The building was old and weather worn. But it's stone front was warm and welcoming. A huge oak tree stood in front of the café providing a shady welcome to hot weary travelers. Whimsical woodwork and green shutters gave the little restaurant a fairy tale appeal.
The parking lot of the little café was almost empty as Benny Ray pulled the Big Dog in and shut it down. Pulling his helmet off he slides his sunglasses into the pocket of his shirt as a big white dodge pickup pulls in a few spaces away. His eyes remained on what he was doing but his senses were very much aware of the truck and it's occupant.
The trucks door opens slowly before the driver steps out. Long slim blue jean clad legs were suddenly visible below the door. Her boots kicking up tiny swirls of dust as she takes a step to the side and closes the door behind her.
Buckling the helmet on to the handlebar Benny Ray slides off the seat and starts for the door of the cafe. A few feet in front of him the woman steps up on the wooden walkway twirling her keys in her left hand. As she twirls them for the third time the ring slips off her finger falling with a tinkling of metal to the walkway. Groaning in frustration the woman stops dead in her tracks before sighing and spinning back. She came up short gasping in surprise. Benny Ray stood inches away her keys held in his left hand. A slow lazy smile crossed his handsome face as he stood in front of her.
Unnerved a tiny flush stole into her cheeks.
"Ma'am," he drawls, holding her keys out. His eyes take in every detail of her appearance from the sandy blonde hair shimmering with golden highlights to the sparkling emerald eyes looking at him in surprise. She wore comfortably loose fitting blue jeans and a matching blue jean shirt with a tiny whimsical picture of Eyore peeking out of the pocket. Her dark brown leather jacket was open and fell slightly below her waist but it was the bulge beneath her left arm that caught Benny Ray's attention. He couldn't see the weapon but he knew for a certainty that she was carrying one.
Smiling back she takes the keys murmuring a husky, "Thank you."
Inclining his head he answered with, "Your welcome."
Cradling the keys in her hands the woman spins on her heels and continues on toward the door of the café. Reaching it first Benny Ray swings it open and waves her inside. Smiling again she ducks inside and heads for the counter.
Walking in behind her, he closes the door with a quiet click before working his way to a small table in the front corner of the café. Benny Ray had stopped at the café many times and was intimately familiar with the place and the owners.
Sitting down he didn't have long to wait. Less than a minute later a dark haired older woman hands him a menu. Smiling widely the waitress said, "Hey handsome, it's been a long time."
"Honey, how have you been, still working too hard I see!"
Honey Beaumont and her husband Roger owned and operated the little café and Benny Ray had met them several years ago on one of his rides through the mountain. Ever since that first meeting he'd made it a point to stop whenever he was in the area. They were good people and the food Honey and Roger cooked was some of the best he'd ever eaten, especially Honey's apple pie. It was filled with cinnamon, brown sugar, tiny minced walnuts and a crispy crust that melted in your mouth, a tiny piece of heaven in the mountains of California.
He'd even stayed the night about six months ago when a sudden fierce storm had blown through the mountains. Honey had been adamant about not letting him leave. Threatening him with a frying pan when he tried to walk out the door. She had been afraid the treacherous mountain road would claim another victim if he tried to make his way down during the storm. Roger, his big bear of a frame had blocked the front doorway and Benny Ray had given in gracefully. He had seen the fear in Honey's eyes and knew he couldn't cause her more pain. He found out later that night that her son had been killed on the deadly winding mountain road during one of those brutal storms.
Today her eyes welcomed him as they chatted for several minutes before he gave her his order. As Honey walked away he leaned back in his chair and looked out the window enjoying the sunshine and peace of the little cafe.
A few feet away the woman he met in the parking lot took up a seat at the counter waving to the man a few feet away in the kitchen.
"Andrea," he beamed. "You look marvelous my sweet, how about running away with me."
Chuckling at his antics Andrea blew him a kiss saying, "Roger, have I ever told you how much I love you. Somehow just seeing you always brightens my day."
"So you're not going to take me up on my offer," Roger said as he leaned over the counter with a hopeless puppy dog look on his face.
"I wouldn't want to face Honey's wrath," Andrea whispered laughingly.
Roger stood up and shivered before he chuckled and went back to work.
"Ignore the big galute," Honey whispered as she wrapped Andrea in a big hug. "How are you Andi, you look a little tired?"
"Oh I'm good," Andrea answered avoiding Honey's eyes, "it's just been a very long week."
"Hey Andi," a third younger voice chimed in.
"Shelly," Andrea squeaked as she greeted the newcomer.
Shelly smiled as she greeted her friend. "Haven't seen you in ages, what have you been doing with yourself."
"Working my ass off, Shel, wondering when I could slip away and gorge on your mom's apple pie!"
"Oh no," Honey reproved wagging her finger at Andrea, "You will eat a decent meal first, then you can have some apple pie."
"Yes, Mom," Andi chuckled hugging the woman again.
Since the café was empty, Shelly took a seat beside Andrea and gossiped while Honey went into the kitchen.
It wasn't long before Honey returned with Benny Ray's drink and a basket filled with hot rolls and her famous honey butter.
As he cut the roll in half and spread the creamy butter across the warm roll two vehicles pulled up outside the café. One was a dark gray Mercedes the second a dark blue Corvette. Five men piled out of the Mercedes and for some reason Benny Ray tensed. They all wore dark suits. One slightly taller than the others was dressed in unrelieved black. The only sign of color, a large diamond that winked blue in the sunlight was pinned to the collar of his shirt. All five men wore dark sunglasses and he knew hidden beneath their jackets they were wearing weapons. Slowly he lowered the knife to the table and slid his chair back. Something about these men made him uneasy, and he wasn't going to be caught flatfooted.
The man in the second car sat behind the wheel and watched as the other five entered the café.
Andrea knew the minute the door slammed open that something was wrong. Turning slowly she saw the hated face of her boss' right hand man. Taking the offensive she sneered. "What rock did you crawl out from under Johnny?" Her scathing glance moves across the men standing behind him. "Wow, Tito, Jeff. Johnny actually let you guys off your leashes.
Wagging her finger at him Andrea continued her gaze catching Johnny's once more, "Tsk, Tsk Johnny I'm surprised at you, you know they do not know how to behave in public."
Behind Johnny the two men Andrea had indicated huffed and ground their teeth stepping forward. Johnny held out both arms, pushing the men back. A lazy smile crossed his face as his eyes swung back to Andi.
Andrea could see the dangerous glint in Johnny Rocket's eyes, but she was surprised when he didn't say anything. He was a smart man. He had to be to work for Devlin but most days he was also reckless and easy to rile. Today, he was biding his time.
Johnny stepped up to the counter negligently leaning his right elbow on the back of the chair beside her as he bent down to catch Andrea's chin with his left hand. "Devlin wants to see you sweet cheeks!"
"So," Andi answered with a slow smile. "Devlin always wants something, I'll be there when I get there."
"I don't think so, Andi, not this time, you're leaving with us, now."
Slapping his arm away from her face Andi stands up. "I'm not going anywhere with you Johnny, so take your lackeys and get out. I'll talk to Devlin when I'm damn good and ready."
Johnny's hand lashed out catching Andi around the throat, his voice low and menacing as he growls. "You're leaving now!"
A loud crash echoed around the room startling almost all of its occupants. Roger a huge metal bat in his hand had slammed the heavy metal on the counter. Cups, plates and silverware rattled as his voice boomed into the ensuing silence. "Leave her alone and get out now!"
A furious Roger was an intimidating sight, the man stood over 6 and a half feet tall. Weighting in at close to 300 lbs, his muscles bulged as he leaned across the counter. The bat in his hand was raised to strike; only this time Johnny was its target.
A shocked silence falls over the room as Johnny's hand falls away from Andi's neck. In the rear of the crowd, a small dark haired man - Tito - gasps in surprise, his eyes glitter with fear as his hand reaches beneath his coat.
Benny Ray had silently gotten to his feet as the men made their way into the café. Stealthily he had worked his way across the room and stood in the shadows watching as the confrontation unfolded. Seeing the little man's movement Benny Ray pulled his own weapon.
All hell broke loose as the little man pulled his weapon aiming it at Roger. Behind him Benny Ray fired catching the little man in the center of his chest. He flew backwards but his finger was wrapped tightly around the trigger. His hand flew upward and he jerked the trigger.
Across the room Benny Ray could hear Roger groan, watching helplessly as the big man spun sideways the bullet striking his left shoulder. Firing again Benny Ray sent the shooter's companions jumping for cover. Tables and chairs were knocked askew as Johnny's goons scrambled out of the way. Ducking low Benny Ray fired across the room trying to keep them at bay!
At the counter Andrea had wasted no time and struck outward catching Johnny in the mouth with her fist. His head snapped sideways as blood flew from his split lip. Spinning to the left Andrea kicks out catching him a stunning blow to his groin.
Johnny groaned and doubled over falling to his knees.
The other three men fire wildly in the direction of Benny Ray. Across the room Benny Ray fires another volley keeping them pinned behind their makeshift refuge as Andrea sprints for the door, wanting desperately to draw their fire away from Roger and his family. Hesitating she stops short as she sees Benny Ray by the door.
"Go," he yells as he continues to fire. Jumping to his feet he pushes her out the door. Running for her truck Andi yanks the door open and jumps inside. Ramming the key in the ignition it quickly roars to life.
Running for the truck, Benny Ray continued his assault, firing through the open door of the café hoping to keep the goons pinned down long enough for them to get away.
Across the parking lot the door to the Corvette opens, a short balding man steps out, weapon in hand. The barrel swung directly at Andrea. Catching the movement out of the corner of his eye Benny Ray turns in his direction and fires. His aim was skewed as Andrea jammed the truck into reverse. But the bullet shattered the driver side window, managing to send the man ducking back into the car for cover.
Gunning the engine Andrea sent the dodge across the parking lot throwing up dirt and gravel as it fishtails onto the main road.
At the first sign of trouble Roger had sent Honey and Shelly out the back door. "Call the police," he orders, "and get the rifle."
Pushing Shelly out the door Honey whispers an order in her ear. "Hide in the trees, don't come out until I call."
"Please Shelly, just do it." The crack of a weapon startles both women and Shelly gave a silent cry as she sprints for the tree line. Honey ran for the shed. Taking the phone from the wall she dials 911. It seemed like forever but it was only seconds before she heard the operator. Trying to calm herself down, Honey relays as much information as she can before abruptly hanging up. Crossing the room she pulls a shotgun from the closet and grabs a box of shells from the drawer. She quickly loads the gun before heading back in to the café. In the distance she could hear the sounds of gunfire and she screamed inside. Hurrying back to the café she cautiously steps into the kitchen the shotgun nestled in the pocket of her shoulder her finger poised on the trigger. From far away she could hear the screeching of tires and more gunshots but the café itself was deathly quiet.
Cautiously she works her way through the kitchen into the dining area. Gasping in horror when she sees the upturned tables and chairs and a man lying on the floor the center of his chest covered with blood. Hearing a groan Honey turns catching sight of Roger lying on the floor behind the counter. A tiny cry escapes her as she falls to her knees beside her husband. Blood, warm and thick from the wound in his shoulder was quickly spreading across the floor.
Grouchy with pain, Roger grumbles. "Help me up."
Grabbing some towels from beneath the counter she growled back, "No, you stay put you've been shot and it's bleeding."
"Christ woman, I know I've been shot, it's my shoulder isn't it. But they were after Andi, if we don't do something they aim to kill her."
Peeking over the counter Honey saw the last of the cars driving away at breakneck speed.
"Their gone, Roger. I've called the police and I need to call an ambulance!"
"Where's Benny Ray," Roger asked?
"Gone," Honey replies a tiny catch in her voice.
"Gone, what do you mean gone, is he dead?"
"No, I mean gone, he left, now shut up and hold this tight against your shoulder while I call for an ambulance." Honey grabs his right hand placing it over the towel on his left shoulder.
"He saved my life, I think," Roger murmurs thoughtfully as his mind replays the scene.
"You can tell me about it later, right now I have things to do." Getting to her feet she grabs for the phone calling for an ambulance. Behind her Shelly walks into the room her face streaked with tears as she kneels beside her father.
"Hey Dad," she whispers with a catch in her voice.
With an effort Roger raises his left hand and strokes the tears from his daughters' cheek. "I'm fine, it's just a little cut and if your mom would quit fussing "
Shelly chuckles through her tears, "I saw Benny Ray leaving with Andi. They took off in her truck heading up the mountain."
Ten minutes later, in the distance all three could hear the welcome sounds of police sirens and sighed in relief, though their thoughts were still with Andrea and Benny Ray. Hoping and praying the two of them would be able to elude capture.
As they drove up the mountain Benny Ray growls in frustration. Pulling the magazine from the Glock he counts the rounds left nestled inside. Nine - nine rounds and over fifty miles until they reach town!
As they drove away the Mercedes had quickly followed. Benny Ray waited until they were well out down the road, far from the café before firing a shot into the front wheel of the Mercedes. He grins in satisfaction as he watches the driver fight the vehicle as it spins out of control.
The Mercedes came to rest just inches from the edge of the road a sheer drop of over fifty feet below. From his passenger seat Johnny drew a sigh of relief as he looks out the window at the rocky terrain below him.
What Benny Ray didn't know was that Johnny had planned for everything. A few miles behind two SUV's were speeding toward them. The driver of the first vehicle was intimately familiar with the area and turned his vehicle onto a tiny dirt track. He knew there was only one main road leading in or out of the area and their target was headed west up the mountain. The dirt road he was traversing was a shortcut over the side of the mountain and would connect near the top of the pass. Speeding over ruts and sliding around corners the driver hurried to catch his prey.
The second SUV stopped beside the Mercedes. Johnny and the rest of his thugs jumped into the SUV and sped after the Dodge.
The police hard on their trail saw only the abandoned Mercedes and stopped. Wasting precious time trying to unravel the puzzle of the abandoned car they sent men searching the countryside.
Breaking the silence of the Dodge's cab, a smooth southern drawl asked, "So Andrea, are you going to tell me what that was all about."
Andrea turns startled eyes to her passenger grinning at the use of her name. Her mind had been miles away, wondering how badly Roger had been hurt.
Pulling herself together she threw the sniper a questioning look. When they'd first met outside the café she hadn't been paying much attention. Taking a good look at the man sitting beside her she was surprised by what she saw. He sat at ease but she could see the tightly controlled barely leashed power beneath the facade. His dark penetrating gaze held hers as she tried to form the words that would explain.
"Thanks," she whispered sincerely trying to buy some time.
"You're welcome," he replied quietly. "But I need a little more than that to understand why I killed a man back there."
"I know," Andi whispers. "I'm just trying to figure out how to explain the whole mess." When he didn't reply Andi took a deep breath and began her story.
"I work for the DEA. I've been undercover for the last six months infiltrating a drug cartel here in southern California. The cartel has been bringing in tons of cocaine and has created several new designer drugs. The DEA managed to track the shipments to a man called Devlin Rossiter. I was supposed to find out how the shipments are coming in and when. I was close, damn close," she whispers smacking her hand against the steering wheel in frustration.
"This morning I overheard Devlin talking to someone on the phone. The next shipment is due in three days. The drugs will be brought in on a yacht. It's supposed to be docked somewhere north of Santa Monica. I don't know which marina but the drugs will be off loaded and packaged for resale. In less than a week those drugs will be on the street."
"I called my partner and set up a meet. The bastard," she growls, "That was him in the Corvette. When I catch up with him I'm gonna split him right up the middle."
Benny Ray's eyes glitter with amusement, chuckling at the fierceness of her tone and the deadly gleam in her eye.
"What did you do for Rossiter," Benny Ray asked.
A quirky little smile crossed her lips as she answers. "I'm " she hesitated, not knowing exactly how to answer but blurting out the first thing she could think of. "I'm a shooter, a hired gun."
Benny Ray caught her off guard with his next question. "Are you any good at it?"
Snapping her gaze to his face she was surprised by the interest she saw there.
"I'm pretty good," she answers.
"Just pretty good," he quips.
Chuckling, she answers. "Damn good, if you really want to know."
"Glad to hear it," he answers, "Wouldn't want to think that I had taken the time to help just some mediocre shooter!"
Andrea laughs before asking, "What about you, not every guy on the street carries a Glock under his coat or can shoot it as well as you can?"
Benny Ray met her gaze head on his face giving away nothing. "Well there you'd be wrong," he answers carefully but remained silent.
"Ha, a mystery, I do love a mystery," she chuckles.
Traveling nearly ten miles up the winding mountain road, somehow it looked like they had lost the pursuit.
Unknowingly the driver of the cross country SUV had made up ground, rounding the bend to merge back onto the main road his vehicle smashes head long into Andrea's truck. The white Dodge spun a complete circle to the left and continued to spin as the SUV's momentum pushes it over the side of the hill. Fighting desperately to control the truck Andrea clenches her jaw and tightens her grip on the wheel doing her best to avoid the rocks and trees as the truck careens out of control down the steep slope. The SUV follows but quickly veers off to the right to avoid a collision with a huge boulder, as the truck slid and bumped its way down the slope. The SUV came to rest several minutes later as the front end slammed into a tree. Dazed by the impact the driver put his hands to his head. His passenger slowly reached inside his jacket, pulling a cell phone from his pocket. Wiping a small trickle of blood from his forehead, the man dials and waits
"Sir," he spoke softly as the connection was made. "The woman and her truck are off the road."
"What the hell happened," Johnny asked growling in frustration.
"We hit them as we tried to get back onto the main road Sir!"
"Are they alive?" he asked furiously
"Don't know Sir, we are not at their location."
"I suggest you find out Mr. Barnes or you'll be the next one on my list."
"Yes Sir," the man answers hanging up. Reaching over Barnes shakes the driver back to life. "We need to go!"
Benny Ray was amazed that they had survived the drop down the mountainside.
Andrea had seen the danger ahead, a sheer drop-off into the river and had spun the truck into a huge rock stopping its forward progress. Stunned they sat in silence for several seconds taking stock of their condition. Andi had slammed her left shoulder hard against the door groaning as she tried to open it. Benny Ray remained basically unscathed. The shattered windshield had sent glass shards scattering into the cab of the truck and tiny cuts marred his right cheek and throat.
Pulling on the door handle he found his door was jammed against a tree. Leaning across Andi he grabs the handle shoving hard on the door. Putting all his weight against the door it groaned in protest but gave several inches. Several pushes later it finally heeds his command and opens enough for them to get out. Stumbling from the seat Andi cradles her left arm against her side. Sliding out beside her Benny Ray's fingers probe the shoulder with gentle fingers. "Sit," he orders, and Andi sank to her knees. "It's dislocated! Grab hold of something," he orders again.
Andi groans but follows his orders as she wraps her fingers around the small tree in front of her. Lowering her head she braces herself for the agony she knew was soon to come.
With one hand on her shoulder the other gripping tightly above her elbow he rotated the arm upward and yanks hard. He heard Andrea gasp at the same time he heard the shoulder pop as it slipped back into place. Andrea sways as Benny Ray lifts her to her feet. Carefully he unbuttons the lowest button of her shirt slipping her left hand inside, using it as a sling to cradle the injured shoulder.
"I'm ok," she mumbles as she settles her arm and looks at her wrecked truck. "Damn, I really liked that truck." she grumbles.
Chuckling Benny Ray grabs her around the waist and pulls her to her feet, leading her away from the wreck. Steadying her against his side he moves as quickly as he can down the rocky hillside.
"I don't even know your name," Andrea whispers, catching his intent gaze.
"Benny Ray Riddle Ma'am!"
"Benny Ray, I like that." Andrea murmurs.
Chuckling he turns his head hearing the faint sounds of feet scrambling over rocky ground behind them. Somehow he knew they had to reach the road and flag down a passing car. It was their only hope.
The second SUV had found the site where the trucks had gone off the road. The phone on his belt rang softly. "Where are they Barnes?"
"There on foot Sir, moving east."
"Do you have them in sight?"
"Get after them Barnes, if you loose them, I'll have your head." Hanging up Johnny didn't even wait to hear Barnes' answer. Leaning back in his seat he orders the driver to turn the truck around. As they head back down the road Johnny starts in surprise as three police cars come racing up the mountain. The police paid them no heed, and Johnny lets out a breath he didn't even know he was holding, as relief swept over him.
Backtracking several miles down the road Johnny hoped to get ahead of them and cut off the fleeing duo. With weapons in hand Johnny and his men scramble down the side of the mountain.
Benny Ray knew they were in a race against time, with men behind them it wouldn't be long before more joined the hunt.
Working their way across the treacherous ground they could hear the raging river about 50 feet below them to their right. Above them, the steep rocky incline made it nearly impossible to climb upward. Behind them Barnes and the driver were racing to catch up. Somehow Benny Ray sensed time was running out.
A mile east of them Johnny and his goons moved quickly, it would take them only another couple of minutes to reach the river's edge.
As Andrea and Benny Ray grew closer one of Johnny's men spots their movement. Shouts and a blast of gunfire send Andrea and Benny Ray ducking below a rocky outcropping. They didn't return fire, they were too low on ammunition to waste the shots on targets they couldn't see.
>From his position Benny Ray could make out at least four men in Johnny's group. Chancing that the odds were better going back the way they came, Benny Ray signals for Andrea to turn back. With weapons at the ready they move back up the trail staying as low as possible.
Barnes and his companion had heard the shot but they were still rushing to get closer, unaware that Benny Ray and Andrea had turned back and were coming their way. With the driver in the lead the two raced down the trail. Andrea was covering Benny Ray's back as they lay in wait. The men came down the trail, as they came into view one shot from Benny Ray's Glock rang out catching the driver in the chest. Spinning away the man gasps his last breath as he falls sideways sliding off the edge of the cliff. His screams echoed through the canyon until they were abruptly cut off as he hit the water.
Behind him hidden from view Barnes's reaction was instantaneous as he dove for cover. A second shot rang out catching Barnes a glancing wound to his right hip as he fell behind a rock. Cursing wildly he presses his hand to the wound as blood wells up through his fingers. Raising his weapon above the edge of the rock he fires and keeps firing until the magazine is empty. Quickly he replaces it before settling down to wait.
>From below them Benny Ray could hear the sounds of scrambling feet rushing in their direction. Johnny had whipped his men into a frenzy and they were not as cautious as they should have been. Laying in wait Andrea open fires as the first man came into view. One shot between the eyes jerked the man off his feet. He flew backwards taking the man behind him crashing to the ground. Johnny's men took cover, returning fire. Bullets ping off rocks sending a shower of dust and shards of granite flying.
Johnny's voice rings out silencing his men before he calls to Andrea. "You can't escape Andrea! My men have you surrounded."
"Go to hell Johnny," was Andrea's reply.
"Very possibly sweet cheeks, but I'm going to make sure you go first."
Sinking to the ground beside Benny Ray, Andrea mumbles a question, "What the hell are we going to do now?"
"Three choices," Benny Ray answers "and I don't much like any of them. Give ourselves up, stay here and try to hold them off or pull a Butch and Sundance."
It took a couple of seconds for Andrea to realize what Benny Ray meant with his Butch and Sundance comment. "Jump, down there!" Andrea gasps pointing over the edge of the cliff at the sheer drop off into the river. "I don't think so."
"They have time and cover on their side," Benny Ray continues, "from the looks of the terrain they could get within ten feet of us and we'd never know it. We on the other hand could try and make a run for it up the hill. The odds are not in our favor."
"Well your glass is half empty at the moment isn't it," Andrea mumbles.
In the distance Benny Ray could already hear the sounds of men moving in their direction.
"So we give up and hope to live to fight another day," she grumbles. "Devlin is a bastard, a cold-hearted killer. If we live to see the sunrise I'd be surprised. I don't like it, but I don't like the other option either. I'm gonna regret this, I just know it." she grumbles again. "How bout if we just hold them off for a little while? It will at least make me feel a little better about giving up."
Benny Ray chuckles as he spies a dark form making its way toward them. Firing a shot he grins as the man goes down. Benny Ray knew it wasn't a fatal shot, he could hear the man swearing as he scrambles for cover. Johnny's voice could be heard over the man's groans as he berates the man for not keeping to cover.
Andrea chuckles mumbling, "Nice shot!"
"I aim to please," was Benny Ray's answer. Beside him Andrea groans at the bad pun.
"I have 3 shots left," Andrea whispers
pulling her magazine from the .45.
Johnny's frustration level grew as the standoff continued. Devlin wanted the woman alive and if it weren't for that he would have killed her a long ago. His tongue gently caressed the swelling cut on his lip. His eyes grew hard glittering with hatred as his mind works the problem. Devlin had said alive, alive meant breathing. "Donnelly!"
A tall thin man stepped up, "Yes Sir!"
"Go back to the truck, get some of those gas cans and some rags, bring them back here."
"Yes Sir." the man replies as he scrambles back up the trail.
"Tennyson, Stevens, go up the trail about a hundred feet, work you way across to Barnes. When the fireworks start, move in. Wound them if you have to but I want them both alive." Johnny's voice went low as he stares down at the river. "I have a few scores to settle with these two."
It was twenty minutes before Donnelly returned. Not generally a patient man, Johnny had quietly waited knowing his next move would be checkmate.
Two five-gallon cans filled with gasoline sat on the ground in front of him. Stuffing a rag deep into one of the canisters, he calls over, "Shorty, get your ass over here."
Shorty stepped up keeping his huge bulk hidden behind the rocks. Shorty was anything but short, well over six feet tall and wide as a barn. No one knew the reason for the nickname. Though some had speculated, to their detriment.
Twenty minutes ago, Benny Ray had heard the movement as the two men crossed the trail above them but neither of them could get a shot off and wasting bullets was not an option. Suddenly it was too quiet.
As Shorty prepares to throw the first canister Johnny put flame to rag before stepping back. With both hands Shorty swings the canister around heaving it into the air.
"Oh Shit!" Andrea yells as she watches the canister fly through the air. The weapon in her hand flashes upward and two shots rang out. The canister explodes in midair, sending shards of metal and a hot spray of burning gas into the air. The concussion knocks Andrea off her feet sending her perilously close to edge before Benny Ray could grab her belt and drag her back to the relative safety of the ledge.
Breathing heavily Andrea sat up leaning back against the rock. "I think we're really in trouble now."
Johnny screams in frustration setting his jaw in furious lines. Pulling his phone out he dials, and barely waited for an answer. "Barnes, when I give the command, I want you to fire, with everything you've got. Keep them pinned down. If they break cover, take them - ALIVE! Do you hear me, I want them ALIVE!"
Barnes grunts an affirmative before sending the two men beside him in different directions ten feet away.
Johnny growled saying, "Donnelly, get behind that rock and start firing when I yell." With an ugly sneer he shouts at Shorty. "Get the second canister and don't miss this time."
Stuffing the rag in the can Shorty lights the end and hauls it into to air as Johnny yells "NOW!"
A wild volley of shots ring out and Benny Ray ducks as shards of rock pepper the air around them. Above him he sees the second canister flying toward them. Grabbing Andrea he hauls her out from behind the rocks as the canister strikes the ground and explodes. As large as the rocks were the explosion lifted some of them into the air spinning them over the ledge.
Stunned by the explosion Andrea and Benny Ray lay face down in the dirt. Barnes and his companions were the first to arrive kicking their weapons away. They stood over them, their weapons pointed at their skulls as Johnny and the rest of his men make their way across the rocks.
"Get them to their feet," Johnny's voice held a hint of triumph as he gave the order.
"So sweet cheeks, I guess you're going to have to talk to Devlin after all. I'm going to enjoy this, much more than you are." Lashing out he punches Andrea in the jaw splitting her lip.
"Who's your friend Andrea? Too bad he isn't working for us he might have lived a long and fruitful life!"
"You shot one of my men!" Johnny grins wickedly as he paces in front of Benny Ray. "Actually I should thank you for that, he was such a idiot, and I just couldn't figure out how to fire the guy! "
"You are such a pig," Andrea ground out.
A crack of harsh laughter echoes through the gorge
as Johnny raises the weapon in his hand.Benny Ray saw the movement and
the flicker of death in the man's eyes as he fires. Spinning sideways
Benny Ray avoided the deathblow but the bullet slices through his right
side. The impact sent him reeling backward toward the edge of the cliff.
With no recourse he leaps outward. His one thought was to clear the rocky
cliffs below them. Fire sears through him as the darkness hovers around
him. He spun out of control plummeting toward the raging river below.On
the ledge Andrea's scream follows him, to be abruptly cut off as Johnny
punches her in the jaw sending her into unconsciousness.
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