From light raindrops hitting his face, he flickered his eyelids and slowly opened his eyes. Matthew slowly began realizing the world above him, while he laid with his back on the ground and looking at the woman’s face, who stared right back at him. Complete strangers look stared in his face – awaiting him this morning. Face with strangely small nose and smile covering all bottom of her face. Her black hair had been cut enough to see her both ear bottoms, with two holes in each – which seemed like tunnels. With the lost sense in time, he tried to understand what’s happening and who is she.
“Damn, you look like shit mate. Seems like you had a quite party last night. I noticed the 80s van. Is it yours by any chance? Looks awesome. I’m a big fan of these. Names Caroline by the way.”
She extended her arm towards him and helped him get up. With one hand grabbed by the new stranger and the other remaining holding his head – which was full of headaches. Matthew got up to get a clearer picture of what is going on. Women in a gray dress and dark leather boots stood in front of him. Her legs were naked and dress managed to cover slightly under her hips. It was positive she was prepared for hot summer days and long walks.
Everything seemed the same way as the days before. The fireplace was burned to ashes and no one was around, except the new friendly face.
“Hey, dude.” She snapped her fingers in front of his eyes to get some focus from him “Snap out of it, you’re not dreaming.”
“I’m okay. Where’s Ruth?”
“I wanted to ask you the same question, but seems like you in the different reality.” With a small grin on her face, she raised her eyebrows. “What’s your name by the way? Stranger.”
“Matthew. Wait, how did you arrive here?”
“Oh, that is a really interesting story. I was about to meet Ruth here the day before, but my hitchhiking luck wasn’t on my side and as you see, I’m only got here a few minutes ago. But I’m guessing you don’t even have a clue what time it is and duuude… your breath is terrifying. Here, have some mint.”
“Ya thanks. You arrived in this?” politely with his chin he pointed to her dress
“Oh no silly, I’ve changed from my pants in that van – It is yours right?”
“Oh ya, I can see your bag is there.”
With his look over the van, he saw dusty military looking duffel bag, with few pins decorating the side of it. The more he focused his mind, the heavier his headache got.
“Okay lady, I don’t know where is Ruth. Perhaps she’s in the house, but I’m going for the van.”
“I already try that, doors closed. You seem like the only one around here. To be honest I didn’t expect to see some random guy lying in the wet grass and no other soul around.”
“Okay, one thing at the time. First, some pick-me-up and then we’ll try to figure out what is going on here.”
Both went to his van and Caroline couldn’t stay silent about it, telling him about her father owning one of these. How she went to small road trips with him. With that being the reason why she began hitchhiking past few months and only now came home, to see Ruth – her best friend who wasn’t’ there to meet her.
Matthew’s struggled to roll his last weed because of his hands, which couldn’t stop shaking from hangover he was having.
“Listen, mate. Seems like have trouble rolling up, here let me do it for you.”
She did it a lot faster than Matthew though she will. He offered her a drag but she refused, saying that she rather drink booze, that weed made her sleepy and that wasn’t for her. They stood just outside the van, with Matthew looking completely messed up, from what appeared was moonshine. After few hits from weed, his mind began becoming a little lighter; he began going through his pockets and sensed something hard. It appeared to be some kind of keys, but he didn’t acknowledge for what they are.
“Dude, this must be the house key. Ruth might be inside the whole time. Vamos, vamos.” Full of excitement, she swung her arm few times above her shoulder, grabbed keys from his hand and paced towards the house.
“Wait, wait, wait.”
“A second!” He pointed to almost burned joint in his hand as a symbol for waiting. She stopped for a brief moment and looked at him with a face that said ‘really dude?’
Keys turned and doors opened. If outside was the same as he remembered, then inside left him to question what happened. It looked like a tornado went through. With few paintings lying on the ground and uncountable dishes along with glasses were smashed on the floor. House smelled with ordinary booze aroma and Matthew thought that smell will never leave the house.
“Ruth… Ruthuss.” Caroline howled in mocking voice for her, but no response. They went through it, and nothing, not a living soul stood there, except them. “Dude, you have to explain what happened here. Not that I judge or anything, but sure you both had some crazy night.”
“Honestly I don’t remember a jack shit about the night before. Which day it is by the way?”
“Dude, its Wednesday.”
“Wednesday? Fuck me! That means… I have no memory of the past two days, what were we drinking.” With one hand he grabbed his head and started to wonder how it’s possible.
“Wait. Wait. Did you start drinking on Sunday? Did I get it right?”
“Yes. I thought it’s Monday.”
“Jesus Christ man. That is so hardcore.” Her voice filled with laugh and excitement “But still, the question remains. Where is Ruth?”
They began looking for clues when Matthew’s eye caught some piece of paper stuck under the magnet on the fridge. It appeared to be a folded letter and handwriting seemed like Ruth’s. He picked up the letter and both of them began reading it.
“Matty I’m sorry I have to leave like this. I just can’t spend another day with you. Every time when I look at you, I remember him and my mind begins telling me it’s your fault. But I know it isn’t. I just need time to get over it, it might seem like I’m handling it, but I ain’t.
Perhaps you already met her or you will in the upcoming days. I didn’t have the intention to introduce you like this, but when I heard your plan about going south, I knew. I knew that you both will find common thoughts. Say ‘hi’ to her from me.
If you wondering about the dogs, then don’t worry, they are with me. I left the key in your pocket because I knew you will start looking for me, but please don’t and leave the key under the mat after you leave. I think it’s best for use – for me – to stay on our own path for now. Farewell Matty and may God keep you safe in your travels.
And the picture on the other side. Edgar wanted to give that on the night we drank but forgot. He told me, you gotta have it if you want to know the answer.”
Matthew flipped the letter over. It was a picture of Edgar and Matthew’s father, both standing under the neon sign “Shooter’s Saloon”. He couldn’t make sense of it; another clue for his wild goose chase. Looking at the picture made him wonder ’what did Edgar knew, that I didn’t?′