Friday, May 16, 2014

Jeff Tsuruoka Week 99: Night Train Part Ten

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Jeff Tsuruoka’s Picture Choice: 2

Title: Night Train Part Ten

Madeline grinned and hit the accelerator.
   “How many we got back there, chouette?” she drawled.
   I stuck my head out the window and took another look. Our pursuers sped up to keep pace.
   “Three. That I can see.”
   “Only three?”
   She sped up some more. The trees lining the side of the road became a shadowy blur in the fading light.
   “You know where you’re going?” I asked.
   “I got the water to my right,” she replied. “How hard could it be?”
   “You’ve also got the water to your left.”
   She took her eyes off the road long enough to glare at me.
   “Atlantic Ocean,” I growled, pointing to the right. Then I pointed to the left. “Chesapeake Bay.”
   “So it’s north or south then.”
   I laughed.
   “Sure, only you’ll run out of land if we go far enough south.”
   That got me a harder glare.
   “You sure picked a swell spot for your soul searching, Moe.”
   There wasn’t anything in that for me, so I let it go.
   “So you’re saying they’ll expect me to go north,” she mused.
   The convertible’s tires screeched as she turned the car around without bothering to slow down.
   Half of my ass detached from the seat. My face hit the window.
   Madeline righted the car and punched it. We barreled forward, right at our pursuers. I took the Colt out of my pocket.
   “What do you think you’re gonna do with that, chouette?”
   “I don’t know,” I grumbled. “It makes me feel better.”
   “Whatever gets you through the night, honey,” she said, tightening her grip on the wheel. “Hold on.”
   The driver of the lead car chasing us held it steady.
   Harvey Hendin headlines swam around in my head.
   Big City Gangster Ends His Days As Maryland Roadkill.
   Madeline inhaled, then let the air out of the side of her mouth, as the distance between her breezer and our pursuers vanished.
   I could just make out two round, pale faces in the front seat of the other car, with all four eyes wide open with panic.
   Madeline cruised toward them.
   The driver of the lead car broke. He threw the wheel all the way to the right, sending his vehicle bouncing across the road. Tires burst as the car skidded to a stop on the shoulder.
   The other two drivers followed suit.
   Madeline blew right through as the Marylanders seethed at us from wherever their cars had ended up.
   I looked back. One of them was still after us.
   “Down to one,” I said.
   She nodded.
   “Round two.”
   She turned the car around again. I felt the suspension buckling beneath us as she came out of the spin and made for the oncoming car at top speed.
   The driver didn’t even try to be brave. He swerved well before Madeline would have crashed into him. Tires squealed as he tried and failed to pull out of his panicked maneuver. The car raced across the shoulder, ending up front-end down in the roadside ditch.
   Madeline threw her head back and cackled. She cackled some more as we passed the broken-down Marylanders again, then continued north up the coast.
   I let myself breathe.
   “You’re out of your mind,” I said, putting my gun back in my pocket. “You know that, right?”
   She hit me with a smile that made me feel like a young boy getting his first taste of leg.
   “Yeah, but you love that about me.”
   I couldn’t argue with that, so I didn’t.
   We rode in silence for the next few miles. Madeline watched the road. I stuck my head out my window and stared into the distance behind us. All I saw was asphalt and a blackening blue sky.
   The rumble of an engine-- maybe an echo of Madeline’s, maybe something else-- got and held my attention.
   “Those boys come back for more?” asked Madeline.
   “I’m not sure.”
   She kept on going.
   I spotted the cars when they came over the rise.
   “Looks like two of them,” I said.
   She didn’t say anything. Not at first. We covered another mile, then she hit the brakes and let fly with some very unladylike Cajun.
   I pulled my head in and turned around.
   Bright lights shone out ahead of us, filling both lanes of the country road.
   Madeline took her foot off the brake and started forward at a slow speed.
   “That’s what I think it is, isn’t it, Moe?”
   “Just as long as you think it’s a roadblock.”
   “If you’ve got a plan, chouette, now’s the time to tell me about it.”
   I glanced out back. The two cars chugged along, closing the distance between us.
   “There’s one good thing,” I mused. “They can’t shoot at us without risking hitting their pals with the lights.”
   “Are we runnin’ it or what?” she demanded.
   “Give me a second,” I growled.
   I took thirty seconds, long enough for the roadblock to come into view.
   It looked like the entire local law enforcement community-- all seven of them-- turned out to stop us. Seven sheriff’s department cars sat parked behind a wooden barrier, all lit by a set of search lights. I counted a dozen uniformed officers behind the barrier. Eleven of them held rifles. The twelfth, the sheriff himself, stood with his arms folded across his chest.
   I thought about crashing through. The cars didn’t bother me. The rifles did.
   “I guess we’re going to find out what they have to say.”
   She looked at me sideways.
   “I didn’t come down here to kill cops, Madeline.”
   “Who said anything about killing cops?”
   “How else do you think we’re getting past that roadblock?”
   She opened her mouth to reply, shut it, then trained her eyes forward. She rolled the breezer to a stop in front of the barrier.
   The sheriff came around and leaned in my window.
   “Evening, Sheriff,” I said.
   He stared at me, eyes cold and still. His face was close enough for me to see the red spot on his forehead where his hat chafed.
   “Having some trouble there, Mr. Malloy?”
   “Sure am. A bunch of folks tried to run us off the road back there. Might want to look into it.”
   He chuckled, a low, humorless rasp.
   “Why don’t you follow us, Mr. Malloy? You and me have things to discuss.”
   “We do?”
   He straightened up.
   “I’m only gonna ask you the one time,” he said. “And while I’m at it, how’ ‘bout handing over any weapons you’ve got on you?”
   I stared him down for as long as honor required, then nodded and gave him the Colt.
   “Good choice, son.”
   He signaled for his men to remove the barrier, then he climbed into his vehicle.

   The Sheriff led us off the main road and down a narrow lane that cut through the trees on the Bay side. Two deputies followed behind us.
   Night took hold while we drove. Gray clouds obscured the moon, blanketing everything in pale gray darkness.
   We stopped in front of a cabin. An honest to God log cabin. Trees ringed the thing in on three sides. The foliage was thin enough for me to see what little moonlight there was reflected on the surface of the water behind the cabin.
   The sheriff’s deputies got us out of Madeline’s car, then ushered us inside.
   The place was dark and, from the sound and feel of it, entirely unfurnished. Our footsteps on the hardwood floor echoed around empty rooms as we were led toward the back.
   They deposited us in a sun room, off what I assumed was the kitchen. A sliding glass door afforded us a great view of the lake.
   The sheriff came into the room, pointing at the deputies.
   “Go find a couple of chairs,” he ordered.
   “Wouldn’t mind some coffee,” I murmured.
   Madeline squeezed my hand in the darkness.
   “I think that can be arranged,” he said. “Got some official business to attend to. We’ll talk when I get back.”
   The two deputies brought in a couple of cheap folding chairs and put them out for us.
   “Don’t do anything stupid, fella,” said one of them-- the blond one with the lazy eye and big chin.
   “Stupid? Me?”
   Madeline and I sat down to wait for the sheriff to return.
   The deputy pointed at the sliding door.
   “Don’t even think about it,” he warned.
   “What are we gonna do?” I shot back. “Swim for it?”
   He socked me in the shoulder-- the one that had recently housed a bullet. It took all I had not to slide out of the chair.
   “You know,” he said, “I don’t think you need to bother telling anyone you’re from New York.”
   They left us alone in the room.
   Madeline leaned in and put her arm around my shoulders.
   “I hope you know what you’re doing, chouette.”

   “Me too, baby. Me too.”


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Jeff Tsuruoka is an author in search of a writing career. He has found a home in the Flash Fiction circuit and is grateful to the blog hosts that give him the opportunity to get his work out there. You can follow him on Twitter @JTsuruoka and be sure to keep tabs on his weekly contributions to Daily Picspiration.



  1. You're so good at creating suspense and moving the story forward at such a fast, exciting pace! I have a bad feeling about their situation and that sheriff.

  2. Agreed. Great pace. I was with them all along and want to know just how crafty Moe can be. Again, gotta love that Madeline. She's a perfect sidekick.

  3. I couldn't believe the road-block, I thought they were going to make it. Damn, a cliff hanger - hate that! Seriously caught up this tale, great read Jeff!