Besides a Ruckstell axle, roll cage, shaved-down head, and a Bosch timing cover, I replaced the coils with a distributer. Add a touch of alcohol in the fuel, Doc’s own Castor oil lubricant with duel exhaust and she represents my best hope. There’s no turning back now. I pop the trunk. Fumbling with a box of 12-gage shells, I manage to spill its entire contents.
“Dammit, old fart. Get a grip.” I slow down, grab the shells five at a time and load all four of the Browning Auto-5s welded onto the doors and the roof—four in the clip, one in the chamber. Finally she’s hot and ready to go, twenty shells all told. Buckshot, everyone of ‘em.
I chew the inside of my lower lip, cratered from years of tobacco. Tucking the gum away there, I eject a string of sticky spit through the gap in my teeth and onto the dirt floor—pounded over the years into a fine silt. “Pandora’s box done been opened boys, and there ain’t no closing her up. The whole state a Texas might pay fer it, but my Isabella and little Abby sure as hell ain’t.”
Time to go. A light flickers in my peripheral vision, dancing inside the garage door. I switch my lamp off and crouch behind an arc welder. Now flick my giblets. Why the hell didn’t I close that? A guard stands in the opening, silhouetted against the night sky, his shotgun poking around where it doesn’t belong.
I grit my teeth. Searching my immediate surroundings for anything helpful, my eyes locate a heavy chain. The come along. Immediately over my head dangles a hook, a series of pulleys and enough cable to get the job done.
“Anyone in here?”
I clutch a file, take a deep breath and chuck it toward the opposite corner of the garage. As soon as the sound reverberates from the recesses I lunge upward. Looping the hook with the chain, I swing the whole contraption toward the door with everything my crusty old muscles can muster.
I pitch forward and down as the confines of the garage blast wide open. Ricocheting birdshot from the guard’s shotgun pings all about. But in the next instant the hook and chain find their mark. Scrambling to my feet I hurdle a work bench, pulling my damn groin in the process.
The guard bounces off the door, rebounding in my direction. Limping forward I kick the shotgun from his grip before he can level it again. In a single movement I flip one end of the chain around his neck twice, catch it on the hook and straddle his midriff with my full weight. Now I ain’t as muscular as I used to be, but Isabella’s cooking has given me a healthy bulge around the middle that would take more than a month to wear off.
For a second I worry it isn’t enough. Then his legs wobble and fold. Without slack enough in the chain for his knees to find the floor, he chokes out in twenty-seven seconds. The whole time I’m counting the seconds, all I can think about is the fire emanating from the pulled muscle in my groin. And people say doctoring has become a young man’s business. There’s no doubt in my mind that killing is.
I glance out the opened door, no point in closing it now, and find the coast clear. Fat white flakes fall, only hours away from a white Christmas—the first since I was a boy. Suddenly shivering, I return to the Model T and pull a heavy wool coat from the trunk.
I hold my pocket watch up to the hand-held light. The hands are of course frozen in the same place they’ve been for the last twelve years. Looks like it ain’t time to die. Finally, I secure my satchel on the floorboard of the passenger side and hang the watch from the rearview mirror. The T starts without pause. Pedal down, I punch through the back wall, around the bone yard and gather speed, headed straight for the main gates.
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