Bobby kept the micro truck between the cabs of two eighteen wheelers on I-10, out of the corner of his eye he saw Bernie fold out the stock on her Beretta, yelled, “Truck blowouts. Nightmare. Behind my seat.”
Bernie reached down, pulled up a sawed-off 12-gauge pump, frowned. “This is good for ten yards. You want me to throw it at them?”
“Slug loaded. Fosters.”
Bernie pushed the narrow Lexan back window open and caught her first glance of the engine screaming under the Lexan truck bed. “What is this thing?”
“Post Katrina GT40. Kit car. I started a boat –”
“Later.” She’d seen the maroon Monte Carlo sniffing out behind the truck in the left lane. “Can you keep it straight for ten seconds?”
“Ten seconds before or after I shit my pants and my heart explodes?” Bobby nosed ahead of the trucks, straddled the center line easing up on 80.
Red Converses pulled out from behind the left lane truck and hung out in the middle of the interstate, forced Cletus to slow down and fall in behind. “They’re pu, pu, pulling away. What’s happening?”
“A gun, I think.” Plaid Pants squinted into the binoculars. “The girl has a sawed-off.”
“Shotgun? What’s that du, du, dumb bitch think she’s gonna do with –” a hole exploded just off center of the Monte Carlo’s windshield, and it felt like they’d run over a speed bump at 75. The windshield disintegrated into 75 mile an hour quarter inch chunks of safety glass shrapnel until most of it was gone.
Plaid Pants stuck two fingers in the new hole in the seat beside him, saw the same hole in the back seat. “Some kinda bitchin’ ass shotgun.”
Red Converses eased back behind their cover truck. “This was supposed to be easy. Ta-ten, Ta-ten, Ta-ten grand and nobody said nothing about a hot pants girl with uh, uh, a elephant gun.”
“Or that some stupid kid could drive like Richard Petty.”
“I liked some of his songs,” Converses rubbed his chin. “That one, ‘Free-ee Fallin’. Didn’t know he could drive.”
“That was Tom Petty, stupid. It’s about not to matter. We hit the basin bridge with nowhere to hide in a few. He’ll have to drive his way out like you and everybody else.”
Cletus pulled back up behind their right lane cover truck, checked the Monte Carlo’s lack of windshield. “Da fuck, O. You see what happened?”
“Somebody in that mutant pickup shot out the Monty’s windshield.” Orrin layed a serious stink eye on Cletus. “You know them fellas? Friends of yours?”
“Hell no, ‘Do I know them fellas’. Da fuck, man. You trippin’ on me now.”
“All that Rolling Stones shit, fucked with my mind.” Orrin turned further around, looked out the back window and pointed. “And maybe you also don’t know your lazy pimp ass brother and the Beach Boy’s stripper be stuck to our ass like cheap toilet paper.”
“You gone all paranoid an shit, O. They can’t be –” Cletus checked the mirror, saw his brother hold up the fifty caliber Smith and Wesson hand cannon. “Fuh-uck me.”
Bobby heard bullets plink the Lexan behind them, and then he lost the passenger side mirror.
“About time for the second half of that plan, Boudreaux.”
Bernie looked out past another truck, past the bridge, into the Atchafalaya Basin. “Then you’re damn close to home.”
Bobby squeezed up the middle of the interstate again, looked for a way into the right lane “Where are they?”
“Sideburns is hanging out the window…Shooting under the truck. The Cutlass is out now.” She pulled the back window closed, dropped into her seat, gave Bobby the most hopeless look he’d seen since his Momma left. She looked back over her shoulder. “Kick this thing in the ass.”
He was coming up on a truck trailer at 85, pointed.
She laughed. “What the hell are you scared of? We’re gonna die anyway.”
Bobby parted the line of trucks like the Red Sea only because the trucker’s radios were full of him, and when they saw him coming they moved one side each onto the narrow shoulders of the bridge to let him through. He took the Whiskey Bay off-ramp too fast, spun out at the bottom of the horseshoe turn, continued to spin, threw sea shell gravel up behind them until he was headed for the channel, blew through the stop sign, turned left on 975 and drove like he wasn’t in a 500-horsepower go-kart on a washboard.
Bernie checked over her shoulder for the posse, still wearing her doomsday funk. “Runnin’ out of real estate right quick here, Boudreaux.”
He flew over the cattle guard, past the power tower turnout, hit a hard right at the ash barge loading road, hung left at the barges. A hundred yards further south he pulled the wheel over and slammed on the brakes, skidded sideways on a makeshift sea shell gravel boat ramp and stopped ten feet from the bank of the Whiskey Bay channel.
Bobby popped the gull wings open, grabbed the two-million-dollar briefcase with one hand while Bernie grabbed the guns. He scooped up a small backpack off the ground in the middle of the gravel with his free hand, raised it to a figure in a covered swamp runner floating not far off the end of the ramp. He put the backpack in the small of Bernie’s back, pushed. “Go. Go, go, go!” Bernie took off east through the brush with Bobby right behind her. Twenty yards in he reached out, yanked her down behind a bundle of old concrete form 2×6’s.
“Whoa…Whaaa…Goddammit Bobby,” she hissed. “Why’d we stop? Why didn’t we grab one of those boats? Why —”
“The boat off the end of the ramp? That’s Junior. When the posse shows they’ll think it’s us. Probably steal a few of those Bay Runners sittin’ in the mud and try to catch him.”
“You picked this place?”
“Yep. Why God invented satellites and the internet.” He unzipped the back pack, handed her a pair of brown, waterproof women’s hiking boots, pulled out a pair of his own.
“I was wondering how much swamp I could do in these.” She held up her thin, pink slides, tossed them into the bag. “How’d you know what size?”
“I checked one night when I was sniffing your shoes.” He tugged on his laces, grinned.
“Perv. I knew you were too good to be true.”
“Tie those puppies, girl.” He picked up the briefcase and the shotgun that she’d been carrying. “We have a boat to catch.”
The windshield-less Monte Carlo slid to a stop centered sideways at the end of the ramp. Plaid Pants and Red Converses jumped out, walked away from their car back to back, waved 9MM pistols with fat clips in every direction until they bent, one at a time, to check out Swamp Vue baby pickup. Their dance turned Plaid Pants around in time to see Paris over-steer in the shell gravel, broadside the Monte Carlo with the 300 and drive both into the water.
A few seconds later Cletus slid the old Cutlass into the spot where the Monte Carlo had been. Orrin opened the door, racked a round into a Mossberg military riot gun and levelled it at Plaid Pants and Converses. “You fellas shouldn’t stand so close together pretendin’ to be bad men. Fish in barrel.”
Red Converses raised his hands, his eyes flew around the scene like marbles in a shot glass. “We uh, We uh, We uh just need to put some hurt. On the kid. You can have the girl.” He checked his car and the 300 sloshing together in the muddy water at the end of the ramp. “Both girls.”
“And the money?”
“What mu, mu, money?”
Orrin left that in the air, lifted the shotgun a few degrees while Paris pulled herself out of the driver’s side of the 300 holding the Smith and Wesson that was almost as big as she was. She started wading the ten feet to dry ground, snuffling and crying. “TG’s gone, Cletus! His door…I couldn’t…” She looked up at the sky full of puffy Gulf clouds, “God, you made him a cripple, you cain’t let him drown ‘cause of me!”
TG shot up out of the water, shook it out of his scraggly gray ponytail like a wet dog.
“Teagarden?” Paris couldn’t believe he was standing upright on his own power, knee deep in the muddy water.
TG caught the look she was throwing him, threw his hands over his head. “Glow-ree, glow-ree, glow-ree. It’s a miracle. Hal-a-fuckin-looyah, praise Jesus. Lord of –”
“You no good, lyin’ mother —” The kick from the Smith and Wesson knocked Paris on her ass in the mud, the slug lifted TG out of the water and dropped him floating spread-eagle on his back.
“All this time he could walk? Runnin’ us girls like a mule train, feelin’ sorry for..for…” Paris bent over, wretched violently, coughed, spit, turned her head and glared at Cletus. “And you? You knew?” She pulled the huge pistol out of the mud, wrestled it up, saw the goo drain from the barrel and started to cry again.
Cletus laughed, pulled a .45 out of his waistband and raised it in her direction. Orrin wheeled the shotgun around and blew his head off.
Bobby stepped down into the two-seater Swamp Vu Scat with the tie rope taut in his left hand. He held out his right for Bernie at the same time they heard the boom from the fifty-caliber pistol almost half a mile away. She stepped down when the shotgun went off.
Junior throttled up the swamp runner when he saw the Cutlass driver’s head explode, covered everyone left alive on the landing with muddy spray and roared off in a wide circle. On his way back around a stick of dynamite arced forty feet in the air from the boat toward the muddy landing.
Bernie had given up her doomsday funk for worry . “Your friend…The shots. What do you reckon?”
The tie rope Bobby tossed toward the brush landed with the explosion. “I reckon he just got their attention.”