IT WAS RAINING and the Jeep top leaked. A rivulet of water ran down from a crack above the windshield and dripped onto the knee of his jeans. It was a cold winter rain and it served to emphasize the fact that the heater no longer functioned.
Screw it, he thought. Just a few more miles up the hollow. It was not a road as such upon which he traveled. Just two tire ruts cut through the fields and forests, ruts now slick and muddy.
He reached behind and grabbed the folded tarp from the back floor, placing it over the pistol on the passenger’s seat. No need to let the gun get wet. It might come in handy later, probably would.
Only a handful of people knew of the cabin, none of whom would tell. It was a good hideout as hideouts go, remote and hard to reach. And clear on at least three sides, which would offer a good field of fire if it came to that. A clear field of fire was essential. He had learned that the hard way, in a game where the wagers were for keeps.
“I shouldn’t have done it,” he said aloud to the roar of the engine. “But I did. Now I have to deal with the consequences.”
Just the look on Joey’s face made it all worthwhile. That bug-eyed, duh, I’m fucked now look. Alarm, pure and simple. He smiled thinking of that look. It would have been more comical had it not dissolved as it had. But then a .12 gauge up close tends to do that to a face.
A few minutes later the cabin drew into view. Rough gray weather beaten boards, a tin roof. Heavy plank door and two windows that shuttered from the inside. There was a small porch covered by a tin-framed awning. The wind had blown one corner post loose, he noticed.
He slung the duffel filled with supplies over his shoulder and grabbed the pistol with the other hand. He pulled it from the holster and stuck it into his belt in front. The Greener and rifle were clasp between his left bicep and chest.
The lone room was dusty and filled with cobwebs. He tossed the duffel bag to the floor, after propping the long guns against the wall. He then unfolded the cot leaning against the wall and sat down upon it. He noticed there were a few pieces of dry wood in the box. He had the gas-fired Coleman stove, so he didn’t need it for the coffee he planned to make shortly. Plus, the smoke might draw notice.
“Well, here I am,” he laughed aloud. “Let’em come.”
He turned and stretched out full length on the cot, his right hand resting on the pistol butt. Maybe a short nap was in order.
He dozed lightly. The rain drumming on the tin roof drowned out the sound of approaching footsteps outside. He had a dream, but it stopped all of a sudden.
by Ashwin Parulkar
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