ordinary for her was the night she missed curfew with Jay and how paranoid she was behaving afterward.”
“What’s your point?”
“My point is, that I just saw the thing Jay described and Betty is gone. We just need to watch our backs. Something about all of this sits funny with me.”
“You need to stay out of Dad’s moonshine. It’s making you stupid.”
Doug shakes his head as he turns back to the house, leaving me staring into the pitch darkness of the forest. Pitch darkness and the faint sound of rushing air. Whoosh…whoosh…whoosh. A smoldering red glow comes from the forest floor further back through the brush. I see it illuminate the gnarly branches above, and with it comes the piercing glow of the eyes. And they’re the reddest red I’ve ever seen.
Produced by: Eugenio Zorrilla.