The idiot didn’t even wait for me to leave the parking lot before he pulled out his cell phone and started screaming into it. I sat in my car and watched him gesture wildly with his left arm while his right pressed the cell phone so hard against his jug ear that it was mashed flat. I had no doubt who he was calling: his mysterious lady friend, the one who paid him to send travelers to her.
I put the Mustang in gear and started for the road, the one that I’d first thought was a driveway. Before the tires touched it, I pulled out my Glock from the holster nestled in the small of my back. I held the gun against my left thigh as I turned down the road.
The road was paved–sort of–with a mixture of oyster shells and slag, but that petered out once I reached the first of many curves. After that, it was sand and dirt and holes, more of an old logging trail than a road. I winced every time the car bounced through a pothole. I kept an eye out for stumps in the narrow road, had to swerve to miss a few. My car was a bit low to the ground, and the last thing I wanted was to have the air dam or some other, more vital, part ripped from its belly. I paused after the first painful mile to check my cell phone. No surprise: no signal.
The pine trees bordering the trail gave way to bayou and weird, twisted, stunted trees that I couldn’t identify. I saw armies of cypress knees poking through the bayou water. The water was the color of Yoo-Hoo and also harbored a couple of ragged couches.
Two miles. Three miles, my ass began to ache from being bounced and jounced in the leather seat. I would have to get the shocks replaced after this. I had no idea if I was still in Texas, or if this was now Louisiana.
Four point three miles, I reached a clearing. There was a battered two-story house on my left, and straight ahead, something that made me hit the brakes and stare for a few moments. It was a store, a low, rectangular brick building with an old gas pump out front and an antique Coca-Cola cooler near the glass front door. There was a bench on the other side of the cooler, and a husky man in overalls and a John Deere cap sat on the bench. When he saw me, he waved and got to his feet. His shoes looked odd, and when he got closer, I saw that they had been constructed from what appeared to be car tires.
He passed a small wooden sign planted near the gas pump that announced that Interstate 10 was only three miles to the left of the store. I knew that was bullshit.
He reached the car hood and I saw that he was a she.