Richard Pangburn's True (or not so true) Story of A White Van
Patti, you must be aware of our recent local story about a man in a white van.
few weeks ago police were called to our local Cracker Barrel
Restaurant. One woman reported that a man in a white van had
aggressively flirted with her while she was on her way to work, offering
her a ride and suggesting that she get into his white van. She made up
a diplomatic lie to fend him off and refused the ride.
thought nothing of it until another worker at the restaurant reported
that a man driving a white van had grabbed her and tried to hustle her
into his white van in the parking lot.
The police were called and
the Louisville media ran the story. In the next two days there were
two more reports from parking lots in Louisville, one right next to a
Cracker Barrel there.
As my wife and I were driving to
Louisville, we noted the high number of white vans on the road and
remembered that we used to have one ourselves. My hair was not salt and
pepper then, but it is now and I remarked that if we still had it,
someone might consider me a suspect.
Days went by and there were
no arrests. Bardstown is a small tourist/college town with a small
police force. The police chief was quoted in the paper as saying that
he didn't realize how many "scruffy" men with salt and pepper hair and
driving white vans there were--until he started looking for one.
story began to take on the paranoia of
the-monsters-are-due-on-maple-street. The Louisville media ran it every
day, one time showing a man with a van who fit the description--who
said that he ran a respectable business with his van and because he was
middle aged and a bit overweight, with salt and pepper hair, people were
giving him unwarranted attention.
He said that every time he drove up to McDonalds carry-out, the girl behind the glass wanted to phone the police.
arrests were made until about a week later when police arrested the
woman who made the original complaint of a physical assault. Police
said that they ran all of the video footage and what she said had
happened could not have happened.
Furthermore, they discovered
that she had given both her employer and the police a false name and
that, under her real name, she had several outstanding warrants.
HUNGER, Roxane Gay THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER, Karen Dionne LOVING DAY, Mat Johnson THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS, Michael Robotham HILLBILLY ELEGY, J.D. Vance SUNBURN, Laura Lippman
Patricia Abbott is the author of more than 125 stories that have appeared online, in print journals and in various anthologies. She is the author of two print novels CONCRETE ANGEL (2015) and SHOT IN DETROIT (2016)(Polis Books). CONCRETE ANGEL was nominated for an Anthony and Macavity Award in 2016. SHOT IN DETROIT was nominated for an Edgar Award and an Anthony Award in 2017. A collection of her stories I BRING SORROW AND OTHER STORIES OF TRANSGRESSION will appear in 2018.