“An art opening at a lavish downtown gallery. A car crashes through the plate glass window. The driver’s door opens, and an eight-year-old girl steps out………..”
“Please help me” she cries. “My mother has been shot.” Eyes cut from the little girl’s face to search the inside of the vehicle. There is nothing to see. No blood, no mother, no nothing, except this little girl with trails of tears coursing over her dirt-streaked face. Her brown hair looks unkempt and matted; her clothing, dirty and torn. She has lost her shoes, and her big toe sticks out of one of her dirty socks. She appears to be alone. She seems to have lost her mind.
One person gathers their courage and approaches the girl. “My name is Blair Weathers, and I own this gallery you have so casually driven that car through. Where is your mother?” The sneer on her face does not go unnoticed by the girl. She chooses to ignore it and reaches for her hand.
“Please come, Ms. Weathers. She is not far.” Blair accepts the girl’s offering of her hand by extending the tip of her french-manicured index finger for grasping, pinching the child’s hand slightly with the tip of her thumb, clutching at the pearls around her neck all the while. She follows as the girl leads her through an opening in the broken window. She is led to the corner of the alley and they stop. The girl points down the alley.
“She is down there. Please help her.” The girl turns her big brown eyes up to Blair’s face, perfecting the puppy dog pout along with it. “I can’t do it by myself. She’s too heavy, and bleeding too fast.”
The girl steps forward, not quite relinquishing her hold on the tip of Blair’s finger. She tugs gently at her finger, willing her to follow. Blair hesitates. The alley is dark. It stinks of three day old garbage and the Chinese restaurant on the other side of the alley. The dumpsters take on larger then life proportions from the single, small yellow lighting coming from the back door of Liu Kang’s. She takes a hard look at the alley, looking for any indication that there is a woman in distress down in the dark shadows. Still, she sees nothing. She takes a small step into the alley and hesitates again.
“I don’t see your mother. Are you sure she is still here?” Blair looks down at the girl with disdain. She simply did not have time for childish games, and now, she has a plate glass window to repair. From the look of this child, her parents would never be able to afford to replace it. As she begins wracking up the numbers in her head, she hears a soft moan. She gives a little shiver, and looking again at the filthy child still clutching her finger, asks “What was that?”
“I told you. It’s my mother. Look, can’t you see her leg, just there?” She points at a shadow in the darkness. Gail’s eyes become slints as she strains to see through the darkness the girl is pointing her to. “Look!! There, under that dumpster! She’s there. Please help!” The girl’s voice takes an urgent tone to it. Blair still can’t see into the darkness. She still sees nobody, not even under the dumpsters. She doesn’t have the best eyesight anymore though. Fifty years old, and the last thirty spent staring at canvas, and time has taken a toll on her eyes.
“Please!! She’s going to die if you don’t help her!” The girl’s voice becomes a wail. Her hands clutch her dirty face as a fresh set of tears make their path down her hollow cheeks. Another soft moan is heard from the alley. A gasp from the girl causes Blair to drop her hand and take off down the alley, running towards something she cannot see, only hear.
Blair reaches the darkness, and pulls out her cellphone. She is pushing the buttons to call 9-1-1 when something along the right moves. She pauses, squinting to get a better look. The darkness is still. The air around her has become putrid, the smell of dried blood reaching her nostrils. She slowly gathers the strength to turn her phone around and shine the light in the darkness around her like a flashlight. The light flickers as her hand shakes, afraid of what she might see in front of her, the sound of the silence deafening in her ears.
She sees something on the ground in the light, almost missed it as the light passes over it. She feels a rush of relief when a tattered shoe comes into sight. The shoe is attached to a foot, which is attached to a leg, which is attached to the giant dumpster. “No, that can’t be right,” she mutters to the dark. She reaches out for the girl, to shield her from what she might see in the dingy light of the cellphone.
The girl is gone.