On Dangerous Ground
On Dangerous Ground
Lose my freedom? Fuck that!
I needed to get out of town. Fast. I could give you all the details, try to convince you of my side, but really all you need to know is that certain people wanted me in their clutches and I didn't want that. Now, I'm not a murderer or drug dealer or anything like that. I just got caught in the switches and needed to get out.
So far, everything worked pretty well. I had cut and dyed my hair from its original long, blonde to a short, dark brown and managed to keep attention off of me, all the way from my hurried exit out of my dingy apartment to where I was now - a roadside diner surrounded by pine trees. Alone in a window booth I slowly sipped coffee and tried to figure out how far my last, pathetic amount of cash would take me. When I bolted from my apartment, I made sure to leave behind all my credit cards and driver's license. A decision I now almost regretted. One measly cash advance wouldn't have hurt, would it?
No. Don't think that way. I carried nothing that would peg me as Jordan Donovan, and that was probably why I had made it so far. So, stop it. One use of the plastic and I'd be nailed like a nervous virgin, and not by very nice people either. I took another precious sip. The coffee was almost gone and, in a more complete way, so was I. I had to leave my old life behind. What was done was done. Live with it.
Live. That was something I wanted to do, very much. But at the moment, I was stuck for a ride. All the innocent families in their SUV's that stopped for gas or candy for screaming kids or whatever probably weren't very approachable to giving a stranger a ride. I could have tried hitching. A woman as young as me wouldn't have had much trouble getting a ride from a trucker, only the roadside diner wasn't on a busy interstate. I had chosen this two-lane route just to avoid as many people as possible.
So, here I was, as far as my bus ticket could take me, with no mobile prospects in sight. End of the line, all right, in more ways than one.
Ah, wait a sec. A truck pulled in and parked. Not an eighteen wheeler, but one of those old Ford, shortbed style jobs from the fifties. What's more, a canvas tarp hung down from a high overhead frame and covered the bed. Perfect. I could sneak in and hide behind whatever crates they might have in there. All I had to do was wait as two young, strong men swung down from the cab and occupied a couple of barstools. The waitress greeted them like old friends and didn't even ask for their orders, as she already knew what they wanted. So I waited, then nonchalantly threw down the last of my money for the coffee and sauntered outside.
The truck bed had a short, wooden gate that swung out and all the way down in back. I was in good shape, so it wasn't hard to give a quick twist to scan the parking lot one more time while I jumped up and landed on my ass. I pulled my legs up quick, ducked behind the tarp and pulled the gate back up behind me.
Hardly any light bled through the tarp, and that heavy canvas smell seemed to permeate everything, but hardly and seemed to didn't mean that I couldn't see or smell something else. I wasn't the only person there, or the only one scared shitless.
Instead of boxes or crates full of produce, there were women. Handcuffed and manacled to wooden benches on either side of the truck's bed, each one blindfolded, each one exuding a smell that no one could mistake for anything other than fear. Some had their hands cuffed behind them, others in front and anchored by a chain to a central ring in the truck's wooden bed. A couple even held hands tightly, as if to assure the other. The knuckles on both were white as neither of them seemed to be doing a good job. One of them was real young, maybe nineteen or twenty at best. The other was older, late thirties, early forties maybe. The young one's lips quivered, while the older