Page 3 of Ford County

"Sure," added Aggie, but only because he had to.

A car approached from the other direction, and just before it passed them, Aggie inadvertently allowed the truck's left front wheel to touch the yellow center line. Then he yanked it back. The other car swerved sharply.

"That was a cop!" Aggie yelled. He and Roger snapped their heads around for a fleeting look. The other car was stopping abruptly, its brake lights fully applied.

"Damned sure is," Roger said. "A county boy. Go!"

"He's comin' after us," Calvin said in a panic.

"Blue lights! Blue lights!" Roger squawked. "Oh shit!"

Aggie instinctively gunned his engine, and the big Dodge roared over the hill. "Are you sure this is a good idea?" he said.

"Just go, dammit," Roger yelled.

"We got beer cans ever'where," Calvin added.

"But I'm not drunk," Aggie insisted. "Runnin' just makes things worse."

"We're already runnin'," Roger said. "Now the important thing is to not get caught." And with that, he drained another can as if it might be his last.

The pickup hit eighty miles per hour, then ninety, as it flew over a long stretch of flat highway. "He's comin' fast," Aggie said, glancing at the mirror, then back at the highway ahead. "Blue lights to hell and back."

Calvin rolled down his window and said, "Let's toss the beer!"

"No!" Roger squawked. "Are you crazy? He can't catch us. Faster, faster!"

The pickup flew over a small hill and almost left the pavement, then it screeched around a tight curve and fishtailed slightly, enough for Calvin to say, "We're gonna kill ourselves."

"Shut up," Roger barked. "Look for a driveway. We'll duck in."

"There's a mailbox," Aggie said and hit the brakes. The deputy was seconds behind them, but out of sight. They turned sharply to the right, and the truck's lights swept across a small farmhouse tucked low under huge oak trees.

"Cut your lights," Roger snapped, as if he'd been in this situation many times. Aggie killed the engine, switched off the lights, and the truck rolled quietly along the short dirt drive and came to a rest next to a Ford pickup owned by Mr. Bufurd M. Gates, of Route 5, Owensville, Mississippi.

The patrol car flew by them without slowing, it's blue lights ablaze but its siren still off. The three donors sat low in the seat, and when the blue lights were long gone, they slowly raised their heads.

The house they had chosen was dark and silent. Evidently, it was not protected by dogs. Even the front porch light was off.

"Nice work," Roger said softly as they began to breathe again.

"We got lucky," Aggie whispered.

They watched the house and listened to the highway, and after a few minutes of wonderful silence agreed that they had indeed been very lucky.

"How long we gonna sit here?" Calvin finally asked.

"Not long," Aggie said as he stared at the windows of the house.

"I hear a car," Calvin said, and the three heads ducked again. Seconds passed, and the deputy flew by from the other direction, lights flashing but still no siren. "Sumbitch is lookin' for us," Roger mumbled.

"Of course he is," Aggie said.

"When the sound of the patrol car faded in the distance, the three heads slowly rose in the Dodge, then Roger said, "I need to pee."

"Not here," Calvin said.

"Open the door," Roger insisted.

"Can't you wait?"

"No."

Calvin slowly opened the passenger's door, stepped out, then watched as Roger tiptoed to the side of Mr. Gate's Ford truck and began urinating on the front right wheel.

Unlike her husband, Mrs. Gates was a light sleeper. She was certain she had heard something out there, and when she was fully awake, she became even more convinced of it. Bufurd had been snoring for an hour, but she finally managed to interrupt his slumber. He reached under his bed and grabbed his shotgun.

Roger was still urinating when a small light came on in the kitchen. All three saw it immediately. "Run!" Aggie hissed through the window, then grabbed the key and turned the ignition. Calvin jumped back into the truck while grunting, "Go, go, go!" as Aggie slammed the transmission in reverse and hit the gas. Roger yanked his pants up while scrambling toward the Dodge.

He flung himself over the side and landed hard in the bed, among the empty beer cans, then held on as the truck flew back down the driveway toward the road. IT was at the mailbox when the front porch light popped on. It slid to a stop on the asphalt as the front door slowly opened and an old man pushed back the screen. "He's got a gun!" Calvin said.

"Too bad," Aggie said as he slammed the stick into drive and peeled rubber for fifty feet as they made a clean escape. A mile down the highway, Aggie turned onto a narrow country lane and stopped the engine. All three got out and stretched their muscles and had a good laugh at the close call. They laughed nervously and worked hard to believe that they had not been frightened at all. They speculated about where the deputy might be at the moment. They cleaned out the bed of the truck and left their empty cans in a ditch. Ten minutes passed and there was no sign of the deputy.

Aggie finally addressed the obvious. "We gotta get to Memphis, fellas."

Calvin, more intrigued by the Desperado than by the hospital, added, "You bet. It's gettin' late."

Roger froze in the center of the road and said, "I dropped my wallet."

"You what?"

"I dropped my wallet."

"Where?"

"Back there. Must have fell out when I was takin' a leak."

There was an excellent chance that Roger's wallet contained nothing of value - no money, driver's license, credit cards, membership cards of any kind, nothing more useful than perhaps an old condom. And Aggie almost asked, "What's in it?" But he did not, because he knew that Roger would claim that his wallet was loaded with valuables.

"I gotta go get it," he said.

"Are you sure?" Calvin asked.

"It's got my money, license, credit cards, everything."

"But the old man had a gun."

"And when the sun comes up, the old man will find my wallet, call the sheriff in Ford County, and we'll be screwed. You're pretty stupid, you know."

"At least I didn't lose my wallet."

"He's right," Aggie said. "He's gotta go get it." It was noted by the other two that Aggie emphasized the "he" and said nothing about "we."

"You're not scared, are you, big boy?" Roger said to Calvin.

"I ain't scared, 'cause I ain't goin' back."

"I think you're scared."

"Knock it off," Aggie said. "Here's what we'll do. We'll wait until the old man has time to get back in bed, then we'll ease down the road, get close to the house but not too close, stop the truck, then you can sneak down the driveway, find the wallet, and we'll haul ass."

"I'll bet there's nothin' in the wallet," Calvin said.

"And I'll bet it's got more cash than your wallet," Roger shot back as he reached into the truck for another beer.

"Knock it off," Aggie said again.

They stood beside the truck, sipping beer and watching the deserted highway in the distance, and after fifteen minutes that seemed like an hour they loaded up, with Roger in the back. A quarter of a mile from the house, Aggie stopped the truck on a flat section of highway. He killed the engine so they could hear any approaching vehicle.

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