Trail of Disappearing-Story 2: Random Stories

          Dreams of recent events, images of the past, haunt me, invading my mind like a marauding swarm.  Sometimes the dreams and images roll in like a cruel wind that scrapes the soul raw. Bewildering nightmares awaken me, chilling me so that I tremble almost uncontrollably. And yet, baffling as it may seem, there are times when beauty and serenity and sunlight flood my emotions, and I am happy. But I want it all to stop. It has to stop! I can’t survive this emotional roller coaster that at once condemns me, then woos me with delightful promises. I don’t want to succumb to the wooing, so I fight it with every ounce of determination I possess. It is a continuous battle. It weakens me and I feel like I can’t go on. Yet I feel compelled to seek it out. I must see these dreams, these images, with my own eyes, to determine if it is reality or just my imagination spiraling out of control. Is it truly a magnificent place or are my instincts correctly sensing a darkness living just behind the sunlight? Insanity laces the edges of my conscience, yet I know I am not crazy. I am not delusional.


          Unbidden thoughts drag up faces I’ve not considered in ages. Like the face of a wife whose husband I took because I could. He was a handsome man, proclaiming to be dedicated to his family, and he was, until he asked me to dance. I didn’t pursue him, but I did take his wealth and then I discarded him. Not once did I tell him that I loved him, so I felt no guilt when I heard he put a .45 to his temple and blew his brains out. Weak, foolish man. I’ve been condemned but I suffer no guilt. Why should I? He thought to use me but I won the game. He fell, I did not. Beauty and intelligence, enhanced with confidence, is not a crime. I did not place the semi-automatic to his head and pull the trigger, now did I? Nor did I encourage him to do so. My only crime was that I grew bored with the relationship and I walked away. Like he did with his children and wife.


          Charles Welton. Now why is my mind dragging up his image? I don’t care if he is rotting away in jail. He scammed a bunch of senior citizens and I turned the cops in his direction. Anonymously, of course. He never knew what hit him when the police arrested him. I took the money he scammed and left town. But I must give credit to poor easy-to-manipulate Charles. He remains steadfastly loyal to his one true love–me. He believes his scorned girlfriend turned him in. She doesn’t know about me, and I made sure she had another female to hate, and Charles, well he thinks I’ll be waiting for him when he gets out of prison. I won’t. I promised that I would but I can scam as well as he. He doesn’t even know my true identity. So do I fear retaliation from him? Nah. Plastic surgery today is marvelous and five hundred thousand goes a long way. And the old coots who lost their life savings? It’s their own fault for trusting a felon and besides they have Social Security and old people homes to go to. No worries there.


          Like products moving on a conveyor belt so do faces move in and out of my mind twenty-four seven. Long forgotten faces just remembered. But why? I feel hunted, confused. Where is this coming from? I don’t do drugs and I’m not suffering from a guilty conscious. I don’t feel bad for anything I’ve ever done. Like, do I feel bad for stealing a puppy from an impoverished blind girl a few years back? No, I laughed. Know why? Because I knew there would be another charity willing to get her another puppy, and if that didn’t happen, there’d be plenty of saps eager to fork up dough to a GoFundMe for her. Hell, I’ve done the GoFundMe scam for myself and lived high on the hog for a year. Who cares about hurt feelings? We all have to look out for ourselves, don’t we? But I’m thinking that these plaguing dreams and unwanted images are associated with this trail I can’t seem to shed. I don’t know. It’s a trail that alternates between beautiful and evil, sunlight and darkness. The trail persistently whispers to me. It won’t let me go, so I’m going to go there this weekend to put a stop to this bothersome problem. I need to figure this out, and if I can’t, I’ll burn the damn forest down. 


          The weekend has come and I find myself at the trail’s head, a trail strangely named Trail of Disappearing. What is that name implying, I wonder. It is magnificent here, truly magnificent, so I’m thinking folks come here to disappear from the ugliness of the real world if only for a few hours. Tall trees dapple the sunlight that falls upon the ground and bright beautiful wild flowers border the trail that leads to a gentle bend. I’m seduced by its beauty, its offer of serenity, but I’m hesitant. My gut warns me to run away but the attraction overrides my instincts. I want to go, so I am. I check the backpack I carried with me for my cell phone, water, and snacks. I’m good to go.


The Marlow Register.  Steel magnate, Stephen Marlow, is offering a million dollar reward for information leading to the recovery of his beloved daughter, Somi Holdbrook Marlow, who went missing last Saturday in the Judgement National Forest. She left word with a neighbor that she was going hiking in the National Forest. Ms. Marlow did not reside in the Marlow mansion but traveled the world and country like the free spirit she was. She was last seen standing at the mouth of a rarely used trail by several persons also out hiking.