Thursday, April 24, 2008

Test Drive - Episode Nineteen: Big Spring

Previously on Test Drive

Red giggled, seemingly unfazed by the storm of violence they’d only just survived, as if all the recent danger was nothing more than a half-remembered dream. But Frank, bruised and powder-burned, trembling with adrenalin and fear and rage and who knew what else, could only mumble, “Great,” as he stared down at the silver handgun far below, glittering in the desert sun.

Then, gazing up towards the riot of police lights far behind them now on the receding horizon, Frank suddenly noticed the dark red Jaguar XK, still bouncing towards them across the arid dirt in hopeless, wild pursuit.


Hombre stared back at Frank through the cracked windshield of the British roadster, while slouched in the passenger seat beside him, a particularly violent jolt caused Eric’s eyes to flutter open as he roused back to muzzy consciousness, dabbing his sliced, bloody forehead in confusion. “Wha...what’s going on?”

“Don’t worry, pal. We’re on our way to the hospital...everything’s gonna be fine,” Hombre said with a less than reassuring grimace, gamely offering his best salesman’s handshake. “Charlie Blackfloe, Las Vegas Dodge.”

“Eric Gunderson, Van Horn Imports.”

“Nice to meet you.”

Hombre withdrew his grimy paw from Eric’s dazed grip and turned his attention back to the rainbow balloon, easing up on the gas as his fevered brain downshifted to a new plan of action. His airborne quarry was picking up speed on a hot gust of wind and he figured he’d bust an axle if he kept barrel-assing across the high desert terrain, so instead he turned north, towards the distant grey ribbon of interstate leading east to New Orleans.

After all, he thought darkly, it wasn’t like he didn’t know where she was going.


A mile away and a half mile up, Frank had taken several deep breaths and was attempting once again to impose logic on the chaos of the past two hours of his life. “All right, I’m gonna try this damn thing again,” he cautioned, gingerly examining the balloon’s burner unit, “so you might wanna...”

“Are you crazy?” Red giggled, amused and alarmed, gesturing towards the uninhabited wasteland around and below them. “We’re in the middle of nowhere! What, you’re gonna walk outta here?”

“I don’t care if I have to walk a thousand miles,” Frank snarled in response, “as long as it’s away from you!”


Red thrust out her lower lip and scowled the exaggerated, bratty pout of the teenage girl she clearly hadn’t been in decades, folding her arms and huffing in faux indignation. Irritated, Frank opened his mouth to reply...then remembered she was insane and promptly thought better of it.


“Nothing, just....” Frank closed his eyes and took another breath, forcing himself to focus on salvaging whatever he could from the fiasco of their time together. “...tell me where you ditched the Mustang so I can go pick it up, okay?”

“You mean you’re really going back?” Red laughed with a start of unfeigned disbelief at the salesman’s bull-headed tenacity.

“Yes, crazy person! And don’t try to follow me!”

“Gee,” Red said, pouting again, “and here I thought we were kinda hitting it off.”

“Lady, you stuck a FUCKING GUN IN MY EAR!” Frank exploded, knowing it was pointless to continue the conversation, but somehow unable to stop himself.

“Ah, that was just for show!” Red shrugged, dismissive. “You and me, we got bigger fish to fry. I’m sure Charlie told you all about the big score, the moonshine millions...”

Then, pushing closer, Red defaulted to seduction, breasts against his arm, hot breath in his ear: “There’s plenty to go around...and you seem like the kinda guy who knows what to do in a...tight spot...”

But Frank wasn’t having it. “Listen, Stella...or Marion...or whoever you are,” he said, tired of the game, pushing the voluptuous redhead angrily away. “I know your kind o’ trouble, and I just don’t want no part of it, okay?”

“Oh really?” Red purred, arching a mischievous eyebrow.

“I wasted too many years runnin’ around like an idiot, boostin’ cars and shootin’ guns with trailer trash like you...”


“...then I lost another five in Big Spring, hopin’ to Christ my ass didn’t look cute in prison pants...”

Red’s lips curled back in a helpless grin, eyes darting instinctively to the gangly ex-con’s skinny little butt. “Guess you were outta luck there, huh?”

She giggled and Frank rolled his eyes: it was hopeless.

But Red wasn’t through with him yet.


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