This is Part 15 of a Serial Story. The Story began here.
“Roger, step away from the car,” I said.
It was seven am. If I left immediately for the town of Cuffton I could interview Goodfellow’s sister, Joleen, grab lunch, follow-up on information from the morning, and be home in time for dinner. But first I needed to get my car around a large, crazy man.
I unbuckled my seat belt and leaned out the window of my car. “Why are you doing this?” I demanded.
“You ain’t going to Cuffton. Not like that,” Roger said.
“How do you know I’m going to Cuffton?”
“Saw it on your computer screen. Address and phone number for Joleen Goodfellow in Cuffton.”
Unbelievable. “Did you sneak into my apartment and go through my things?”
“It’s my silo. You rent it; you don’t own it yet.”
I glared at him then looked around for an exit. The shed was behind me, the water tank was to my right, and Roger’s old Ford was on my left. Roger stood in front of my car, arms crossed, waiting.
“What do you want me to do, run you over? Because I am seriously considering it,” I warned.
“You take the old truck.”
He nodded his head at the old Ford. “If your goin to Cuffton your takin a good chunk of Detroit iron with guns in the rack,” he said.
I groaned and dropped my forehead down against the steering wheel. “Why are you doing this?” I wailed.
“When you moved into the silo I promised your parents to keep you safe. Maybe I can’t stop you going, but I can send you off with the right tools. And I’m more'n a bit responsible for the trip, seeing how I nudged ya to help David.” Roger pulled out his cellphone and flipped it open. “You can slide out of that car and walk over to the truck, or I can call your mama and she can tell you to do it,” Roger said.
I climbed out of my car and slammed the door. “Driving to Cuffton’s not a big deal,” I said.
“You know anything about that part of the state? Your car breaks down and you may not be heard from again. And that town is a ghost town. No help for you if things go wrong.” He walked over to the truck and pointed at the gun rack. “Over-under, 22, rifle,” he said, gesturing.
“Give me a side-by-side instead of the over-under, a pistol in the cab instead of the 22, and we'll talk.”
“Good.” Roger pulled down the rifle and handed it to me. “Show me you can handle it. Dry fire,” he said.
I checked that the rifle was unloaded, fitted it to my shoulder, sighted on a fence post and pulled the trigger. The hammer clicked on the empty chamber. “Satisfied?” I asked.
Roger nodded and handed me boxes of ammo. “You’ve got your license,” he presumed.
“Driver’s license? Of course,” I said sweetly.
“Don’t get smart with me, kid.”
“Yes, Roger, my license is with me. Can I go?”
“Not yet,” he said. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out three bullets. “Get caught out there at night and hafta defend, use these. Gotta know where your shots are goin,” he said, handing me the bullets.
I looked at the orange tipped ammunition. “Tracer bullets? Roger, you’re crazy,” I told him.
He frowned. “I’m thinking I should go with you,” he said.
Right after I had found Irwin Goodfellow’s sister through the internet Anthony had appeared in my apartment. We’d set a time to meet in Cuffton, and he was supposed to bring the Mirandons. No way was Roger coming with me.
For once luck was with me. “Are your cows getting into the wheat?” I asked Roger with a grin.
He turned and looked. “Dang it!” he shouted and ran awkwardly towards the cows.
I reached for my car door then paused. I could leave. I could be halfway to the highway before Roger turned around. But Roger couldn’t stop the cows alone.
“Hold on, I’ll get the four wheeler,” I called out to Roger. I opened the truck door and placed the tracer bullets in the cup holder.
A clean pair of shoes and two hours later I was finally on my way, driving Roger’s old truck. Between you and me, I loved driving that truck. It was like my dad’s old truck, the one that he and I had fixed up together. The sky was blue, the wheat was gold, and the corn was emerald green. I let myself relax, sinking back in the seat. Mini-road trip…not a bad way to spend a day off.
Cuffton, in its glory days, had been a sparsely populated rest stop on the old highway. When the new interstate was put in what town there was bled out. Like Roger said, it was a ghost town. It sat near the state line, about ten miles off the interstate. Exit 3…I made a bet with myself that the exit number exceeded the town’s population. If I lost, I owed myself a coke.
The further out I got the less traffic I saw on the highway. Eighteen wheelers, a couple of cars and some trucks. Worrisome to overprotective Roger and probably to my parents, too, but I enjoyed the solitude.
A black Lexus passed me, blatantly speeding. The windows were heavily tinted, undoubtedly past the legal tinting limit. Some business person or lawyer with an overinflated ego, manufacturing the privacy of a rock star. But then I saw the bumper sticker, one of those my kid blah blah blah school stickers. Huh. Wait…had I read that right? I sped up for a closer look.
A white and green bumper sticker reading “My Child Attends.” Attends what? Well, one advantage to gross generalizations is that no one is offended. They’re confused but not offended.
Another hour on the road and I saw the sign for Exit 3. For the first time I wondered what I was getting into. Joleen Goodfellow had seemed receptive when I talked to her on the phone, but was it really a good idea to visit Cuffton alone? Dang Roger; he had me doubting myself.
I’m not sure why I decided to do it, but I pulled over and brought the rifle into the cab with me.
There are butterflies in my stomach, and that’s not right.
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