by John Gerard Fagan
Someone is following us. That red Volvo was at our motel last night and at that diner this morning.
Candi swung her head around and narrowed her eyes.
You sure? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that car before.
Yup I’m sure. Real sure.
She kissed the bruise on his cheek, lit a smoke and put it in his mouth.
Benny baby, you’re jest paranoid. We ain’t got to worry ever again now. Ain’t that what you said?
They turned off the highway and pulled into a parking lot. He watched from the front mirror as the red Volvo limped in not five minutes behind. He popped the glovebox and remembered she dumped the pistol.
It could be anyone.
It’s a detective all right. And we ain’t gonna lose him in this piece of junk.
Could just be a coincidence.
Wait here. I’ll go speak to him. If anything happens to me drive off, you hear?
Don’t you be saying things like that. I ain’t going nowhere without you.
Benny got out, went into the store, and bought a pack of smokes and a cold soda. He looked for a weapon of any sorts but there was nothing of use. When he glanced back at their car, a tall, thin man dressed in a gray suit was by the window talking with Candi.
He waited by the door until the man left. Crickets droned out in the wasteland and their song followed until the door slammed shut.
Who is he?
The car followed again. Benny rolled the window and flicked ash. He sucked and re-lit another.
Who is he?
Her face was whitening with every heartbeat.
He’s a cop. Or was. Said he jest wants to talk. Maybe we can sort out a deal he says. We’ve to drive until we see a vacant parking lot not more than a mile away and pull in.
That all he said?
She nodded and wiped her eyes.
There’s no way he knows. No one was there. Goddamn this can’t be happening.
If he don’t know, why does he want to talk to us? Can’t we lose him?
Well, can we at least try?
That’ll jest make us look guilty now won’t it?
Tears streamed down her face, leaving lines of purple.
He knows shit!
He reached for her hand and pulled it to his lips.
Just leave the talking to me. I’ll deal with this.
She sniffed and smiled.
You love me, Benny?
More than anything, baby. More than anything.
I love you, too.
They pulled up and the red Volvo came strolling behind. The man got out holding a large bag. He sparked a smoke and slid into the back seat of their car. Silence swallowed the air between them. The man took off his hat and wiped away sweat with a yellowed handkerchief. He grinned showing large teeth and pale gums. Candi was visibly shaking.
Well ain’t this a party, huh? You know why I’m here?
We ain’t done nothing, officer.
Is that right?
Yessir. You must have the wrong folks. Me and my wife are just on vacation.
Oh on vacation, is it?
Yessir. So if that’s everything—
He pulled out a .45 and blew Candi’s brains into window. Benny froze and held his hands in the air.
What kind of idjit do you take me for, boy? Fucking inbred pieces of shit. I saw the whole thing. Now you’re going to transfer the contents in the trunk into this bag and—
Benny grabbed the gun and dived into the back seat. The man punched with his free hand but couldn’t shift the weight on top of him. Benny pushed with every drop of strength and fired underneath the chin. The car exploded with a firework of blood and brains.
Benny wiped his face and sat trembling. He took in a series of deep breaths and got out the car. A silent wind blew dust. He popped the trunk, grabbed the bag, and hurried into the red Volvo. It stank of sweat and foreign smokes. He stared out the window with drained eyes.