Read ALEX below.
A Short Story
©2013 Vern Lovic. Published at Smashwords.com Exclusive worldwide publishing rights assigned to: Apornpradab Buasi.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher with subject line addressed “Attention: Permissions,” at ApornpradabBuasi@gmail.com.
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Published in the United States of America.
Author’s official website: Vern Lovic.
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“Will you teach me how to ride like you?”
Her bright white teeth and blue eyes sparkled in the sunshine covering the northeast shore of Oahu, Hawaii. I was bodyboarding two foot waves with friends at Bellows Beach. Before she made her way over to me, she had been swimming alone in the waves nearby, often looking over toward us. Though she was too far for me to be sure she was looking at me and not one of my friends, I smiled back automatically. There was nothing I could do about it. I wasn’t flirting. I was spellbound.
It was real, she was talking to me now and I could barely control myself. She was stunningly beautiful.
“You have an hour to learn?” I asked, hinting that she’d be spending some time with me if she really wanted to know how to ride.
“I have all day for you!” Her smile beamed.
I couldn’t help smiling as wide as my mouth would stretch. Now there was no doubt in my mind, it was me she was interested in.
I had joined the Air Force the year before. By luck they sent me to the Hawaiian Islands. It felt like hitting the lottery to get sent to these remote islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for my first duty station. I had come from Western Pennsylvania where half the year, the land was stark, bleak, and grey. In contrast, Hawaii’s vibrant color, warmth, and people made me feel more alive than I’d ever felt. It was the perfect tour of duty.
I’d met many beautiful girls over the year I’d been on Oahu, but this girl’s beauty was mindnumbing. She was radiant and alive like nobody I’d known in my nineteen years. Her name was Alexandria, but she went by ‘Alex.’ She was on vacation from all the way over in Toronto, Canada with her parents, and was just seventeen. Her birthday was in three weeks, and she had another few months to graduate high school. She modeled and had already been featured on some Canadian magazine covers. I wasn’t surprised when she told me.
I taught her to ride the bodyboard that day in the small surf, almost ignoring my friends completely for hours. I knew they’d understand. They’d have abandoned me in a moment, too, if they’d found a goddess like this!
Alex’s parents were outgoing and rather lenient, born-again Christians. Later she confided to me that she read The Bible daily. She thanked God for bringing me into her life. Every good thing she enjoyed, she owed to the Lord, she told me. I hadn’t grown up the same way, but I noticed it had helped make her so vibrant and at peace already in her young life.
Surprisingly, her parents allowed us to ride around the island on my motorbike. I showed her Hanauma Bay, Diamond Head volcano, and the pounding surf on the North Shore. We held hands under an endless blanket of stars and first kissed on the cliffs overlooking Makapu’u Beach near the lighthouse.
As luck would have it, my roommate, Scott was leaving on vacation to see his family in California and he offered me the use of his black Jeep Laredo. Immediately, I called Alex and we planned a trip for the next day to a rather barren beach on the northwest coast of Oahu near Dillingham Airfield. The surf report said waves would be calm. It was mid-March, and there was rarely anyone there except locals having a picnic. Secretly, I hoped we wouldn’t see anyone at all.
I picked her up in Waikiki at her hotel, and met with her parents again. They told us to be careful, but we could tell they were excited for us. Later I asked her why they were letting their daughter run around the island with me. She said they too had met and fallen in love just like this while on vacation in Canada.
It was love too. I don’t know how to describe it. The Italians say, ‘è stato un colpo di fulmine‘ – love at first sight, as if being struck by lightning. It was like that, in the most pleasurable way imaginable. My every thought was of her, whether we were together or apart. She was the purest, sweetest girl I’d ever known.
I was dreading her return trip back home to finish up school. Her plane was to leave the next morning at 6 am. Her parents asked that she be back around midnight. I planned to do exactly that. I didn’t want to do anything to set her parents against me. We would marry one day soon. I knew that already after just a few days together.
We arrived at the secluded beach around 3 pm. after a late lunch. It was sunny and the sky was dotted with a few clouds moving fast in the strong tradewinds. The water was a perfect temperature, not too warm or cold. There was nobody around for 150 yards or so, most locals chose to go to beaches in Waikiki or on the northeast side of the island. We were almost in total seclusion. We talked for hours, holding each other and kissing in the soft rolling waves of the Pacific all the way until sunset.
When we finally exited the water I got the bright idea to drive the Jeep through the soft sand up and down the beach for a bit. We had a great time doing so, until I ventured too close to the surf and the wet sand. In seconds I sunk the Jeep to the axle in the sand. To make it worse, the tide was coming in quickly. After an hour of effort we’d exhausted ourselves trying to dig the tires out and push it out of the sand. We’d only succeeded in digging it in deeper than it was before. The salt water was splashing at the tires and I knew we had to find some help fast.
It was nearly dark. The sun had set. There wasn’t a soul around to ask for help. We walked up to the road to see if we could find a phone to call a tow truck. There were no houses, no cars, no phone booths. I felt desperation setting in. I didn’t want to ruin my friend’s Jeep. I knew it would need major repairs if the salt water got to it.
We walked the empty road for about fifteen minutes. I was just about frantic over the Jeep and now I was wondering whether I could even get Alex back to the hotel by midnight. I felt like a complete idiot.
Hope arrived in the form of a simple brown Dodge K-car coming up the road toward us. Despite my pleas for the driver to slow down, the couple inside drove right past us. In another couple minutes it came up behind us and again I tried to get their attention as it drove slowly by us. Then they must have reconsidered because the car stopped about fifty feet from us.
I grabbed Alex’s hand and we ran toward it, hoping they meant to pick us up.
When I got to the car I tried talking through the window, but the woman in the passenger side wouldn’t roll it down, she ignored me and looked straight ahead down the road. Just when I’d given up hope, I heard the automatic doors unlock. I tried the back door. It was open. I cracked it open to speak to the driver.
“Sorry to bother you. We have a problem. We need to find a tow truck for our Jeep.”
He didn’t turn around and look at me, just seemed to be listening. Then he didn’t say anything.
“Do you think you could just ride us down the road and we’ll stop at a store or gas station or something?”
“Yeah, get in,” he said, still staring straight ahead down the road.
Thankful we’d finally be able to save the Jeep, we climbed in, ignoring the weirdness of what had to be two harmless tourists just wary about picking up strangers.
As we got in, the woman in the front passenger seat whom I took to be his wife, pouted and whispered something under her breath I couldn’t understand. Maybe we had interrupted their fight? They wouldn’t look at each other, and the woman was obviously upset about picking us up. I didn’t think we looked like any sort of threat, but, some people are strange about picking up hitchhikers and I just shrugged to myself and figured she was one. The guy, seemed to want to help anyway, or he wouldn’t have stopped.
We drove slowly toward civilization, and I tried to make small talk.
“So, are you vacationing here in Hawaii, or do you live here?”
They were obviously on vacation. Their clothes and car told the story. Why they were driving around the deserted side of the island after dark was a good question for them. They weren’t saying much, and that was odd, but they were taking us where we needed to go, maybe even helping me save face with Alex’s parents, so I granted them a bit of leeway for giving me the silent treatment.
Then I had a twinge of fear about them. I’d never had anyone ignore me for no reason. There must be a reason.
I tried again, “Are you on vacation?” A lot louder this time, there was no doubt about whether they could hear me or not. Even someone partially deaf could have heard me.
They ignored me, but I caught the man looking at Alex in the rearview mirror. I saw his hand reach over to the radio volume knob and turn it a little louder at the same time he mumbled something to his wife.
“No!” His wife said shortly. It was muffled like she wanted to scream it, but didn’t dare.
She looked at the driver for a split second, accusingly, and said shortly again, “No!”
I looked over at Alex, who was squeezing my left leg tightly. We both felt it. We were in a bad, and possibly nightmare situation. I patted the top of her hand with mine, reassuring her I was in control and we were still safe. Though I was nineteen and in the prime of my ignorance, there was something quite disturbing about what was going on. I couldn’t let Alex know it, but I was pretty sure we were about to be the victims of some very deranged people.
I looked ahead out the front windshield and saw a gas station and some houses coming up on the right. The station was obviously closed, but I was looking for any excuse to get out of the car that I could find. I breathed a sigh at what I saw as perfect timing. I pointed it out to Alex, then I shouted over the music, “Hey, there’s a gas station, just drop us off there. Thanks!”
The driver looked over at his partner quickly, and to my astonishment, he hit the gas and drove even faster. Alex gripped my leg like a vice and I felt a chill go up my spine and neck as we drove right past the gas station.
I panicked, leaning forward, “I SAID STOP THE FUCKING CAR RIGHT HERE!” I screamed as loudly as I could, inches from the driver’s ear.
We all lurched forward as he skidded the car from sixty to a dead stop. I opened my door, got out quickly, and told Alex to come out my side. She was fiddling with her seatbelt, unable for a couple seconds to disconnect it. Then, just as she unsnapped it and was stepping out into the street, the driver gassed it, taking off with her still in the backseat!
I sprinted after the car as fast as I could, my hands on the trunk for a couple of steps before they outpaced me and my in my flip-flop sandals broke into pieces, flying off my feet within seconds. I remembered to look for the license plate number when I realized I couldn’t catch them. My heart was beating an impossible tempo. I couldn’t breathe. I thought my eyes were having trouble focusing at first. I hadn’t noticed before, but what I saw at that moment took all hope away. They had covered over the license plate number with black tape.
I’ve never felt as hopeless in my life as I did right then.
To make it worse, I couldn’t find one person on the whole northwest shore of Oahu to help me. I went to house after house, business after business. It was Sunday night and everything was closed. Every vacation home was vacant for some damn reason.
Incredibly, after miles of jogging down the road there was still no payphone so I could call the police. I screamed for help in the middle of the street over and over. Dogs barked from somewhere, but other than that… nothing. I was clinging to one hope a fantasy, really. I hoped the psycho had stopped somewhere and let Alex off and I would see her standing on the side of the road.
I ran down the road in hysterics, screaming at the top of my lungs and stopping everywhere I thought a fellow human being might be. It must have been twenty minutes before I found an old local guy looking out at me through the front window of his home.
Running up to his window, I saw him back away from it.
“Aloha! Please help me, my girlfriend was taken in a car by some people! Please help!”
I could see him behind the thin cheesecloth drape.
I put my hands in prayer and pleaded with him, “Please man, please help, this crazy couple took my girlfriend in a car and they’re getting away up the road. It just happened, please help me!”
He stepped back further and I couldn’t see him. I figured he was too scared of me to help.
My hands dropped and I turned to go back to the street and see if anyone else was home and looking out of their windows.
“Brah, talk fo da nine one one.” I heard him yell out from behind me as I jogged away from his house. He held out the phone so I could see it.
“Thanks man!” I ran back up to his house just as he quickly put the phone on his stoop and shut the door on the wire. I ran up and grabbed the phone and talked to the 911 operator.
After giving her as many details as I could I set off running down the street again, hoping like hell I’d see Alex.
After ten more minutes of running, I finally met up with some officers from the Honolulu Police Department. I wanted to panic and scream when they said they hadn’t seen any brown car on the way up the only road in and out of the place. It had already been so long since she was abducted. The driver must have gone fast to get to the highway across the mountain or to some other part of the North Shore.
I figured there weren’t but one or two police cars on the entire North Shore. On a Sunday night, maybe just the one I was sitting in. Oahu was a rough oval, only thirty by sixty miles, but there were many remote and hidden areas with dirt roads a car could hide on.
I didn’t know whether the police had ever dealt with an abduction on their island paradise before, but they asked me over and over to repeat the description of the man and woman. The woman was probably in her thirties; the man could have been forty without facial hair. They were clean cut, in aloha attire like they had just come back from a luau. The woman wore a flower-patterned dress. The man, an odd mustard colored short-sleeved shirt with palms. They were playing pop music on the radio. They had taped over their license plate. It was a brown Dodge K-car.
I told them everything I could possibly remember about the couple and then answered questions about who I was and where I stayed. They called for confirmation from the military police on base that I was in the Air Force and where my room was. This was in case it turned out that I was the real culprit. They then asked for the hotel where Alex’s parents were staying.
They were good enough to have dispatch call one of my friends, Kasey. They patched me through so I could talk to him from the police radio over his phone. I got him to rally a group of my friends and co-workers to drive up to the other side of the island where I was and help me search for Alex.
We looked all night. The next morning I needed the Jeep, so I got a tow truck to use a strong wire cable to pull it out of the surf. The salt water had come up over the floorboard and destroyed some of the Jeep’s interior, but it didn’t seem to affect the engine because it started right up. I figured the engine and wheel bearings would seize up at some point, but at the moment it was running and that was all that mattered.
I drove all over the island, night and day for the next week looking for Alex. Every day it was harder and harder to start the salt-soaked Jeep. I knew the possibilities of finding Alex alive were closer to zero with every sunrise.
On the seventh day Scott returned and bitched me out about his Jeep. I stared at the floor while he yelled, not really hearing. He stopped a minute or two into his rant taking in my disheveled appearance, my tightened jaw and whispered, “What the hell happened to you?”
I told him I was sorry and that I’d sort it all out. He hadn’t heard what happened to Alex, and I spent the next twenty minutes filling him in.
I called the Hawaii Police Department a dozen times a day to check for any new information. On Thursday at 3 pm. the sergeant I was talking to told me they found Alex’s body, down a small dirt road on the North Shore in an area of ‘Kahuku’. I remember pounding my head on the side of the phone booth, driving the news home over and over.
Over the next few weeks I learned they had taken her to a barren beach in Kahuku where evidence pointed to rape and setting her on fire. The strong winds that night fanned and then eventually blew out the flames. The police officers who told me and interrogated me about her murder were very distressed about the fact that the coroner said she obviously suffered greatly, being alive as she burned.
The case went unsolved. There were no leads to anyone but me. Absolutely nothing for police to go on. My alibi wasn’t bad considering there were half-a-dozen people home in the houses I thought were empty, that watched me running down the street screaming for help.
There were no other suspects. Nobody that had rented a brown Dodge K-car that fit the description I’d given. I was never charged, and the case died down as it seemed to be an isolated incident.
After a number of emotional breakdowns I had requested, and received, an early discharge from the Air Force. I lived with my parents for over a year while I recovered. When I could hold a job again I moved to Henderson, Nevada.
Twenty years after Alex’s death, my life had normalized as much as it was ever going to. I was working with computers. It was something that made sense to me and I dove into it. My way of getting away from the world of people, relationships, and emotion.
At daybreak one morning I was eating a bagel and drinking my morning coffee at the same time I was surfing the internet when the phrase ‘serial killer couple’ caught my eye. I began reading about a man and woman that committed crimes in California during the 1980’s. Using their names, I used a search engine to find their photos at the LA Times online. In seconds I was staring into their faces. Though they had aged, it was easy to identify them as the two degenerates that took Alex on the night of March 4th, 1986.
Unfortunately for my mental health, the idea I’d nurtured of killing them both alive in an acid bath would never be realized. They had already died in a murder-suicide after being cornered by police five years earlier. The psycho’s name was Charles Mohaley. Had the police taken him alive, he would have been charged with the murders of nine young girls under twenty years of age. His wife, Brenda, was seen as an accomplice in some of the murders. According to the article, their victims didn’t include Alex. Sadly the serial killer task force had never suspected they were also killing in the Hawaiian Islands.
Other articles I found on a serial killer fan website revealed they were buried at a rural cemetery near Modesto, California. I immediately called my supervisor and took emergency leave from work, packed the truck with shovels and a pick, and drove straight there in six hours. After nearly two hours of looking, I found their concrete tombstones next to each other. I spent another few hours digging up Charles’ skeleton.
For most of the night, I grunted curses, threw heavy rocks on him, hit his skull with the shovel hundreds of times, spit on him, and jumped up and down on his broken remains. Then I relished smashing every bone I could find with a hammer until it gave way, becoming fine powder. I cursed him until my throat swelled and I lost my voice. I fell asleep in my truck and awoke covered with dirt and bone as the morning sun hit me through the windshield.
Twenty years of rage fell slowly away with the rising sun. The hot sun seared my face. I imagined porcelain white skin flaking off in ashes and blowing around on the winds of Kahuku.
And then, a crazy thought.
I considered driving to Charles’ hometown to see if his parents were still alive. I envisioned looking through the phone directory for all the Mohaleys and one by one, knocking on their doors to find his parents.
Staring at the ground where bone fragments and piles of dirt were spread out all over by the tombstones, I imagined vividly cutting Charles’ father’s heart out of his chest. I blamed him and everyone that knew him. I hated everyone that helped create the evil he became. Killing his dad was a ridiculous idea, but all men are capable of such ideas, I reasoned.
Instead of killing anyone, I got out of the truck and scooped up a Styrofoam cup of broken bone bits and shot a stream of morning piss into his fucked remains. I sat the cup on the hot concrete tombstone. The day was shaping up to be a scorcher. I imagined it frying there in the hot summer sun.
Then just before I got into the truck I noticed the unmistakable smell of Alex’s hair and skin, fresh and innocent, wafting through the air, washing over me like a cool wave. Her sparkling blue eyes and gentle way flooded me with peace. Then the peace simmered away, replaced with the boiling heat of rage.
“STOP THE FUCKING CAR!” I screamed out at the top of my lungs.
I crashed to the ground in a heap, pounding bone dust deep into the freshly turned dirt with my fists and crying hysterically once again at the world Alex’s God had made.
* * * * *
Thanks for reading “ALEX.“
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Here’s me in my bright yellow short-shorts fitting in with fashion in 1986! This is the day the first part of this story really happened. We really did get picked up by a very odd couple who may have been serial killers in California. But, we did both make it out of the car after I screamed at the guy and he skidded to a stop.