I didn't plan on leaving the country on the run.
I mean, it's not the kind of thing that most people have as a life's ambition.
But sometimes, you just don't have a choice in the matter. Not if you are going to be able to look at yourself in the mirror each morning.
I had just gotten off work and was heading home to my place just west of Cheyenne.
It was almost 90 degrees outside. Not unusual for an early fall day in this part of the state. I had my windows rolled down to let a breeze flow through the car until the AC had time to start blowing cold air.
I stopped for a red light at the corner of Lincolnway and US 30, cursing the long delay.
Then my day really went all to Hell.
I had just turned on the radio to find something worth listening to whenI caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. I reached for the 9mm Browning that I was wearing in a cross draw holster.
Carjacking was becoming all too common, and I wasn't about to give up my nice new car without a fight.
As the gun came clear of the holster, I got a good look at what was coming my way.
A young woman in a torn t-shirt and cut off blue jeans.
She practically dove head first through the open passenger window. She slithered through the rest of the way, and down onto the floorboard. She was gasping and sobbing, and obviously scared out of her mind.
The light turned green up ahead, but only 3 or 4 cars made it through the intersection. I pulled up as far as possible.
Keeping my gun in my hand, I looked down at the girl huddled on the floor of my car. "You mind telling me who you are and why you're in my car?" I asked reasonably.
The girl gulped and wiped the tears from her eyes. "Please." she begged, "Get me away from here. They're going to kill me!"
Hell! That answered the most urgent of the questions. Most of the rest could wait.
"Who's trying to kill you?" I asked. But she was curling up tighter on the floorboard, trembling like a leaf.
The light changed again, and I started forward. A man came running up toward my car waving a small automatic. I waited to see if he was actually heading for my car.
When he started to point his gun at me, I raised the Browning and gave him a double tap. Two shots to the center of mass.
He staggered, but didn't go down, so I raised my sights just a bit and put two more rounds through his face.
The 124 grain Starfire hollowpoints performed as they were supposed to, and the man dropped with the back of his head gone.
I hadn't figured on how damn LOUD a 9mm handgun is when you fire it inside a car.
I couldn't hear shit.
I saw the way ahead of me clear, so I stepped on the gas and raced through the intersection. I looked in the mirror, but I couldn't see anyone obviously after me.
But that didn't mean squat.
I hit the magazine release button on the Browning and dumped the partial clip into my lap. I pulled a new magazine from the holder on my hip and slapped it into the butt. I put the safety on and holstered the gun. Then I took the partial clip and put it into the open slot in the magazine holder.
I looked down at the girl on the floor, she wasn't going to be any use at all until she calmed down a lot.
"Meantime, I had to figure that someone had got my license number and description back where I had shot the guy. I had to find someplace out of sight, and fast.
I headed for a friends place on the south side of town. I knew that he wouldn't talk to the cops even if they held his feet to a fire.
Damian opened the gate to his property and let me park under his carport.
"Thanks bro," I told him. "I think the fuzz is gonna be after my ass." He just nodded.
He leaned against the car and peered inside. "Who's the chick?"
I opened the door and got out. "Beats me. She crawled though my window up at Lincolnway and 30. All she said was that someone was going to kill her.Then some dude came running up and pointed a gun at me. I shot him twice in the chest from about 10 feet away. He didn't drop, so I gave him 2 in the head," I said
I moved to the trunk of the car and opened it. I dug out a box of ammo from the shooting bag that I kept in the trunk for my trips to the shooting range. I reloaded the partially spent magazine as I talked.
Damian shook his head. "Sounds like you really stepped in it this time," he said. "Know what I'd do now? I'd call Pete Davis and see what's going on from his end."
Pete Davis was a cop. A pretty cool one, who would at least listen to me before doing anything dumb. .
I dug out my cell phone and dialed Pete's number.
Damian went inside to get a couple of tall glasses of iced tea. He didn't drink alcohol, but he always had plenty of tea. .
Mike answered the phone. "Sergeant Davis."
"Hey Pete. How's it hanging?" "Call me back at my cell number in about 5 minutes," he said in a casual voice.
I shut off the phone. If he wanted me to call his cell phone, he didn't want the call going through the switchboard and being recorded. This could NOT be good news for me.
Damian was handing the girl a glass of tea, having coaxed her up from the floorboards and the seat.
He came around and handed me a glass.
"What's the news man?"
I took a big swallow of the tea. "Pete wants me to call him back on his cell phone in a few minutes. I have to figure that the cops know me and my car by now."
Damian dug in his pocket and tossed me a set of keys. "Take my Honda Civic," he said. "I'll arrange for your car to get stolen and seen driving around town with some known gang bangers. You call from near your work, say at a restaurant, and say that you just came out and your car was stolen."
I started transferring the vitals from the car to his, my gun bag, and my back-up gun from the glove box.
My briefcase I left inside, along with a box of cassettes. That way it would look like the car had indeed been stolen.
Damian and I took my Browning apart, and wiped every part down. We wiped the magazines cartridges to remove any of my prints from them.
Just to be safe, I replaced the barrel, extractor and firing pin, then pounded the old barrel etc. flat with a sledgehammer.
No one was going to be matching any slugs from that gun to the ones I had used to shoot the guy with.
The gun would stay with the car when it was taken by the gang bangers, further confusing things, I hoped.
I went over and opened the passenger door of my car.
"Listen up." I said to the girl. "If I'm going to keep on helping you, I need some answers.''
She looked up at me wide eyed.
"Let's start with your name." I asked.
"Maria Gonzales.'' she said.
"Why were you being chased?'' I asked
"Because They didn't want me to tell anyone that had seen them kill Jessie." Was the answer.
"Who are 'they'?" I asked.
"A couple of cops. I don't know their names." She replied.
I sighed, "OK, from the beginning. What happened?"
"Jessie and I were working over on The Greely Highway. These two guys stopped and went up to Jessie. They told her that she'd been holding out on her pimp. And they said Jessie could give them the money," she began,
Tears started running down Maria's cheeks.
"Jessie said she wasn't going to give any- thing to a couple of crooked cops," she took a gulp of her tea, and her eyes went unfocused as if she was seeing something far away.
"The bigger cop took out one of those clubs that fold up small, and he opened it and hit Jessie in the head. She screamed and he swung again, but she moved and the club hit her across the throat."
I winced at the thought. That would do it.
"Jessie grabbed her throat and tried to breathe. The man kicked her in the belly, and blood came out of her mouth. When she fell down, they saw me watching. "No witnesses’ said the short cop, and they started chasing me."
Shit. No wonder the man hadn't gone down when I shot him in the chest,he had a vest on. Oh well, I had already figured that much.
But now I had blown the brains out of a cop. didn't matter that he was crooked. In Wyoming, that's automatic death penalty.
"Out of the car, We need to switch vehicles and get the hell out of here." I ordered.
Maria got out of the car and allowed me to lead her over to Damian's Honda Civic.
"Damian, I need you to get to my place and clean it out. Sell everything you can. I'll try to contact you for the money."
Damian had been listening to the whole thing. "From the descriptions, it sounds like Rosenthal and Alexander. Two of the meanest and crookedest pigs on the force."
I started his car up and headed out. I made a beeline for the closest branch of my bank. I pulled about 8 grand out of savings, and emptied my checking account.
I told the teller that I was going on my honeymoon in Mexico and needed some ready cash.
I stopped at another branch of another bank and pulled another 7 grand from my savings account, telling the teller there the same story about a honeymoon in Mexico.
Once last stop before we left town got me a pair of untraceable .45 automatics. I also got a couple of holsters and a dozen boxes of ammo.
I called Sergeant Davis on his cell number. "Pete, I ain't going be on long, so listen what my friend has to say. Then I'm moving to Mexico."
I handed the phone to Maria. "Tell him what happened." I ordered.
She told Pete what had happened, and answered a couple of simple questions. Then I hung up.
"This isn't the way to Mexico." Maria said as we headed north on the interstate.
"Nope, but we ain't going to Mexico." I told her. "We're going to Canada."
"But that's crazy." she protested. "That's halfway across the country!"
"That's why I pointed all clues to us heading South. No one will think about us going north, at least for a while anyway," I said.
In Rapid City, South Dakota, we left the car with the keys in it and picked up a paper. A couple of hours later, we were driving a '73 Chevy Impala that I had paid $400 for from a private individual.
We passed where the Honda had been parked. It was gone. Good, I had wanted it to be stolen.
We changed cars again in Butte Montana, and again in Boise Idaho..
We doubled back there and crossed the border into Canada at International Falls Minnesota.
The car was soon traded for a used pickup.
Then we headed west until we got to Vancouver.
We had stopped at thrift stores along the way and bought clothing for both of us, along with mismatched luggage. A cheap set of wedding rings for each of us completed the illusion of our being a married couple.
Maria had been mad when I told her I wasn't about to sleep with her until she'd had a complete blood work up. "Sorry Maria, but I have no intention of picking up clap or worse."
In Vancouver, I got her in to see a doctor. While she was occupied, I phoned Damian.
"Man, the cops are everywhere looking for you. The story they are giving out is that you killed the cop and kidnapped the girl and took her to Mexico."
"What about Pete Davis?." I asked. "Can't he do anything?"
"He's dead." Damian said. "Someone ran him over in a Wal-Mart parking lot. They are calling it a hit and run with no clues. But I heard it was Rosenthal who flattened him. Man this is bad news all around."
"Keep the money you got from my stuff." told him. "You might want to get out of there soon."
"Gotta go." said Damian and hung up.
I made a call to an old buddy of mine who had moved to Canada years before.
"Hey Silas, I need some papers in the worst way. For me and a lady." "In trouble again huh?" he said. "Meet me at 7 tonight at the Crystal Club,"
I collected Maria and went to track down this Crystal Club.
Maria sat there silently for a long time. "What's wrong?" I asked finally.
She hung her head. "The doctor said I have the clap, and Chlamydia.''
"Did he give you a prescription?"
She nodded. "And I am supposed to refrain from sex for at least a month."
Damn good thing I waited then.
It took us a couple of hours to find the Crystal Club. A real dive of a joint down by the docks.
To kill time, we went and got Maria's prescription filled, then found a place to have supper.
"What are we doing here?" Maria asked when drove us back to the Crystal Club.
We're going to try to get Canadian ID's here," I told her.
Maria subsided. She had turned out to be a pleasant companion. She knew when to keep quiet, and she knew when to talk. A skill most women never master.
(She just hit me for writing that, but it's true.)
As soon as we got inside, I knew that this was the right place. The nude dancer on the stage looked like 40 miles of bad road, and the whole place stank like hell.
I found us a table close to one of the wails. I had one of the 45s under my jacket, and the other tucked behind my back. This was not a place to be unarmed.
Silas came in a few moments later. I caught his eye and he came over.
"Long time no see," he said. He looked Maria over, then turned back to me.
The guy who can help you is here in the back room. It's gonna cost you 2 grand U.S. cash." he said. "Up front."
I laid 4,000 on the table in an envelope. Silas picked it up and glanced though the bills.
"Wait here," he said.
Maria was watching the new dancer up on stage. If anything, this one was uglier and a worse dancer than the first one.
Silas came back to the table and beckoned to us. "This way," he said.
We stood against a wall with a blue sheet tacked up behind us. Our pictures were taken, and then we were led back to our seats.
Maria was nervous, and she took my hand with a tight grip. "I don't like this place," she whispered. "I'm not fond of it myself? I replied.
An hour later, Silas came back and sat down. He slid a manila envelope over to me. "Drivers licenses, passports, and medical cards. Try not to use them before tomorrow."
"Thanks." I told him.
"No problem," he said. "But now we're even."
I looked up at him. "We're even."
I was getting a bad vibe, so I stood up, shook Silas' hand and left with Maria as fast as we could.
"Come on, get into the truck." I told her as soon as we hit the parking lot. She picked up on my urgency and scrambled into the passenger seat without a lot of questions.
I made a bunch of turns to throw off a tail, then headed out of town.
"Check these out," I said to Maria, and handed her the envelope. She opened it and dumped the contents in her lap.
Garbage, scratch paper, scraps of plastic, and a couple of passport sized address books. "We got screwed.'' I said.
The only thing I could think of was the Al-Can highway. I ditched the truck into a bog a couple of mites from the road and watched it sink out of sight. Then we hiked back to the road with our backpacks and stuck out our thumbs.
We had little trouble getting a ride with a retired couple in their huge RV. The driver was in his 60's and looked like he had seen it all, twice, and had enjoyed most of it. His wife was a tiny white-haired old lady who instantly made you think grandmother.
When we hit the Alaska border, Mr. Simmons referred to us as their son and daughter-in-law.
The customs people just waved us on through.
"Don't worry son," Mr. Simmons said. "I've been on the shady side of the law a time or two myself."
They took us to Anchorage, where they were going to visit their real son. I saw a local newspaper that has an article about the cop killing in Cheyenne. Fortunately neither Maria or I were mentioned by name.
I knew we had to get out of sight, preferably for a good couple of years. I saw a help wanted ad for a temporary school teacher in a small village way out in the back of beyond.
I called the number given in the ad.
No they hadn't filled the job yet. And no, at this point, teaching credentials were a luxury that they couldn't afford. The position came with a house and a small monthly paycheck. The teacher would have to teach all grades in a one room school house. And the only way in or out was by the monthly supply plane, unless for a medical emergency, then they'd send a special flight.
When I mentioned that I had had some paramedic training, they couldn't wait to hire me.
I told them no dice unless my wife could come along. Not a problem they said.
They asked when we could leave. I told them how about today.
4 hours later, we were airborn in an ancient DC3 headed for the village of Caribou Point.
This was Maria first time in a plane, and she was scared stiff. I put my arm around her and held her tight for the whole 6 hour flight.
We touched down in Caribou Point without incident, and there was a representative from the tribal council there to meet us.
"Hi there," he said in a surprisingly deep voice. "I'm Josh White Bear, and I'm supposed to take you to your new home, and then show you the school."
He had a small open topped 6 wheeled vehicle that easily held the three of us plus our luggage.
Along the way, Josh pointed out the sights. "Over there is the store. It's also the post office. My wife Sarah runs it."
He pointed to a small, solid looking building across the street. "There is the council building."
Finally he wheeled around a corner and pulled up in front of two buildings sitting side by side. "Here we are. This is your house." He pointed to the building on the right. "Next door is the school."
He grinned. "Both places have wood stoves for heat, but the house has gas for cooking and hot water."
"Where do we get the wood?" Maria asked. "I don't see any trees anywhere."
"There's a truck that comes twice a month." Josh said. "You'll get a cord per month apiece for the school and the house. Anything more, you'll have to get yourself. The bottle gas comes the same way, and you get a set amount per month."
Maria looked dubious.
Josh helped us unload our stuff and haul it into the house.
Maria looked around once we got indoors. "I like it," she said. Indeed, it was warm, clean, and looked nice. There were just a few pieces of furniture, but enough for us. The kitchen cupboards held pots, pans, plates, etc.
"We buy food at the store?" Maria asked.
Josh nodded. "We have electricity here, but it can be erratic at times."
Maria looked at Josh with a lost expression on her face. "Can you please take us to the store. We'll need your little thing there to haul the food back."
Josh looked at his watch. "Ok, but we'll have to keep it short. There's a council meeting tonight to welcome the new arrivals. That’s you folks."
Maria was dismayed by the lack of variety the store offered.
Josh's wife Sarah explained.
"We keep the basics here. You can leave an order with us, and we'll have it flown in on the next flight, providing there's space available."
I had Maria fill out an order form and paid the amount, plus the shipping cost of $5 per 100 pounds.
I also ordered a diesel generator, fuel, and a satellite dish setup.
Sarah was glad to see the cash. "This makes things so much easier." she said.
"Who do we talk to about more wood and more gas?" I asked her.
Sarah beckoned over an older man who had a deeply scarred face. "Johnny here can help."
I held out my hand to Johnny. “Hi, I'm the new schoolteacher. You can call me Paul."
Johnny shook my hand and looked carefully at my face. "You just might do," he said.
"I'll need at least 2 full gas tanks for the stove and water heater," I told him. "And I want at least a cord and a half of firewood above what the council pays for each month."
Johnny gave me a gap-toothed smile. "The wood's gonna cost ya $50 a month. The gas though, That's gonna run about $100 a month."
I peeled off some bills. "This should take care of the first year."
Johnny stuffed the bills in his pocket. "This ain't refundable if you leave before ya use it up."