by: BlackJack Murphy
I heard a car approaching and cautiously made my way to the side of the road. I flagged the car down, but it didn’t stop. “Dammit!” I muttered.
I stood there watching the red taillights disappearing into the night. It could be hours before the next car came by. I looked helplessly left and right down the deserted stretch of road.
The minutes passed, but they seemed like hours. Tired of standing, I sat on the damp grass, shivering with each gust of chilled wind. After an eternity of waiting hopelessly, I saw the flash of headlights off in the distance, the thrum of the motor growing as it approached. I pushed myself up and stood with a groan, my muscles sore and aching. I looked at the pistol still in my hand and decided I’d have a better chance of catching a ride without waving it around at unsuspecting motorists. I tucked it into the back of my waistband as Rosco had done and moved to the middle of the road.
The car slowed to a crawl about thirty feet from me, the driver apparently assessing the situation. Hesitantly, I started walking toward the passenger side door. The car rolled forward a bit to meet me and the passenger window rolled down.
“Hey there. Somethin’ we can help ya with?” the driver asked, leaning over his female passenger to see out the window better.
I was just about to respond when he spoke again. “Wait a second. I know you! You’re county commissioner Hogg. You foreclosed on my uncle’s farm last month.”
My heart sank, along with my expression. Now was not the best time for past business dealings to catch up with me. Sheepishly, I offered a weak apology and in return received a blistering reprimand. As much as I deserved it, I interrupted the driver’s tirade to communicate the danger I and the sheriff was in.
“Listen, I know you’re not altogether happy with me right now and I probably deserve a good dressin’-down about now, but I’m in some big trouble here. Please hear me out.” I took a deep breath. “The sheriff and I were kidnapped by two thugs. They wanted to hold me for ransom, but they tried to kill the sheriff. He was a witness. And they nearly succeeded. He’s injured pretty bad. He’s down there in the woods.” I pointed to Rosco’s resting spot and both occupants in the car strained to see.
“I need to get him to the hospital. Will you take us there?” I continued.
“Sure, get him up here. If you’ll give me a description of those two thugs, I’ll radio the authorities an’ warn ’em to be on the lookout while you’re helpin’ the sheriff up here.”
I smiled appreciatively and gave the driver a quick description of Carson, Rob, and their car.
I hurried back down to the thick grove of trees where Rosco was. Good thing he didn’t promise me anything. He’d have broken that promise. He’d passed out on me.
I knelt next to him and lightly patted his face. “C’mon, Rosco. Wake up.” I shook his shoulders. “C’mon, I got us a ride to the hospital.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah. There’s a couple in a car waitin’ for us on the road. They’re gunna take us there. We gotta hurry up,” I said as I tried to pull Rosco up. He grabbed my arm and steadied himself. He rubbed his hand over his face. “How long’ve I been out?” he asked wearily.
“I don’t know. Now c’mon. We gotta go. They’re not gunna wait for us forever.”
I looked back and could see the faint outline of the driver inside the car. I think he was using the CB. I could hear him talking, but I couldn’t make out the words.
Rosco yawned and stumbled his first few steps as we headed towards the car. I talked to him and jostled him gently with my arm around his waist to keep him alert.
We were about halfway to the road when Boss stopped cold in his tracks. I looked at him and then followed his line of sight. Coming down the road towards our ride was Carson and Rob. Carson flicked the brights on, temporarily blinding us. I heard the motor roar as Carson gave it more gas. He turned off the road and cut across the field.
Before I could say anything, Boss had turned us both around and was moving as fast as he could, with me mostly deadweight. Finally, my brain and adrenaline kicked in and I moved my legs for all they were worth. I could hear the big metal beast behind us, hammering itself against the bumps and holes in the cold, hard ground.
“We gotta split up. He can’t follow both of us,” I panted.
I shook loose of Boss’ grip and pushed him to the right, while I went left. We both headed for the woods, where no car could follow.
As normal Coltrane luck would have it, Carson decided to follow me. I darted into the woods and took up position about twenty feet in. Gasping for breath, I drew my revolver and squeezed off a shot that pierced the windshield of the car. Both Carson and Rob ducked behind the half open doors of the car. Carson immediately returned fire and bits of bark rained down on me as he peppered the nearby trees with lead. I prayed I could buy Boss enough time to get away.
I flinched as I heard gunfire erupt. I stopped behind a tree and peeked back to where Rosco and I had parted ways. I could see him huddling behind a tree, scared out of his wits but still doing his job as sheriff.
I looked back up towards the road. Our ride to the hospital was pulling off the road in reverse, making its way to safety. But why weren’t they just getting the hell out of here?
The driver parked the car and shut down the engine. The driver started to get out of the car. I rushed over to him. “Did you get ahold of the authorities?” I blurted.
“Yeah, I got ahold of one of your deputies. He said he’d forward the call to the state patrol and he’d head out here immediately. Some locals also acknowledged the call and said they’d be out here to help.”
“I hope they get here soon,” I said.
The driver walked back around to the trunk of the car. “I hope so too.” He opened the trunk and pulled out a shotgun and a few cases of shells. “They’ve got the sheriff pinned in there pretty good. Maybe I can provide enough cover with this so he can get to the car. Then we can get outta here.”
At the sight of the shotgun, I remembered my own weapon. I pulled it out of my waistband. “I’ve got this. The sheriff took it off one of the thugs earlier when we escaped.”
“Good. That might come in handy,” He said as he loaded the shotgun. He pulled a hunting vest out of the trunk and filled the pockets with extra shells. “You ready?” he asked as he put the vest on.
“As I’ll ever be,” I replied.
I followed closely behind him as we made our way towards Rosco. The sound of our movement must have startled him. He pointed his revolver in our direction and whispered,” Boss? That you?”
“Yeah, Rosco. And we got a little extra firepower. We’re gunna provide some cover for ya,” I replied.
“Ok, but on my count,” he countered. I heard him mumble something under his breath.