“I suspect you boys should be looking south if the kid went north first. Creatures of habit, you know how that goes.” Colby took another sip of his cola.
Marrok nodded his head in approval and Hawk sat back in his chair. The idea made sense, but where would they begin to look? It would be a wide net to cast in which they could prevent Drake from getting to Mexico, if that was even his intention. Of larger importance to the ranger was the mention of Elder’s name. How in the hell was he mixed up in all of this? Something was certainly out of place with the old man. A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts.
“Hmph,” mumbled Colby as he got up from the table. “I wonder who’s sellin’ what this time.” He walked out of the room towards the door as Hawk and Marrok leaned into the table, considering the options that each had entertained during Colby’s narrative.
“Well Chri-” Colby’s voice stopped and a loud thud was heard on the other end of the wall. Marrok sprang from the table with Hawk right behind him. An unkept man had Colby pinned to the wall with his teeth sunk into the detective’s neck. The old man was stunned and not moving. Marrok had drawn his weapon and fired twice straight into the attacker’s right armpit from the side, both of the holes no farther apart than the space of a quarter. It jarred the man and he looked up at Marrok. It was Korbin Drake. A look of excitement gleamed from the fugitive’s eyes while the gaze of a predator flashed in Marrok’s. Drake turned his attention to the two lawmen.
Drake lunged at the ranger but his effort was met with unpleasant surprise. Marrok caught him by the throat mid-step, lifted him from the ground and brought him down to the floor like a hammer punishing a nail. The fugitive’s lungs emptied completely, his eyes wandered, he could not even afford to muster an effort at reclaiming his breath. Clearly the ranger’s strength and reflexes had been completely unexpected. Drake had never experienced anything of the sort before now. He stared aimlessly at the ceiling of the entry room for a few moments and as he regained himself, he began to laugh. Marrok still had a firm grip on the killer’s throat and Hawk stood over the two of them.
“What’s so funny?” Hawk asked, his gun trained on their captive’s head.
“Vérfarkas,” Drake whispered, “Látlak.” Then he disappeared.
Suddenly Drake was in the doorway, still laughing with Colby’s revolver hanging loosely in his hand. “Viszontlátásra!” he shouted. He ran from the door. Marrok was on his feet and after him swiftly. Drake’s strides were long and he had unnatural speed. The fugitive sprinted as fast as he could down the poorly maintained street. His arms pumped hard and he coaxed every step to be just a little longer than the last until his pace had become inhuman. Even as he ran, a smile remained. He knew he had the advantage. And so his panic was understandable when glancing behind him, he saw Marrok keeping up.
Marrok had had enough of whatever game was being played with him. He was not sure how much longer he could keep the pace, or where the chase would take him. Suddenly, Drake stopped and turned back to Marrok, the revolver raised at him. Marrok slid down to his side on the road’s gravel shoulder with one leg turned up to shield him from any shots. His handgun was already out of the holster and he emptied the magazine towards Drake. Fourteen shots rang out in a fraction of as many seconds, Drake’s legs practically stepped out from under him and his torso shook as he hit the pavement. Marrok had risen from the ground and was almost on him when again, Drake vanished into nothing.
Marrok whipped around, breathing hard, looking in every direction. He was confused, but the adrenaline was so much that the impossibility of what had just occurred did not threaten to slow him down in the least. His Sig Sauer was reloaded and he jogged several steps in several directions, breathing in deep, scanning each possible inch of each street, window, and rooftop hoping to catch a glimpse of his prey, but there was nothing. Time seemed to stretch unlimited as the clouds of defeat hung over him, but the period was broken up by the sound of sirens. An ambulance rushed by him, heading towards the house where he had left Hawk and the retired detective. Marrok put the weapon back in the holster, hung his head, wiped the sweat from his brow, and began to walk back towards Colby’s house.
Paramedics were just climbing back into the ambulance with Colby on the stretcher when Marrok returned. There was a sense of haste in their speech and their movements as they shut the doors and raced away, lights and sirens still going. Colby must still be alive. Hawk was standing nearby, arms crossed and wearing a look of apprehension.
“What happened?” the marshal asked.
“He got away.”
Hawk’s face was hard to read. There was a lot going through his mind. Maybe he was mad that Marrok did not return with Drake in tow.
“I heard shots.” Hawk said.
“Didn’t work.” Marrok replied.
“What do you mean ‘it didn’t work’?!” Hawk raised an eyebrow. “Did you miss?”
“Well what then? And what the hell was that in there?!” Hawk pointed back towards the house. “You hit him twice in there! How many times out here?”
“Most of them.”
“Most of them! My God Marrok! Did he have a vest?!” Hawk’s tone suggested that he was more upset than anything at the circumstances of Drake’s escape.
“I don’t think so.”
Hawk paused for a moment, he seemed to be somewhere else. Marrok said nothing in the interim. Several seconds went by before Hawk resumed. “I don’t know how I’m going to explain this.”
The drive back to Lubbock had become increasingly awkward with each passing mile. Hawk had called the Marshal’s Office in Dallas to relay the morning’s events to the Chief Deputy of the Fugitive Task Force there. Sam White was his name. Based on Hawk’s end of the conversation, the call had not gone well, but how else could it have been expected to. “No, we did not get him Chief… Yes, it will probably make the news… Yes we spoke with the Sheriff’s Office here before leaving… We did… Somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 times… I don’t know… I don’t know… You’ve never seen anything like this… Ok… Ok… Got it… I’ll be there.” Things had gotten complicated after the call. Hawk was going to go back to Dallas, maybe he would stay on the case, maybe he would not. At any rate, ‘the team’ was going to be more involved and there would be ‘no more cowboy shit’ after today. Hawk did not give off the impression of being pissed off at the situation, but Marrok could not help but feel some angst emanating from his passenger as the ride dragged on.
Marrok’s call back to the office had been much smoother. “Hey boss… You heard already then… I’ll be in your office in three hours or so… See you then.” Marrok and Major Lance had a good relationship, a trusting one. He would explain the scenario and his actions upon his return, just as he had always done. It was something he enjoyed about being assigned to Lubbock. Administration trusted their Rangers to do their job. That notion, however, did not make him feel any more comfortable about the situation Hawk might be in after their unexplainable encounter. Luckily, Marrok did not have to find a way to break the heavy air of the cab, Hawk did it for him.
“Do you believe in this kind of shit Marrok?” Hawk asked.
“You know what shit man. That Detective Benson brought it up in Dalhart, then this clown clamps his teeth down on Colby. Vampires man! Do you believe in that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Shit man.” Hawk leaned back in the seat, he was frustrated. He wanted an answer for something. There had been too many questions left blank recently for his taste and it showed. Still, there was something about the way he held himself throughout the afternoon that suggested he had other things on his mind. What other things, Marrok could not guess. The Ranger’s mind was completing processes of its own and so delving too deeply into Hawk’s understanding of anything was not a task which needed immediate attention.
“What do you believe in then?” Hawk’s question came as a surprise. Marrok considered it, drumming two fingers on the steering wheel as his thoughts focused.
“I believe there is nothing regular about a man surviving so many gunshots, nor do I believe a regular man can vanish and appear again somewhere else. But I have seen it now. I don’t know how he did it, I just know he did. And I know that next time, he won’t get away.”
“Next time? Sorry pal, there might not be a next time for us. I expect to have a date with the psych eval folks based on White’s reaction.” Hawk stared out the window for a while, regretting his decision to tell White about Drake’s vanishing act, or about any of it for that matter. But what else could he have said. ‘We missed 17 times?’ ‘He outran us?’ The truth was really the only way to go, but even that was likely to put him on administrative leave for a little while at least. The only thing to do was to ride it out. The marshal’s mind wandered from there until suddenly he remembered something.
“Hey,” Hawk began with some interest. “What did he say when you had him down?”
“I don’t know, I don’t think it was English.” Marrok kept his eyes on the road.
“No it wasn’t. I can’t remember what he said. Bear polkas or mochas, something like that.” Hawk drummed the window pane, trying to remember the phrase.
“I guess I missed it,” said Marrok. “Probably a cuss word or something.”
The rest of the drive was nearly silent. There were few words exchanged between Marrok and Hawk, even as they returned to the C Company parking lot in Lubbock. A customary ‘see you later’ and a handshake sealed Hawk’s departure back to Dallas and Marrok was left again to his own devices. There was the conversation yet to be had with Major Lance, but he had luck in postponing it to the following morning. The Major was hesitant, but agreeable so long as Marrok was ‘alright’ and ‘just going home for the night.’ It was mostly true.