by Ken Meaux
I take pleasure in sharing with you the following occurrence because I personally interviewed one of the parties involved, and have repeatedly gone over the incident with him these past six years. L.C. (his real initials) has been my friend for fifteen years, but as we visited together one day about six years ago, he told me of this most amazing event in his life which haunts him to this day.
L.C. and a business associate, Charlie, (fictitious name) had just finished lunch in the small Southwest Louisiana town of Abbeville. Still discussing their work, they began their drive north along Highway 167 towards the Oil Center city of Lafayette about 15 miles away. The date was October 20, 1969, and the time was about 1:30 in the afternoon. It was one of those picture-perfect days in Fall--clear blue skies and a nippy 60 degrees, just right conditions for cruising along with the car windows rolled down.
The highway had been practically traffic-free until they spotted some distance ahead what appeared to be an old turtle-back-type auto traveling very slowly. As they closed the distance between their vehicle and this relic from the past, their discussion turned from their insurance work to the old car ahead of them. While the style of the auto indicated it to be decades old, it appeared to be in show room condition, which evoked words of admiration from both L.C. and Charlie. Because the car was traveling so slowly, the two men decided to pass it, but before doing so, slowed to better appreciate the beauty and mint condition of the vehicle. As they did so, L.C. noticed a very large bright orange license plate with the year "1940" clearly printed on it. This was most unusual and probably illegal unless provisions had been made for the antique car to be used in ceremonial parades.
As they passed the car slowly to its left, L.C., who was in the passenger's seat, noticed the driver of the car was a young woman dressed in what appeared to be 1940 vintage clothing. This was 1969 and a young woman wearing a hat complete with a long colored feather and a fur coat was, to say the least, a bit unusual. A small child stood on the seat next to her, possibly a little girl. The gender of the child was hard to determine as it too wore a heavy coat and cap. The windows of her car were rolled up, a fact which puzzled L.C. because, though the temperature was nippy, it was quite pleasant and a light sweater was sufficient to keep you comfortable. As they pulled up next to the car, their study turned to alarm as their attention was riveted to the animated expressions of fear and panic on the woman's face. Driving alongside of her at a near crawl (no traffic in either direction allowed this maneuvering) they could see her frantically looking back and forth as if lost or in need of help. She appeared on the verge of tears.
Being on the passenger's side, L.C. called out to her and asked if she needed help. To this she nodded "yes," all the while looking down (old cars sat a little higher than the low profiles of today's cars) with a very puzzled look at their vehicle. L.C. motioned to her to pull over and park on the side of the road. He had to repeat the request several times with hand signs and mouthing the words because her window was rolled up and it seemed she had difficulty hearing them. They saw her begin to pull over so they continued to pass her so as to safely pull over also in front of her. As they came to a halt on the shoulder of the road, L.C. and Charlie turned to look at the old car behind them. However, to their astonishment, there was no sign of the car. Remember, this was on an open highway with no side roads nearby, no place to hide a car. It and its occupants had simply vanished.
L.C. and Charlie looked back at the empty highway. As they sat in the car, spellbound and bewildered, it was obvious to them that a search would prove futile. Meanwhile, the driver of a vehicle that had been behind the old car pulled over behind them. He ran to L.C. and Charlie and frantically demanded an explanation as to what had become of the car ahead of him. His account was as follows. He was driving North on Highway 167 when he saw, some distance away, a new car passing up a very old car at a slow pace, so slow that they appeared to be nearly stopped. He saw the new car pull onto the shoulder and the old car started to do the same. Momentarily, it obstructed the new car and then suddenly disappeared. All that remained ahead of him was the new car on the shoulder of the highway. Desperate to associate logic to this incredible sight, he immediately assumed an accident had occurred. Indeed, an accident had not occurred, but something more haunting, perhaps as tragic, and certainly more mysterious had.
After discussing what each had seen from his perspective, the three men walked the area for an hour. The third man, who was from out of state, insisted on reporting the incident to the police. He felt that it was a "missing person" situation and that they had been witnesses. L.C. and Charlie refused to do so as they had no idea where the woman and child along with the car had gone. They were missing alright, but no police on this plane of existence had the power to find them. The third man finally decided that without their cooperation he could not report this on his own for fear his sanity would be questioned. He did exchange addresses and phone numbers with L.C. and Charlie. For years he kept in touch with them, calling just to talk about his incident and to confirm again that he had seen what he had.
High strangeness points to ponder over: what if--she was from the past, and went forward in time, and she is now an old lady still living today, and what if on that same day it had been her instead of L.C. and Charlie behind the "old car," that same now old lady would have met herself. What if--the Earth itself has a super mentality and it creates as a cosmic joke all these anomalies of life on its surface just for its amusement or some other esoteric reason. What if--and this is the final and most depressing of the "what ifs"--she had come from the past, popped into the future and did not return to her past. The newspapers of 1940 would puzzle over a disappeance of a mother and her child one cold October day, foul play suspected, the search continues--while she and the child continue traveling in and out of various time zones forever.
This article was originally published in Ken Meaux's High Strangeness column in Strange Magazine 2, Spring, 1988.
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