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Authors: Kimberly Thomas

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BOOK: The Bovine Connection
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Chapter Five

 

             
A
ngelica woke feeling unusually euphoric about the trip to Montana. She decided to consider it a much needed escape from the city, and hoped the change in scenery would alter the sleep disturbances. Her curiosity with the story was driving her, and she wasn’t entirely sure why.

Angelica routinely looked at her iPhone calendar. It was Wednesday, June twenty-third, three days after the last mutilation in Elberton. She had to admit this was completely different from her usual stories of politics. After reading through the file the night before, she was eager to find out what was going on in Montana.

Angelica looked outside and noticed the yellow cab waiting. She put her coffee cup down, grabbed her bags, opened the solid black front door of her townhouse, and motioned for the cab driver to come over and retrieve her luggage from the porch.

Once in the cab, the driver asked, “Where to?”

“Washington National, please,” Angelica announced as she adjusted in her seat.

Angelica looked out the window and noticed an attractive couple in their mid-thirties in the car next to her. Angelica watched as the man stroked the side of the woman’s head. They appeared to be in love.

Angelica leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes. She saw an image of herself in love. His soft touch of affection as he put his arms around her and pulled her to his chest. Then the image of the faceless man disappeared. Realizing it was a foolish fantasy, she pushed the thought away, feeling a chill of loneliness.

At the airport, she immediately felt the excitement of the fast-paced atmosphere as people rushed to their gates. A man in a dark suit pressed by her, almost bumping into her and knocked over her satchel. Maintaining her poise, she grabbed her bags and continued on to check in.

The man at the counter asked Angelica for her boarding pass and ID. She pulled them out of her diminutive black Chanel purse and handed it to him. He stepped around to take her luggage. “Are you checking these bags?”

“No, I’ll carry them on,” Angelica said as she pulled her satchel and suitcase close to her.

“Where you headed?” he asked.

“Yellowstone Regional,” Angelica replied, meekly.

“Really… Yellowstone Regional?” he asked with a playful grin as he looked around the counter once more and down at her light pink high heels.

“Yes,” Angelica responded softly as she observed him; it was apparent he was amused. She glanced down at her high heels. She obliviously did not fit the profile of a nature loving, wilderness type, she thought.

Angelica finished checking in and went briskly through security. She was an old hat at it, although it felt as if it had been too long since she traveled.

Angelica thought about her last trip as she passed by the familiar gift shops and the restaurant where she and Andrew had sat, sipping champagne while waiting for their flight. She recalled how she and Andrew had managed to sneak off for a long weekend to Turks and Caicos. Andrew was an exciting travel companion – athletic and up for anything. She reflected on the passion between them, but then remembered on the flight home feeling as if something were still missing. She frowned at the memory and hurried past toward her terminal.

Angelica made it down the busy terminal and found a small store next to her gate for a coffee, and the latest issue of her magazine, the
Liberator
. As she entered the store she noticed a man in khakis and a dark blue dress shirt with a bottled water securely stuck between his arm and chest, grabbing one of the
Liberator Magazines
from the newsstand. She wondered how many passengers from around the world were reading her stories that morning as she pushed through to the counter to check out.

Angelica stepped out of the store and found her gate, noting the long line of passengers preparing to board the same flight; she dropped her shoulders, releasing a breath of irritation.

On the plane, Angelica was relieved to see it wasn’t completely full by the time she boarded.

After finding her seat, she lifted her satchel and suitcase into the overhead compartment, accidently bumping into a woman with short jet-black hair trying to pass by. The woman wore an outdated purple blazer with a black leather collar and heavy gold jewelry. Angelica looked around to apologize, but the woman disregarded her and shouted hastily in Italian, “Stronza!” Angelica gave her a confused look and rolled her eyes, then she rubbed her throbbing skull while wondering what the lady had said. Her tone didn’t sound complimentary. Angelica glanced down and shrugged her shoulders at a young lady staring and sitting in the aisle seat across from her.

“I think she called you a jerk,” the young lady whispered sympathetically. Angelica gave her a wry smile before sitting down in her seat.

Not thinking, she lifted the lid and raised the coffee cup to her mouth, burning the tip of her tongue. The morning wasn’t getting off to good start, she thought. She put the cup between her knees and wiped her bottom lip with the back of her palm. She couldn’t believe she had done it again, forgetting to blow before sipping it slowly. She touched the tip of her tongue to her lip to test the numbness, and then looked around to see if anyone was observing her. Angelica noticed a young man wearing oversized headphones staring at her while bobbing his head. She gave him a quick smile and turned back around. Angelica shifted to get comfortable in her seat and then opened the latest issue of her magazine.

She found one of her articles. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, she felt there was always a story she could have written better or more she could have added. Already printed and out on the newsstand by the time she’d second-guessed herself, she had to let it go and be content with her work.

Her mind drifted back to Elberton. She went through, one by one, the salient points of the articles and documents she had read on the cattle mutilations. She felt that familiar tingling sensation of excitement on the back of her neck and shoulders as she did when she started a new story. However, something deep in her subconscious seemed to be trying to break through, giving her a slight unsettling feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

             
A
fter a brief layover in Salt Lake City, the plane made a rather bumpy landing at the modest Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyoming.

Angelica pushed her feet forward in an effort to counterbalance the quick deceleration on what was obviously a short runway.

It was quite a contrast from D.C. and she immediately felt pleased as she looked out the terminal windows at the vast openness of rolling mounds in the distance.

The airport was painted shades of gold and pale yellow and displayed large scenic photos of Yellowstone National Park’s mountains and wildlife. Her surroundings were fresh, giving her the impression the airport was newly constructed.

Washington, D.C., although rich in history, was covered with algae and moss and usually had a musky scent. The streets and buildings of D.C. bore evidence of a significant history long gone. And while charming, she longed for something new and fresh.

Angelica made her way to the rental car company inside the airport. After a few minutes in line, she was at the counter.

“Hello… Angelica Bradley… I have a reservation.”

The female clerk looked up from the computer screen. “Yes, let’s see… yes, I have you right here. Will you be needing a navigational system?”

Angelica rubbed at her temple as she thought for a moment. Her headache had lessened while she slept on the flight and had become barely noticeable. “How far is it to Elberton, Montana from here?”

“Oh, it’ll take you a good forty-five minutes,” the clerk said. “I suggest a navigational system. They are always good to have.”

“Okay,” Angelica agreed. She didn’t like the idea of getting lost--especially in the wilderness--so she took the lady’s advice and finished signing the forms.

In the rental car lot, Angelica found her economy silver Nissan Altima. She entered the Elk Lodge address into the navigation system, and then turned on the radio.

Flipping through the stations, she was struck by an evangelical preacher giving a sermon, so she turned the volume up and listened curiously. His voice was high-pitched as he shouted… “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. Revelation 14:6.” Angelica let his voice drift away as she thought back on her childhood in Asheville, North Carolina. The little white church tucked away in between the Blue Ridge Mountains. She always dreaded the Sunday morning services while visiting her grandmother. Angelica remembered the haunting hymns filling the air, the smell of moth balls, and being terrified of the preacher as he shouted, yelled and stomped down the aisle while giving his well-rehearsed sermon to the congregation.

Angelica recalled as a child, tucking her head into her grandmother’s arm, watching with one wide eye as the congregation stood and moaned with their hands raised and swaying in the air. Women or men would shake back and forth, as if they were having convulsions when the preacher lay his hand on their head and yelled, “Devil be gone!” Angelica shivered and quickly turned off the radio. She shifted her thoughts to the cattle mutilations. She was eager to get to Elberton and get started on the story.

While finishing the last few minutes of the drive, she tried to ignore the slight smell of sweat and tobacco in the rental car, making her sick to her stomach and her headache worsen. Angelica cracked the window and let the warm summer air blow her hair away from her shoulders.

She took in the mountain views starting to emerge. She then slowly moved her range of sight to the tall evergreens becoming abundant as they expanded out and around her. “Such an amazing place,” she said softly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

             
R
ight on the edge of town sat an old gas station. Angelica pulled the rental car into the empty lot. She got out of the car and surveyed her surroundings, glancing up to see the deep blue sky with only a few enormous white cotton ball clouds. She shut the car door, walked over and stepped onto the old wooden porch of the country store. Angelica lifted her arm to smell her shirt sleeve. She frowned. The smell in the rental car was in her clothing.

Angelica didn’t see anyone as she stepped through the glass door. She gazed around, searching for the cooler containing the Red Bulls. Locating it, she walked to the back corner of the store, opened the cooler and took one out.

On her way to the register, Angelica grabbed a small box of Aspirin. She stood at the counter quietly for a moment, looking around, but the place appeared empty. After a few moments of anxiously waiting, she yelled out, “Hello!”

Hearing her yell, an older man appeared from an office in the back. “Yes, I’m here! It’s just me, and sometimes I don’t hear people come in. It’s usually kind of quiet,” he said as he hurried to the counter. His clothes were worn and dirty with oil stains.

“Oh, well, here,” she said, her tone disparaging. Angelica sat the Aspirin box and Red Bull down on the counter as her subconscious sneered back at her for her unintentional tone. She was tired from traveling and her head still had a dull ache that was trying to emerge into something bigger.

While the man rang up the Red Bull and Aspirin, Angelica glanced around the old country store. She noticed different framed photos hanging on the walls of the old man in fishing gear holding up a large trout.

Angelica looked back to the gray-haired man with a thick, unruly white beard. He had his glasses balanced on the tip of his nose. He raised his head to take a closer look at Angelica, appearing distracted by her clothing.

Angelica noted his eyes moving down to her heels. “Do you know where I can find a liquor store?” she asked politely to cut through the uncomfortable tension in the air.

“Sure do! Just continue down this road here…,” The man pointed outside the window. “Once you’re in Elberton, you’ll find it just past the town square on the left,” he responded moving his glasses back up over his nose as he politely looked down at the cash register.

“What brings you to Elberton, young lady?” He looked back up and then down at Angelica’s pink heels and up to her skirt, continuing to her blouse that revealed the top curve of her cleavage. The outfit represented her usual attire, so she was familiar with the man’s not-so-subtle expression. Tired from the long day and not interested in small talk, she replied with a forced smile…

BOOK: The Bovine Connection
10.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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