Deadly justice, p.36
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       Deadly Justice, p.36

           Darrell Case
 
Over the next three days, Alison crossed five states. Like a small animal pursued by a hungry predator, she found no rest. Her assignment now was to lay low and keep moving. She traveled at night, hopping freights or hiding in the backs of semis. One time she hunched in the bed of a farm truck for a hundred miles or more. Her only nourishment came from restaurant dumpsters. One night she found a bag of discarded clothing behind a thrift store. She dug around in it and pulled out a pair of loafers with the soles slightly split. Amazingly, the shoes and clothes fit perfectly. She ditched her prison duds at the bottom of a dumpster.

  Landing in Nebraska in the tiny town of Lerds, she took refuge in an open, empty bay of a tractor repair shop. She found some rags and spread them on the floor in a space between a workbench and the wall. She slumped down as exhaustion overcame her. She closed her eyes, intending to awake before dawn and continue her run.

  “Well, what do we have here?”

  The voice startled her She jerked awake, her heart racing. Sunlight streamed through the huge open exterior doorway.

  Smiling down at her was a gray- haired man of about 60. He appeared more stocky than heavy set. He wore a blue uniform with the words John’s Repair stitched over one pocket. Over the other, pocket was the name John.

  “Young lady, you look like you been rode hard and put away wet.” He reached down and offered his right hand to help her up. Alison grasped the rough, calloused fingers. She stood and swayed, feeling faint.

  “Whoa there,” John said, wrapping a big hand around her upper arm to steady her. He led her over to an upended five- gallon bucket. "You best set here until you get your sea legs."

  Gratefully, Allison eased down onto the bucket. Her eyes moistened in response to this sudden kindliness. She stifled the tears and smiled up at him. She noticed the cane. His left leg appeared to be shorter than the right giving him a lopsided appearance. He held out his right hand.

  “Name’s John as if you couldn't figure that out from the shirt.” He smiled and pointed to the stitching over his left pocket. Allison shook his hand and was rewarded with a firm, friendly grip. “Betty Sue.” She fudged, not sure how far she could trust this man. “Am I in trouble?”

  “Naw, I take in strays every once in a while,” he said, turning away. “I's about to brew a pot of coffee. You want some?”

  “Coffee sounds good”

  When the coffee was done, John handed her a cup. He upended another bucket, and groaned as he leaned on his cane to lower himself down on it.

  “Arthritis fights me every morning. Knees are the worst. One day I'm gonna have to give up crawling over these big monsters.”He waved his cup at a huge John Deer in the adjacent bay. “They ain’t as easy to work on as they were 40 years ago.”

  Alison thought of the John Deere slogan and had to stymie a laugh. She kept silent while she sipped on the dark liquid, relishing the warmth spreading throughout her body.

  “So Betty Sue, I know everyone ithis burg but I sure ain’t seen you before. How’d you end up in our little corner of the world?”

  Allison kept silent, unwilling to sully herself and this kind soul with another untruth. It hadn’t taken long in his presence for her to know that John was a good man, a simple man who expected truth from all with whom he came into contact.

  After a few seconds, he said. “Well Betty Jean or Betty Sue or whatever your name is, I see there’s a ring on your left hand.”

  Looking down at it pensively, Allison fingered her mother's wedding band.

  “Now don't you be embarrassed you ain’t the first one that took off on and abusive husband.” Allison was uncomfortable with his assumption but kept her eyes down and nodded slightly.

  John reached over and opened the top drawer of an old battered desk. He rummaged around, pulled out an object and held it out. Alison's heart thumped when she saw the five-point star. Engraved on the surface was the word Marshall.

  Slowly Allison reached behind her back. Then she remembered she had left the Glock beneath a pile of tractor parts.

  “This what your lookin' for?” John picked up the pistol from behind a box. “Awful big gun for such a little lady.” He laid it on the desk beside the badge.

  Allison felt trapped. She knew she could take the elderly man but didn't want to hurt him. She remained silent, waiting. “You sure you need this hog leg to protect yourself?”

  “He's awful mean. He tried to kill me,” Allison offered in using her best little girl voice. “He's been chasin' me for a while.”

  John's eyes hardened, the friendliness disappeared. His demeanor became firm, authoritative. He picked up the gun, and handed it to Allison butt first.

  “Now don't you go aiming that thing at anybody you don't fix to shoot.”

  Relieved, Allison took the Glock and laid it on the floor beside her bucket.

  Getting to his feet with a grimace, John said, “Now don't you take no offence, but I think I can make a man out of you.”

  Allison's questioning look made him laugh.

  His cane tapping on the concrete, John hobbled over to a row of lockers on the far wall. He opened one, closed it, then opened another. He removed a bundle of clothing and closed the locker. He hobbled back and handed Allison a shirt and pair of pants. Stitched above the shirt pocket was the name Jim.

  Stitched above the shirt was the name 'Jim'.

  “I think these will fit you. They may be a little loose.”

  Standing up, Allison said. “I don't understand.”

  “I been lookin' to hire a helper and yer it.” He grinned at her.

  “But...but I'm sorry but I don't know anything about mechanics.”

  “Well then you'll be like most of the guys that's worked for me. If you want the job that is.”

  “I'm very grateful.”

  “Good, Bathrooms in the back. Why don't you put these on and we'll see how you look.”

 

 

  Chapter 26

 
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