Love on the Lam

Copyright © June 2000 Sarkel and MoonWizard. All rights reserved. Please do not plagiarize any portions of this work. That includes but is not limited to the following: ideas, terms, phrases, word-by-word excerpts, original terminology, and so forth. The copyright isn’t here for looks. If you ask for permission to use any portion of the story, we will be more than glad to work with you.



Foul Language: No Fowls are mentioned or harmed in this story; however there is naughty language.

Sexual Content: Depends on your definition of Sexual Content…however, this is not something I’d want my grandmother to read. If you have problems with lady on lady action or if it’s illegal wherever you are, there’s plenty of cyberspace for you to play in elsewhere.

Violence: Nothing worse than what you’re used to seeing on television.

Beta Thanks: Thanks to Garnet and to the Louisiana Punk for their involvement!

This is an absurdist adventure flight of fancy…half of the things in here don’t exist, the other half do.  Sit back and enjoy…check reality at the door.

The characters are wholly our own.

Now for the most important thing. Drop a note at:


The town of Possum is located in northwestern Texas, only a few hours’ drive from New Mexico. Possum’s sole claim to fame is as the hometown of the grandfather of the inventor of manila envelopes. The oppressive Texas sun sorches Possum virtually every day of the year. As a result, the area is dry and mostly desert, with a small, backwoods population never topping a thousand. Droughts are common and there’s never enough water to go around.

Possum’s closest neighbor is Deer Gale, a slightly bigger township twenty miles to the north. A lonely highway meandering through Texas connects Possum, Deer Gale, and other small towns to the rest of the state and to the country. Possum, aptly

named after the major variety of roadkill found on its roads and highways, has one main business. That’s the Food ‘n’ More, a glorified food cum pharmacy shop. And on this particular day in July, young Jimmy Blevins was on duty behind the counter of the Food ‘n’ More. Even though it was Jimmy’s first day on the job, he was ready to quit. Miz Riley, the widow of the preacher, was thumping her newfound goods on the counter.

Jimmy, a lanky pimply-faced teenage cashier, rang up the old woman’s purchases. He raised a very interested eyebrow at the items: a family sized package of condoms, a women’s magazine entitled Hot Men Suck, the latest issue of Ten Ways to Improve your Sex Life, a box of kiddy cereal, denture cream, and a Christian Family Book. "Would there be anything else, ma’am?" asked the clerk, desperate to leave at the end of his shift.

"I didn’t quite hear you, young man." The older woman leaned into the counter, her eyeglasses slipping down her bulbous nose.

The clerk cleared his throat and raised his voice. "Anything else?"

"Oh. I was wondering if you had any hemorrhoid cream. I haven’t been able to find any and mine are really bothering me." She haughtily swatted the cashier as if her condition was wholly his fault.

A blush crept up Jimmy’s neck and onto his face as he reached for the microphone. He averted his eyes as he spoke. "Hemorrhoid cream to front counter." The cashier was immensely glad that there were only three other people in the store and he turned to the customer. "It’s coming shortly, ma’am. That’ll be $28.97."

"Y’all folk ripping an old lady off! If you warn’t the only store for miles, I’d take my business elsewhere. Impudent young man." She spat at the counter and glared at him. She squinted at his nametag, even though she knew his name full well. She turned to the customer behind her. "Don’t you think Jimmy here is being fresh?"

Jimmy leaned against his register, studying the clock above the entrance to the store. The small food shop was really more of a glorified convenience store, with only six aisles and one front counter. In fifteen minutes he was free and clear. He’d stop by Etain’s place and see if she was available for some drinks and dancing at the town’s only non-cow bar. Slowly but surely he was wearing her down. Although she was hugely pregnant and refused to reveal the identity of her baby’s father, she was by far the town of Possum’s prettiest available young lady.

Jimmy sighed dreamily as he mentally pictured the object of his affection. Even his mama approved of her. Etain Tate was twenty-one years old, with shoulder length auburn hair and the prettiest green eyes south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Even pregnant, she had a body and voice to die for, even if she did run her mouth a bit.

Jimmy wasn’t what the town would call handsome or smart, but he didn’t have any competition for Etain’s attentions other than the mysterious father of her baby. Jimmy was thin, with sallow and pasty skin. He had a whiny voice and threadbare muscles, and nothing behind his sunken, muddy brown eyes to back them up. Hearing the door chimes ring, Jimmy dropped his gaze down from the clock to the entrance of the Food ‘n’ More. A tall, imposing figure strode in confidently, discreetly checking the place out. Jimmy’s throat went dry and his jaw worked its way up and down as he took her in.

The woman was 5’10" and although dark shades concealed her eyes, Jimmy would bet they were a beautiful brown to match her long, dark tresses. The hot Texas sun was setting behind her so her face was shadowed. She wore a pair of faded light blue jeans and a plain blue T-shirt, brown working boots, and a denim jacket. She was dressed like every other redneck woman in town but Jimmy knew she wasn’t one of the locals. He’d never seen her before and this was the sort of woman one never forgot.

The elderly customer was becoming impatient waiting for her hemorrhoid cream. She tapped Jimmy haughtily on the shoulder. "Young man! If you don’t want me showing you my hemorrhoids, you get that cream down here now!"

Jimmy shrugged, keeping his eyes on the new visitor. He laid a really lame pick-up line on her, calling to her. "Are your parents terrorists? Because you’re the bomb!"

The tall woman glared at the cashier. "Get lost," she spoke fiercely. She was careful to disguise her normally rich and throaty Georgia accent, instead talking in a high-pitched tone. She scanned the store quickly. No security cameras or other potential impediments. All aisles were visible from her vantage point. The rear was empty, save one customer and a worker who was ambling toward the sole counter, apparently with the old woman’s hemorrhoid cream. She patiently waited for the elderly man to lumber his way down to the front counter with the purchase.

As soon all of the people in the store were in place, she glanced behind her to ensure nobody was coming in. Quicker than lighting, she pulled a piece out of the waistband of her jeans and aimed the revolver at the group. "Freeze! Boy, open the cash register. Rest of you, get on the floor with your hands on your heads. Move!"

The old woman tapped her cane on the floor and scowled disapprovingly. "Don’t you have any respect for the elderly? My knees will surely give out! Don’t be fresh with me!"

"Get down or I’ll shoot you!" The taller woman’s threatening posture meant business.

The customer gasped indignantly. "Apparently not." She slowly sank to the floor, knowing she was going to die on this day. Jimmy was known throughout Possum for his cowardice.

Jimmy tremulously opened the register and removed all of the money, his bladder threatening to let loose any moment now. He dumped all of the dollar bills and change into a brown paper bag and thrust the container towards the end of the countertop.

The woman snarled at him. "Place it on the floor and slide it across to me." She kept her gun trained on him and grabbed the bag off the floor. "All of you, go into the storeroom." She followed the group into the storeroom and used her shirt to lock the door behind her. She wasn’t going to leave behind fingerprints. "Pleasure meeting y’all. Adios." She stepped backwards and made a run out of the store, towards freedom. She jumped into the 1976 Chevrolet Lumina that she had stolen a few towns back. She thrust the key into the ignition but the car was deader than roadkill. She swore and tried again, but the results were the same.

She grunted in frustration and glanced around. The main street of Possum, although it was a weekday and not quite the end of the business day, was empty and boasted no cars. The dark-haired woman ran around the back of the store, working and searching frantically as the low sound of distant sirens reached her ears. She jogged down a couple of small streets and finally spotted a large tan van with local plates. It was parked at the curb in front of a small, dilapidated house.

The tall woman tried the door handle and it opened for her without protest. She grinned at her fortune and jumped into the vehicle, spotting keys in the ignition. How dumb and naïve were the residents of Possum, Texas? She poked her head through the curtains that separated the driver’s compartment from the rear portion of the van. Nobody was in evidence. The van contained large, plush red chairs and a sofa with a couple of fake walnut tables. She left the curtains open and slouched down in the seat, and started the engine. The dark-haired woman shoved the brown paper bag with her spoils under her legs.

She drove down the street normally, as not to draw any attention. She studied the van’s vitals. So far, so good. The gas tank was nearly full and the vehicle ran smoothly. It was obviously well-maintained.

A few turns later, the robber found herself on the highway. The dark-haired woman began to relax after fifteen minutes of nerve-wracking driving. She exhaled a relieved breath and tugged her sunglasses off, placing them on the dashboard. Contrary to Jimmy’s guess, her eyes were not brown, but a deep and vibrant sky blue. She reached for the paper bag and chucked out its contents. Money spilled onto the passenger seat and onto the floor. Not bad. Not bad. She whistled appreciatively as she counted the money; Possum, Texas, had been generous to her. Her first holdup had gone well. She wouldn’t run out of cash for about a week and she had a nice new van. Gotta stop soon and switch the license plates.

She was beginning to think she could actually get away with the robbery when she felt a firm tap on her shoulder. "Oh!" She jerked her head in surprise, nearly lurching the van off the road.

An indignant, hugely pregnant redhead clutched onto the handles of the seats to avoid falling onto the floor. The young woman glowered at the driver. "Can’t you drive better? Gotta be more careful with my van! Especially when there’s a pregnant passenger. Jeffie’s trying to sleep, you know?" She patted her stomach.

The dark-haired woman reacted quickly and pulled out her gun. She pointed it at her passenger’s temples and snarled. "Siddown!"

"Fine!" The surprise visitor rolled her eyes. "Ever heard of the word ‘manners’?" She sat down on the passenger seat and glowered at her captor. "Hi! Maybe we got off on the wrong foot. I’m Etain Meredith Marvelle Tate! I’m 21 years old and I live on 896 2nd Street, Possum, Texas, with my mammy. I’m an only child but I have five pets. My favorite is BuBu, the dog. How about you?" She grinned widely and her eyes shone with excitement.

The captor glanced incredulously at her hostage and tightened the grip on the gun. "Where did you come from?" she snarled.

Etain’s mouth formed an ‘o.’ "Well, from mammy’s womb."

"Idiot! Don’t talk back! Where did you come from?"

Etain crossed her arms haughtily. "Don’t talk to me like that. Let’s be civilized. I was napping in the bed above the driver’s seat—" Etain enthusiastically pointed to the ceiling. "My house is being fumigated. This is so cool! Stop waving your gun around, though. What’s your name? Are you stealing my van?" The youngster grinned ear-to-ear.

The driver growled and pressed the gun into Etain’s temples. "Don’t tell me what to do! Just shut up while I figure this out."

"Whoa!" Etain held up an offended hand. "Chill. Got something up your butt?" Her green eyes widened as she sighted the pile of dollar bills that had fallen onto the floor. "Wow! That’s a lot of money! Where did you—"

The captor let out a ferocious snarl. "Be quiet!"

"Geez." Etain sniffed righteously and settled into her chair. "Reckon you could put the gun away? It’s giving me a headache, literally." The young woman tittered at her little joke.

The driver thought quickly. Can I use this to my advantage? She could be my hostage or accomplice. God! In a show of agreement, the driver removed the revolver from Etain’s temple and kept it in her right hand, steering the vehicle with the other hand.

"Well?" Etain ventured a curious glance. "Tell me your name. Did anyone tell you that you have the most beautiful blue eyes? And your hair! So black and silky. You look foreign, like you’re from, well certainly not from this Earth…" Etain puckered her lips. "Just like a goddess, actually. So, what should I call you?"

The dark-haired woman scowled and remained silent, hoping her hostage would act accordingly. She didn’t.

The annoying little voice piped up once again. "You’re the brooding type. Well, I’ll just have to call you something." She studied her companion for a moment. "You look like a Catherine."

That elicited a snort from the blue-eyed woman.

"No? Well, I’ll just call you Jane, then. Jane Q. Doe. This is so cool! No one’s stolen my van before! But could you stop for just a little moment? You know how pregnant women get." Etain patted her swollen belly knowingly. "I’m eight months along. I think it’s gonna be a boy. I can’t wait! His name’s Jeffie!"

"Such a pansy name! Can you say mama’s boy?" ‘Jane’ snorted. "We’re not stopping. Tough luck."

Etain’s face fell and she clutched her bladder. "I really gotta go! I don’t wanna pee in my pants! Please? Just pull over. And I’m hungry. Hey, do you like ice cream and pickles? That’s my favorite. Mmm! A cool, soft banana would be great too." Desire appeared in her green eyes. "And anchovies. Hey, for dinner, how about we have a pizza with everything on it? Pineapples, anchovies, pickles, peppers, broccoli, chicken? BBQ sauce too! Oh. Pull over now at that store! I’m starving."

Jane pointed the gun threateningly at Etain. "Shut up! There is no ‘we.’ I’m gonna drop you off somewhere and you can find your way back home."

"No! Don’t!" Etain implored with her captor. "I’m having too much fun. Besides, I know what you look like. What did you do, anyway? Rob a bank?"

Jane glowered at her passenger. "Good point. I gotta kill you then."

Etain scoffed. "I don’t think so. It’s just not in your nature. Stop waving that gun around. You obviously have phallic issues. Now, I’m telling you. Stop so I can pee!" Etain shrieked as Jane passed the last gas station for miles. "Noooo!"

Jane jumped, surprised at the high-pitched wail. She squeezed the trigger inadvertently, sending a bullet flying through the roof of the auburn-haired woman’s vehicle.

"What did you have to go and ruin my van for?" Etain flipped her palms upwards, annoyed. "I expect you to pay for the damages." She glanced at Jane as if the woman was dense. "That was the last place for miles. From now on, it’s all desert. You’re such a genius! You must be new to the area. Where are you from? Tell me your real name. Please pull over! I gotta pee!"

The abductor’s lower lip curled in rage. "Shut the fuck up!"

Etain’s green eyes filled with tears and she spoke chokingly. "I’m sorry! I’ll be quiet. But don’t curse in front of Jeffie. He’s too young to be hearing that type of thing." The fact that she might be in danger slowly began to sink through. She gripped the armrests on her seat and glued her eyes shut, willing her bladder not to burst. "I gotta pee! Please! My stomach’s growling!"

Jane rolled her eyes and snorted. She jerked the van to the side of the highway and shoved Etain out. "Bye. Hope you find your way back."

Etain screamed and stomped her feet indignantly. "You can’t do this! That’s my van! Come back right this moment and take me home. Janeeeeeeeeeeee……….."

Jane watched the young woman with a bemused expression in her rearview mirror, chuckling at Etain’s antics. She sped down the road, heading for the west.

Etain growled and shook her head. "Damn bitch! Least she could’ve done was give me toilet tissue!" She stomped to a clump of sagebrush and looked around for any reptiles or bugs. Finding none, she hiked up her short threadbare maternity dress and pulled down her lacy black panties. She squatted and took care of her business, confident that within moments the dark-haired woman would regain her senses and return.

Etain distastefully used a napkin from her purse to wipe and pulled her clothes back together. She marched to the side of the road, relieved that her need was met. However, being pregnant, she knew that another nature call would be necessary within the hour. She peered down the road through the heavy haze of heat and detected no van. She sighed and started walking back to the nearest gas station. After five minutes of unbearable trudging, there was still no sign of life. Absolutely no vehicles passed by on the highway. The oppressive Texas sun was bearing down on her. Etain’s auburn hair stuck to her neck as she sweated miserably.

She heard an approaching vehicle and spun around in delight. Etain ran to the stopped van and jumped in, throwing her arms around Jane’s neck. "Jane! I knew you’d be back! Don’t worry about me. I promise to be quiet and I don’t need to pee, at least not for another hour. I’ll be good, and I’ll just not eat either. You won’t even know I’m here." Etain sat down in the passenger seat and buckled her seat belt. "Oh, Jane! Shouldn’t you be wearing your seatbelt? What if we were in an accident?" Etain rolled her eyes and pointed skyward.

Jane grumbled and clasped the seat restraint as the van sped off.

"So. This is so fun and so totally cool! I’m excited. Where are we going? Who are we running from? How long are we going to be on the road? How much money do you have? You don’t plan on staying in the van overnight, do you? Lucky for you, I just cashed my paycheck and I can contribute one hundred and six dollars to the hoard. So, Jane, aren’t I doing my share? Don’t forget I contributed the van and the gas that was in it."

Jane gripped the steering wheel, her knuckles whitening with frustration. "Fine. You’re my accomplice. Happy now? If we get busted, it’s your ass too. And don’t fucking call me Jane. I hate that fucking name! Call me Bailey."

Etain narrowed her green eyes into slits and leaned towards the older woman. "Don’t cuss like that in front of the baby!" Bailey gave Etain an incredulous look as the younger woman continued her rambling. "Bailey. Now, that wasn’t so hard, telling me your name. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Won’t tell the cops either. I’ll just tell them it’s Jane but personally, I like Bailey a lot better. Would it be all right if Jeffie’s middle name was Bailey? That name has a nice ring to it. Jeffie Bailey Tate."

Bailey shrugged, keeping her eyes on the road. "Whatever. I don’t give a damn. We ain’t stopping for a while." The sun sunk gloriously across the horizon, sending orange and purple rays across the sky.

Etain giggled and shot Bailey a grin. "Now that we’re accomplices, shouldn’t you tell me more? Especially what you did back in Possum and why we’re in trouble. How old are you? Are you attached? You look a little bit older than me. Reckon a pretty woman like you’s liable to have dozens of beaus." Hearing Bailey growl, Etain sighed. "Gee. Don’t take such offense. I didn’t say you were ancient, did I?"

The older woman studied the median silently, counting to ten before strangling the passenger’s neck. Suddenly she regretted telling the redhead her real name. "I’m not telling you anything. For all I know, you have a cell phone or a CB radio somewhere. Why aren’t you scared? You’re reacting funny to this. I have a fricking gun pointed at your head!" Indeed, for all I know, she could a spy or an agent. Trust no one.

"Me, scared? Of a little pussycat like you? I don’t think so. What are you gonna do, rape me with that little thing of yours? Gee. Waving that gun around. You have phallic issues, like I said." Etain said knowingly and pointed her palms upwards. Counting off the possibilities, she said, "Penis envy? That Electra Complex? Jealous of an older brother? Are you a lesbian? Got one of those dildos? Did you just break up with your boyfriend?"

Bailey groaned, a throbbing headache setting in. "So I go from wishing I was a man to a girl wanting my father in a sexual manner, to being a lesbian, to a spurned woman." For the first time in a long while, she laughed out loud in spite of herself. "I do not have phallic issues. This gun is to assure me that nobody messes with me. I’m armed and dangerous and you better not forget that." She sent a purposeful look in the redhead’s direction.

Etain ahhed and raised an eyebrow. "Ooo. I’m positively quaking in my booties. I’m scared of the big, bad wolf. Oh, where’s my knight in shining armor?" She held a hand to her brow and pretended to faint. "Aren’t you even going to ask about my name? Most people want to know the story behind my name."

The blue-eyed woman kept her eyes straight ahead, praying for a sudden miracle. She was beginning to regret her pang of guilt at kicking Etain out a few miles back, but she had to admit she was a bit curious. "No. I forgot what it was. Besides, I’m sure you’d have told me sooner or later."

Etain sighed and her shoulders slumped. "Goodness! It’s Etain Meredith Marvelle Tate. Etain means fairy in Celtic. Cool, huh? And Meredith was my grammy’s name. My mammy gave me Marvelle because I was the most marvelous thing to happen to her. Get it? Marvelous, Marvelle? And Tate is my mammy’s name. It just ain’t proper for a child to have the mammy’s name and Jeffie’s going to have to get a new name. I don’t know who my pappy is. I always thought it was Mr. Anderson who owned the ice cream shop. He has beautiful green eyes and the most lovely red hair, just like yours truly." Etain paused and pulled down the mirror from the van’s visor, studying herself for a moment.

Bailey took a glance at her companion and sighed. Someone here has a Narcissus complex, that’s for sure. However, the young lady was indeed a lovely one, agent or not. Her eyes were the loveliest shade of green Bailey had ever come across.

Etain continued on her tirade. "He always gave me free ice cream scoops but I’ve heard nasty rumors around town that Bruce Acel is my pappy but I hope not! He’s as ugly as a boar in heat and as dumb as a tree. He’s Jimmy’s pappy, I think. He’s a mailman." Etain nodded knowingly. "He knocked up Jimmy’s mama while the daddy was at work. Of course that was never confirmed and Jimmy won’t acknowledge it. He is one of my closest friends. He works at the Food ‘n’ More store. He fancies me but I could never marry him. What if we did have the same daddies? That’d be too weird. But of course, mammy would tell me if that was the case, wouldn’t she?" Etain paused to catch her breath.

Bailey nodded abruptly, glad the young woman had finally quieted, if only for a moment. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and glanced at her passenger’s big belly. "What about the baby’s daddy? You said you’d never marry Jimmy but did you two…"

Etain gasped and gagged at the thought of rolling around in the sheets with Jimmy. "No! Of course not. I’m a woman of the millennium! I’m independent and I don’t need a man. I just wanted a baby even though I’m only twenty-one."

The driver glanced at her dubiously. "You didn’t just have a one-night stand and won’t admit it? Was it an Immaculate Conception?" Or she’s not really pregnant and she’s trying to trick me. Trust no one.

Etain threw her hair behind her head indignantly. "I’m not the town ho!" After a pause, she started again. "Or a two-dollar ho! Even though it would be cool to go on Jerry Springer! What’s an Immaculate Conception?" She swatted Bailey’s arm playfully and growled. "Do I look easy to you? Huh? Answer me!"

The brunette raised her eyebrows and bit her lip to keep from laughing. Wow, two times in one day I’ve wanted to laugh. "Yes, you do. I just robbed your van and all you did was tell me your life story. Besides, how could you be so stupid to leave your van unlocked and the keys in the ignition? Are you trying to trap me? It ain’t gonna work!"

"Trap you? Egads, no! If I wanted someone in my life, I can get one easily, don’t need to go about caveman techniques! Well, there’s practically no crime in Possum. Cow tipping’s the worse there is. Sometimes the boys will get drunk and push the cows over. Sometimes, they even…" Etain whispered into Bailey’s ear. "Have intercourse with the cattle. Well, that’s all the mayhem in Possum. We’re all very trusting." Etain jumped up and down. "My life story? I haven’t! You want to hear it? Cool!" Etain wriggled excitedly in her seat. "No one ever wanted to hear it before. I’ve lived in Possum all my life but I did go to Belle Vista for vacation! That’s a big town. Ten thousand people live there and there’s a monument to all the southern heroes like Nathan Forrest and Robert E. Lee and Sam Houston too! One time I even went to a carnival. That was the most fun of my life until now. Last year, mammy bought a TV and my neighbor set up a TV antenna for us. I get five channels and I seen New York City on TV. It was huge!"

The captor growled inwardly at her hostage’s sheer ignorance. For all she knew, Sam Houston had been an agent of the devil. Bailey sighed and watched the blanket of darkness in front of her, broken only by the van’s headlights. No wonder the chick’s having so much fun if her idea of a vacation is Belle Vista. "What’s somebody like you doing with a van like this? Do you live in here?" She’s probably an innocent, for the time being, anyhow. She seems so fucking naïve.

Etain giggled. "Well, no! Don’t you listen to me? Silly. I live with my mammy. The baby’s daddy gave this to me to keep quiet. That’s why in all this time, I haven’t said his name once! No siree! It’s a nice car, isn’t it? Soon, I’m going to have a house as fancy as my van, all to myself! With matching couches, tables, views. Maybe even with leather upholstery. I want to be an actress and I’ve been going to Miss Beaufort’s acting academy when I’m not working at the beauty salon. When I graduate from the acting academy, I’m going to Los Angeles." She paused to take a quick breath. "It’s a town next to the beach. It’s so easy to find a job and there aren’t enough actors for all the acting jobs. From what Miss Beaufort tells me, I shouldn’t have a problem and the people I see on TV are awful actors."

An idea struck Bailey and an evil grin spread across her features. "I have an acting job for you."

Etain’s head bobbed up and down enthusiastically. "Cool. I’ll prove myself. I can do anything!"

The blue-eyed woman almost pitied her naïve and gullible victim. "Pretend that you’re dead. Dying. You can barely breathe, much less talk. All you can do is sit in the chair, your eyes lifeless and your skin becoming white."

Etain scoffed and flapped her hand. "Oh please! Couldn’t you think of something harder? Well, I can do that." She immediately slouched down in her seat, resting her head against the window. She rolled back her head and slowed her breathing. She remained in the position for a few minutes then straightened up. "How was that?"

"You gotta stay dead."

"Gee. What’s the fun in that?" Etain pouted and stared out of the window, her arms crossed. "No feedback for me? Bitch. Don’t tell me I’m that good."

Bailey took a double take. "I thought you weren’t supposed to cuss in front of the baby."

"Bitch’s all right. I say bitch all the time. It’s just a regular word in Possum. I mean, the dogs are all bitches and all the ho’s in town are bitches too." Etain explained.

Bailey shook her head, amused. She glanced at her watch. They’d been out of Possum for two hours. "Hey. Got any food in back?"

Etain’s brow perked up and her green eyes glowed. "Yes! Why didn’t I think of that? Ooh!" A huge, toothy grin spread across her face. "I have ham hocks, dried Alligator jerky, and pork rinds. That’s pig skin if you didn’t know that. Boy, is it ever good!"

Bailey’s stomach lurched and tightened. She became nauseated as flashes of alligators and ham hocks crossed her field of vision. "You know what? We’ll just stop at the first roadside diner and get food. Anything’s gotta be better than that! You have to behave or I’ll put a bullet in you."

Etain laughed. "You’re so silly. A bullet in me? How macho. Can’t you think of any better lines? Before you came to Possum, what did you do, watch all the Butch Cassidy and Sundance kid movies?" She rolled her eyes and looked out of the window. She straightened up suddenly and spun around in her chair. "Ooh. Can we be Bonnie and Clyde? Since you’re the one with the phallic issues, you can be Clyde. Wouldn’t that be fun? Can we rob the diner too? I can put a hand in my pocket and pretend it’s a gun."

"Well. We can do that. That’s a good idea. But not the diner we’re eating at."

Etain narrowed her eyes and glared at her companion. "Why not?"


"Because why?"

"I said so."

"Come on. You can do better than that!"

"I’m the boss. I have the gun!" Bailey waved the gun in the redhead’s face.

"There you go again, with the phallic issues. ‘I have the balls and cock so I’m the boss,’" Etain imitated her abductor’s voice. "Well, I have a spine and guts. You know what? I’m going to take you as my hostage. I really don’t like your attitude. Aren’t we supposed to be a team?"

"Shut the fuck up! We aren’t robbing them because, Einstein, the cops would notice a pattern! We’ll rob someplace else less conspicuous, ok?" Bailey growled at her prisoner.

Etain’s eyes brightened. "So you did rob a place. Which one was it? Ooh!"

Bailey sighed, wondering what the guy in the sky had against her to give her such a hostage. "Yes. It was that jerkwater grocery. Poor excuse, glorified convenience store. Old woman was screaming for hemorrhoid cream."

"Ooh. Food ‘n’ more? That’s awesome. Did you see Jimmy? How was he doing? The old woman must be Miss Riley. She’s such a grump. Always yelling and screaming. She used to be the preacher’s wife. Why did you steal money? Did you rob any places before that?" So you don’t think I’m worthy to steal with you? Well, I’ll prove you wrong. Etain studied her reflection in the window as the passing scenery proved to be boring. "I’m glad you’re stopping since I’m starving and I need to pee."

Bailey nodded and strummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "I’m not answering any stupid questions."

"Stupid? My questions aren’t stupid!" Etain sniffled and began to cry.

The brunette inwardly groaned and she plastered a smile on her face. "Now. Don’t be a crybaby. I’m going to listen to the radio so be quiet." She turned on the radio and found the news, listening for any comments about her.

"Crybaby? I’m not a crybaby. You don’t have to go calling me names!"

"Did I not tell you to be quiet!" Bailey screamed at her passenger and stepped on the gas. "You’re giving me a headache! I can’t wait for the damn diner then I’ll just dump you there! You can call for someone to come get you."

Etain burst into tears. "You can’t do that! We’re partners! What happened to Bonnie and Clyde? I have nothing at home to look forward to. It’s a boring bleak life. Can’t you take me to Los Angeles? You can be my driver and I can support us with my plenitude of acting jobs. We won’t tell anyone we rob stores on the side. I can drive for you if your headache’s really bothering you." Her eager face only reflected genuine sincerity.

Bailey shook her head. "What do you think I am? Stupid? Letting you drive? What a joke." She scoffed. "There’re no acting jobs in Los Angeles. Just a bunch of starving actors and beggars."

Etain’s face showed only injury. "I didn’t think you were stupid. I was only trying to help. Besides there are jobs in LA! Miss Beaufort said so. She doesn’t lie. I didn’t pay six hundred dollars a year for acting school for nothing! Especially with graduation coming up in a month." She scowled and pouted.

The brunette allowed a smile to show. "Well, don’t you need to go back and graduate?"

"No! I have my certificate of enrollment in the back and when my check clears and doesn’t bounce, I can just send for the diploma." Etain’s face was open and honest, and a bit naïve.

Bailey’s brow furrowed. "So all you have to do is pay a few hundred bucks and get a degree? That’s certainly a respected institution of higher learning. The big-wigs in LA will love that," she said sarcastically.

Etain’s face glowed with what she thought was praise from Bailey. "Ooh! You really think so?" She clapped her hands and sighed dreamily. "I was thinking I would start off with a soap opera and in a couple of years I’ll be in as much demand as Julia Roberts!" Etain fell silent then wrapped her arms around herself. "I’m cold."

The brunette studied her companion carefully. She’d be in demand because she’s cheap. She’d act for free. She has the looks. A bright green sign passed by quickly and stated that Esau, New Mexico was about twenty miles away. "Listen. A town’s coming up in a few miles. We’ll stop, I’ll take you to the bathroom and get something to go, ok?" She shrugged off her denim jacket and handed it to the redhead. "Put this on."

Etain grinned at the kind gesture. "Thanks, Bailey. I think you’re real nice." She grabbed the jacket and put it on immediately, then rolled her eyes. "You have to supervise me going to the bathroom. Is this another one of your power tripping phallic issues? Don’t forget that you’re my hostage now. I’ll take you to the bathroom. Jeez. Are we going to wear a disguise?"

Bailey nodded. Let the chick think whatever. I have the gun. I’ll just dump her there. "We should both wear disguises. You’re a pro at this." It wouldn’t hurt to flatter the girl a bit.

They pulled into the parking lot of the diner. Bailey noticed that the gas tank was three quarters empty. She hopped out, a baseball cap in place. "Let’s go."

Etain noticed the other woman’s height for the first time. She was taller than the average woman. "You’re tall."

"What an observation." Bailey said dryly, stepping into the diner. Etain skipped in front of her. It was a former train car turned into a diner. A dozen booths sat empty. The stools’ vinyl covers were cracked with age and wear.

A lone chef stood at the grill scraping grease off with a large blade. A waitress with a surly attitude and a cigarette hanging out of her mouth waited on the few groups of diners. "Hullo, hun. Set yerselves down here and I’ll be with y’all shortly." Etain set off to the rear for the restrooms and the waitress screamed. "Oh no! Restroom’s for customers only!"

Etain planted her fists on her hips and tapped her shoe. "Announce my toilet habits to the world, will you? We are customers!"

Bailey stood nervously next to her companion. The last thing they needed was to draw attention to themselves.

"Y’all ain’t eat yet." The waitress snarled back at the redhead.

"Well, we will be eating here; don’t you worry about that, dearie."

"She doesn’t have to go to the bathroom with you, does she? Why don’t she siddown and order while you use the toilet? It’s clearer than day y’all just come in here to take advantage of the goodness of our hearts!" The waitress pointed an unkind finger at the two patrons. The chef paused his grease scraping and watched the scene with lazy interest.

"She has to go to the bathroom with me. She has phallic issues." Etain stage-whispered to the waitress.

"Don’t you be using big words or made up words with me, Miss Smarty Pants. Order first then toilet," negotiated the waitress.

Etain scoffed. "Okay. We’ll have the least greasy plates on the menu. Two for me, one for me and one for the baby. Another one for her." She jerked her head to the tall woman.

The waitress signified her agreement. "She gotta go bathroom with you and you’se all got baby together. You two dykes? Don’t you ever let that other woman a word in edgewise?"

Etain scoffed. "I don’t know about Miss big, tall, and mean here but I’m not one. She’s the silent type. Gosh. I’m as big as a house. She may have phallic issues but I don’t think she can get me in the family way!" Etain waved the waitress away dismissively.

Bailey pushed her companion towards the toilet, smiling apologetically to the other patrons. She whispered into Etain’s ear. "If you want to become a professional robber, you gotta learn to not draw attention to yourself."

Etain nodded as they reached the bathroom. All she could think about was ridding her bladder. "Excuse me," she gasped desperately. The bathroom contained only one toilet, with no stalls nor privacy offered. She began to shut the door but Bailey shoved a foot between the door and the hallway.

"I don’t think so. I’m going in with you," Bailey commanded.

"Don’t you trust me?" Etain’s face was chagrined and she sighed.

Bailey shrugged. "No I don’t. Now let me in." Bailey shoved the door open and stepped in, slamming the door behind her. "Go. I’m not waiting all night," she said when Etain made no move towards the toilet.

Etain shook her head and crossed her arms defiantly. "In front of you?"

"Yes. Don’t worry. I won’t go raping you with my ‘phallic issues.’" Bailey scowled.

"Finally! You admit it! I knew it. Don’t worry. I took psychology in high school and I can help you." Etain poked a finger in her companion’s shoulder and giggled. "Gosh. Psychiatric problems are tough to admit but don’t worry. You’re in good hands. I got a B plus in my intro to psych class and that surely qualifies me to counsel you."

Bailey narrowed her eyes and raised a dark eyebrow. I’m in more danger with you than without you. "Sure. Now go."

Etain shook her head. "Turn around. We aren’t even married and you’re watching me!"

Bailey rolled her eyes. "You and the baby’s daddy weren’t married, were you?" She raised both of her eyebrows in question and puckered her lips. "Hurry up or the waitress’ll think we snuck out without paying the bill."

"Ooh. Wouldn’t want to give those folk the wrong idea, would we?" Etain pulled down her panties and sat down on the toilet. "Happy now?"

"Don’t worry. I can’t even see anything." Bailey leered at the younger woman in front of her. Etain glared at her captor and finished. "Can you turn around while I…you know? Please?"


"Gee, what do you want? A blow job? I’ll give your little, puny gun a blow job, one it won’t forget." Noticing the older woman’s aggravated expression, Etain plowed on. "Of course, you with your phallic issues, would take offense at me calling it a little puny thing. Hmm. Come on! It only takes me five seconds to…you know?"

Bailey groaned and looked at her watch. They had been in the bathroom for five minutes already. "Fine. You have three seconds." She shut her eyes and counted to three slowly then opened them again. "You finished. Good. My turn. Wait right here."

Etain sighed. "You don’t need me in here, do you? Ooh! I get it. You’re playing hostage now. Can I hold the gun? Please? Are you going to pee standing up?"

"Don’t you ever shut the fuck up? Or stop asking stupid questions? Stand there and be quiet while I do this! Wash your hands for God’s sake!" Bailey snapped at her hostage and unbuttoned her jeans with one hand, clenching the revolver in the other.

Etain sighed. "You aren’t a shy one, are you?"

"No." Bailey glared at the redhead and sat down on the toilet. She trained the gun on the younger woman. Etain shrugged and turned around to wash her hands. A moment later, the dark-haired woman joined her at the sink and washed her hands. "Come on. Let’s eat. If anyone asks, we’re friends going to a wedding in Houston." Bailey replaced the gun, grabbed Etain’s arm, and dragged her to the door.

Etain swatted the hand away. "Such a caveman, aren’t you. Why don’t you just knock me out with your little gun and drag me home?" She straightened up proudly and sauntered into the dining room and sat down at one of the tables.

The waitress spotted the pair and sighed, glad that they hadn’t skipped the bill. They must have been doing some interesting things in the bathroom. "Here’s y’all’s food. Holler if you need anything." She slammed down three platefuls of greasy Spam and French fries with two glasses of water. "Enjoy."

Bailey stared at her plate with disgust but Etain dove in. "Aah. This is delicious! Hmm, Jeffie likes it too. Hmm! You don’t want your Spam? Can I have it?"

Bailey nodded. "Let me have your fries then." They traded their food and ate as Etain chattered away. A plan began to form in Bailey’s mind. Etain would have to use the toilet after they ate and while the woman was using the bathroom, she would dump the hostage and take the van with her to Montana.

Bailey prodded Etain to eat quickly; the sooner she left, the better. Ten minutes later, Etain had wiped her plate clean and was pleading with Bailey for dessert.

"No!" Bailey seethed under her breath as she tossed a twenty-dollar bill on the table. "We need to get out of here!" She leaned across the table and looked her companion in the eye. "We’ll get some snacks at the gas station, ok?"

Etain’s green eyes gleamed with pride. "This is fun, huh, Bailey. I love your name. I really do."

"Come on." Bailey stood up and motioned for Etain to join her. "If you gotta use the bathroom now, do it."

Etain grinned apologetically. "How did you know? Okay." She stood still, waiting for Bailey to lead the way.

The taller woman shook her head. "Nah, you go yourself. I trust you. Go on, go." Bailey tilted her head in the direction of the restrooms.

Etain’s heart lurched and her knees became weak. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear Bailey was trying to get rid of her. Well, I’ll prove you wrong. "Sure." She flashed the older woman a grin and waddled down the hall to the facilities, both of her hands around her pregnant belly. Only the chef and the waitress remained in the diner.

Bailey watched the woman lurch down the hall. As soon as Etain closed the bathroom door, Bailey turned on her heels and strode to leave the diner. By the time Etain finished with her business, Bailey planned to be a good five minutes drive down the road. She paused momentarily under the exit sign, her hands inches away from pushing the door open. Her ears felt funny now, without the ring and echo of the green-eyed woman’s incessant chatter. Bailey gulped, realizing she was almost sorry to see Etain go. "No." The dark-haired woman spoke firmly under her breath and strengthened her resolve. She was about to push the door open when an ear-piercing scream emanated behind her.

Bailey whirled around to see Etain, her fair-skinned face mottled and her green eyes demanding, robbing the diner. "I have a gun!" shrieked the redhead, indicating a large bulge near the bottom of her jacket. "Gimme all your money!"

Startled, Bailey immediately drew her own gun without thinking and pointed it at Etain. "Fuck! What are you doing?"

"Ooooooooo!" The waitress swooned and collapsed behind the counter in a dead faint.

Agitated sweat beads popped up on the chef’s face as he hastily emptied the cash register. Bailey swerved her gun and pointed it at the chef. She swore under her breath at the redhead, who just had to go and screw everything up. They would probably never escape now. A hugely pregnant young redhead and a tall, dark-haired woman wanted in five states wouldn’t get far.

The trembling chef practically shoved the contents of the cash register into a plastic bag and tied it into a knot. He threw the container to the auburn-haired woman, his heart fluttering. Ten seconds later, he fainted, joining the waitress on the floor.

"Fuck!" Bailey grabbed Etain’s arm, digging her fingers into the girl’s skin painfully. She dragged Etain outside and rammed her into the van. Bailey jumped in herself and immediately gunned the engine. "You just ruined everything! Fuck! Fuck!" Bailey cursed loudly, turning the vehicle in the direction opposite from the one in which they had come. "Now we’re wanted in New Mexico too for armed robbery! And we gotta dump this van and steal another car!" Her blue eyes glittered with rage as she slammed her fists against the steering wheel.

Tears fell freely from Etain’s pained green eyes. "I’m sorry, Bailey!" she exclaimed. "I wanted to prove myself to you! You was gonna leave me! We got a lot of money though!"

"Well, you didn’t prove yourself at all!" Bailey resisted the urge to immediately kick the younger woman out of the van. "Didn’t you see the security camera in the diner? Huh? Right behind the cash register? And at least five people can identify us and this van is memorable. Idiot!"

"Don’t worry!" Etain proclaimed triumphantly. "I made sure I was out of range and I also made sure you were too. I did good, Bailey. I did!" She turned to the dark-haired woman for approval, wiping tears from her jade eyes. "Y’all don’t have to go around calling me all those names! I just had pure intentions!"

"This is not a game!" Bailey screamed as she scanned the dark road nervously. She kept her ears and her eyes peeled for sirens. "What, you think I do this for fun? I don’t!"

"But you said we were partners. You said we were!" Etain protested vigilantly.

Bailey uttered a low, inhuman snarl. "Shut the fuck up, Etain Meredith Marvelle Tate, or I will shoot you to death! I mean it this time!"

Etain clamped her mouth closed, but her chest heaved with deep and dry sobs. The redhead knew when to be quiet, and now was one of those times. She clutched the plastic bag on her lap and stared numbly out of the window. The scenery was flat, drab, and nonexistent. Her sobs eventually turned into hiccups but her eyes remained open and alert.

As the van re-entered northwestern Texas, Bailey pulled out a small US map from her pocket and glanced carefully at it. She turned onto a secondary road that led to north Texas. The route would eventually take them into Colorado, skimming Oklahoma. She picked up speed gradually and turned on the radio, which was playing soft music. She studied the rapidly falling levels of gas. About a half-hour’s worth was left. They’d have to discard the van soon or at least switch the license plates and fill up the gas tank. In such a rural area at this time of night, it was going to be nearly impossible. Bailey muttered curse words, making sure her companion was more than aware of her displeasure. Being on the lam wasn’t a game, and Etain needed to understand that.

Etain gritted her teeth together as her bladder protested. She hadn’t used the bathroom since before dinner. She heaved an inward sigh of relief as Bailey drove into a moderately sized town and headed for the business district. The driver pulled into a movie theatre parking lot filled with cars. Bailey chose a dimly lit parking spot.

The dark-haired woman, a glower on her features, turned to her younger companion. "We’re splitting up now. Got it? Stay in the van, whatever. See ya later and good luck. Bye."

"Don’t leave me!" Etain pleaded. "I’ll do what you say from now on, I promise." She squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. "Please, Bailey. I’ll contribute. I can, really. I’ll be more of a help than a burden."

"Hah!" Bailey scoffed easily and unlocked the driver’s side door. "How? You’re big as a house and dumb as a mule, to boot. You could go into labor anytime!"

Etain shook her head emphatically, pleading fiercely with her green eyes. "I’ll be good. I could be a decoy, you know? No one would ever suspect a pregnant lady of doing stuff! Like, if we needed a motel room, I could go in and take care of the arrangements. I know I’m stupid but I can learn."

Bailey heaved an annoyed breath and studied the young woman suspiciously. "You aren’t stupid; I was just upset." Bailey paused, deep in thought. The hurt expression on Etain’s face got to her. "You’re serious. You really want to stay on."

"I do." Etain leaned slightly, hopefully, into Bailey.

The dark-haired woman couldn’t resist the redhead’s innocent and eager face. "Fine!" Bailey finally made a decision. "But one more screw-up and that’s it!" She poked the gun in Etain’s chest to make her point.

Etain twisted excitedly in her seat. Her green eyes shone gratefully. "You won’t regret it, Bailey."

In spite of herself, Bailey’s lips curved upwards into a thin smile. "I hope not, Etain. I certainly hope not. At least we won’t have to rob anyplace more probably." She fell silent for a few moments, then let out a deep breath. "Okay. Got anything we could use in the back? Flashlights, food, stuff like that?"

Etain bobbed her head eagerly, her silky hair settling in layers around her shoulders. "Sure! I’ll show you what I’ve got." She interlocked her hand with Bailey’s and led the taller woman into the back of the van. "Ohhh!" Etain’s green eyes lit up as she spotted her favorite stuffed animal. "That’s Mr. Bear. Mammy gave him to me when I turned five. See that Mr. Bear’s got one eye missing? What happened was that when I was at school, my dog BuBu got a hold of—"

"Hurry up!" Bailey whispered urgently. She squeezed Etain’s small hand, still clasped in her larger hand. "The cops could spot this van anytime."

"Sorry." Etain nodded breathlessly at her companion. Bailey was a beautiful woman. The moonlight cast a mysterious shadow across her face, making her seem incredibly sexy. "The flashlights and stuff are down there. I got some clothes too. You need to get on your knees. I can’t do it since I’m pregnant."

Bailey let go of Etain’s warm and comforting touch and kneeled. She located many helpful items quickly and piled them into a duffel bag she found on the floor. "Two industrial-sized flashlights, road assistance kit, lots of tools, two rolls of toilet paper, a map," Bailey muttered under her breath. "God, what else you got here?"

While Bailey worked, Etain spotted the small battery-powered refrigerator and determined to do her share of the work. She gathered the food in her arms and plopped the items into the duffel bag and went back for the six-pack of water.

Loud voices sounded outside of the van as one of the movies let out. Bailey glanced at her watch; it was late. She looked up at Etain, who was fidgeting in obvious distress. "I really gotta go, Bailey," she shrugged apologetically.

The dark-haired woman rolled her eyes. "I can tell. God!" She took the water from Etain and added it to the bag, then zipped it shut. "Okay… now." She sat on the floor and ran long, slender fingers through her raven black tresses. She closed her eyes and thought for a moment. "Here’s the game plan, Etain." She opened her eyes and lifted herself up. "We’re gonna leave the van around here and walk around, find a motel. Then tomorrow morning, really early, we’ll steal another vehicle and get the hell outta here."

Etain nodded agreeably. "Be nice to have access all night to a toilet."

Bailey grinned at the remark. "Let’s go." She grabbed Etain’s hand and took her place behind the wheel. She started the engine and drove around the town, finally locating a dark alley. She maneuvered the van into the tight spot and set to work unscrewing the license plates. She tossed them into a nearby dumpster while Etain wiped down the van with a rag, hoping to extinguish at least her new friend’s fingerprints.

"Bailey," Etain whimpered as Bailey was surveying their work.

"What?" The dark-haired woman shot a look in Etain’s direction, having second thoughts about letting her tag along. She’s twenty-one years old, eight months pregnant, hopelessly innocent, and God knows what else!

"I really gotta pee." Etain squeezed her legs shut.

"Then go. You don’t need my permission to use the bathroom. I put the toilet paper in the bag." Bailey reached into the bag and handed a roll to her hostage.

Etain took the offering gratefully. Bailey averted her eyes as the redhead pulled down her panties and squatted. She leaned a steadying hand against the van to support herself. A few moments later, Etain cheerfully bounced up to Bailey, all smiles. "I feel so much better now. Let’s go!"

Bailey groaned at the return of Miss Perky and Talkative, but had to admit that Etain’s company was somewhat appealing. They trudged down the road to the heart of the business district and quickly located a non-descript, ramshackle motel. A faded yellow brick façade faced the dark parking lot. The lamps were burnt out and the windwo of the main office was broken. Shards of glass and weeds littered the sidewalk and the establishment was an empty, lonely place.

"Okay, this is what you do." The taller woman whispered orders to her accomplice. "Get a room for tonight only. Pay cash. Sign in under a fake name. How about umm…"

"Penelope Le Kepos!" Etain finished the sentence proudly.

"What the fuck kind of name is that?" Bailey exclaimed, furrowing her brows.

"Language, Bailey. Watch your language. It’s gonna be my stage name. Like, you know, Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts go by stage names. Those aren’t their real names."

Bailey rolled her eyes. "No. Remember, don’t draw attention to yourself. That’s a fancy name. Just go and sign in under Betsy Miller. Don’t volunteer any information. Room for one. They don’t know I’m here, okay?" She waggled her eyebrows.

"You’ll wait? You won’t leave?" Etain studied her partner apprehensively.

Bailey smiled automatically at the nervous expression. "I’ll be here. If I can trust you to go in there and not call the cops, I figure I can hold up my end of the bargain and stay. You have two minutes, no more."

Etain grinned in pleasure. "Okay. Be back in a jiffy." She took a wad of twenty-dollar bills from the older woman and skipped into the motel lobby.

Bailey waited anxiously for the redhead to return, hoping she hadn’t erred in her judgment. She imagined Etain attacked by doubts or a guilty conscience, picking up the phone, calling the cops. Then everything would be ruined. But having Etain along was a great idea. If she ever got into a pickle, having a hostage, especially a pregnant one, was the best leverage.

"Hey!" Etain capered up to her abductor less than a minute later. "I’m back. We’re in Room 103. Check-out time’s 11 a.m. I signed in under Betsy Miller just like you told me to."

Bailey heaved a deep sigh of relief. "Great. Come on."

"Betsy Miller’s such a plain name, although I do understand your reasoning. Next time could we pick a more interesting name? Like, at least, how about Gina Matterson?" Etain chattered cheerfully as the two women made their way to Room 103.

Bailey shut the door behind them and glared at her companion. She trained the gun on Etain and surveyed the room. It was small, simple and functional—a 19-inch television stood on a dresser and a double-sized bed was pressed against the wall.

"I’m gonna shower now. I know I can trust you not to leave this room or to call anyone." She looked purposefully at Etain. "I am gonna take a very short shower."

"Hey." Etain’s face fell, hurt. "I won’t."

Bailey sighed and studied her companion, evaluating the risks. Etain might suddenly get attacked by a guilty conscience or turn on the TV, find out the truth. Finally, the dark-haired woman spoke. "Do you have any friends in Possum? Family, anyone you’d miss? Jimmy? Your mother?"

Etain shook her head solemnly. "No," she murmured. "This is more fun."

"This isn’t a game," Bailey stated firmly. "You can’t call anyone up and just… brag about how much fun you’re having."

Etain scowled indignantly. "I won’t. Besides, there’s no one in Possum worth missing. Even my mammy, I suppose." Etain’s voice wavered. "I’ve never lived without my mammy."

Bailey narrowed her sky blue eyes. She couldn’t take the risk. After all, only hours earlier, this young woman had held up a diner with a bulge in her jacket posing as a gun. That showed that the kid, although she had spunk, acted on the spur of the moment. "Come here." Bailey clasped her hand on the redhead’s back and pushed her into a closet. "Stay in there. I’ll hear if you come out and you’ll be dead meat. Understand?" She looked at Etain for confirmation.

The redhead gulped. "Okay, Bailey. But hurry up, please. I don’t like dark, small spaces. Could you leave the door open a crack?"

Bailey groaned. "Fuck! If not for you, I wouldn’t be in this mess! I’d be miles away by now. I’m tired of all your whining and all your crap."

"Mind your language. That’s not true!" Etain stomped her foot indignantly. "You stole my van and you held up the Food ‘n’ More! Not me!" A smile tugged on the edges of her mouth. "But aren’t you having a good time?"

"God!" Bailey hauled the girl out of the closet. "This isn’t an adventure, kid. You know what? I’m gonna take a quick shower. I’m taking the gun and the phone in the bathroom with me. If you run out on me, oh well. It’s your ass too. You’ll be going to jail for a long, long, time, for what you did in that diner. And Jeffie won’t get to know his mother."

Etain’s green eyes widened fearfully. "I’d never do that. I’m gonna be a great mother."

Bailey scoffed. "How? You’re on the run from the law! Did that ever cross your mind?"

Etain’s chin quivered and tears threatened to fall from her eyes. Bailey let out a groan and stomped into the bathroom to turn on the shower. She returned a few moments later and unplugged the phone. The redhead was sitting on the bed, doing nothing.

"See, Bailey?" Etain spoke up, sniffling. "I didn’t even turn on the TV."

"Good." Bailey’s eyes flickered to the window. Etain was trying so hard and the taller woman figured it wouldn’t hurt to give her a chance. "A sec." She dragged the dresser to block the door and pulled the bed out so it rested at a 45-degree angle from the wall. The brunette returned to her hostage. "Answer a question. What color is the moon?" She studied the young woman’s face as Etain replied.

Etain sighed exaggeratedly and tossed her head back flippantly. "Gee. Everybody says it’s white and the pictures say it’s white but I know it’s green. Anybody with common sense and half a brain would know that!" She nodded somberly. "I learned a long time ago not to trust everything the papers or people say. I was devastated to find out Santa Claus didn’t exist and that Elvis was really alive. The Inquirer said so!" She began to cry quietly at memories of past betrayals.

Bailey thought carefully for a moment, evaluating the young woman’s answer. Those government agents and aliens were good. You had to be really on your toes. Her eyes narrowed into thin blue slits. "Are you really pregnant? With a human baby? Let me see your stomach. Elvis…he’s an agent, y’know?"

Etain giggled and swatted away her captor’s hand. "Gosh, we haven’t even known each other one day and already you’re making the moves on me! Yes, I’m pregnant. I hope Jeffie’s human. He should be, right? I mean, the baby’s daddy was human. He didn’t look like no devil, though he was a geek. Mammy said he was the devil for seducing a young woman like me but I don’t think so." She bobbed her head seriously. "I didn’t even let him touch me until the fifth date." She chewed her inner lip and smiled proudly.

Bailey grunted. "No. Lemme see. I gotta make sure. The last time I trusted someone I was tossed in jail for a thousand years." She yanked up the younger woman’s dress and peered underneath. She placed a warm hand against Etain’s hard belly and her stretched skin. "I suppose, for now, I can trust you. But one screw-up and you’re gone."

Bailey disappeared into the bathroom and showered quickly. The water was hot and therapeutic for her back and sore muscles. If not for her little hostage, she would have stayed in the shower much longer. Swearing yet again at Etain and at herself for allowing the girl to tag along, Bailey toweled herself off and shrugged her clothes back on, including her bra and footwear. She was prepared for every contingency, and sometimes she didn’t even have time to put on her shoes before leaving.

She rejoined Etain only five minutes after she stepped into the shower. Etain was sitting in the exact same spot on the bed. The older woman’s wet hair was uncombed and the glistening look made Bailey even more alluring. Etain’s throat suddenly went dry as she took in the thin fabric of her abductor’s blue T-shirt and the taut nipples straining against the material. Egads, Bailey’s drop-dead gorgeous. She really is. The older woman’s jeans clung tightly to her slender legs, accentuating her trim and well-maintained body.


Etain jerked out of her reverie with a start as she realized Bailey had been talking to her. "What?" The redhead looked up at the older woman guiltily.

Bailey rolled her eyes. "I said you have thirty minutes in the bathroom. I’ll be listening for any funny business. Leave the door unlocked and half open. I’m gonna check in on you periodically." The tall woman sat at the edge of the bed and began to polish her gun.

Etain made one parting shot before she went in the bathroom. "You and your phallic issues again. Tsk, tsk." She waggled a finger at her companion and grinned.

Bailey raised a dark eyebrow and grunted disapprovingly.

About fifteen minutes later, a tentative voice called out from the other room. "Bailey? Could you come here and help me out of the shower?"

The brunette did not respond at first. She approached the bathroom door and shouted to the woman inside. "Why can’t you get out yourself?"

Etain groaned and rolled her eyes. "For someone with phallic issues, you’re such a ungentleman. Come in and help me out. I’m pregnant!"

Bailey chuckled softly. "What did you do at home?"

"Mammy helped me. I didn’t have much of a problem until real recent," explained the frustrated redhead. "Please. Bailey. I won’t bite, I promise. I can’t step out. The bathtub wall’s too high. It took me three minutes just to get in but now it’s all slippery."

Bailey’s eyes narrowed. I don’t bite? Maybe the little one was one of them, after all. She pulled out her gun and pointed it straight ahead of her and nudged the door open. Etain stood dripping in the bath with a small white motel towel partially wrapped around her chest. The swollen belly pushed up the towel edges and Etain blushed self-consciously, as her triangle of auburn curls was visible to the world. "Don’t stand there and stare!" Etain chided the older woman.

Bailey offered one hand to the damp girl and kept the gun trained on her with the other hand.

Etain giggled. "Ooh. Pointing your little penis substitute at me? Honey, that doesn’t do much for a girl, let me tell you that." She grasped Bailey’s hand, lifted her leg as high as possible, and lurched out of the tub. She fell into the taller woman’s arms. "Thanks for catching me. Now get out while I dress. You ain’t seeing more than you have to. We haven’t gone on a single date yet! Shame on you, Bailey Q. Doe."

Bailey growled. "You’re the one who asked me to help you." She searched for any signs that the girl might belong to the devil or to the aliens. Those symptoms were only visible when the neck was wet. She slowly scanned Etain’s neck, her fingers caressing and brushing the light red hairs, but Bailey was unable to find any signs.

Etain sighed softly. "Bailey, that feels so nice but honestly, what are you doing? I don’t even know your last name!"

The blue-eyed woman raised her eyebrow. "I think I can trust you. There ain’t a mark of the devil on you."

The redhead spun around, her mouth slack-jawed. "Mark of the devil? Let me tell you something. I heard that the devil is in cahoots with that President Shrub guy. And the French are behind it." She nodded seriously, her green eyes wide open.

Bailey stood back and surveyed the younger woman critically. "Was there a second gunman on the grassy knoll?"

"Gosh! Talking about Jack Kennedy now? Well, let me tell you something. Everyone knows he’s still alive. It was just a government conspiracy!" Etain scoffed at the ridiculous question.

Smiling slowly, Bailey grabbed Etain’s wrist and dragged her to the bed, sitting her down.

Etain rubbed her own bottom. "Anxious to get me into bed, aren’t you. Gee! I’ll have you know I’m a proper lady! Give me my clothes." She stuck her nose up in the air and stared haughtily at the ceiling.

Bailey leaped up excitedly and ruffled through the duffel bag. She tossed Etain a T-shirt and sweatpants.

Once the redhead was dressed, Bailey rejoined her on the bed. Facing Etain, Bailey looked into her green eyes seriously. "Etain, this is very important so please listen carefully. I think the French are working with the aliens too."

Etain gasped. "No!"

Bailey nodded gravely. "I know. It’s awful isn’t it? Satan is an alien and his alien army has taken over the government. They’re everywhere, infiltrated all over the place." She swallowed heavily and shook her head angrily. "Dammit!"

Etain’s lower lip trembled and her eyebrows rose and fell with emotion. "I just realized something horrible. Get out a piece of paper!"

Bailey jumped up and shoved through the motel desk searching for paper. She found a few sheets of motel stationery and sat down. "Yeah?"

Etain sighed. "Satan. Santa. Write those words down."

Bailey nodded, chewing her lower lip. She wrote both words down and realization dawned in her eyes. "Santa! Satan. They’re the one and the same! By gadflies! You’re right! There’s a horrible conspiracy out there against our poor, innocent children."

Etain began sobbing. "I don’t wanna anything to happen to Jeffie. Oh, that just ain’t right. What are we going to do?"

The tall woman shook her head resolutely. "Nothing. The government, they’re too powerful. They’ll kill us if we exposed the Satan-Santa connection." She pursed her lips. "They put me in a "hospital" for thirteen years because I knew that the whole town was infested with Satan’s helpers and aliens. I killed my family to save them, before they were took over by aliens. It wasn’t a hospital. It was a brainwashing place. But they didn’t brainwash me! No siree! I escaped." She growled. "Nothing we can do! Dammit. We can tell the tabloids. They’re doing their part." She bobbed her head and tore up the paper. "You eat this; I’ll eat this. The government can’t find out we know."

Etain looked into intense blue eyes and nodded firmly. "You’re right! Can’t we just flush it down the toilet?"

"No. Too dangerous. We gotta eat it." Bailey prodded the younger woman and chewed, then swallowed her own half of the paper. Etain giggled and ate her own.

"Mammy always said I was strange but look where I am now!" Etain’s chin stuck out stubbornly. "How long did the aliens keep you in a brainwashing facility? Was it near Possum? Brother. It’s been close by all this time and nobody knew! More evidence that there’s a government conspiracy. How many others were…assimilated there?" Etain nervously asked.

Bailey cast her gaze downward and hit the mattress. "Too many! I tried to save them, tell them the truth about the aliens and the French. They believed me but some got ‘better.’ That’s what the doctors said. ‘Better.’ All you had to do was stop believing in aliens or whatever and you could go back out there! I resisted." The dark-haired woman lay back on the bed and looked at the ceiling, studying its patterns or lack thereof. "The one near Possum ain’t the only one. I’ve seen papers."

Etain rolled to her side and supported her head on her hand. "Papers? Of what?" her voice held a treble of excitement and fear.

"Others. Other places. There’s hundreds of those places." Bailey spat out. "We should bomb them all! I have a theory. North Pole…it’s really where they keep the UFO’s and the people who know the truth and aren’t afraid. They were going to send me there. They called it Seahaven but I know better. It was the North Pole, trust me. "

Etain gasped and clutched her friend’s hand. "Wow. You’re so brave, to have survived such an ordeal! However did you escape? I’m so proud of you, Bailey Q. Doe."

Bailey glanced at her companion from the corner of her eye. "It wasn’t easy. I had to bide my time then when nobody was looking, I walked out and stole a guard’s uniform and gun. It was an inside job. Someone transferred me to a minimum-security prison for ‘good behavior’ but it was really so I could escape and tell the truth to the thousands of unsuspecting folks out there. Now, you understand why this isn’t a game."

Etain nodded seriously and her face became aghast. "I’m sorry, Bailey. I understand now. Definitely! I don’t want my Jeffie Bailey Tate to live in a world like this." She shook her head, sending her auburn locks flying around. "How do you know if an alien was trying to take you over? Can I protect myself?" Etain eagerly asked, her fair eyebrows raised hopefully.

Bailey inclined her head almost imperceptibly and grunted an affirmative. "It’s tough. You have to be on the offensive at all times. Watch out for them, always. If you get goose bumps over every inch of your body, it’s a sign. Just chant three times, ‘abbas’ and you’ll be all right. That’s a code word from one of our kind. He put it in a book so millions would know without…them knowing." She set her lips in a tight line. "You understand?"

Etain nodded. "Abbas. Gotcha. Are there many of our kind left? How do we know they’re really our kind?"

Bailey shrugged. "That’s a tough one. Most of the common folk are just poor, unsuspecting people. They don’t believe what we tell them or what the tabloids say. But the bad guys are increasing in number. They’re clever, sneaky, ingenious bastards."

Etain slapped Bailey’s hand. "Don’t cuss in front of Jeffie!"

Bailey shook her head. "I thought bitch was all right."

"Bitch, yes. Bas----, no. Definitely unacceptable." Etain nodded firmly.

Bailey shrugged. "There’s enough of our kind to fight back but our numbers are dwindling. It’s been happening since Dixon. Those Republicans are allies with the aliens. The Democrats are our allies. But most of them are closet Republicans and some Democrats are closet Republicans. Some Democrats are closet Republicans pretending to be closet Democrats. It’s tough to tell who is on our side and who isn’t. Many years of practice teaches you to id them. All of us are meeting up in Montana. The government has the gall to call us ‘extremist groups’. I don’t think so. We’re just defending America from our natural enemies! The French and the Spanish! And the aliens and the devil. Don’t forget the damn stuffy British with their tea and scones. They’re worse than the Republicans sometimes! I swear it’s all a conspiracy!"

Etain grinned happily. "As long as there’s hope, we gotta believe. We can’t give up. Is that where we’re going? Montana? We’ll be safe in numbers and Jeffie can grow up in a proper environment. I can find a righteous husband there. I want a proper role model for Jeffie. He’s got to be tall, dark, and handsome, with black hair and blue eyes. Smart and muscular and in touch with his feminine side, but not too feminine or overly macho. No phallic issues like you either, Bailey!" Etain rolled her green eyes at her companion.

Bailey grunted. "I guess I could put the gun away when I’m with you. Unless I see you with goose bumps then I gotta put you out." The blue-eyed woman shivered and leaned into Etain’s touch. "Do me a favor, Etain."

The redhead crossed her arms against her breast. "Of course! Anything for you."

"Please, if you ever see me turning into one of…them…put me out of my misery. Kill me. Shoot me. Don’t listen to the lies my body will be spewing ‘cause it won’t be me anymore. It’ll be the devil that’s taken over my soul!" Bailey gestured emphatically and pleaded with her deep blue eyes.

Etain responded with conviction. "Of course! If they manage to get you, I won’t let it go on! How long have you been out of the brainwashing facility?"

Bailey looked seriously into Etain’s friendly green eyes. "I escaped middle of last week from a place in Georgia. I don’t intend to get caught again!" She paused, deep in thought. "So you want to come to Montana with me?"

"Yes!" Etain grinned ear-to-ear. "This is our crusade." She grabbed Bailey’s hand and clutched it. "I’ll find a husband and a father, a role model, for Jeffie and everything will work out."

"Wait a sec. Aren’t you supposed to be a millennium girl? Independent, don’t need a man?" Bailey’s red lips curved upwards slightly.

Etain sighed and squeezed Bailey’s hand harder. "That was seven months ago, but as Jeffie’s grown inside me… I’ve realized a baby needs two parents." Etain’s chin quivered tremulously. "I’m so glad I ran into you, Bailey. Can you tell me the rest of your name? And how old you are and where you’re from? Like mine is Etain Meredith Marvelle Tate and I’m 21, from Possum, Texas."

Bailey grunted approvingly. "Sure. I’m Bailey Paxton from Butterfly, Georgia." She held out a hand and Etain shook it enthusiastically.

"Butterfly, Georgia! That is such a pretty name. I bet your town is so beautiful. All kinds of colorful butterflies fluttering about!" Etain gestured emphatically as she pictured a lazy summer afternoon with rolling meadows and lovely butterflies. "Butterflies are beautiful, Bailey. They’re the only kind of bug-critter I can tolerate. Reckon that’s a big town? How big was your high school?" Etain furrowed her brows thoughtfully. "My high school was big, Bailey, the biggest in the area. We had 200 students from the towns of Possum, Skunk Valley, Deer Gale, and Bear Ridge."

Bailey considered the green-eyed woman’s comments. "Guess so. Butterfly’s bigger than Possum, anyway. We have streets 1-12 and roads A-E."

"Wow!" Etain drew back in amazement. "I live at 829 2nd Street, but you know what? We wanted to make Possum sound bigger than it was really. There’s no 1-700. Tee-hee." Etain giggled. "Butterfly, huh? And that doesn’t count Main Street. Do you have a Central Avenue, too?" She leaned in curiously.

"Yep." Bailey couldn’t help but smile. "The high school had 250 students by itself. All came from Butterfly." She patted the younger woman on the shoulder. "Nice to meet ya, Etain."

"You too!" Etain leaped from the bed and stood excitedly over Bailey. "I bet you have so many stories to tell! Fighting those aliens, meeting all kinds of people in the brainwashing facilities. Ooh! What kind of classes did you take in high school? What was your GPA? Oh, darn, I’m sorry. You didn’t go to high school. You were busy bravely fighting for our country in the facility. I graduated first in my class with all A’s! I took many tough classes, Bailey, but they’re real useful. Especially when we get to Montana. I took sewing with Miss Layman—but don’t ask me to cross-stitch." Etain rolled her green eyes in exasperation. "I never got the hang of that. I been fixin’ to work on that though. I took southern cooking too. Mind you, that’s the second semester sequence to home economics. I know all sorts of things! I took southern literature and history, too." Etain sat next to Bailey and grabbed her hand, agog. "I learned about the northern aggression in history class. Boy, those people sure was mean!"

Bailey’s eyes widened and suddenly her throat went dry. Her hand, firmly clamped in Etain’s, trembled lightly. "You mean the Civil War?"

"No, silly!" Etain giggled. "I hardly reckon that war was civil! T’werent any civility there!"

Bailey clutched her younger companion’s shoulders and inclined her dark head seriously. "You have much to learn, Etain. But that’s why I’m here. I’m here to help and guide you, so you can know decency from alien evil. You know who was behind the Civil War?"

Etain swallowed tremulously and her face paled drastically. "Oh, no! The… the aliens?" Her voice became nearly inaudible.

"Yes, the aliens." Bailey shook her head in disgust and lay back on the bed. "They invaded the Russians’ bodies."

"The Russians! Why?" Etain turned to face her companion incredulously. "They’re just the people over there across the ocean that wear them fur hats."

Bailey straightened up and gulped as she recounted a horrible tale. "The Soviets needed lots of money so they provoked and invented the Civil War so they could sell Colt guns to the Americans." She nodded knowledgeably. "I got this information from a highly reliable source. Tell me, Etain. Why do you think they wear those caps? Hmm?" She cocked an authoritative eyebrow.

Etain’s jaw fell open in amazement. "Wow. I reckon ‘cause they don’t wanna go bald?" She grinned, hoping her answer was correct.

Bailey shook her head solemnly. "Wrong."

Etain’s lower lip trembled. Her mind was a blank, but finally the answer came to her. "Ooh! It’s cold over there and they wear those fur caps to keep warm!"

"Nope!" Bailey slapped her jean-clad thigh in confirmation. "That’s what they want us all to think. Have you been to Russia before?"

Etain answered in the negative as the potential for unbridled horror on the international scale poked through her consciousness.

"I thought so." Bailey set her lips together smugly. "Those images you see on TV and in magazines are wrong. All lies! They’re fake. Russia’s really a desert. 110-degrees all year round, even in the winter. Only reason they wear those fur hats is ‘cause… their heads. They’re a kind of alien and their heads are pointy, different from ours."

Tears pooled in Etain’s green eyes. "Oh… gracious! You came along at just the right time, Bailey. Who’s the alien leader? Tell me!" She hung onto Bailey’s arm for dear life.

Bailey sighed deeply. "This information may devastate you. Are you prepared for the knowledge?"

Etain gulped but maintained her strong composure. "Yes." Her chin thrust forth, determined. "I want Jeffie to grow up in a safe world. Best way to help him is for me to be educated."

"Okay." Bailey studied the lovely young woman before her and decided she was ready and could be trusted. "This man was behind everything. The Revolutionary War, Civil War, Gulf War, everything." She paused dramatically before continuing. "You may know him as the King of Rock n’ Roll. Elvis Presley!"

Etain gasped then fell silent as her brain attempted to process the information.

Bailey explained further about Elvis. "He is the perfect, logical leader. Through his music, he was able to brainwash the masses and they didn’t even know it! JFK was his main helper." The dark-haired woman leaned in to Etain consporitionally and whispered. "We better make up secret names for each other just in case… like passwords, in case the aliens invade one of our bodies and the other doesn’t know it."

Etain puckered her lips and furrowed her brows. "Could I be Nicole Kidman? Your name could be Julia Roberts."

Bailey signaled her agreement. "Sure!"

Etain studied the carpet for a moment. "Everything you’re saying makes sense. Elvis and JFK aren’t really dead. They’re at the North Pole, aren’t they?" Her voice rose in anguish. "Nice to meet you, Bailey Paxton." Etain flashed a white, toothy grin. "What’s your middle name? Ooh! Can I see your driver’s license? I’ll show you mine." Etain riffled through her purse and came up with her wallet. She fished out the license and handed it proudly to Bailey. "My picture’s horrible but I was on my period!"

Bailey studied the laminated card carefully. "You don’t look horrible. You’re beautiful, very photogenic. But your license doesn’t do you justice. 5’4, huh?"

Etain blushed deeply at the compliment. "Oh, Bailey. No one ever said before I was beautiful. Not even Jeffie’s daddy. He was my math teacher in high school. He called me pretty, but never beautiful. After I graduated from high school, Mr. Laville asked me out on a date. I kept on saying no but I finally agreed last year. But I didn’t tell anyone except my mammy! Oh, Bailey!" Etain’s green eyes glimmered with tears. "You think I’m beautiful?"

Bailey cocked a dark eyebrow and scowled at her companion. "Of course you are. Everyone else was just jealous of you or they were aliens. You’re pure, uncorrupted, the farthest thing possible from the devil, and they can’t tolerate that." The blue-eyed woman inclined her head knowingly and handed the license back to her companion.

"Let me see yours, Bailey. Oh! You don’t have a license, probably. Well, your identification, then." Etain held out her hand eagerly, the light pink tint on Bailey’s features taking her by slight surprise. "What’s the matter?"

Bailey shyly cast her gaze downward. "Mmm. No thanks."

Etain cupped Bailey’s cheek with her hand and forced the dark-haired woman to meet her gaze. "Is it your middle name? Are you ashamed of it? Or your age? I don’t care, Bailey. I don’t. Come on," she encouraged. "Show me."

"Well… all right." Bailey finally relented and tugged her wallet out of her pocket. She drew out her identification card and handed it nervously to Etain. She watched, her heart slowly sinking, as Etain took her time to study the document.

"Oh, my. You’re old!" Etain looked up. "You’re 29!"

Bailey growled haughtily. "That’s only eight years more than you."

Etain’s green eyes widened. "Sorry, Bailey. You’re right. I just love your middle name! Brunelle! Bailey Brunelle Paxton." Etain enjoyed the way the words rolled off her tongue. "Bailey Brunelle Paxton. I could just say that name forever. What’s it mean?"

Bailey grinned and took the card from her companion. "Brunelle means dark-haired."

"Wow! That’s right on!" Etain laughed but then her face fell. "Aw! I just realized I can’t go to LA after all."

The dark-haired woman leaped from the bed and trained her gun on the redhead. "You know how many aliens are in LA? You want to go there?" She spat in disgust. "Traitor! I knew you were too good to be true."

"No!" Etain exclaimed pleadingly. "I realize what I gotta do. Besides, there’s gotta be acting jobs in Montana, right?" She peered expectantly at the older woman.

Bailey swallowed slowly and set the gun down on the nightstand. "Yeah. There’s gotta be. Our group will need entertainment and you could become a spy for us. Since you’re such a great actress."

Etain’s fair features glowed with pride. "Oh, Bailey! Do you really think so? How long before we get to Montana? I guess it’s true when they say the FBI are agents of Satan himself."

Bailey gasped. "Shit! Dammit, motherfucker!"

Etain slapped Bailey across the cheek and stomped a foot on the carpet. "Jeffie! Watch your mouth, Bailey Brunelle Paxton!"

Bailey’s eyes had a wild, feverish look to them as she scanned the room. "What if they bugged the room? Dammit. How good did you check out the guy from the motel clerk desk?"

Etain shook her head, terrified. "Oh my God. They know we know! I don’t know. He was cute, like Tom Cruise, except a bit shorter and fatter. He had a big gap in his teeth." Etain opened her mouth wide and demonstrated the space with her own mouth and fingers, holding them a quarter of an inch apart.

Bailey narrowed her eyes. "I better check this out. You hide in the bathroom while I go to the front desk and case the place." The redhead scrambled to the bathroom while the brunette swung the door open, gun in hand. She marched down the sidewalk, her eyes furtively scanning the area. The night was dark and the heat was oppressive. Only a lone star here and there graced the night sky.


Concluded in Part Two

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