The Incorrigible Night Owl

August 13, 2004

Psych-O-Roni, Chapter Two

This is chapter two of a three-part story. If you have not read chapter one yet, click here to read it first.

Now little red flags started to go up. Unsure of whether he was just fooling around in a friendly way or if we should really be worried, Robin said, "Okay, that's enough of this. I'm going to get away from this guy." It was also at this point that she made a mental note of the license plate number. I, on the other hand, was having a hard time believing the situation was at all serious. I just couldn't believe something like this would actually happen to us. But Robin was worried and she had been paying more attention than I, so I figured it would be best to err on the side of caution. She sped up and we both gave a terse little jerk of the hand as we passed to say, "Okay, we're done playing with you." This time, though, she really floored it. We figured if he kept up to us doing that speed we would really know there was something not right going on. However, the blue car seemed to fall back and not try to catch up to us. Still, it was getting a little too creepy. There were hardly any other vehicles on that stretch of highway that night. As we sailed down the road we decided that we would probably welcome a highway patrol pulling us over so we could tell him what happened. We also began to realize how slowly that blue car must have been driving after leaving the rest area in order for us to catch up to him at all. He'd had about a five minute head start. This made us more determined to get the hell to Tucumcari and away from this person.

Finally we approached the first exit to Tucumcari. Unsure of where our hotel was even located, we decided to get off there and hope for the best. The exit was a long, curving one that looped around in a u-shape. As we got about halfway around the u, I turned my head and looked back at the freeway, and a horrible, prickly sensation went over my skin. The California car was exiting behind us. Even though we'd put 5 semis and a few cars between us and him, somehow he was right there. Robin floored the car coming off the ramp, still hoping to be noticed by law enforcement. Fortunately we had come out on the main drag of Tucumcari and our hotel was only a few blocks down the road. Robin swung into a parking place and shut off the engine and lights while the car was still rolling into the spot. We ducked down. She had parked facing away from the hotel, toward the street. As we peeked over the dash we saw the blue car come coasting down the street. The guy was doing ten to fifteen miles an hour in a thirty-five zone, and he was peering intently out his side window. There's no way he was doing anything but looking for us.

Being ducked down like we were, we didn't see exactly where the car went after he passed. All we knew was that when we popped back up the car had vanished and, relief of reliefs, it wasn't in the parking lot with us. We decided to run for the office to check in. When we got out of the car I noticed that several blocks away on the same side of the street there was some sort of light-colored car parked facing our hotel. It was a gas station parking lot but the car wasn't anywhere near the pumps. It was too far away to tell exactly what color it was and reflecting street lights prevented me from seeing if there was anyone sitting in it, so we were never sure if that was our pursuer or not.

Once inside the hotel we informed the manager's wife, who checked us in, what was going on. She was surprised and disturbed by the story. Thankfully we had especially chosen hotels to stay in that had access only from inside the building, figuring it would provide a measure of safety that you wouldn't get from outdoor-access motels. Indeed, the only way to enter the hallways of this particular hotel was by going through the front door and coming in contact with the manager, or by having a key to open the back door. We went back out to the car, drove around back, and got ourselves inside with no further sign of the blue car or its occupant.

We packed up the next morning (still being careful to look around us and watch for anything suspicious) and drove around the side of the hotel to check out. While Robin was inside, I cleaned out the car. Ten minutes later she still hadn't come back out of the lobby so I went in to see what was going on. She was standing at the counter talking to the same woman who'd checked us in the night before and knew our story. And what the woman had to say was chilling.

About 15 minutes after we'd checked in a man had entered the lobby. He seemed to the woman to be looking around very carefully, as if searching for something. He had inquired about the hotel rates -- rates which were clearly posted on the marquis outside. He seemed a little shifty and the woman got an uneasy feeling about him. She found it strange that he had approached on foot instead of driving up in a car. He left; she shrugged it off and went back to work. A minute later she looked up...and there was the man again. She called her husband out of the back room. This strange man came in and this time inquired about somewhere to eat, with a Denny's just a few blocks away and rather prominently marked. They directed him to it and he exited again. The woman was disturbed enough by the incident to encourage her husband to close and lock the doors and windows in the lobby.

Upon hearing this tale I didn't need any more convincing that we had dodged a bullet of some sort that night. A little shaken, we left the hotel and drove to McDonald's, scanning every parking lot of every hotel and restaurant on the way, looking for signs of the man or his car. At McDonald's Robin called her parents and gave them a brief outline of the preceeding night's events. She also gave them the license plate number and asked them to have a neighbor, who was a highway patrol officer, run a check on it. With assurances that we'd be extremely careful and call them right away when we got to Oklahoma City, we got back on the road. After several hours of driving we were beginning to figure that our troubles were over and that we'd have a neat story to tell around when we got back home. Little did we know there was one more scare in store for us.

Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!