I firmly believe that to test the viability of a relationship, nothing compares to a road trip.Petey and I, although as different as chocolate and rubber cement, are pretty compatible. Each time we pull out of the driveway, it’s an adventure (luckily I have an extremely loose definition of the word ‘adventure’, and Petey is endearingly agreeable).
And adventure is precisely the word for the homeward stretch of the road trip we took on our first wedding anniversary.
We’d spent a couple weeks visiting my relatives up north, and it was time to head home.
Since it was summertime, we decided to travel at night. This way there would be less traffic, and it would be a cooler drive in our non-air conditioned jalopy.It was sometime after midnight on a very lonely stretch of 64 in Virginia. We left the highway at an exit marked Crump Swamp for a pit stop. The only sign of life was a convenience store with no gas pumps. We pulled in.
The parking lot was devoid of any other cars and the store empty save a solitary employee. We hopped out to get a cold drink and ask if there was a nearby gas station.
As we approached the door, Petey and I slowed down, and then stood stock still. What we saw inside the both confused and frightened us.
The lights inside were so bright they could’ve acted as an x-ray machine. And the shelves were almost completely bare. But it was the cashier that commanded our full attention and left us immobile.It was a woman of indeterminate age. Her body was the approximate size and shape of a grizzly bear. Her features and countenance reminded one of the maniacal, inbred cannibals from the film, The Hills Have Eyes.
The terrifying cherry on this appalling sundae were the actions of this individual. She was running up and down the empty aisles clutching a can of Raid. With demented glee she was chasing and spraying one of the most rare and beautiful creatures on the planet–a Luna moth.Without a word between us, we turned around and got back in the car.
The goal was to get back onto 64. Only there was no access. There was also no sound and no light. It was like driving inside a heavy black bag.
Through the trees we could occasionally glimpse the headlights of cars traveling on the highway, but couldn’t discern a means to join them. The whole time Petey and I got quieter and more uneasy.
At one point Petey could no longer ignore a call of nature and pulled off to the edge of the heavy woods that surrounded us. Sitting in the car, I was so spooked I began entertaining the notion that my husband had been abducted while outside and replaced with a shape shifter.After almost an hour, we finally found a route leading us to 64 and the road home. The lights and fellow travelers dispelled my fears, and I was 98% sure the man beside me was my Petey.
We still talk about that phantasmical sojourn. Years later, out of morbid curiosity, I researched Crump Swamp. I came up with nothing. I searched for hours and found not one mention of the place. It was as if it didn’t exist.
But I know it happened. Maybe though, that place wasn’t in Virginia. Maybe that night we were both abducted and Crump Swamp is a creepy little town in…Mars.Thanks for your time.