The size of that parking lot was the only reason Jerry got back to the drop off before they were in range. I heard their cars coming before I saw Jerry but their headlights didn’t pick him out until he reached the bottom of the drop off. Jerry spotted me and yelled “Viola” before he slung Hazard Pay up the slope toward me. Then he started pulling himself up the drop off wall, grabbing tree roots and rocks for support as those two cars got closer and closer.
Their first shot came when they were half way down the parking lot, and I don’t think it came anywhere near Jerry but it woke me up, even more than Jerry’s yell did. I sighted along the barrel of Jerry’s gun and pulled the trigger, aiming for a center spot between the closest pair of head lights. That 357 kicked back hard and the headlights swerved into a curve away from us. I fired over the headlights of the other car but I fired too high. It was pulling around toward the other car when I hear Jerry’s voice.
There was Jerry, the moon on his face. He was hanging from the drop off and grabbing at the grass clods near my feet. Hazard Pay was on the ground between us. I pulled the top of the strap over my wrist and slung the bag part back to him. “Grab” I said and leaned back.
Jerry’s grip onto the purse nearly unsteadied me but my heels were set deep in the mud. I threw myself backwards and pulled Jerry along with me. I heard the breath go out of him, “Whmmph!” as his body hit the grass. I heard another gun fire and Jerry yelled into the dirt. I rolled over and crawled so I was almost head to head with Jerry. He was still face down into the dirt and his legs were still kicking over the edge of the bluff. . “He’s going to have more dirt in his lungs than a farmer” I thought and grabbed him underneath the arms. “Jerry, pull yourself to me” I said “They can still see your legs!” Jerry got a knee under him and pushed his legs over the top while I pulled his shoulders toward me. The headlights below us went out.
For a minute we just lay there in the dirt and the dark, then Jerry said “Roll into the weeds, Viola, we’ve got to get away from this road. I’m glad he said roll since I couldn’t stand up without help. We rolled and fell into a bar ditch before I heard a car again, this time only one. I heard but didn’t see it drive up the hill and go crashing past us on the road. After about five more minutes of quiet Jerry said “Viola? Are you okay?
“I believe so” I said “Do you reckon they’ve gone?”
“I’m not sure,” he said and I could hear the pain in his voice. “Maybe they all hopped in the one car and left. Maybe some are still waiting below. But we’ve got to leave, Viola. I took a bullet in my foot and I need to stop this bleeding.”
We pushed and hauled ourselves out of the bar ditch and into a flat part of a field. Jerry wouldn’t let me take his boot off but the moonlight showed where the bullet went in through the boot heel. I could also see the shiny patches on the heel where fresh blood had run out.
“Hey, I’m lucky” Jerry said when he saw my face “If that bullet had hit anywhere else I’d be in lot worse shape. It had to get through two inches of rubber before it got to my foot. That slowed it down.”
I wanted to go back to the hotel on my own and bring help back to him but Jerry said no. “We can’t help each other if we’re separated.” he said “and if you didn’t get back, how could you bring me help?” I thought I could probably get back to the hotel and faster without him. Still the man had risked his life for me, basically a stranger, and he was right about what could happen to us in the dark. “Well, once we get up, can you lean on my shoulder?” I said.