So on Sunday, Justin and I were in Des Peres and we stopped by the Walgreens. As we pulled in, we noticed a woman leaning against the back corner. She had bleached frizzy hair with dark roots, a too-short tank top with some muffin top poking out, and jeans that, while I didn’t look too closely, seemed tacky and outdated.
Later, when I saw her up close (just so I can keep all the description stuff together), I noticed she was Latina and probably in her mid-fourties? A little weathered, with some partying in her day for sure.
When we first saw her, I was trying to be polite and not stare because my first initial reaction (and I live in the city and see real ones now, so I can say this) was, “When did we get hookers at Des Peres Walgreens?”* I mean, she was just standing there.
I ran inside to grab a bunch of girly stuff like mascara, while Justin stayed in the car. When I came back out, the lady was rummaging through the passenger side of a large, old, box-y dark green van (though Justin thought it was blue). It was parked a few spaces away from me.
“Excuse me,” she said, approaching me just as I was getting back in my car, “I lost the keys to my van and I need to get home. I live just over in Kirkwood. I’ll give you twenty dollars.” She waved a bill at me.
“… Where in Kirkwood?” I asked, slightly suspicious but also stupidly optimistic because (a) it’s freaking Des Peres, (b) I like being a good Samaritan and (c) woo twenty dollars!
“Ann and Meyer.” She said, which is a street I used to run through. And I definitely had to run around creepy vans parked on that street. “I mean, it’s right down the road.” (Not really.) “I’ll give you twenty dollars.”
“Umm…” I said, glancing at Justin. He flashed me a worried look, then his eyes narrowed and he turned back to her curiously.
“How could you lose the keys to your van?” he asked. “How did you even get here? They have to be here. Did you check inside? Has anyone helped you look in the van?”
“I’ll give you twenty dollars! It’s just down the road. Twenty dollars!”
“Mmmm… no. I don’t think so. Sorry.” He said. I flashed her an apologetic look.
“Twenty dollars!” She shrieked one more time desperately, throwing her hands in the air.
“That was a little too good to be true.” Justin said as she made her way back to the van. “Something wasn’t right.”
So then the lady opens up the passenger side of the van.
And as she’s getting inside…
A man we’ve never seen (and that she never mentioned) opens up the driver side door and climbs inside…
Turns on the van…
And they drive away.
In hindsight I am kicking myself for not following them, grabbing my cameraphone, scribbling down the license plate number, or even taking a better note of the van.
But honestly, we were in shock. And REALLY confused. Because there was no logical explanation for what happened.
The best case scenario was that the lady wanted to get away from that guy. Because she didn’t mention him at all. She kept saying, “My van.” But she seemed more annoyed than scared.
Worst case? He would have followed us, and they would have robbed us or hurt us or lord knows what.
If it was just me, I would say that for sure I almost got mugged and raped and everything. But I mean, Justin was in the car, too! Did she have a knife or gun? Or did she really just want a ride?
Either way, something was absolutely not right. Her story made no sense, she never mentioned that guy, and she never had keys to lose in the first place. It was so strange, and in hindsight, terrifying.
Ever since then, whenever I’m in the county, I drive down that street in the hopes that I’ll see the creepy van. I actually went to the police the next day and told them about it.
“Huh,” said the officer. “That’s… weird. Really weird.”
He said he would keep an eye out and notify the manager. But I wanted you guys to know too. Watch out for a hooker with a old green van, okay pals?
I still can’t figure out what the scam was. Do you have any idea?
And seriously, how sad would it be if this picture was splashed all over CNN?
We are too cute to die!
*For non-STL readers, Des Peres is a mid-class to wealthy upscale suburb. Well maintained. Little crime. Kind of boring. And the Walgreens is at a major intersection with tons of traffic. Not a place where trashy people hang out, and certainly not the prime location for any shady behavior. The whole thing was just SO off.