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The Restless Age

(beginning of excerpt)

In just five short minutes, the snow had covered his hood and windshield in a thin blanket. Reynolds left the wipers off to preserve the battery. The Eldorado would hold its heat for a while, maybe twenty minutes or just over. If a cop came by, he would give Reynolds a jump-start; more than likely, no one else would. He could start walking now, or wait until the heat was gone, guarding his automobile and hoping for someone to come.

Five more minutes went by, and Reynolds couldn’t see through the windshield anymore. The windows had fogged up and he wanted to roll down his window, but by doing so he would be letting out heat. Darkness was still several hours away, and he had plenty of time to walk back and forth to Stryker’s for gas, two miles away, or arrange for a tow truck if he needed to.

He tried to remember the last time he had heard a weather report. Snow, of course, but how many inches? If he waited too long, what were the odds that his beloved Eldorado might sit out here all night? What if it were then pinched by someone else who was trying to tell Reynolds he wasn’t wanted? He pushed the door open, resolved to forget waiting for a Good Samaritan.

If he had resolved two seconds earlier, Reynolds would have probably lost his left leg instead of just his driver’s door. He watched the door get yanked away from the car, and felt a great blast of cold air take its place. The truck that did it was a ’74 pick-em-up, and clipping along at a brisk seventy-per, bad roads or not. All Reynolds caught was the sight of tinted windows as it was going by. He didn’t even get to glimpse the color of the thing before it was skidding sideways, brakes locked. The gust of wind had cleared or jarred loose the snow on his windshield, and Reynolds, shocked to granite, was suddenly able to watch the truck slew to a stop in the middle of the county road.

Reynolds counted to ten, nobody stepped out of the truck. The doors never even opened.

An accident? Or a botched assassination?

Should he run? Or make contact?

Reynolds sat, paralyzed by shock and indecision. And sat. And sat. And sat even longer, waiting for the feeling to come back into his feet. Still no sign of life in the truck. He wondered if maybe the driver was waiting for Reynolds to walk over and tap on the glass. Then what? Then the driver would roll down the window … and maybe show him the twin barrels of a shotgun before the fair town was rid of its local lunatic once and for all. Would they go that far?

He made himself lean over, peering down the road behind him. Only witnesses were telephone poles, snow, and trees. No one here but he and his new acquaintance.

And the snow was coming down harder. It was heading fast towards a blizzard.

Reynolds stuck a still nearly-numb leg out into space and realized he was still wearing his seat belt. When he reached down to undo it, his lack of feel told him his fingers were numb, too. He would make the contact, ask for insurance information, stay as calm as he could, and hope that his delusions were actually that. All the same, it occurred to him that he should maybe carry a weapon from now on, if the state would allow him to have one.

The snow was deep enough now to leak through his K-Mart sneakers. If he wasn’t so busy psyching himself up for the coming encounter, he would have been cursing himself for not better anticipating the weather. By the time he reached the edge of the truck’s tailgate (still no sign of the driver), Reynolds’ shoes were soaked through, but his feet were no longer numb. He decided the driver might have hit his head and was unconscious—of course! What else could he possibly be waiting for?

Only now did he fully realize the truck was dark green.

            The driver’s door opened quickly and Reynolds, if not for the Prozac, would have fallen over backwards. Instead, his reaction was slowed to the point of being almost no reaction at all. He just stood there, staring at the creature that leaned out from behind the wheel.

(end of excerpt)

 

 

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