I am thrilled to contribute one episode to The Whole Wide World. An Episodic International Criminal Manhunt Anthology Co-written by 80 Authors Worldwide. Thank you, editor Steven Lester Carr!
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It was 6:30 a.m., and Wanda just sat down for her first cup of coffee when the phone rang. She did not recognize the number, so she did not answer. She figured if it was anything important, they would leave a message. She hated talking to people that were selling extended warranties or taking surveys. The phone went over to voice mail. After a few minutes, she pressed the Play button and listened. It was a very mechanical sounding voice, as if it was computer generated. She picked up a pad of paper and pencil and started taking notes as she listened to the recording.
The anonymous caller left a short message that had information about the case that her boss Detective Knucklewad, and she were working on. It seemed that one of the new food trucks on Ocracoke Island, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina was selling noodles, and some of the sauces seemed suspicious. But, how did the informer even know what case they were investigating? It was supposed to be top secret.
After doing some research online and making a few phone calls, Wanda had some solid information. There was indeed a new food truck on Ocracoke Island, located on the corners of Back Road and Old Beach Road, off to the side of the Back Porch Restaurant. The name of the truck was Dragon Warrior’s Noodle Shop. “Hmmm,” thought Wanda as she laughed to herself, “Someone has been watching too many ‘Kung Fu Panda’ animated films.” She called up Curly right away and told him everything that she had found out. He suggested that they book transportation to Ocracoke immediately and do a little snooping around. Getting to North Carolina was no problem, but once on the mainland, they needed to rent a car, go over the Wright Memorial Bridge, and take the three-hour long drive down Highway 12 along the Outer Backs until they got to Hatteras Village. From there they had a one-hour ferry ride to get over to Ocracoke Island. It would not be quick, but the scenery along the drive would make up for whatever hassle the lengthy drive involved.
That afternoon, Wanda booked a flight to North Caroline for the next morning. She was filled with excitement at the prospect of a new lead, and the thought of visiting the Outer Banks. She had heard so much about the beautiful beaches and small local fishing villages, but had never been there before. She decided that she would bring a bathing suit or two and some sun dresses, just in case, so she could take advantage of any downtime they might have.
It was a tiring day between the flight, renting a car, and the long drive, but they finally arrived in Ocracoke Village around 7:00 p.m. that evening. They made arrangements to stay at The Castle Bed & Breakfast, one of the larger hotels that sat right along Silver Lake. They each went to their rooms to unpack with the plan of going to search for the Dragon Warrior Noodle Shop food truck with the excuse of wanting to try it for dinner.
The village was small and you could walk everywhere, but many of the locals rode their bikes or had golf carts to go about their chores in. Wanda & Curly decided to rent a golf cart since they were unfamiliar with the village and did not want to waste time getting lost. Finding their way to the Back Road was easy, but when they arrived at the corner where the roads met, there was no food truck in sight. Wanda turned to Curley and said “Maybe they close up early on weekdays and move the truck to some other location for overnight.” Curly agreed and added “We should go back to that small Ocracoke Variety Store and ask some of the locals if they know anything about the food truck.” So off they went. It was only 3 blocks away from where they were. Nothing on Ocracoke was very far from the next thing.
When they arrived at the Variety Store, the small parking lot was packed with trucks outfitted with surf fishing gear, golf cars, and bicycles. Everyone was going in and out with large bags of ice, six packs of beer, and all sorts of groceries. It was a very friendly and lively atmosphere in the store. They asked one of the ladies at the register if she knew anything about the Dragon Warrior Noodle Shop food truck. The lady said “why yes, it has been there all season, right on the corner of Back Road.” Curly looked confused, then asked “Does it usually park someplace else overnight?” The lady replied, “It has never moved before. It has been there day and night since it rented the space back in April of this year.” Then Curly asked “When was the last time you saw the food truck?” The lady thought for a moment then said “It was there today at lunch time. I passed by it on my way to the Coffee Shop at 11:30 this morning. There were already lines forming to order lunch.” Wanda and Curly thanked the lady and then left. Something wasn’t kosher. “Hmm,” wondered Wanda, “Are Asian noodles kosher?”
They decided to grab some fish sandwiches and a beer at the restaurant right down from their hotel. It had wonderful food and live music in an outdoor court yard. After they ate, they went for a walk along the manmade inlet called Silver Lake. They decided to go to bed early and start searching again in the morning. They planned to ask around at as many of the local establishments as they could before they left the next day. Although, it was such a lovely island, full of friendly people; maybe they could stay an extra day or two, just to make sure. You never know, the owner of the food truck could have had an emergency, and might be back by the end of the week. As Wanda got ready to go to sleep, she looked outside her window at the brilliant red sunset over Silver Lake. She was in heaven. She sat there thinking to herself, hoping they would find locals tomorrow that knew something about the whereabouts of the missing Dragon Warrior Noodle Shop. You would think that someone would have seen something as noticeable as the food truck driving away off island and taking the ferry. After all something a large as a truck cannot mysteriously vanish into thin air. Or can it?