Crandall saw a maroon fuzz around everything: the dashboard lights, the shifter lever, the knee of the driver. He heard himself panting, the radio playing low on some country station, the steady growl of the Kenworth engine. He felt his wallet come out of his pocket, and he had a vague notion of having exchanged a few words with the truck driver. He was too weak to resist the move to examine his wallet, but he also knew that if this guy wanted to rob him, he had already had numerous chances.
“Name’s Vandy Shinott,” the driver said. “Gener’ly don’t like to poke inna people’s business. But I do wonder how it is you got inna trunk o’ that car.”
“Me too,” Crandall said, sitting up a little and rubbing the bump behind his ear. “When those guys were blackjacking me on the head and stuffing me in there, I didn’t have time to ask where we were dining.”
Shinott scowled at him; returned his eyes to the road. Crandall sighed.
“I’m sorry,” Crandall said. “I didn’t mean to be such an ass. I really appreciate you taking that kind of risk for me.”
“Hmph. Where I come from, we don’ ’low that kinda behavior. Puttin’ people in trunks. What was the problem? You owe them boys money er somethin’?”
“No, no; nothing like…”. Crandall stopped. “Were you…did you just shave at that truck stop? You have, like…your neck is bleeding. Little pinprick cuts.”
“Huh? Naw; hell no. Kin you b’lieve that Mexican feller? ’At pistol he had? Fulla little ratshot pellets. I don’t think they’d do much more ’n make a rat laugh.”
Crandall looked out the windshield. Shinott let a few minutes pass.
“So…you got no…um, theory on why them boys was treatin’ you like luggage?”
“I do not,” Crandall said, shaking his head. “Well, not that I can…” — he sat up straight like a shot — “holy shit!”
“What. What is it?”
“Camilla!” Crandall said.
“Um…uh…friend of mine,” Crandall said as he patted his pockets. “Cell phone. Did you see a cell phone on the ground back there?”
“Mister Crandall, I was just tryin’ to keep us alive. Never did look for no cell phone.”
“It’s alright, it’s alright,” Crandall said. But it wasn’t. His cell phone might be in the trunk, still. And Camilla might be….dammit. “You have a radio, right? Can I somehow get through to….do you have a cell phone? Do you mind?”
“Hayl, I don’ mind; here ye…” — and as Shinott reached for his back pocket, there was a deep, rapid tom-tom sound from behind the truck, and the big rectangle of driver’s side rear view mirror shattered into a thousand shards of glass and chrome. — Adam Barr
Copyright 2012 Adam Barr