She got in. I turned back toward Weeping Springs.
"Thanks for stopping. I was so scared."
She was looking at my face in the glow of the dashboard.
"You look familiar. Do I know you?"
"You might. I'm a filmmaker."
"Oh yeah! Teddy Martin!"
I smiled, "That's right."
"God, I've always wanted to get into films."
"Would'ya like a screen test? I have a camera. We could go back to my place in Weeping Springs. Who knows, you might become a star."
"Really! Wow, that'd be awesome!"
I knew I'd just found the perfect ending to my script.
"Oh hi," she said, "my car broke down and my cell phone is dead."
"Well, Weeping Springs is back that way. There's an auto shop there. They can tow your car but probably won't be able to fix it until tomorrow. But there's a motel there too. You could get a room until morning."
She exhaled a sigh of relief, "That would be super, thank you."
"Grab what you need to take and lock the car up and I'll run you back there."
I got back in the car and watched her moving in and out of my headlights' beams.
I pulled in behind it. There was a figure standing at the front of the car. The hood was open.
I got out and approached the person. It was a young girl with a panicked look. Despite the despair on her face I could tell she was a gorgeous girl, long blonde hair that seemed to shimmer in the moonlight.
A coyote was howling in the distance.
"Hi," I said as I reached the front of the car. "What seems to be the problem?"
She looked ambivalent, partly glad that someone had showed up and also fearful of the unknown.
I was glad to be getting out of town. The anniversary of Betty Finch's death was going to expire in a couple of hours and the chain of mass murder would be broken. But I was still thinking about my experiences with Betty. I was unsure if they were real or just vivid dreams. But they were so intense, so passionate. I felt like I really knew her. Hopefully her spirit would be able to rest easy now.
I was about halfway between Weeping Springs and Kenniville when I saw a car pulled over on the side of the road.
We hugged and I kissed her cheek.
"I hate long goodbyes. So I'll just say farewell. I'll see ya soon," I said softly.
A tear was rolling down her cheek. I wiped it away, turned and left.
I got in the car and backed out onto Main Street. It had been quite a journey since I got here. I dscovered a lot of things I didn't want to know, but it inspired my script so I judged it was worthwhile. I was still mulling over the ending as I hit the road for Hollywood. It was just after 10 pm.
I ate and we talked in between her serving other customers. She said she was about to get ready to close up when ole' Pete finally came in with my keys.
"Here you are, Mr. Martin. Finally got it done."
"Great," I said as I took my keys and paid him. There was a long look exchanged between Mo and ole' Pete, then he turned and went out the door.
Mo brought me a thermos.
"Here, take some coffee. You can bring the thermos back when you come back to talk to the police. Capisce?"
I nodded, "Capisce, sweet Mo."
I smiled, "Hey, Mo. Mechanic's still working on the car."
"Well, ole' Pete isn't as young as he used to be. Not as spry, either. He used to come in here and chase me around the counter."
"Get outta here!" I said, shocked.
"It's true. But that was a long time ago."
"I bet you have some stories to tell, Mo!"
She winked at me, "You want anything?"
"Yeah, I guess I better have a cheeseburger and fries and some coffee. I'm going to be on the road for a while."
"Coming right up," she said, disappearing into the kitchen.
The mechanic finally got back to his shop with the fuel pump. He said he'd get it done as quickly as he could. The sun was already setting. I didn't want to have to drive half the night to get back to Hollywood but it looked like I had no choice. I told the mechanic I'd be at Mo's. He said he'd bring the car there when he finished.
Mo's Diner was packed with the dinner crowd. I sat down at the counter and waited for her to get to me.
"Hello, sailor," she said as she approached me, smiling.
"I'm going to talk to a few of the shopkeepers around town about filming in their stores. I'll come back and see you before I go."
She nodded, smiling.
I went up and down Main Street and got a verbal consent to film in several places. I was killing time until my car was fixed. I left the bed and desk in the house but already had my suitcase, computer and camera in the trunk of my car. I wasn't intending to go back there. Not on the anniversary of Betty Finch's death.
Even I'm not that brave.
Mo and I talked while I ate a hearty but unhealthy lunch.
"Anyway, Mo, we'll be back next summer to begin filming, so you'll be seeing a lot more of me."
"That's good, Teddy. So, have you talked to the police yet?"
I looked down at my plate, "No, I haven't."
She groaned disappointedly.
"Look, Mo, if I say anything now they'll want to keep me here for questioning, and I have a ton of things stacked up to do in Hollywood. Let me get the ball rolling on this movie and I'll come back and tell them everything, okay?"
I finished up and prepared to leave on November 7, 2019, the 53rd anniversary of Betty Finch's death. I took my car in to get it serviced. I had a bit of a drive back to Hollywood so I wanted to make sure everything was in order. The mechanic told me the fuel pump was going bad. He said I probably would've gotten out on the desert road and broken down. He had to drive to Kenniville to get a new one. He said he'd let me know when he was finished.
I went to spend some time with Mo.
Morning came slicing through the window and stirred me out of my slumber. I had a restful sleep for the first night since I'd been there. I got up and took a cold shower and then got to work.
The weeks passed without incident. Betty never returned, no windows shattered, there weren't even any more windstorms. I revised the script through early November and had it ready to film. But I was still contemplating the ending of the film. It wasn't set in stone.
But at least life wasn't imitating art.
I'd broken the chain. Young blondes could sleep easy.
"There's something about the house, Mo. It's really inspiring. I don't want to lose that, but I don't want to lose me either. Like I said, I'll give it another night."
"Okay, Teddy," she said softly.
I finished up and said goodbye to Mo and went back to the house. I had another burst of creativity. I worked until 7 pm and then went back to Mo's for dinner. I returned back to the house about a quarter to ten and worked a little more on the script and then went to bed.
I wondered if she would return tonight.
"We had a strong windstorm last night. Uprooted trees around the neighborhood. The metal trash cans behind my place were down by the newspaper office."
That would explain it. I did think I heard the wind blowing. And I could've sleptwalked into the living room. But something made me think it wasn't a dream. Nothing I could put my finger on. Just something.
"One more night in that house, Mo. And if I have another dream like that I'll spend the rest of my time writing the script at the motel."
"I wish you woud just do that now, Teddy."
I went to Mo's to get some breakfast. Like usual, I hung around until every other customer was gone.
"Mo, I think the ghost of Betty Finch has been visiting me. I thought it was a dream, but last night she shattered the windows of my living room. I'm starting to get freaked out."
Mo was wiping the filthy counter off with what looked like the same dirty towel she had when I first came into this place.
"Betty's ghost may indeed be there, Teddy. I don't know. But there's a more logical explanation to what happened to your windows."
I woke up the next morning on the floor of the living room. I wondered if I had dreamt the whole experience with Betty Finch and just sleptwalked into the living room. I sat up and put my head in my hands. This was all too confusing. I needed to get up and shower and then head to Mo's for breakfast. But I just sat there, my mind going back to the encounter with Betty. It just had to be a dream.
Then I saw something that proved my encounter with Betty was real:
The living room windows were shattered.
Her eyes looked like two fireballs as she glided toward me. It was frightening. I was still trying to figure out if this was a dream or not.
"Son," she said, her voice a little calmer, "you must avenge me. It's your duty."
"Mother...," I said, stammering, "...I mean Betty, this has to stop. Okay, Abigail Lewis deserved what she got, but the others were innocent...,"
She put her finger on my lips. I felt heat.
"Shhh," she said as she slipped the straps of her gown over her shoulders. It dropped silently.
"Take me," she said.
I took her.
I felt dizzy as she stared at me, smiling.
"Son, the job isn't finished. You know what you have to do."
It took all my strength to make my mouth move. It was like it was wired shut.
"Betty, I'm not your son," I said, my voice shaking.
"Nonsense," she said, shaking her head. "Of course you are. You're my special baby boy."
"Betty, the killing has to stop. Your son, your real son Mark, he avenged you. He took care of Abigail Lewis. He killed her."
She screamed, "No!!" and it was so loud the living room windows shattered.
I went back to Mo's for dinner and then headed home. I worked for about four hours on the script and then took a cold shower and crashed onto the bed. I dozed off but at some point I was awakened by a noise in the living room. I cautiously walked toward the sound. It was like the windows were rattling. I figured it was the wind.
When I got to the living room Betty Finch was standing there in the same white glowing gown she appeared in when I dream about her.
Or was this just a dream too?
I got the camera out and rushed back to the car. I wanted to put some distance between myself and the house for a while. I rode through town, recording the store fronts and the town square. Then I rode through the desert, taking some intermittent footage of the scenery. I also wanted to record some of the locals if they would let me. I wanted to use some real people. My script involved the residents of a strange town where a serial killer lived among them, and I thought the people of Weeping Springs would be perfect as extras.