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 Wicked Winds
Chapter 1.
1980 Flight

          A torrential downpour made visibility nearly impossible as I piloted my recently acquired used car south on Tennessee 31 and struggled to keep my hands from shaking. My grip on the steering wheel had passed the white knuckle stage, and my eyes were watering from the constant strain of peering through the heavy rain. Wipers worked feverishly to battle the onslaught, but I could barely make out the white hood of my little Dodge Dart. Since the hood of my car seemed to melt into storm, I was hoping perhaps the rest of the car would be equally cloaked by the rain.
           “There it is!” My cousin, Lynn, hollered from the passenger seat. She shouted to be heard above the road noise and thunder. I had almost passed the on-ramp to I-65.
            If my calculations were correct, we were in Alabama. Prior to this insanity, my dog-eared road atlas showed State 31 intersecting with I-65 in Alabama near the Tennessee line.
           “What now?” Lynn asked, as if she expected me to know!
          I improvised. “We’ll stay on the Interstate to put some distance between us and Tennessee. Take a look at the map, Lynn. Try to locate a likely spot fifty to a hundred miles south where we can fill the tank and get something to eat. We will need to change direction from there and get off the Interstate. It is the first place they will look for us, and every truck is a potential enemy scout.”

         The rain was letting up as we traveled south, but the strong winds occasionally rocked my little Dart and threatened to blow us off the highway. I was praying for an exit before we drew any attention should a few errant truckers be on the highway. I never figured that my initial visit with my cousin would end up with us racing south and running for our lives.


        Lynn and her little son,Trevor, were working on their burgers and fries when I joined them. I’d stashed the Dart around the back of the building between a couple of large campers; I hoped their owners didn’t leave before we did.  I was cold and miserable, not to mention scared out of my mind, and the chicken dumpling soup sounded like just the ticket.
      We were sharing another cup of coffee while going over the road atlas and planning the next stage of our escape. At that point in time, a uniformed law officer entered in the company of what appeared to be a cowboy in a dark rain slicker. Lynn was losing it. “Do you think they are looking for us?” she whispered.
       I tried to reassure her. “I think they’re only having something to eat.” The law could very well have a description of us and Trevor if her lunatic husband had reported his son as missing. My cousin was terrified the police officer would detain us until Bobby Jo and his half-wit brother, Henry, could catch up with us. “Lynn, why don’t you and Trevor use the restroom before we leave while I pay the bill? We won’t be able to stop again for quite awhile. I’ll pick up some donuts and coffee to go.”
       I was pocketing my change and about to pick up the carryout containers when Lynn exited the restroom with Trevor in tow. She glanced toward the main door of the truck stop, and then let loose with an earsplitting screech.
      “Jack! They’ve found us.”
       “Go back into the restroom.” After offering that lame bit of advice, I asked for a cup of coffee and had the girl at the checkout stash our order behind the counter. From my swivel stool at the counter, I watched the door behind me through the mirrored back of the donut and pastry display.
       I picked up the heavy glass sugar dispenser and freely poured the contents into the hot brew. My hands were shaking violently, so a good amount of sugar decorated the counter. I sure didn’t need the distraction of the tall imposing cowboy who was now paying his check, but he just wandered back to join his companion. I was a bit unnerved when he responded to the panicked bellow of my name.
       Henry Bodine entered the restaurant; he paused to scan the patrons and staff. I had the distinct feeling that he was stalling. So, where was Bobby Jo? He had to be here too. Henry walked up behind me and growled. “Get up. We’re leaving, or do you want to die here?”
       Neither of his choices appealed to me, but I decided I would rather die here than let him torture me to death. I threw my thick coffee mixture over my shoulder in the direction of his face. It was obvious from the howl of pain that my aim had been dead on. Henry was busy trying to wipe the goo out of his eyes. I spun around on the stool with the sugar container in hand and planted it upside his head. He staggered back from me. Still seated on the stool, I kicked him in his family jewels. As he hit the floor, I leapt over his prone form with the intention of locating Lynn and Trevor. Then the three of us needed to get the hell out of Dodge!
He managed to snag my pant leg as I attempted to clear his body. I went down hard. Lynn’s terrified scream was ringing in my ears as the world went black.

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