Travelers enter a not so normal roadhouse.
| Rolling down the forest highway, they passed another dark gas station. “Good grief. You’d think someone would be open,” Jolene grumbled from the back seat. She needed a bio break, but the most available choice was not crouch worthy. The ditch and the trees this late at night were too spooky. Despite the nocturnal snakes, there were ticks, mosquitoes, and poison ivy.
Deliah peered beyond the headlights into the gloom. “I think I see some lights up ahead.”
A minute later her husband, Kenny, turned their car into the parking lot of a busy roadside bar. “This is one hopping place,” Kenny said.
“Wow,” said Scott. “Look at the cool, old cars.”
Lining the front of the roadhouse was a row of shiny roadsters, hot rods, and land yachts from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. The parking lot and building lights made them sparkle. The two men were lured in to find the owners, and the two women to find relief.
Coming back into the bar from the restroom, Deliah walked up to her husband. “Scott, do you recognize the song that's playing?”
Scott pondered for a moment, “I think it’s ‘Amanda’ by Waylon Jennings.” Noticing the jukebox near the bar he added, “I haven’t seen one of these relics in years.”
“Let me get us a couple of beers,” said Kenny, “and I’ll scan the playlist with you.”
Deliah and Jolene chose a table and admired the bar’s décor. A Falstaff neon light hung on the wall between two paintings. The paintings were of bar scenes complete with happy customers enjoying their brews.
“Hey, Jolene,” Deliah said in a whisper. “I think the women at the next table are the same ones in that painting.”
Jolene looked between the women and the painting. “You’re right. They are even wearing the same clothes. Isn’t that odd?” As Deliah watched she also noticed they were only moving their eyes. She started to say this to Jolene, but then one woman slowly moved her cigarette to her mouth.
Looking at the other picture Deliah realized it reflected the bar stool patrons. There was the scruffy bum seated alone by the jukebox. Toward the center of the bar was a group of four lumber jacks. None were moving. Fear prickled her skin. She tapped Jolene’s foot and nodded her head at the bar painting. “That picture is the same as the bar.”
Jolene’s eyes widened. While they both watched, the lumber jacks moved: slowly at first, then faster. “We need to leave. This place is creeping me out.”
‘Joana’ by Scott Walker filled the room. “Hey, Deliah, the music selection is incredible,” called out Kenny.
The bum turned slowly toward their husbands.
Jolene gasped. Deliah jerked around. Her friend stared at the painting of the women. In it she could see two more women sitting at another table. “Deliah, that’s us,” Jolene squeaked. Both turned to the bar painting. The bum in the painting was turned toward two men mesmerized by the jukebox. Panic seized Jolene. Standing quickly her chair teetered on the brink of falling over then slammed onto its back. Following Jolene across the floor, Deliah noticed with horror each patron rising simultaneously. Dead eyes followed the four intruders of their tableau.
“Scott, we need to go - now!” Jolene said grabbing Scott’s arm.
Scott jumped. “You scared me to death.” He placed his hand over his heart and faked a shocked response. Both men laughed.
“Seriously,” said Deliah, “we need to go.” Kenny gave her a questioning look. “Look around.”
Kenny and Scott noted everyone in the bar was standing and looking at them.
One woman stepped toward them. “Please don’t go.”
The nearest lumber jack extended a Falstaff can of beer to Kenny. “Yes, please join us.”
Jolene tugged on Scott’s arm. He looked at her pleading expression. “Sorry, folks. It’s really late, and we need to get going.”
Just before she walked out, Deliah looked back into the room. The people and paintings were back to their original states.
Back on the road, their headlights pierced a tomb like night. Jolene stared through the back window as the roadhouse lights receded.
Deliah turned on the radio and set it to a low volume. She needed to reconnect to a sane world. “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers came softly forth to break the silence.
“What in the hell was that?” Scott said. Then he snorted.
“You’re not funny,” Deliah said.
Kenny snickered. This triggered Jolene into uncontrolled giggles. Scott barked a laugh. Deliah could not hold on to her pique. She fully joined into their expression of relief.
“So, no more PIT stops?”