Two days passed without incident. No sign of Patty or the white and gold jumpsuit. As far as he could tell the Sheriff couldn’t do anything without a body or the perpetrator, and Doug couldn’t answer Lincoln about the color of Burt’s eyes. Lincoln spied his neighbors continuing their weekly routine, the only difference was everyone getting home before curfew.
Electrocuting Wyatt made everyone think twice about gathering on his lawn again demanding he share his supplies and bunker. They tried to corner him into submission, and now he knows who to keep an eye on. The ones to shoot first and ask questions later.
Fear was slowly making it’s rounds, growing little by little until it turned into desperation to survive. His neighbors will gravitate back to him. It’s only a matter of time. Lincoln was fully aware that if he stayed in his house he’d have to shoot his neighbors. It’s a good thing he never made friends with any of them.
Peeping from the blinds he saw an empty street, no cars or people in sight. It gave him the confidence boost he needed to get away without being seen. If he’s going to run errands, now would be the time. Janice, a neighbor near the end of the street, sped by in her Lexus as the sky started to lighten.
Cracking his knuckles out of habit he checked for his wallet, watch, and gun, making sure they were all in place. An emergency pack was already in his midnight blue Land Cruiser, kept ready just in case he was out and needed supplies to make it back home. Several guns were hidden in a concealed compartment. He was ready for shit to hit the fan.
According to the prepper forums online, everyone in the big cities were being swarmed with the marines, armies and coast guard. In some parts, fences were going up. Rumor was to keep people out, but Lincoln figured it was to do both: to keep people in and certain people out. Dessarillo is small enough to be left alone—for now—maybe they won’t have time to infiltrate the tiny town.
The garage door squealed as it rose. Backing out onto the street slowly, Lincoln heard the hybrid car before he saw it. The stupid wheezing noise like it had allergies. Turning in his seat he couldn’t clearly see the head full of brown hair attached to the male in the driver’s seat, but he knew it was Wyatt. Wyatt’s the only one on the block that drives that piece of shit. Someone should have told him to buy a diesel, electricity will be hard to come by soon.
Houses sailed by as Lincoln turned up the street heading for an exit. He watched Wyatt turn in the same direction. He can’t be following me, Lincoln thought going straight instead of exiting. They both made a huge circle, passing all three exits, neither one of them taking one.
Lincoln decided to go around again picking random streets to turn on, Wyatt right behind him following conspicuously. On his way back to his house sighing heavily, Lincoln parked in the garage, he was surprised Wyatt didn’t follow him up the driveway.
At the curb, Wyatt turned off his car while Lincoln treaded hastily down the driveway to the locked passenger side door and tried to open it.
“I’m a little hesitant to let you in considering you electrocuted me last time we saw each other,” Wyatt’s voice was muffled as he bent down to look up at Lincoln through the closed window.
“When I go to your house, and demand supplies and shelter from you, I’ll let you electrocute me. It’s only fair,” Lincoln said sarcastically, narrowing his eyes in disgust as he pulled on the door handle again to signal it was still locked.
The doors unlocked and Lincoln got in on the passenger side settling in his seat before peering over at Wyatt, who had pepper spray aimed at him. Lincoln’s lip twitched out of irritation and the stupidity he was dealing with so early in the morning. He almost slapped the pepper spray out of Wyatt’s hand, but he didn’t want to risk Wyatt releasing it in the car. He failed to notice that if he tried to spray Lincoln, he’d also end up spraying himself since they were both in the enclosed vehicle.
“Do not make me regret getting in your car,” Lincoln warned crossly.
“What do you want?” he asked putting the pepper spray back in his pocket. “Were you searching for Burt?”
“No. When Burt shows up—if he shows up—I can defend myself. I want to get some chicken,” Lincoln admitted. “And I don’t have resources to waste. So I’m not going to take the time to lose you on my way there, and seeing that you seem to have all the time in the world to follow me around as you please. I decided we should take your car.”
Wyatt shrugged at the easy request, “If taking you to the store will help my family and I survive, I’ll take you wherever you want to go.”
“We’re not going to the store. We’re going to a farm.”
“Is that sanitary?”
Lincoln snorted, “I never knew you were such an expert at farming. Is all the meat you buy killed and chopped into pieces in front of you or do you just favor the death of chickens. If I die from bacteria feel free to use my bunker.”
“Don’t be an ass.”
“I really hate you,” Lincoln turned in his seat angrily to survey Wyatt threateningly. “I’m really tempted to use my own diesel—or knock you out and leave you on the side of the road. Because that would give you a reason to call me an ass.”
Out of the corner of his eye Wyatt caught a glimpse of Lincoln’s menacing expression and decided to shut his mouth. Traffic was sparse, even for their small town. They rode in complete silence, taking Sunset Road to the outskirts of Dessarillo. From there Lincoln gave Wyatt directions, the houses becoming further apart and acreages being plucked clean of autumn’s fruits and vegetables. White picket fences kept the horses and cows from roaming into the road as they chewed on the grass holding the land hostage.
The only difference between the dirt roads parting from the highway were the giant gates to prevent people from taking that path. The further they went the rustier the gates were until they disappeared and every dirt path seemed the same. Wyatt couldn’t tell the difference between them, but Lincoln kept his eyes open for one in particular. He kept an eye on his odometer and noted the time when Lincoln finally told him to turn. It took exactly sixteen minutes to get there.
The gravel crunched under Wyatt’s wheels as he slowed watching all the dirt float up into the air obscuring his view. He leaned forward in his seat attempting to spy the buildings up ahead. Trying to avoid the giant rocks, Wyatt focused on the dirt road until he could make out two separate structures ahead of him. A bright red barn, and a yellow farm house.
Lincoln peered at Wyatt in the corner of his eye annoyed by the man paying close attention to every detail. Squirming in his seat he noticed Wyatt’s uneasiness every time Lincoln brushed his arm against his gun. Lincoln turned his head so Wyatt couldn’t see the wolfish grin on his face. He took a moment to control his neutral expression and gazed straight ahead while pulling his Glock 17 from the holster, stuffing it under his thigh.
Wyatt hit the brakes hard making the seat belts strain against them. Clutching the steering wheel with sweaty palms Wyatt felt the color drain from his face as he realized they were in the middle of nowhere, with no signs of human activity and Lincoln just pulled his gun from his holster. Wyatt always believed guns were for the military and police officers, not for people like him, but he found himself wishing he had one at the moment. The pepper spray in his pocket didn’t even belong him. He bought it for his wife, Phoebe, and borrowed it this morning.
“I have GPS on my car,” Wyatt blurted out trying to keep the anxious tone under control.
“This is not a car.”
“What do you mean?”
“I would like to continue moving forward,” Lincoln said irritated but satisfied he scared Wyatt.
“Where are we?”
“Well we’re not there yet,” Lincoln pointed out brazenly, “because you stopped in the middle of the damn road.”
“My wife knows I’m with you, you can’t kill me and expect to get away with it.”
“While it’s nice to know that we’re both on the same page with me wanting to kill you, I can tell you that if I was going to do it, it wouldn’t be at a farm with witnesses,” Lincoln said smugly tapping his fingers against his thigh.
“But you took your gun out of your holster.”
“Yes, I tend to do that when I feel the need for protection. Especially when the dumb ass driving stops in the middle of the road on someone’s private property and they send that guy out to see what the problem is,” Lincoln cocked his head to a man with dark skin aiming at them with an AK-47 in his hand. What he didn’t explain to Wyatt was no matter where they stopped, Alfredo always greeted everyone with an AK-47 in his hand. Distrustful bastard.
“What do I do?” Wyatt’s voice was barely audible.
Lincoln stared at him in disbelief, “Please don’t tell me that you came all the way out here without a gun to protect yourself,” he said with mock surprise, savoring the fear etched on Wyatt’s face.
Most of the residents in Lincoln’s neighborhood weren’t born in Texas. Nearly all his neighbors didn’t own any weapons at all—if you don’t include a baseball bat. Only the people raised in Texas and the older folks had guns to wield if trouble came around.
Wyatt clumsily grabbed for the pepper spray mumbling nervously, “I’ve never needed a gun.”
Lincoln grumbled curse words under his breath calling Wyatt several names. “If you spray that inside this car you’ll only hurt yourself. When he gets here don’t say a word. Even if he asks you questions,” Lincoln commanded as a male with bronze skin and a ball cap waved them down signaling them to stay where they were. The man wore a long-sleeved flannel and dirt stained jeans with the AK strapped over his shoulder. He was holding it steady as he trekked forward, eyeing them suspiciously. Gesturing to the male outside, Lincoln had his hand out the window and yelled in Spanish, “Look like you’re mad and about to kill us.”
“What did you say?” Wyatt quietly asked for translation. He was trying to remember the Spanish words he learned in high school. He drew a blank, regretting his decision to trail Lincoln and watch his every move. He thought it was a good idea, so did Phoebe, if they mimicked Lincoln they had a chance to survive. Wyatt’s grip on the pepper spray began to hurt but he was afraid to loosen his fingers. It was the only weapon he had.
“That you’re not white just an albino Mexican,” Lincoln replied seriously to Wyatt in English. He had to keep his head turned away from Wyatt because he couldn’t stop the smirk from forming on his face.
“Oh it’s you,” recognition showed on Alfredo’s face speaking rapidly in Spanish, he frowned when he heard Lincoln’s voice, “I am mad and about to kill you. You made me walk all the way over here for nothing. I thought I’d get to use this today. Why didn’t you just drive up to the front? Is that weird noise coming from the car? It’s scaring the chickens,” Alfredo tapped his fingers on the AK mindlessly. “Who’s the other white guy?” He asked in Spanish. “Why does he look like he’s about to pee his pants.” Alfredo bent a little to get a good look inside the car before settling his gaze on Wyatt. He wiped the sweat from his brow with his arm, so he could see better.
“What-did-he-say?” Wyatt asked feeling vulnerable, the words running together. He refused to make eye contact with Alfredo, looking straight ahead.
“He asked what you said. Now shut the fuck up,” Lincoln answered Wyatt unclenching his teeth as he turned back to Alfredo. In Spanish Lincoln calmly said to Alfredo, “Wave your gun in the air like a crazy person and then point it at the white guy.”
Alfredo stood there silently contemplating. He gave a slight shrug before he waved his gun in the air yelling in Spanish, “Why am I doing this?” and then he pointed the gun at Lincoln.
In Spanish Lincoln calmly said, “Don’t point it at me. Point it at him.”
Alfredo rolled his eyes and in Spanish said, “You said the white guy, what difference does it make if it’s you or him.” He shifted the gun to Wyatt. “If I get immigration knocking on my door I’m coming to kill you and him. I’m legal, but I had to smuggle in my grandma.”
Lincoln tried not to snort derisively and was glad his back faced Wyatt because he couldn’t help but grin at Wyatt’s expense. He put out his hands in a surrendering motion pretending to calm Alfredo down saying in Spanish, “I might need another order. My neighbors started panicking a couple days ago. I had to electrocute him,” Lincoln nodded toward Wyatt trembling in the driver’s seat.
Alfredo half yelled, half whined in Spanish, “My arms hurt. And I don’t know what the fuck you just said because your Spanish is horrible.”
“What’s happening,” Wyatt whispered barely moving his mouth. His grip was as tight as it could get on the steering wheel with the pepper spray hidden in one hand.
“Fine, meet us at the front,” Lincoln grumbled in Spanish to Alfredo. To Wyatt he said in English, “He said he likes white meat.”
“Can’t I get a ride? That’s a long walk back to the barn,” Alfredo asked in Spanish peering inside the car again his eyes bouncing to Wyatt.
“He wants to get in the car so he can take you to his boss,” Lincoln lied in English to Wyatt.
Alfredo understood English, but he didn’t bother to correct Lincoln. He figured Lincoln was trying to scare his friend on purpose and didn’t want to ruin the fun. The other man believed whatever tale Lincoln told him because he didn’t look well; he was extremely pale and sweating profusely.
“Is he a junkie? Did you bring a junkie to my farm? That’s not cool man. If he acts weird my grandma will think he’s possessed. She’s convinced the devil is living in a white man. She was convinced it was you for a while—until you told her you wanted fifteen chickens. Then she was convinced you were a blessing,” Alfredo said in Spanish.
“Is that why she always had a sandal in her hand?” Lincoln asked surprised in Spanish at the revelation.
“Yea, every time I excused myself it was because she was behind you with her sandal,” Alfredo confessed.
“He’ll let you get in but he has to move the damn car first,” Lincoln said grumpily in Spanish. Alfredo made sure he was clearly visible, waving to get Wyatt’s attention, gesturing to him to move forward, but the car didn’t budge. Shrugging, Alfredo looked to Lincoln for help.
“He’s waving me in,” Wyatt squeaked sitting frozen in his seat, getting paler by the second. Staring at the dirt road ahead of him, he contemplated moving forward or reversing to head back home. Every instinct screamed at him to go home.
The yellow house and red barn in the distance rippled in the sunlight making him think it was just a figment of his imagination. He scanned for signs of animals to convince himself it was a real farm. Fences poked out beyond the house, but the animals enclosed in the pen weren’t roaming openly for Wyatt to see. Perspiration beaded along Wyatt’s forehead until he was pulled out of his thoughts by Lincoln’s demand, “Move forward.”
“Something’s not right. We shouldn’t be here,” Wyatt said panicked, blurting the words out and looking in the rear view mirror. Nothing but land was behind him. He could easily reverse and getaway—unless the farmer starts shooting. And once he’s on the road they could easily catch up to him, as far as Wyatt could tell its only one road in and out with nowhere to hide. All the yelling probably alarmed anyone else on the farm of their presence. The man obviously doesn’t want us here, Wyatt thought, Lincoln somehow convinced him to let us through.
Too terrified to move, all of his thoughts paralyzing him, Wyatt froze with his hands on the steering wheel thinking of his family and how they’d think he abandoned them.
Agitation stretched along Lincoln’s face when he realized Wyatt wasn’t going to pull forward because they were still parked. In a swift movement Lincoln had the car turned off and the keys in his hand. The joke had worked too well and Lincoln didn’t want Wyatt doing anything rash like running Alfredo over or leaving him stranded here with Alfredo’s grandmother. He shifted his weight pocketing the keys and said, “You stay here, and I’ll go get my chickens.”
“You’re leaving me by myself?!” Wyatt’s voice went up an octave snapping his gaze to Lincoln because getting the hell out of there was no longer an option. His hands left the steering wheel and the pepper spray dropped on the floor rolling under the seat. He’d forgotten it was wedged between his hand and steering wheel. Dread spread across his face causing his eyes to widen as they flickered around unhinged at the thought of being alone and a target without Lincoln—without the gun.
“No,” Lincoln promised and then nodded toward Alfredo trying to keep a straight face, “He’ll stay with you and keep you company.”
Lincoln pushed the car door open and maneuvered himself out of the tiny vehicle only to bump into Wyatt causing him to fall back into his seat. Alfredo laughed at Wyatt’s enthusiasm making Lincoln frown wondering how Wyatt managed to get around the car faster than he could get out of it. Standing in front of him, Wyatt whispered quietly with his eyes closed, “Please don’t shoot me.” His back faced Alfredo with his hands in the air for everyone to see.
Lincoln grunted wiping the smirk off his face when Wyatt finally opened his eyes one by one to make sure Lincoln hadn’t moved without him. Wedging out of the car and on his feet, Lincoln started down the dirt path toward the yellow house not waiting for anyone to join him.
Tucking the gun back in its holster, he could hear the rooster calls and clucking, plus two sets of footsteps behind him. One set faster than the other and suddenly without actually, physically clinging to him, but getting as close as possible, Wyatt followed Lincoln down the dirt road with Alfredo treading lazily behind them.
Wyatt didn’t know whether or not it was safe to put his hands down, he did it slowly making sure they were well away from his pockets. Gravel crunched under their shoes causing the dirt cloud in the air below their knees. A few feet from the yellow house Alfredo sped up, walking alongside Wyatt. Wyatt refused to glance in Alfredo’s direction, afraid he might offend him, and cause him to point the giant gun in his face.
Lincoln took them past the house stopping only because he wasn’t sure where to go from there. Wyatt stood beside him and Alfredo stood in front of the two making sure he could see everything behind them.
“Are you going to buy chickens also?” Alfredo asked Wyatt speaking in English for the first time, nodding at him to get his attention. Wyatt’s jaw wanted to drop at the revelation. The man spoke English. Wyatt’s mind was churning over the conversations he had with Lincoln in the car, scouring his brain for anything he said earlier that might be offensive. Holding in a scream to plea for his life, Wyatt tried to find a way to respond, wondering which answer would be the correct one. Wondering which answer would get him back to his car alive.
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