Today's Reading

Henry waved forlornly at the toppled desert plants all around him. 'Drove right through the yard without slowin' down, see the track? Straight through the fence like they never heard of obstacles, down into the borrow pit and back up onto the road. Tore off back to town about a hundred miles an hour.'

'Any chance,' Sarah asked them, 'you got the make and model on that auto? Or the license?'

'Beat-up Dodge Ram pickup. Club cab,' Henry said. 'Looked old,' Jacob added, 'but they must have some kinda souped-up motor. That baby could move.'

Henry said, 'Arizona license but that's all I got.'

'First three letters XMZ,' Jacob said, earning a surprised look from Henry. 'I didn't get any numbers.'


'Ehh, dirty gray. Or dark blue. Getting back on the road, he just missed colliding with the patrol cars coming in pursuit. Cut in right in front of them.'

'I think we heard some of that,' Sarah said. 'We were on our way by then, listening on the radio.'

'Yeah, well, then didja hear the part,' Jacob could not repress a grin, 'where them patrol cars was goin' so fast they missed our driveway and had to go way up the road to turn around?'

'While you stood here with a dead man in a van, right?' Sarah said.

'But we didn't know that yet,' Henry said. 'What I did know was that motor was still running and I was sure it was gonna explode. So I run over here to turn it off.' He looked back along the driveway he had run, remembering. 'But when I got here somebody was yelling inside the van and doing a lot of thumping.'

'Henry was all set to give the driver hell for reckless driving,' Jacob said, grinning some more. 'But he never got a chance because the passenger was just inside in a wheelchair, yelling and pounding on the door with his cane.'

'Were there other passengers?'

'No, just him.'

'Was he hurt?'

'No, but he was gasping for breath,' Henry said. 'Yelling that the driver was hurt, it wasn't safe in there, we had to get him out.'

'Truth is he was perfectly safe once the shooting stopped,' Jacob said, 'the wheelchair locks into a frame on the floor, he wasn't rolling around or nothing. But it was Mr Ames in the chair, and we all know it's no use arguing with him. So I grabbed the portable oxygen tank that we keep in the van and helped him get the cannula in his nose and around his ears.'

Sarah made a note: Ames status?

'And even Mr Ames can't snort oxygen and yell at the same time, so for a couple minutes things quieted down,' Henry said. 'So then I did turn toward the driver...for help! Because after all, the passengers are his job, not mine. But—' Henry made a choking noise and put his hands in their heavy work gloves up to his face.

Till now he had seemed the model of an authority figure, but as Sarah watched, his shoulders began to shake and he made little mmp noises. Sarah waited three breaths and then said quietly, 'But you found him slumped over the steering wheel, is that it? Unresponsive.'

Henry said, through his gloves, 'With blood coming out of his eyes and nose...'

'You done better'n I did,' Jacob said, trying to comfort Henry. 'I took one look and jumped out of there yelling for help. Lucky thing was right then those three cop cars got back to our driveway. Two of them went on after the shooters but one turned in, and two boys in blue jumped out. So I got them to help me get Mr Ames out of the van.'

'Was he in very bad shape?'

'Nah,' Jacob said. 'He was just havin' a panic attack. I thought maybe he was going to have a stroke but he never shut up long enough to fall over.'

Henry turned sharply, shook his head and made a tampingdown motion with his hands. Jacob shrugged and looked at his shoes.

'OK, so you got him out...'


'And then what?'

'Took him inside. This time of year, we got strict orders—don't leave any of these folks in the sun for more'n a minute or two.'

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