Jerry and I walked on, not saying anything until we were where the road sloped down to the parking lot. I could hear men’s voices arguing at the far end of the big parking lot.
Jerry spoke extra soft. “Viola, will you listen to me?” I nodded. When I realized he couldn’t see me, I whispered “Yes.”
“Okay, we’re lucky that those boys are at the far end of the parking lot and your car is near this other.” he said quietly. “You’ve made good time keeping up with me but that road downhill is rough. Are you sure you can get down and up that thing in a hurry if you have to?”
“No, I might fall.” I said. There was something in his voice that made me tell the truth, even if it went against me. “And I might make a noise.”
Jerry nodded. “Okay, I’ve got another question: Can you shoot a gun, a 357?”
“Yes, I can.” I said. “That, I’m good at.” I wasn’t bragging. My daddy gave me my first shooting lessons and Ponder kept them up through our married life.
“Good.” Jerry said and handed me his gun. “This is loaded and odds are you won’t have to fire it but it would be good if you covered me.” He gave up a thin sort of smile. “Now where’s this bag my wife thinks is worth four days pay?”
“Front seat floor on the passenger side” I said. He nodded and stepped off the dirt edge of the bluff, turned around and started climbing down alongside that steep drop of a road. I watched Jerry move ever so slowly down the hill, placing his feet so his steps would be silent and holding on to tree roots coming out of the slope so he wouldn’t slide down the hill. The moonlight reflected off the silver covers of the roach coach and the metal door at the cavern’s mouth and I could see something moving near the mouth of the cave. Finally, down to my left, just past the bottom of the hill, I could see the shadow of a stand of trees and my old car parked beneath them. I was so scared. The cicadas, the crickets and the grasshoppers were shouting out their night sounds which, I guess, made us lucky. They covered the sound of Jerry’s boots on that chert-covered parking lot.
Jerry was smart; he stuck close to the shadows when he crossed the lot. I caught his outline moving amongst the trees but he was so quiet, I didn’t hear the clunk when the car door opening. It was the interior dome light going on that gave us away.
That stupid light went on and stood out in the black night. I heard a man holler “Hey!”, as Jerry leaned into my car to grab the purse. Jerry slammed the car door shut and the dome light went out but it was too late. Seconds later engines at other end of the parking lot started roaring and I saw headlights in the distance. They were on to us!