A Chilly Feeling
The door opened too easily and Dick Spencer felt a chill. Had Jen forgotten to lock it again? It wouldn’t surprise him, but something didn’t feel right. Dick looked over his shoulder where he’d parked next to Terry and Jen Robinson’s BMW. It seemed ridiculous to leave an expensive car in the drive for two weeks while vacationing in the Bahamas, but with all the junk in the Robinson garage there really wasn’t much choice. The debris from every fad enthusiasm that had seized the two of them was stored there. He hoped the BMW wouldn’t mind his parking his elderly Ford Focus next to it. Oh well, it wouldn’t be there long, just long enough to keep his promise to feed the dog, the fish, and the three parakeets.
Dick was embarassed about the disaster his car had become. First there was the mess a three year old leaves in the back seat of any car. Then there were all the scratches and other damage on the exterior. Dick was self-conscious about his car and its appearance. He’d always liked a sharp car, but since Jane had gone off the deep end, and all Nell was going through, he couldn’t find the will to work on it any more, or as his soon-to-be ex-wife Jane used to say – to ‘dick’ with it anymore. Whenever she had one of her spells, she enjoyed saying that his whole personality was tied up in the car, as if anyone could be all that excited about a Ford Focus, for Pete’s sake. All he’d wanted was a professional appearance. Well, she’d fixed that.
At least she was gone. The shop lifting and stolen credit cards had gotten her the real jail time her other crazy stunts hadn’t. Her inability to separate the wrongness of stealing from her impulse to fulfill her personal gratification had gotten the judge’s attention. He’d recommended psychiatric counseling as well as incarceration. Maybe the Psych guys at the prison could help her. He certainly hadn’t been able to. In the meantime, he had custody of Nellie. The elfin little girl had become the brightest spot in his life. Dick was certain the divorce would finally be granted, and soon he would have full custody of his daughter.
Dick stepped into the living room – it was cool, too cool. The air conditioning was set as low as it would go. That was way lower than it needed to be for the animals. Still, it felt real good after driving around in his car with the busted AC. It hadn’t worked since Jane had crashed it running from the mall cops. Still, no sense wasting energy. Dick set the thermostat to a more conservative temperature. He kept looking over his shoulder. Terry and Jen could be scatter-brained sometimes, but this was crazy. Sure it was their second honeymoon, and they were excited, but maybe he’d better check the rest of the house before he left.
Dick wandered through the dining room to the kitchen. At least they’d remembered to turn off the lights and close the refrigerator door. His eye caught the kitchen canisters including the one labeled Tea. He suddenly had a craving for Green Tea. Jen had some great green tea. They wouldn’t mind him brewing himself a cup. Maybe it would soothe the tension he was feeling. He found the teapot in the cupboard, the one with the thermometer on the side that told you the temperature of the water, and the proper temperature for each type of tea. He filled it with water from the refrigerator and put it on the stove. Jen had expensive tastes in teas, and what was in the canister was Gyokuro, one of the highest grades. He knew she brewed it at 122°F - 140°F. Yes, the fussiness was silly, but it gave him an all too rare pampered feeling. He’d earned it, and he had three hours before he had to pick Nellie up from the birthday party.
He sat in one of the kitchen chairs as he waited for the water to boil. He and Jane and Terry and Jen had made a great foursome when the times had been good. The Robinsons had been staunch friends during the bad times as well. He’d never quite understood the basis for the friendship unless opposites attracted. They were very well to do - he’d often thought they had more money than sense. For some reason they’d been willing to share with a returning GI and his new bride. Dick had met Jane at the airport when he came home. She was one of the greeters and had accepted his invitation to dinner, drinks and more. It had been a lot more. They’d married two weeks later.
They’d met Terry and Jen at a baseball game. He and Jane were in the cheap seats. They’d run into Terry and Jen getting beers. Terry had seen his tattoos and asked if he’d been in the service. When he’d admitted it, and that he had done three tours in some hot spots, Terry had offered to share their box. The generosity had grown to friendship. They’d ended up following Terry and Jen home to this very nice house. He and Jane had spent some crazy wild nights here. He felt himself responding to some of the memories. What was that adage – crazy in the head, crazy in bed. Well, yeah, that part of it had been pretty amazing. Even when Jane was at her nastiest, there’d been the moments when she’d wanted to make up and make out. That was when he’d hated himself the most, when he’d known he should have walked away and didn’t … because making up felt so very good. It had actually been during one of those sessions when Nell had been conceived. And that had brought on the second good period. That had lasted three years.
A faint ding told him the water was ready. He threw some leaves in a mug, wet them down with water and waited a minute. After the minute he filled the mug the rest of the way. He stopped to sniff the aroma. It was such a delightful, delicate smell … He paused … It was just a touch off. It smelt like a blend instead of a pure green. He shook his head. He was imagining things. The front door and the AC had him jumpy. He sniffed again, yeah, it smelled like green tea.
But it was hot.
He got a large gimmie cup from the cupboard, brought home from any of a number of baseball games, and filled it with ice. Feeling like a barbarian who’d sink so low as to use paper tea bags, he poured the hot brew into the cup, taking guilty pleasure in listening to the ice crack in protest.
He decided to take his time with his drink. Maybe take a nap before he had to go back to pick up Nell. He walked into the family room and turned on the big screen TV. He could catch the local news on CNN. His timing was perfect - Action News at Three was running the headline story. There’d been a jail break at the city jail. One guard was dead, two others injured. Three female inmates had escaped. Two had been recaptured, but … one was still at large.
Dick’s heart stopped. In slow motion he sniffed his drink again ... Jasmine. That was what was bothering him. Jasmine often was blended with green teas - But this was a pure green - And Jasmine was Jane’s favorite scent.
He heard a soft footfall on the stairs. He didn’t have to look to know whose. It made sense. She knew about the honeymoon trip. She had clothes here from their many overnighters. She’d want a place to hide. She knew he would be here.
She was coming.
Dick thought about all the things he should be doing. He should be dialing 911. He should be making a run for the door and the car. He should be doing anything but sitting in this chair, short of breath, practically pissing his pants. Dread and anticipation warred in his brain ... Crazy … Crazy in bed. Would she want to finish the job she’d started with her scissors, or make up?
She stepped into view. She definitely wasn’t wearing prison garb though he wondered what quirk of humor made her choose the orange middie halter top to go with the dark blue, skin tight shorts. On her stretched athletic body it looked so good. It confirmed that slender and fit could still have interesting curves. He was certain that was all that was under those clothes – bare, interesting curves. But, in her right hand was her craft bag. The one she kept over here with needlework to keep her hands busy when watching a ball game or a movie. The one with the incredibly sharp Fiskars scissors he’d bought her one Christmas. The twins to the pair she’d used on the car, and on him. The ones she’d almost used on Nell, before he’d brained her with the lamp. If he hadn’t called 911 when he first heard her in their apartment, and if they hadn’t heard over the phone her attack on him, they’d probably have believed her story that he’d tried to kill her. They’d both been out cold when the Police had arrived and broken down the door. That had been so complicated.
“You left me with them – Dick.”
“Jane, they were the law. Once they were involved, I didn’t have a choice.”
“The big Special Forces guy? You couldn’t figure out how to get your wife out of a lousy city jail? I had to do it myself.”
“I just saw that on the News. That you had escaped with two others.”
“Stupid sluts. I needed a diversion. Catching them got the cops off my tail.”
She turned and slid onto Dick’s lap, taking a drink from his glass of tea.
“Perfect. Just like Jen makes.” She wiggled a little. “Speaking of tails, am I still the best you ever had - Dick?”
Carefully keeping his hands off her, “You know there hasn’t been anyone else but you since we met.”
“Except that one evening with Jen.”
“Well, yeah, that one evening. You seemed to have a pretty good time with Terry.”
“He was OK, but he was a little too soft for my taste.” Jane ran her right hand over his chest. “He wasn’t hard like you – Dick.”
Dick knew enough to watch her left hand. It was her dominant. She liked keeping it free. “And Jen didn’t exactly bring the same energy to the mattress that you do, baby. It was only the one time.”
“So why did you have to ruin it – Dick?”
It was driving him crazy – the pause before his name, the shift from abusive to seductive, to expletive. How was he to choose between the Lady and the Lady?
“How’d you get here, baby?”
“I knew there’d be some of my clothes here. I knew you’d be here to take care of the stupid pets.”
She never directly answered a question. At least not how you thought it should be answered. But to her it made sense.
“Speaking of pets, where’s Fussy?”
“I had to lock him in their bedroom. Stupid dog never has liked me.”
Jen’s springer spaniel was a beautifully groomed almost show quality dog. The name was Terry’s recognition of the work required to keep it properly groomed – and maybe about its attitude toward certain foods and people. It appeared that Fussy was a better judge of character than Dick.
“I promised to take care of him while our friends are gone.”
“I know you did – Dick.”
There was no denying the unspoken accusation in her tone that time. It echoed his guilt. He’d refused to spend one dime on her defense. He hadn’t expected such a stout sentence, but he hadn’t protested it either. It had been a relief.
He wasn’t sure when it had begun to go wrong. At first he’d thought it was just frustration with lousy finances, dead end jobs, and the contrast with Terry and Jen’s affluence. He hadn’t realized it was a chemical imbalance. When he’d met her, she’d been on an upswing. They’d been married months before the downswing started. She sometimes handled it well, other times were pure Hell. He’d always borne it because of his own guilt – guilt from his problems coming back from tours - guilt that he couldn’t provide better for her - guilt over his anger when he knew sometimes it wasn’t her fault. He’d always tried to remember the good times, and when possible try to keep them going. It just hadn’t been enough, and the rough times mounted up. Up until she had been arrested had been some of the very worst.
Her hand slid down his chest until it slid between her and where she was sitting on his lap.
“Guess what – Dick. You’re going to be a daddy again.”
Dick thought he was going to refreeze the ice cubes in his drink.
“What do you mean?”
“You know. When a man and a woman get together, and they don’t use any protection, and it’s that time of month, you make a baby.” She stroked him. “That’s what we did – Dick.”
“Are you sure, baby?” His first two endearments had been calculated – an attempt to call her affection to the fore. This one just slid out as he tried to figure out when it could have happened. They never had been very careful about protection. Her chemical imbalance usually inhibited conception.
“No doubt about it – Dick. Your son,” She freed her right hand to pull his free hand to her stomach, “is growing right here.”
Dick gently stroked that incredibly flat, trim stomach. It didn’t even look like she’d had the first one. How much time had he spent massaging that swollen belly with cocoa butter? They’d had some crazy fun while she was pregnant. Somehow the pregnancy had stabilized her condition. It had stayed stable for a while after Nellie had been born. Just for a while. “How long have you known?”
“Are you willing for your son to be born in prison – Dick?”
“If he were born in Mexico, he’d still be an American citizen.” Where had that come from?
“How do we do that, Dick?”
“I don’t know, yet. It’s a cinch your passport won’t work. You’re a fugitive. I’ve never tried to smuggle anyone over the US-Mexico border.”
“We could use the BMW.”
Dick shook his head. “We’d have a hard time getting a car we don’t own through the border checkpoints. That would set off all sorts of flags. Besides, I don’t know how we’d get it back to them.”
“I’m sure Jen and Terry won’t mind.”
Something clicked in Dick’s mind. “Say, how did you get in the house?”
“You know Jen. She’s always leaving a window open or the patio door unlatched to let the dog in and out of the back yard.”
Dick relaxed. “Yeah, Jen would forget her head if it wasn’t attached.”
Jane giggled. “That is so true.” Jane looked around. “It’s hot in here. Did you turn the thermostat back up?” She stood up to walk to the thermostat. “You remember the hot flashes I get when I’m pregnant?”
Actually Dick didn’t remember any hot flashes when she was pregnant. It was the only time her temper seemed to stabilize so he supposed there could be a relationship. He didn’t protest when she ran the thermostat back down.
She walked back to his chair. “Are you going to go cold on me – Dick?” She’d accused him of that before. It hadn’t been true until she’d tried to take her scissors to Nellie. She reached down with her left hand to pull him up from the chair. She was only a little shorter than his six feet. She could almost look him in the eyes. “We can always generate some heat of our own.” She hugged herself tight to him while he tried not to touch her. He knew if he did he was lost.
“Let’s go up to Jen and Terry’s room. They’ve got that crazy heated waterbed.” Maybe the pause to go upstairs would distract her. He was sure distracted.
“I think I like the rug here in front of the fireplace. You were up there with her.” She threw off her halter top and reached for him again. “Let’s go – Dick.”
Dick’s hands and hindbrain took over. He was soon lost in the teasing, thrusting exchange where each sought to take the other higher and higher to an impossible, crazy high. Jane pulled him closer with both arms and legs, whispering in his ear. “That’s my Dick. My Special Forces Dick.” She looked at him and smiled. They both loved with their eyes wide open, each watching their partner, trying to anticipate the best next move. This time her eyes were filled with a strange hunger that made it hard to anticipate the next move. He still tried, riding rhythms and giving all he had.
At last they were both spent and lie on the rug, tangled together. “I see you’ve been keeping in shape while I was away. I think you look better than when you got out of the service.”
Dick shrugged. “It was a good way to work off excess energy. I didn’t have any better outlet.” He tried for a leering smile.
“I missed you, too – Dick. Especially when I was with that stupid guard.”
Jane stroked her fingers through the rapidly cooling sweat on his body. “Yeah. He was on the graveyard shift. You could tell he wanted me. He couldn’t keep his eyes off me. He was constantly finding excuses to pull me out of the cell to search me. Said they couldn’t be too careful with someone like me. One evening the two sluts and I convinced him we could blow his mind with a three on one. Oh, he couldn’t wait to get out of his pants. The pants where the fool carried a concealed pocket knife that he wasn’t supposed to have, and didn’t know I knew he had.”
“That’s how you escaped?”
“Yeah, I waited until he was beyond thinking and stuck him. It was strange feeling him die while he was in me.” She sat up. “His uniform fit one of the sluts, so she posed as a prisoner escort until we were out of the building. He had keys for a car out in the lot. We took it and left. I ditched them as soon as I could and came here.”
The chill Dick felt was way beyond just a low thermostat. Looking at his current state he couldn’t exactly blame the guard for thinking with his namesake. At least Dick had lived to regret it – so far.
“Didn’t she have to have some paperwork or ID or something?”
Jane laughed. “Tabby left part of her uniform unbuttoned. As we approached the door she started shouting and complaining that the guy in our detention block had better start keeping his hands to himself or she’d report him to Internal Affairs. She walked up to the counter demanding the Watch Commander. They couldn’t get us out of there fast enough.” She stopped laughing.
“What do I do now – Dick?”
“We need to get you across the border.” He should be trying to get her back to the Police. Unfortunately, he was staring at living proof that the Police option wasn’t going to protect him or Nellie.
“Just how do we do that?”
Dick had been thinking about that. He needed to get Jane away from here, away from him, and away from Nell.
“We’ll have to move fast. I’m going to call Ernie and ask her to keep Nell with her for a couple of days. She’d only slow us down.” Suiting actions to words he fished in his pants for his cell phone. Ernie was a single mom whose Sally was Nell’s best friend. Ernie was on speed dial, but Dick dialed as if she weren’t.
“Hey, Ernie – Dick here … Great, I’m glad she’s having a good time … yeah, I know I’ve been pretty protective lately … let her stay with Sally over the weekend? … Sure, that’s great. I was calling to ask for something like that. The car isn’t running and I really need to work on it … no, I’m not at the house. That’s not where it’s not running … OK, I’ll pick her up Monday evening from daycare … Yeah, they’ll have a blast … I appreciate it … bye.” Dick stood up. “Let’s go out to the garage.”
A few minutes later the two of them were standing at the door between the laundry room and the garage. Jane looked at the piles of stuff. “Talk about pack rats.”
Dick worked his way over to the far bay. “Yeah, but right now it’s all in our favor. The Jeep is still here.”
“Oh, I get it. The Jeep we used for the back country camping expeditions.”
“Right. With it, and some of the gear in here, we can bypass the check points and slip into Mexico the back way. We get you set up down there, I slip back across the border, get what we need and drive back down with Nellie legally.”
“You know – Dick, that just might work.”
“You know it will, baby.” He looked at the windshield. “We’re in luck, they kept the inspection and license up to date. I thought I might have to peel them off the Focus.” He lifted up a collapsible water jug and threw it in the Jeep. He grabbed a pack from a pile beside it. “I’ll take this to the Pantry and load up on grub and pull the Jeep’s keys from the pantry key rack. You fill the water jugs and load. They’ve still got all our gear stored here. You know what to load.”
Dick hurried back inside to the pantry, making plenty of noise. The Jeep keys weren’t on the rack, but Dick was certain where they were. He ran up the stairs to the master bed room and opened the door.
It was worse than anything he’d ever seen in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Jen was lying naked on the bed. Where her head should have been was Fussy’s head. The rest of Fussy was posed suggestively between her legs. Terry was lying nude beside her, his throat cut, and Jen’s head was posed between his legs, his manhood in her mouth. The expression on her face made the act look more carnivorous than amorous.
It was a good thing Dick hadn’t eaten since morning. He tried to avert his eyes as he fished the keys from Terry’s side of the nightstand. He didn’t want to remember his friends this way. It would make him crazy. Instead, something awakened in him. He knew the feel, the awareness you felt in a combat zone where every doorway could hold death.
He backed out of the room and went back to the pantry. He watched every doorway. He needed to keep Jane thinking he didn’t know. He took his time pawing through groceries, trying to regain his role of befuddled husband mesmerized by his wife’s beauty and sexuality. It wasn’t hard - she was absolutely beautiful - even now. When he could focus, the food choices were easy. Since weight wouldn’t be a factor in the Jeep, he could take canned foods. It would mean less water to carry for cooking and no need to worry about refrigeration. He hauled his stock to the garage and threaded his way to the Jeep.
Jane had been busy. Three water jugs were full. There were two sleeping bags, a tent, and a couple of folding chairs. There was also their kitchen “chuck box” and she’d even found their “tent box” with lantern, and spare rough country clothes. He nodded approvingly at both the completeness of the load out, and the efficiency with which it was stowed in the Jeep. Jane could be such a good partner, not just in bed. He slid the loaded pack into the space behind the driver’s seat. She’d also pulled out a set of reflective sun glasses with huge lenses and a campaign boonie hat. With her wheat blond hair tucked up in the hat, it was hard to know who she was. She tossed him a matching set.
Dick pressed the button on the garage door opener and threw Jane the keys to the Focus. “Follow me to the shopping center. We’ll leave the Focus there.”
“I don’t want Terry and Jen’s neighbors wondering about our car sitting here for a few days, and I don’t think we have time to drive it all the way home. Not to mention the police will be watching our house. Less conspicuous to leave it in the shopping center lot where people come and go 24 hours a day.”
Jane smiled. “That’s my Special Forces Dick thinking.” She ran out to the car and backed it into the street. Without waiting, she took off. Dick shrugged and climbed into the Jeep, closed the fabric door and backed out, around the BMW. After confirming the garage door was closing, he headed down the street.
Dick pulled into the shopping center lot wondering where Jane was parked. He finally spotted the Focus parked near the Auto Care center. His heightened combat awareness approved the logic of her choice. Cars were often left there overnight. Sadly it emphasized how dangerous Jane had become. He spotted her standing next to the waiting room with a hand to her ear as though she were on a cell phone. It was another good move. Her upraised arm and hand helped conceal her face. He paused a moment to really look at her. Her tan was still good. She hadn’t been out of the sun enough to lose that. But she was different. Although always of slender build, now she was pared down to essentials. Her figure actually seemed better than before. The real curves were more pronounced. Being in jail had burned away all but the basic animal. It made her dangerously sensual and attractive. That beauty could kill him. Even so, he felt a hunger of his own building. He pulled up and she hopped in. He wasted no time pulling out and onto the main drag.
The aftermarket soft top for the four door CJ-style Jeep was noisy at highway speeds. Dick was grateful for the excuse not to try to carry on a conversation. He watched Jane from the side of his glasses. She’d tossed her craft bag in the Jeep and was working on a needlepoint. She seemed totally absorbed by the task.
As darkness started to rise about them, Dick pulled into a State Park with overnight camping. He pulled up to the Ranger’s office and told her to wait in the Jeep while he went in and registered for a camp site. He came out and drove deeper into the park. He pulled into a campsite space.
“Do you think this is such a good idea?”
“It’s a tradeoff. We can’t use a hotel. I suspect they’ll be looking for you to be moving at night. Here is less busy, and I signed in using my middle name so the connection isn’t as obvious. I somehow don’t think they’ll be looking for a fugitive camping in a state park. We’ll set up camp, fix a little dinner, and turn in early. Nobody will be suspicious if we pull out early.”
“It might work. What do you want me to do?”
“Set up the tent over in the shadows under the trees. Stay out of the light. I’ll cook on the little camp grill here close to the Jeep.”
After a few minutes, the camp was set up and Dick was slicing SPAM into a skillet, mixed with sliced canned potatoes. He chopped in some onions and green peppers he’d found in a pantry bin. While that was cooking, he warmed flour tortillas directly on the hot grille. When done, he placed a pot of water on the grille while he carried food over to the small picnic table where Jane sat with her back to the fire.
Jane had found a partial case of bottled water in the garage and brought them along. She set two on the table along with plates and washable utensils. She looked at the skillet meal appreciatively. “You always were a better cook than I was – Dick. It’s amazing how fast you can throw a meal together.”
“Just basic hash house cooking, honey. Nothing fancy, but certainly filling.”
“And I need filling.” Jane quickly spooned the mix onto a warm tortilla, folded it and wolfed it down.” She hadn’t even finished chewing and swallowing before she started building a second. Dick found himself briefly hoping she would choke but no such luck. He ate more slowly. There was barely enough left for him to make his second. He didn’t complain, it was enough. When Jane was finished, he gathered everything up and took it back to the grille where the hot water waited. He quickly scrubbed and stashed the dishes. He loaded the kitchen box back into the Jeep. As he walked back to picnic table, Jane stretched and stood up. She grabbed him by the hand and pulled him to the tent. “I said I needed filling – Dick.”
As they rested in the darkness, Dick had begun to hope Jane was asleep when he heard her voice. “Why did you have to ruin it – Dick?”
“Baby, you know you’re special. I sensed that that first day at the airport. Things started changing too fast. I was trying to hold on. I wasn’t ready for all the changes.”
“That sounds like bullshit to me – Dick. Mind you, it’s good bullshit, but it still smells.”
Dick shrugged in the darkness. “I don’t know what else to tell you, baby. The three of us were a nice family. I didn’t want to lose any of that.”
“You left me with the cops – Dick.”
“Yeah. Things were way out of control. I didn’t want it to come to that.”
She reached over and started fondling him. He damned his response. She straddled him. It was too easy and felt too good. “I kept waiting for you to do your Special Forces magic – Dick. I’m not waiting anymore.”
Dick surrendered to the inevitable again. He hoped he would last until morning.
Early morning saw the Jeep running on County and Farm roads, drawing ever nearer to the border. The only time the couple felt safe risking civilization was to find gas for their ride. The weather was hot and dry. Dick decided they would look less conspicuous if they ran with the top down. Following that logic, the Jeep was totally open, doors lashed in back with the canvas top. With matching glasses and hats they looked like any other young adventuring couple. In fact, they passed several 4X4 vehicles toiling along the way. Dick kept theirs in two-wheel mode. First, the roads were pretty good, and second, he lived by the adage that as long as you stuck with two-wheel, you couldn’t get stuck so deep into the back country that you couldn’t walk back out.
A freebie state map acquired at a remote rest area showed them their progress toward what both of them thought of as Freedom. Finally, west of Del Rio, Dick moved well off-road into rougher territory. He picked a sheltered place to stop for the night and conceal the Jeep from overhead observation and any passersby. He scouted the area and was comforted by how the terrain and vegetation took him back to his time in Afghanistan … Such amazing similarities. He took his time to build a Dakota Hole campfire. They were great for concealment, safety, and Leave No Trace. Soon a bare hatful of fire at the bottom of the hole was heating water and cooking food. It was totally invisible from ten yards away. As night rose around them, he looked at the beautiful sky. “I don’t think we even need the tent tonight. That patch of sand will make a great bed.” He indicated a bare patch with a clump of grass at one end.
Jane looked at the sand, then the sky, and nodded. “I like it.”
She ate with the same ravenous appetite. She barely slowed down enough to talk about how close they were to the border and where they would cross tomorrow. She was like an animal, devouring everything in sight. After dinner and cleanup, she attacked him with the same appetite. Dick let himself ride the waves of emotion, but with some small part of him aware of the crazy aspects of the situation - the hunter/hunted part that had kept him alive in the combat zone. It was that combat zone awareness that maneuvered him on top at the crucial moment, in spite of her cries about Special Forces. It was that combat zone awareness that saw the sudden change in her eyes. It was the combat zone awareness that knew about the sharp rock hidden in the grass at the head of their sandy bed. His hand unerringly grabbed the rock and brought it to her temple with the same deadly accuracy. He saw the eyes change again, surprise and shock replacing intent. He felt something sting as it dropped onto his bare back and slid to the sand. He remained over her as the eyes filled with the emptiness that had consumed her soul.
Moving only his head he looked to his right to see what had stung his back. It was a black SOG folding knife. It had been in her left hand. He suspected he knew the fate of the previous owner. Feeling spent, he disengaged from the last embrace. He stood, breathing fast. He picked up his clothes and dressed. Once that was done, he dressed her and put her in the Jeep making sure the SOG knife was in her left hip pocket. He filled in the Dakota hole, packed up camp and loaded it all back into the Jeep. He picked up the pack he had filled in the pantry. He dumped most of the cans out, leaving only some jerky he’d stuck in the bottom. He loaded the pack the rest of the way with water, taking only one small bottle and two of the larger jugs. He added his clothes from the camp box.
He checked his map. There was a deep arroyo not too far away. He drove the Jeep there, leaving it running. He buckled Jane in the driver’s seat, engaged the four wheel drive, revved the engine and dropped it in gear. The Jeep moved off and dropped over the edge at an angle. The Jeep made it part way down before it started to roll. What landed at the bottom was barely recognizable.
Dick wrapped his hiking boots in a couple of shirts and used his sleeping bag to erase all tracks except the Jeep’s. Unless someone used an Apache tracker, he shouldn’t have left enough sign to be noticed. He shouldered his pack and moved North in the darkness.
It was a long walk back to sanity.