As soon as we were out of sight of the house, and the cop on duty there. Martin pulled to the side of the road. He went to the rear door of th SUV to do a lot of mumbo and jumbo things back there. When he returned to the driver’s seat, he had a satisfied look on his face. It was obvious to me that he had rearmed himself. I was still naked in that respect and not liking the feeling a bit. The cops had all my weapons used in the firefight and we hadn’t been able to get back to my stash.
When we reached the next largest town, the first thing we did was to find a restaurant. One where we could have a breakfast which was absolutely over the top. We found what we needed in a German Pancake house. We each ordered our fantasy breakfast. It was in celebration of being alive. Not only is sex better after a close call, so is most everything else. That is true at least for a few hours.
I personally had pancakes with fruit, eggs scrambled very soft, hash brown which were stringy and crisp, link sausages, and toast. We had a few words with the waitress because she kept saying you know that will cost extra. But nobody cared at that point, so she finally was convinced that my motley looking crew, could actually afford the breakfast.
I was exhausted and the restaurant was warm, which was a recipe for disaster. It was surprising that I didn’t fall sound asleep into my pancakes. I could get down only about half of each item I ordered, but that wasn’t the point. The point was just to taste it. It was as if the food represented life to me. It must have worked for the others because the poor waitress was running back and forth for the whole hour we were in the place.
Okay, I need to go shopping, how do we handle this. Do you want to drop me at that Walmart we passed coming in, or do you want to go back to the house and pick up Gwen’s car. She and I can come back to town. She can film me trying on clothes.”
“Yeah let’s do that. I’m thinking Mike and I can ride through town and make a point of being seen. That ought to torque the police chief’s jaws.”
“Yeah, I imagine by now, he has had the GBI in his face,” I agreed.
That’s how Gwen and I ended up together. She kept trying to interview me about everything I bought. I wanted to tell her to shut the fuck up, but I resisted, I kept reminding myself that I was making a hell of a lot of money to put up with her shit.
“So why are we in the sporting good section?” she asked.
“I need a new coat, my old one caught fire remember?” I asked it to answer her question.
“Yes but why sporting goods?” she asked.
When I found a hip length hunting coat that was Camouflage, she stopped asking. “Do you get it now,” I whispered.
“Yes, you and Martin are going hunting,” she said positively.
“It could happen, yes.” I moved on to the skinning knives. They had the long, wide bladed Bowie knife, so I tossed one of those into the cart. Then I had to find a clerk to open the looked display case and sell me a Mossberg shotgun. It was a replacement for the one the state police had. Not a single round had been fired from the shotgun, but it was a weapon at a crime scene, so the rules said take it. They took it.
While I was there, I picked up a set of thermal knit underwear tops and bottoms. I had to buy boys sizes but that was okay. Gwen finally had something she could ask me about. She seemed almost orgasmic at the prospect.
“Do you often buy men’s clothes?” Gwen asked to try to get me into the whole ‘Gender bending’ thing I expect.
“Usually its women’s or teenage boys clothes.” I replied I didn’t elaborate, so that she would have a chance to ask more questions.
“Do you feel strange in men’s clothes.” she asked.
“No sweetie, I just buy what I need. As far as I’m concerned it’s just a couple of yards of cloth,” I had her in checkmate with that answer. It was just far too logical for her to challenge further.
“So Gwen, how about we stop for some coffee at Hardee’s or MeDonald’s which ever we come across first?” I asked it while I waited for the cashier to ring my purchases.
“Sure why not, it isn’t like we had real jobs to go to,” she commented.
“That will be three hundred and twelve dollars and eleven cents,” the middle aged casher with very bad skin declared.
“Pay the lady,” I said to Gwen. She pulled out the plastic. I had no idea if it was debit or credit and I didn’t really care.
I put the new coat on before we went inside the Hardee’s for coffee. It smelled new and was stiff, but it was insulated and warm. I needed to be warm more than anything else. I also needed coffee.
“So how is it going with you and Lucas?” I asked over coffee.
“I miss him, and I’m afraid I will never see him again. He wants me to come home.”
“You probably should,” I said gently. “This is not a place for someone as gentle as you.”
“I have something to prove,” she said.
“Not to Lucas, and certainly not to Mike,” I replied.
“How about you and Martin, do I need to prove anything to you?” she asked.
“Sweetie, if you were to leave this very minute, you would prove to me you had more sense than any of us. Is that stupid TV show really worth dying over?”
“Yes, it is to me,” Gwen said.
“Then I guess you need to stay.” I replied.
“Lucas said to stick close to you and Martin, if things got nasty. He said you two knew what to do for the best chance of survival.” she said looking away.
“The best chance of survival is to drive out of this town right now, and never look back,” I replied. “Happiness can me Haymarket Ga. in your rear view mirror.” I said.
“You know I can’t do that. This is my big chance to get into commercial TV. We might have stole this idea from Marty, but we pitched it and got it sold. The network is putting up real money, so they have a stake in the show. We are going on real TV. Okay, it’s only cable TV but it’s a start.”
“Good luck, I can’t imagine it will do well.” I said.
“You really have no idea what a phenomena you are on the net do you?” she asked.
“I know Marty thought we did well enough to sign on again with the show. Since Swamp Thing liked it, I guess it has some appeal.” I replied.
“To be honest, if we hadn’t wanted to sell it so badly. we could have gotten a better deal by waiting. Mike insisted that we tie you up before someone else came in and took it away from us.”
“I’m surprised that anyou thought there would be anyone else interested at all. My life is only interesting a few minutes at a time. Most of the time it isn’t anything but boring.” I replied.
“Your boring is better than anything in my life,” Gwen admitted.
“Bullshit,” I said. Of course I was secretly pleased. Everyone, even me, wants to be considered cool.
“Shit,” Gwen said aloud.
“What?” I asked.
“I was supposed to get Mike some brown paint for the cook house cam. I forgot and Mike is going to be pissed.”
“We can stop at that farmer exchange in town.” I suggested.
When we parked outside, I removed the bowie knife from the box and tried to slip it into my new coat pocket. The pocket wasn’t deep enough, so I slipped it into the rear game pocket instead. That pocket opened from both sides and runs all the way across the rear of the coat. I didn’t think putting the very large knife in the pocket made me paranoid. Hell four men had come to kill us the night before, so caution seemed to be in order.
Gwen found a can of brown spray paint and was in the process of paying when a guy who looked a lot like every farmer around that town came in. He gave us both a hard look and that worried me a lot. I made the difficult move to put my hand on the knife inside the coat pocket. I looked very awkward and of course I was, but the farmer got the idea and turned away.
“Let’s get the hell out of here, I think that guy was one of the Atwood gang,” I said.
We made it home without any other incidents. I actually felt a little better, when we drove past the State police car at the end of the drive. When I made it into the house Martin was waiting.
“Did you get the paint?” he asked.
“We got it what’s the big deal about the paint?” I asked.
“Mike is going to paint the box his camera is in. We are going to try to hide it. I’m afraid the Atwoods will be even more suspicious,” Martin said.
“Yeah, I think you can count on that. How are you planning to get out at 3AM. It is going to look more than a little suspicious,” I suggested.
“Go take a nap. You are part of the plan,” he said with a smile.
Since I was way too tired to argue, I went into the bedroom and crashed. I was shocked when I woke up four hours later to find Gwen in bed with me, Since she was asleep, I slipped out of the bed. In the living room I found the guys playing poker.
Martin saw my look of surprise. “Not much we can do till dark,” he suggested. I nodded. While on my return from the bathroom, I stopped by the kitchen for coffee.
“Poker with two players isn’t all that much fun. Would you mind a third?” I asked.
“Make it a fourth.” Gwen suggested as she walked into the room. Nobody objected so I pulled up a folding chair. Gwen sat across from me.
“We should go invite the cop,” I suggested.
“No way,” Martin said with a smile. “Let the watchdog stay on guard.”
We played Texas Holdem’ until 7PM then we piled into two cars and headed to dinner. We decided on the same restaurant as before. No sense breaking in a new group, I thought.
While I waited for the other to get ready. I rigged a simple hide out rig for the bowie knife. I rigged it from the heavy nylon mason’s chord I purchased from WalMart for that very purpose. What I made was no more than a large loop of the cord. I ran it through the belt loop on the leather sheath, which held the knife. When pulled half was through the loop and then opened it became the shape of a bow tie. One arm through each loop with the knife hanging down my back and the job was complete. Once my sweater and coat were on the rig would be invisible, more or less.
Once at the restaurant, we all went in through the front door, but Martin went directly out the rear.
The three of us ordered as if nothing was different from any other night. We ate dinner slow then paid the bill. We didn’t want to call attention to ourselves. After dinner we drove to the beer joint where we had run into the Atwoods both times.
We sat there drinking beer and waiting for Martin. Mike spent a lot of time on his cell phone. My guess was that it was his hidden camera. He had rigged it somehow so that he could film while pretending to talk on it.
We had been in the tavern for at least two hours when he pushed over the table to me. On the screen was the live feed of a shack with minimal lights burning. Even the light that were present seemed to be unsteady. “Candles?” I asked.
“Some kind of flame for sure,” Mike said.
“Cool,” I said and took another small sip of beer.
Martin came in an hour later and we all left without having seen the Atwoods. Either they had business or they were laying low. I supposed that it was possible they were in jail, but I didn’t want to count on that.