Friday, October 7, 2011

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Hays, Kansas

Deb cautiously nibbled at the two-hundred year old sausage biscuit she had purchased and microwaved at the Flying J truck Stop.
No telling how ancient this thing is.
Her stomach was racked with nerves from constant vigilance. The biscuit didn't help, but she was ravenous. Her handstrembled slightly.
Since fleeing Virginia she had been watching over her shoulder.  Cars that had simply been on the same roads with her became shadowy stalkers. Then there was the creepy redneck who tried to pick her up when she gassed the RV. Then the trooper.  He had been so nice, a handsome twenty-something with a blond crew cut and a baby-face that beamed when he told her she’d left the gas-cap off the RV and fuel was spilling.
I thought they'd found me. 
But the young trooper, “Bud” as he had introduced himself, was the epitome of politeness and courtesy.  He had picked up the cap when it fell out of the swinging door over the tank and sped to catch her.  Her profound relief had led to tears followed by a quick hug after he re-installed the cap.
Moira sat on the sofa watching cartoons.  Tonka leaned against Deb hoping she’d drop the biscuit.  His drool hung seven inches below his chin in anticipation.  She broke off a piece and palmed it to his muzzle – where, in his eagerness, he dropped it but then quickly scooped it off the floor.  His docked tail beat in hopes of more.
“All done,” she said through the last bite. She wiped her hands to show him.  He mistook the gesture and frantically searched the floor for more.
“Do you need to go potty, Moira?” Deb asked.
“Uh-huh,” Moira grunted.  Deb couldn't tell whether that was yes or no; Moira was so enraptured with Garfield’s antics.   Moira still wore training pants but was pretty good about going to the bathroom.  So Deb went to the RV’s bathroom door then remembered that she had not figured out how to empty the waste tank.
She gathered her purse, grabbed Tonka’s leash – which sent him into a dog dance, then took Moira by the hand.  Moira complained about leaving in the middle of Garfield but obeyed once Deb bribed her with ice cream.
She led them to the front door and had started to step out when movement in front of the windshield caught her eye.  A man was walking through the many rows of trucks and RVs in the Flying J parking area, looking in the windows of each.  Alarm bells screamed in her head.
It’s him.  The man that shot Daddy!
Deb jerked back from the door - heart beating in her temple.  She tried speaking to Moira and Tonka but her mouth had gone cotton dry.  She coughed and tried again.
“Moira, we're going to need to grab some more things before we go out, sweetie.  And you're going to need to wear a hat.” 
“I don’t wike hats, Debwah!”
“Do what I say, Moira -- NOW!”  Deb instantly regretted raising her voice.
Moira’s eyes welled up.  Even Tonka seemed to droop. 
Oh my God, what to do, what to do?
She grabbed the bug-out bag Jake and Mr. Spiers insisted she keep handy.  Doing a quick double-take of the RV, she checked her purse for her pistol, then glanced out the windshield and saw the familiar figure checking each RV, one by one.  He’d be at their spot within minutes. 
Deb made up her mind, set her mouth and opened the door to the RV. 
“Come on you two!”  Both Moira and Tonka departed quietly and with no fuss.  Each seemed to recognize the urgency in her voice.
I forgot to put a cap on Moira. What the hell.
Deb took large strides past the nearest pumps.  Moira scrambled to keep up while Tonka trotted effortlessly by her side – his eyes and ears vigilant as if he sensed danger.  A red box on the side of the pump caught her eye.
Yeah – that’ll do.
Deb yanked the emergency fire handle.  Immediately, alarm klaxons blasted and lights began to flash.  Foam flew everywhere in the steady Kansas breeze. 
People stood. Some stared. A few panicked and ran.  More and more people woke from their shock at the alarms and foam and moved away.  A very tall, large woman in a jean jacket walked from the truck stop doors towards the far line of big rigs.
Deb screwed up her courage. Moira and Tonka in tow, she sped up and hurried towards the woman.
“Excuse me M'am, Excuse me ...” Deb shouted at the woman over the alarms.
The woman realized someone was talking to her but turned a few different directions trying to pin down the source before she spotted Deb, Moira and Tonka.
“Can I help you?” 
Deb caught up to her, out of breath, gulped and said “Yes …” deep breath “Yes M'am. I am …” she paused “I don’t know how to say this so I’m just going to say it.  We’re being stalked and I'm afraid that …”
Deb’s eyes watered up and she lost it.
Moira looked up to the tall woman and nestled closer to Deb. Tonka sat and watched both.  The woman stared at them for a second that felt like an eternity.  Her face was plain and strong and her eyes were intelligent.
“Sure thing, Honey.  Norris and me, we’ll help y'all.  Come here, baby.”  The woman opened her arms and to Deborah’s surprise Moira jumped up and into them.
“Let’s get out of here before this popsicle stand blows.” Carrying Moira on her hip, the woman took Deb’s bag from her unresisting hand.
Deb stumbled and followed.  Tonka trotted by the large woman’s hip keeping time and looking up at Moira.  Over her shoulder the woman shouted.
“Ain’t nothing gonna happen to y'all long as me and Norris got a say.  Ain’t nothing gonna happen!”

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