Serial Saturday: The Figurine, Part 10

Jefferson waited a few moments, letting the Plymouth draw closer, so he could get a better look. There were two men in it, he could see that much, so it seemed likely he was dealing with his friends form the marsh. As he watched in the mirror, one of them drew something off the floor of the car that could have been a gun. It seemed it was time to stop playing around.

He ground the accelerator to the floor and the Ford V-8 jumped forward. In a few seconds, the Plymouth was well behind him again. He almost felt sorry for the men, trying to chase him with the gutless four-cylinder car. It was just embarrassing, really. He wrestled the Ford through a turn, slowing slightly, then accelerated again. Of course, he was going to have to deal with them soon, if they knew his car.

He had just glanced in the mirror and decided he could slow down soon when he came around a turn to see a car approaching from the other direction, taking up a good chunk of what passed for his lane on the dusty road.

He slammed on the brakes, feeling the rear end of the big car sliding out on him. He let up on the brakes enough to come out of the skid, seeing a cloud of dust behind the other car as it tried to slow. He hit the brakes again, feeling the Ford begin to shimmy once more.

For a moment, he thought he was just going to have to let off the brakes and point the car at the ditch to avoid a collision. Then the other car, a long Cord he noted at the back of his mind, drifted far enough to the right to let him shoot past, with a scrape of fenders.

He had the impression of several passengers staring over at him, and vast bulk in the front passenger’s seat, then he was looking at the Cord in his rearview. His foot drifted toward the brake pedal, then he snatched it away and hit the gas. In the mirror, he could see the Cord slowing and slewing around in the road, then he was rounding a curve.

“Hell’s Bells,” he said, giving the V-8 as much gas as he dared. He alternated between glancing in the mirror and scanning the road ahead. “What the hell is next,” he muttered to himself as he fished out his Luckies with one hand. “God-damn grizzly bear standing in the road or something.”

He had to wait for a straight stretch of the road to get the cigarette lit, and even then he discovered that his hand was shaking enough to make it a difficult operation. He took the first turn he could, recognizing another farmhouse he’d visited with his lightning rods as he went by, then took a few more turns when he came to them. After a few more turns, he realized he’d pretty much lost track of where he was.

He pulled over near a pasture, and rooted through the glove box for a map. He opened the door and stepped out into the sun. It probably would have been wiser to stay in the car, but he needed some fresh air. Besides, the way he was feeling he’d as soon have it out with whoever happened along the road next.

He’d only gotten a brief glimpse at the other car when it scraped past, and maybe it hadn’t been Gantry in it at all. Maybe he’d just seriously annoyed some random civilian. No reason for Gantry, and Farthing, and Mrs. Glass to be out here, so far from Boston, anyway. Except for the one obvious reason.

He flicked the ash off his cigarette before tucking it back into his mouth and hunkering down next to the fender. He ran his hand along the long scrape of white paint on the black fender and sighed, then stood.

He leaned against the hood of the car and unfolded the map, trying to remember when he’d last seen a road sign. A few cows, their curiosity aroused, wandered over to the fence he was parked near and stared at him silently.

“Any of you ladies know where Oak Road is?” he asked. “Didn’t reckon so,” he said after a moment, and folded up the map before grinding out the cigarette on his heel. He folded up the map, then mopped his forehead with his handkerchief before sliding back into the car. Much as he hated to do it, it looked like he was going to need to call Chipper. Too many people running around.

It took him a half hour to find his way back to a road that was actually signed, and another half hour to get back to his hotel. He’d developed a headache somewhere along the line, and he just wanted to lie down, but he spent a few extra minutes finding a parking spot that would make the damaged fender of the Ford a bit less conspicuous.

That meant a walk down the sidewalk and across the hot street before he shambled into the lobby of the hotel.

“Mr. Quinn,” the desk clerk, a young man named Dennis, said cheerfully.

“Dennis,” Jefferson replied with a nod on his way past.

“Your friend stopped by looking for you,” Dennis said. “Should be back later.”

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on June 9, 2012.