(Continues from Enter the Cover-Up)
My snow boots squeaked on the linoleum no matter how softly I stepped. Aproned servers darted back and forth down the narrow corridor we followed. Twice we flattened ourselves against a wall to let a full platter of sausage and toast sail past. The spicy scent of the former started a rebellion in my tummy. I wished I’d eaten toast and tea instead of indulging in ice cream and french fries. But I had no idea we’d have to split the diner in a hurry.
Ro reached the door she sought and with one good yank, she pulled it open. Framed in the doorway, a woman stood in a red parka holding an open wallet. I goggled at the gold eagle and the three letters accompanying turned my blood to ice. The wind hurled itself across the Hudson River and battered us.
Special Agent Meredith Thorn’s lovely locks whipped around in the wind, blinding her. Ro shoved her into the wind. Meredith skidded on a patch of ice and toppled. Her low-heeled pumps made it clear the agent had come directly from Virginia. Her tissue-thin pants and impractical footwear were no match for NY in January.
We cut across the parking lot using cars for cover as the wind buffeted us. It showed no mercy, but we were wise to its ways. And we had nothing hanging off us for the wind’s invisible fingers to grab. Instead, the wind tried to push us around, but our sturdy boots had thick, grippy soles. Even on the black ice, we remained upright but cautious as we clung to hood ornaments, door handles, and side mirrors.
Meredith shouted something or maybe we overheard her radioing for back-up. Another gust snatched her words and flung them into Connecticut. We reached Ro’s beat-up Toyota, and it started on the first try. Maybe it knew we needed to leave right now. I finished my quick ‘Hail Mary get me out of this mess’ prayer and buckled up.
A car door slammed as we reversed out of our spot. Phil ran out yelling, but he’d left his blue coat unzipped. The wind grabbed his flapping coat and spun him around the ice patch he’d stepped on. There’s such a thing as salt. But no matter how much NYSDOT sprinkles, there’s always a patch of ice where you least expect it. And it’s invisible on blacktop.
A car pulled up, and Phil fell into its backseat as we pulled out into traffic. Ro twisted the wheel, and we careened around a honking SUV. The driver leaned out of his window and gave us a one fingered salute. We deserved it.
“Can you please be more careful. I want to survive until my next birthday, even if I have to celebrate it under alien occupation.”
“You think It’ll come to that?”
“To us having alien overlords you mean?”
Ro nodded, her face falling into grave lines as she spun the car in a 270-degree arc and sent us roaring onto Route 132. I watched the smoke from the rubber we’d burned dissipate in the mirror as a confused gas station attendant stabbed at his phone.
“A female alien overlord would be cooler, but this is a man’s world. So we’ll get stuck with a spiny-headed alien dude with a Napoleon complex.”
“Is that an educated guess?”
Tires squealed as Ro cut into the oncoming traffic lane and passed pokey cars. She cut back into our lane in time to take a turn onto a windy country road on two wheels. It might have been Mount Airy Road East, but it was hard to tell since the sign blurred.
The seat belt crushed my chest, squeezing all the air from my lungs. When the other two wheels met pavement again, my heart pounded in my ears. Was the grim reaper on our tail? Or were those black spots dancing around my vision from oxygen deprivation?
To be continued in A Bullet for My Driver.