The mood in the car was somber, our usual banter tucked away for the time being. Tilly was slumped beside me, head back and eyes closed. It was his “leave-me-the-hell-alone” pose and I couldn’t blame him.
We’d pulled away from the curb just in time to see the tell-tale flashing reds coming towards us. Four cruisers zoomed by, followed by Maisie Hubert’s recognizable Buick. I figured if Maisie was enroute to the scene than that must mean Sheriff Roberts was leading the calvary to save the day. Too little too late by then again that was probably the idea all along. Let the townsfolk do what they want in order to guarantee his re-election then use their actions as a “platform” to clean up crime.
I shook my head.
After tonight, I’m done. I’m getting out of Keller’s Point. I can’t live here, knowing that I’d helped to kill Archie. I don’t know about the rest of the guys but I can’t stay.
I hadn’t noticed the swirling red and blue colors lighting up the interior of the car until the whoop of the siren broke into my thoughts. I glanced over my shoulder, cursing under my breath.
Tilly sat up with a “What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t believe this-“ Mark groaned, his eyes flickering to the rearview mirror. Fletcher looked through the side mirror and swore,
“Shit, I bet it’s that stupid sheriff.”
“What the hell is he following us for?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” Mark said, “But I’m gonna pull over-“
“Pull over?” Tilly and Fletcher both shouted.
“What the hell for?” Tilly demanded. He leaned in between the seats, his voice frantic. “Don’t pull over, man.”
“Uh, Tilly?” I started but he whirled around, fixing me with a glare,
“Shut up, Jake.” He shoved me back against the seat, “If it wasn’t for you and your ‘let’s-show-our-faces’ bullshit, we'd been at the cemetery by now.”
I shoved him back.
“Oh yeah, like your idea of taking off on a cop is any better-“
“Cool it, the both of you!” Mark shouted, glaring at the two of us through the rearview mirror, “I’m gonna pull over. You two sit back and shut the hell up!”
I didn't say another word as he parked and waited. I took another peek over my shoulder. The cruiser pulled up in behind us and both doors opened. I turned back to the front just as one officer came on Fletcher's side with a giant flash light, the other officer bending down to look in the car.
Sheriff Roberts' sour smelling, cigar-tainted breath instantly filled the interior and it was all I could do not to choke. I don't know how Mark held it together as the sheriff leaned in the window, chomping on his soggy stogie. We didn't say anything, just let him see our faces.
The other guy kept flicking the flashlight around, hitting each of us in turn.
Sheriff Roberts worked the stogie around his lips before taking it out of his mouth. He turned to spit before speaking,
"So where're you boys heading?"
"What did you stop us for?" Tilly snapped belligerently. "We ain't doing nothing wrong!"
I groaned when Sheriff Roberts' head snapped in his direction, his face suddenly angry. He pointed a beefy finger at him.
"Shut your trap, Tillman Donalds! I'm asking the questions around here!"
I kicked Tilly in his ankle, silently warning him to shut the hell up. We didn't need to get hauled down to County on account of him antagonizing the sheriff. The beam of light stayed on Tilly's face, before flickering to mine briefly. I put up a hand to block the searing light.
"We're heading down to Cherry Beach." Mark offered. I silently swore at his blunder. Tilly threw up his hands in exasperation and gave me a wide-eyed look, like "Can you believe this guy?"
The sheriff picked up on it, too. He looked at Mark, then at Fletcher before he snorted,
"What do you think I am, stupid or something?" He glared at each of us in turn, "Cherry Beach is back the other way." Sheriff Roberts suddenly stood up, slammed his hand on the top of the car, while the other went to rest on his gun, "Get outta the car right now. All of you."
I blindly fumbled for the door, images of being locked in a cell down at County, of all places. The fear seized my brain and I felt my throat close up. I couldn't think of anything to say, to get us out of this. Tilly suddenly dug his fingers into my arm. I winced and was ready to lay into him but he wasn't looking at me. He nodded towards the front seat where Mark and Fletcher were bickering, low and fast. Mark then met our eyes in the rear-view mirror but it was Fletcher who looked over the seat and said quickly,
"I'm telling him."
Before I could grasp what the hell he was saying he'd leaned over Mark and said, loud and clear,
"We know where Archie is."
*to be continued*
© copyright 2011 by Ren Thompson July 29, 2011