BY: A. Tietz



10 Pages

And as soon as she spoke, a big round woman in leather pants and a tie-dye top stepped up and took Suz from Trace and Robin. While a wrinkled man with his gray hair tied back by a bandana, dressed in jeans and a leather vest, guided Trace toward a stool. The woman in the wheelchair showed Robin to a nice chair and urged her to sit down.

"We were told to expect you," said the lady in the wheelchair. She was older, perhaps even in her seventies. She might have looked like a grandma, but for the cowboy boots, the rifle in her lap and the hard glint in her eyes.

"I’ll have to talk to Eldred about how long he took to get you here. You’re wounded and we need to see to that. Eldred and his brothers are outside making sure we don’t get disturbed. Our mutual friend should be here soon. So far, we haven’t picked up any reports on the normal police scanners. But I understand we could have a different type of company tonight. You were followed in weren’t you?"

The stool Trace was on was next to a very big steel table that looked like an extremely clean work surface. Suz was on part of that table and the large woman was already attending to her. She looked like she was preparing to put an IV into Suz’s arm. The bandana man was putting on some sterile gloves and it looked like Trace was about to start getting treatment as well.

Trace was taking in all this, as was Robin, when she replied, "Eldred took care of the unwanted company when we arrived," she addressed the lady in the wheelchair.

"Yes well he is handy that way. Learned a few things in Nam. So did Big Red and doc here."

Robin sounded quite interested and a bit incredulous as she said, "I’m a nurse. Is he a doctor?"

"No, I was a medic in the Army in Nam. And Red was a nurse in a M.A.S.H. unit. If you’re willing, we could use a hand," he said invitingly as he picked up another pair of sterile gloves.

As Robin came over, he looked at Trace purposefully and said, "I know this seems unorthodox, but there isn’t much choice under the circumstances. We need to look at your wounds Jessie. At the very least clean them up a bit."

Robin piped up, "I’ve been telling her that myself, but until now, she has hardly had a moment to be looked at. Come on Jess, let’s get you into a gown or something."

"She’s right, I need those clothes out of the way. Leave your bra on, but we need you out of the vest, shirt and pants," Red encouraged and handed Robin a gown.

Trace didn’t want Robin working on her, it was too awkward. She also didn’t understand what all was going on. She wanted to know what Roddy was doing, who these people were and when she and Robin would be getting the hell underground. The CIA could be just around the corner. And though Eldred and crew were capable, perhaps the CIA was just a little more capable.

As she was about to begin asking questions, the wheelchair-wonder cut her off, "Now Jessie, you still have a ways to go before this night provides a safe place for you to truly rest. Right now, we got your back, while you get a breather and some help with those new holes in your body. We’ll know, long before we get company, that company’s coming. There won’t be major surgery here, but there is a bit of medical care you should make use of while you can. That way, you’ll be better able to help this young woman to the place you’re headed." After this advise, the woman began wheeling back toward the office looking room.

Trace wasn’t sure what Roddy had told this lady, but she had a feeling this sage soul had deduced a lot more than she was told. Wise older people could be creepy like that.

"Okay, I need a little cleaning up. But I also need my gun within arms reach just in case Eldred needs help," she spoke to the retreating lady.

Without turning around, the woman nodded and said, "Fair enough, it’s coming."

Trace looked at Robin who had been holding a white gown patiently watching the exchange.

"I ah, disrobing isn’t good. I need to keep my clothes on in case things get hairy again," she was addressing herself to the doc who was now helping Big Red.

"Jessie, at least take off your vest and black ops outfit. You’ve got clothes on under that don’t you?" the doc replied to Trace’s inquiry.

"Look, you can cut the leg of the pant off and the sleeve if you want, but I need to stay dressed," Trace was again addressing herself to the doc as it was a bit uncomfortable to talk with Robin about this.

"Fine. Robin, would you mind cutting those off and cleaning the wounds. I’ll be over in a minute," was Red’s instructions as doc just nodded

"So how’s Suz Red," Trace asked without any emotion in her voice but expecting bad news.

"As far as we can tell, just a concussion. But she’s been out a while. That’s not so good. We have to wait. A real doctor is either on the way or in your future I’m told, " she informed them while still looking into Suz’s eyes with her light.

"Okay Jessie, can you take your vest off. I know it’ll hurt, but it has to be done. We really need to clean the wound a little, you need to stop losing blood or you’ll faint," Robin’s voice was tender and concerned, but intent on the job at hand.

"Yeah well, fainting’s not an option. So here’s the vest."

Trace shrugged out of the vest without help but couldn’t refrain from the wince of pain that came. When the adrenaline was pumping, it helped to keep the pain of injuries from overwhelming you. But once you slowed down, Trace knew you needed to be prepared for it to hurt like hell.

With a gentle kindness in her voice Robin said, "Thank you Jessie. I know this must not be easy," as she bent to cut off the left leg of Trace’s pants.

Now the Red had come over for a look.

Robin offered, "I looked at these in the van. I think the bullet is still in the left arm but the other one passed through the outside of her thigh, and not too deep."

"Okay then, lets start cleaning this some. Jessie, its gonna hurt you know. Just prepare yourself," was Red’s encouragement as she took the sponge from the bowl of some type of a solution that smelled like rubbing alcohol.

Jessie closed her eyes and clenched her jaw as much as possible, preparing to endure the cleaning. But just then, Suz moaned deeply and showed signs of waking. So the Red went over to Suz. Trace started to try and get down from the stool.

Robin put her hand on Trace’s right arm firmly, "Jessie, please, we have to help you both. Now stay put and let me wash out the wound on your arm."

When Trace looked back at Robin she was staring into beautiful caring eyes again, so she quickly looked down at the floor. Her heart thudded in her ears. Those were the eyes she had seen in so many dreams. And for a moment, she wanted to let herself get lost in those eyes, in the caring. She swallowed the lump in her throat, looked at the floor and she closed her eyes. Trace felt her arm throbbing as a reminder that reality was much more harsh than a dream.

"Okay Robin, do what needs done," she said as she gripped the edge of the table and clenched her jaw.

She drew in a deep breath as the alcohol solution was applied to the wound in her arm. It really hurt. She didn’t want to feel the weariness of the pain yet. She had a long way to go. So she used the feeling of pain to focus her. Trace turned her mind to Crab and his filthy friends.

She reasoned that they weren’t being swarmed or penetrated by now from Crabs goons, because it probably couldn’t be a big operation. It had to be small. It was a cover up for him and his war cronies. They didn’t want a big investigation. The last thing they wanted was press, and police. They didn’t want to explain their presence or the explosions, etc.

Trace moaned at the bite of pain she felt from Robin beginning the cleansing process on her leg.

"I’m sorry Jessie. But if there is such a thing, this is good pain. It’s helping to keep infection to a minimum. I am trying to be gentle," Robin promised as she continued her ministrations.

"I know," is all that came out of the assassin’s mouth.

She focused and said threw her strained voice, "Is she waking up Red?"

"Sorry Jessie, she is still out mostly. Her eyes did flutter some though," was Red’s reply as she was helping doc wrap Suz’s arm.

"How we doing," was the question Trace heard from the voice that belonged to the woman in the wheelchair.

When Trace opened her eyes, she was quick to spot the gun that had been placed by her right hand on the table.

"Any word from Eldred? Is he being kept busy," Trace asked still expecting to be overrun soon.

"I just heard from him, says it’s a beautiful night out tonight. If he was having any trouble, that wouldn’t have been his message," the woman replied.

"Well, this isn’t over. I hope he doesn’t find that out too late," Trace warned.

"I know we aren’t in your class Jessie, but we’re usually able to tell when trouble is coming. So far there’s nothing. Our friend should be here soon. I don’t know his plan, but I know you’ll be on the run. We’re ready to help," was the ladies frank statement.

Trace hated being vulnerable. But she knew she needed help. And this woman and her crew were being very accommodating. She just wasn’t real good at saying thank you.

"Yeah, well I’m lucky we have the same friend I’m sure," was as close as she came.

Robin had stopped cleaning for a bit while the two of them were talking, but had started wrapping up Trace’s thigh. The wound in her arm had been cleaned and wrapped as well. As soon as Robin was finished, Trace jumped off the stool, wanting the pain that the jump would bring to help ready her to start this flight again.

She closed her eyes tight as a stab of pain shot through her leg. Trace gripped the gun, blew out a hard breath and opened her eyes to find the wheelchair person extending her two more clips for the magnum. With a nod of acknowledged thanks, Trace took the clips and put them in the vest pocket. She shrugged on the tattered thing and turned her attention back to her charge.

"Robin, get some water and refresh yourself while you can. I’m not sure what happens from here, but there likely won’t be breaks like this in the near future," Trace advised her nurse. Trace was ready to be more in command and focused on what might lie ahead.

"Oh, well, okay, right," Robin said sounding reluctant to acknowledge that she would still have to be in this nightmare.

"The bathroom’s over here girl," Big Red motioned Robin to come with her.

"Doc, I can’t take an unconscious body with me. There may be a doctor on the way right," Trace asked as she moved over to look at the prone form of the young woman who had given so much to keep Trace and Robin alive.

"That’s what I hear. I think he or she may be coming with our mutual friend, right Bobbie," doc directed his question to the lady in the wheelchair.

"He said he wasn’t sure how many were coming two or three maybe, but that they would be here by quarter after 1am. That’s in five minutes by my watch; I’m going to check in with Eldred. Give her some Gatorade and something to eat," was the lady’s instruction.

Trace wanted to go with Bobbie to check out what was happening outside. In the building, she felt like a sitting duck. But she also knew that the Gatorade and food would give her body much needed fuel for whatever was ahead of them. So she followed Doc to a refrigerator in a kitchen area in another room. Traced finished her shared and took some supplies for Robin. As she and Doc were coming back into the large room so was Robin and Big Red. Bobbie was already waiting for them.

"Eldred says a friend will be here in a moment. Lights out."

As soon as that was out of the woman’s mouth the room went dark and Trace drew her weapon. The white haired man stepped into the dark and was met by two flashlights. He looked a bit like Colonel Sanders of the KFC fame in his off white suit and goatee raising his hands to show he carried nothing.

"So how’s the BobCat today? No hard feelings about the last game of pool he hopes. Even pool sharks get beat by dumb luck you know," the man delivered this dialogue with a smirk on his face, an amused glint in his eye and an unmistakable Scottish brogue.

"If I don’t miss my guess, there’s a magnum pointed right at my heart. Eldred has surely got something and someone pointed at me, and Miss Bobbie must have the rifle cocked. Eldred wasn’t sure of my message so he sent me in Bobbie. Do I pass the mustered," he smiled mischievously and sounded completely amused as if this was the grandest state of affairs and he was having a jolly old time.

The lights went on and Bobbie said, "Old man, if you didn’t pass the mustered you wouldn’t know it cause you’d be dead. Now are you single?"

The white haired gent lowered his hands, "Well he needed a messenger and I volunteered cause I thought it’d be a pleasure to meet you my lady."

He smiled charmingly at the woman on wheels then continued, "You see, he believes he can better serve you from his castle you know. With his fingers on the pulse of as many lines as possible. Since Eldred and his kin put the last three gents in need of a deep sleeping arrangement it has been quiet, no conversations at all. He’s not happy about that and thinks he needs to keep looking into things himself. I’m it because he has others on a broader scope of service. But the good news is, I am familiar with the fact that you need a permanent place to crash dear," he looked directly at Jessie with this comment.

He continued to speak as if their conversation was likely monitored, "I know of just the place you see. Although, we shall need your assistance my lady," his eyes had returned to Bobbie.

"I’m glad he forewarned me about you Prof. Hot air and all. You can tell him for me that dumb luck is the only way to explain that pool game," was Bobbies’ confirming comment.

"Look Professor, I hate to interrupt but, I don’t like not knowing the plan and I don’t like not being on the move. So lets get to it. Are we in for a LONG trip," Trace asked.

This time the man looked at Jessie with a much more serious look on his face, "I’m sorry, How are you? Did they fix you up some dear girl? I hope you are refreshed; we need to go to my friend’s house. I see your belongings are in tact, I’m glad to see it," he motioned to Robin then turned to the wheeled lady, "Bobbie, I’ve always wanted to ride."

The amused smile was back on his face as he turned to the Doc and said, "My boy, I see we might be of similar make. Would you happen to have anything extra for me?"

As he asked this question he motioned to his clothes and began taking off his jacket.

The Professor had walked over to Doc and pointed to the leather vest, "Yes, Yes, I see you do have some for me. Perhaps we can all share."

Trace understood that the Professor wanted them to change clothes.

Trace and Robin were given some clothes. There weren’t pants long enough for Trace so Big Red cut off the other pant leg so Trace looked like she was in shorts. They emerged to see the Professor dressed in Doc’s clothes and the Doc dressed like the Professor’s. The newly clad gentlemen looked approvingly at the ladies change. Robin’s change was a yellow blouse and a Philly’s Eagles cap, still wearing her jeans. Trace had on a long sleeved blue T-shirt with the vest underneath and a red bandana on her head.

The Professor urged, "Well, its getting late, we need to be headed out to my friends don’t you think?"

"Yeah, Prof, time to hit it. Thanks Bobbie," Trace said to the woman as the Professor handed her a note.

Trace read the plan. Doc would go out with Big Red in the car. They’d pick up one of the brothers. This would be the decoy. They would head to a friends house that was prepared to receive them. Apparently they would be the decoys until they heard from Roddy to stop. Meanwhile, the Prof, Robin and Trace would stay with Bobbie for about half an hour. Then they would depart on motorcycles to their real destination. Trace handed Robin the note to read.

"Well, its been a pleasure my lady. I hope I can see you at another time where we can sit and have tea or beer, should you prefer, where I could enjoy the pleasure of your company a bit longer."

"It’ll have to be tea for you Prof, cause the hot air might explode the beer," was Bobbie’s last comment to the retreating Doc and Big Red.

Apparently the Prof. had handed off the keys of his white Cadillac to Doc. So they took off.

Trace had penned a note to the Prof, stating that she had not kept up the rouse and had spoken plainly. If they were being heard by the CIA the whole time, this rouse wouldn’t work. The doc penned back that Roddy believed the only surveillance at this point was conversation. There was likely no visible close enough for an infared read. He suggested they keep up the fake storyline for listening ears anyway.

The half hour interval passed slowly. Trace kept pacing to keep her circulation going. She didn’t need to get stiff. She was sure there could be a new chase once they were on the road.

Robin came up to Trace softly, gently touching Trace’s good arm. It was dark but their eyes had adjusted. Trace could see compassion and concern plainly on the beautiful woman’s face. She couldn’t help the feelings of guilt coming up and choking her throat momentarily. Trace felt so undeserving, she felt so dishonest in that moment, she longed to be anyone else, even the woman in the wheelchair.

Trace’s memory kept playing out the gun muzzle in Robin’s late husbands mouth. She remembered feeling pleased when the man peed himself. She took pleasure in his fear. Robin’s kindness and caring expression made Trace want to confess, to tell this lovely woman the truth. She was sure Robin’s tender care and genuine concern would be replaced by disbelief, shock, betrayal, and absolute anger, even rage. And Trace could deal with that. She knew that type of loathing is only what she deserved.

Despite all these feelings, she allowed the sweet woman to lead her to a couch in the room they had withdrawn to, waiting for the half hour to pass. The others were in various places. Only the Professor was in this room as well. He was sitting in a chair with his eyes closed.

Whispering, Robin said, "You should rest a little. As you said, there will be little of that soon enough. I’m worried your pacing is allowing the blood to flow, especially in your thigh wound. You have a healthy chunk notched out of your leg."

As she whispered, Robin had gently rubbed Trace’s good leg soothingly with her hand.

When she found her voice it was soft and sweet, very apologetic and gentle, "Robin, I’m sorry. I know you wrapped my leg well. But if I sit long I will stiffen. We can’t afford that, I’m afraid. This night and the danger isn’t over. Getting overtaken and taken out is not an option. I need to stay as limber as possible for both of us. I’ll sit here for another 5 minutes, though, I promise."

Robin nodded in acceptance of reality, but had an appreciative look in her eyes at Trace’s attempt at resting.

When they did get going, it was out a door Trace had not seen before. It led out into a narrow passage lined with stacked crunched metal on each side of the path. This route was about a ten minute walk that ended when they came upon two motorcycles. The Professor motioned that Robin and himself would roll the bikes forward silently, and Trace would follow.

Before Trace could protest, Robin took hold of the bike nearest her. The Professor was already on the move. The path widened quickly and they were surprisingly close to a road. The Professor jumped on his bike and before Robin could make a move Trace took the bike in a firm yet gentle way and got seated with Robin behind her. They started the motors and took off at a steady pace.

The Spring night had taken on a slight chill especially for someone loosing blood and wearing shorts. But Trace’s concern over being pursued was crowding out all other thought. She kept alert to any sound of approach and frequently looked behind them. The road was mostly deserted at 1:30am. There was no freeway this time. Back roads seemed to be the Professor’s preference.

They had only gone 5 miles when a white van pulled out of a road in the distance ahead going the same direction. Before long a black SUV pulled out of a road they had just passed. The Professor and Trace put on speed at the same time and the Professor turned off into an empty field. Sure enough both vehicles were in pursuit.

They turned onto a gravel road from the field and kept going. The van and SUV had been slowed down by the empty field but not enough and back on the road they were coming up fast in the rear view mirrors. It seemed like they were on someone’s property now because there were horses and barbed wire in most of the land beside the gravel road.

Trace could see a house coming into view ahead. She didn’t want anyone else involved and thought the road would likely end at the house, so she took off into the first field they came upon without barbed wire. The field was a bumpy grassy expanse. They had gone about 300 yards when they saw the barbwire coming up ahead, but Trace spotted the ditch that ran along the fence line and a small rise on the ground about 30 feet away from the fence. She put on a burst of more speed and hit the rise as fast as she could and successfully cleared the fence. Landing wasn’t as successful. As they hit the ground Trace had trouble controlling the landing and they bounced a few times before they slid on the grass with the bike tilting to the left. The last bounce had taken Robin off the bike and Trace crashed onto her injured left side under the bike.

Robin had landed on her butt, hit a small rock with her shoulder and rolled to a stop. Though Robin was a bit stunned by the impact and probably seriously bruised she had gotten up and was headed for Trace when the Professor came roaring up beside Trace.

The pain rocked Trace’s body and for a minute she couldn’t move, pinned by the bike. But the van and SUV were rapidly headed their direction.

"Can you move girl, they’re right behind us," the Professor helped her get out from under the bike.

Though the pain was moving through her body in waves she just grunted, then quickly got seated again feeling Robin get on behind her and hold tightly.

The ditch and fence slowed the van down considerably, but the SUV jumped the fence well and was on their tale though there was a little more distance between them now. Trace’s body was not going to be able to take much more punishment and they were now taking gunfire from the SUV. Trace hoped the Professor wouldn’t get hit as they sped back onto the road they had been taking to their ultimate destination. They seemed to be coming into some farmlands. There were crops like alfalfa appearing along the road now. She knew they couldn’t out run the SUV on the road, so she took off on the next available dirt path. This took them deeper into more cropland. She knew they couldn’t last long so it was time to take the offensive.

Trace abruptly turned into a cornfield followed closely by the Professor. She was off the bike as quickly as her battered body would allow. She told the Professor and Robin to keep going slowly changing rows often as she drew her magnum and crossed a few cornrows heading for the dirt path.

Trace heard the SUV slow down and stop at the cornfield. The dark of night was her friend as she made her way back toward the dirt path but staying concealed in the field. Her only hope was to see them before they did her and take out their tires and hopefully the gunman.

Trace saw the van before they saw her. She pumped some rounds into the tires and headed back to her companions. Trace found them and was about to take off when they heard a familiar gruff voice," Come on out they’re dead. And you got to get movin, Bobbie says there’s more on the way."

Trace and the Professor’s bikes came out of the field to see two men standing beside the SUV with two old pick up trucks behind it. And in a few moments another one emerged from the cornfield with his rifle resting on his shoulder and a big smile on his face.

"We got the bodies in the back a one of them trucks. You’d better take the other un and get goin. There’s more on the way, but seems like Rod’s group is coming behind em," was Eldred’s semi hurried information.

She would have to tell Roddy, if she saw him, that Eldred and his brothers were definitely the right kind of good ol boys.

"Yeah, well, be careful," was all Trace could manage.

But the Professor was more gracious, "Thank you boy’s. Let’s hope the bowling champ can take care of what’s coming."

They left the bikes and the Professor turned the truck toward their destination.

"You look pretty worn out Robin, hang in there. If Roddy’s on the way we’ll get to where the Prof is taking us," Trace encouraged the blonde and received a weak smile.

"I’ve got to climb into the back Prof. I see the Eldred gang left an automatic kind of present in the back of the truck and we may need it," was Trace’s comment as she climbed out the passenger window into the back.

This got some surprised comments and protests from Robin and the Professor both, but Trace didn’t want to slow down so she had taken the fastest route to the back of the truck. She motioned that Robin should lie down in the seat as much as possible. Trace’s wounds were throbbing but she had seen worse. She knew these wounds would heal if she could get the bullet out and a doctor to sew her up.

They had only gone another 3 or 4 miles when Trace heard the helicopter before seeing it. She looked up to find it coming at them low from their left side. Trace knew by its angle and speed it wasn’t friendly. She drew the weapon and started firing at the same time the chopper fired a round at the truck. Bullets riddled the back of the truck. Trace was hit in the left leg and her left arm again. She fell back with the force of the hits from the bullets that struck her vest. Trace was stunned but managed to recover enough to pick up the weapon and aim before they got completely turned around. She began firing and didn’t stop as they were approaching again. She heard more noise but didn’t know what it was, she just kept firing as bullets hit her again in the legs and vested chest, and the final bullet hit her head.

Trace’s last vision before the black closed in, was of the chopper spinning and going into a nosedive. It seemed like everything was in slow motion. Trace was looking up at the clear nights sky, as her last slow and groggy thought was that she would never find out who the blonde of her dreams really was or why that pained her more than the thought of death.

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