Novel Chapter 17

Chapter Seventeen: Back on the lam

Jerry didn’t have to tell me twice.  He shook my hand, same strong grip, and said keep in touch.  He said he had some information that may be of value to the police.  He would just say that he got the information from Annie, after he ran it by her.  He wouldn’t tell me what information. He even gave me some money and a few supplies, with the admonition to forget where it came from.

 I drove a good two hours, into the mountains, until I got lost.  Then I drove up an old logging trail in the Jefferson National Forest. Exhausted, I fell asleep.   To the sound of the whippoorwill and the cicada.

 I hung out there a few days, hoping that my absence would allow the heat to die down in Richmond. But it was getting cold. In the wee hours of the night it was cold as hell, and the single wool blanket that Jerry gave me did not keep me warm enough to sleep through the night.  I took long walks during the days, and generally lost weight as the few supplies in my possession did not include much food.

 I was tempted to get out of Virginia and never return.  Completely isolating myself from news, as had become my ritual since the beginning of my misadventure allowed me to not worry as much.  Perhaps, I tried to convince myself, I would never hear if Craig got wrongfully convicted, or if Anne got put away for years for helping me.  I stood a much better chance of not being recognized the further I was from Richmond.  In the end, I just couldn’t do it.  Not because I was brave, but because I was too weak to be able to live with my conscience if I just walked away and did nothing.

 I’ve always been a firm believer that the best defense is a good offense, so I began the trip back to Richmond, Virginia.  I took my time, traveling the back roads, at night, gassing up and eating at large truck stops where a single stranger wouldn’t draw much attention. 

 The last night, sometime after 2:00 a.m., I was traveling on Route 288 north towards I-64.  Fog clung loosely over the landscape. I had to turn on my wipers occasionally to clear off the dew. I saw the eyes of some deer off on the side of the road. I felt “home” when I crossed the James River and entered Henrico County.

 On my first night back in Richmond I broke into my own house. Through a window in the back which was blocked from anybody else’s view by a rhododendron.  After carefully stepping over yellow tape that read “Police Line, do not cross!” That late at night it sounded like a cannon going off when I broke the glass, but nobody seemed to notice. 

 The house was a mess. It had obviously been searched, thoroughly, by the police, and nothing had been put back in place.  Everything was out-of-place, furniture was upside down, bookshelves were bare, cabinets were cleaned out, and everything was in the middle of the floor. As I walked carefully in the dark, it appeared that somebody had done a very thorough search.

 My guns in my locked gun case were all confiscated, but they had not found my hidden stash of cash.  I located a screwdriver and screwed out an electrical outlet, pulled it out and located a string that I pulled out that was attached to a Zip-lock baggies containing hundred-dollar bills.  Too bad I hadn’t taken the time to hide a weapon in similar fashion.  I took the money, a suitcase of clothes and canned food in boxes.  I dropped everything out the window, and after a few trips to the nearby truck I was off again.

 Then I high-tailed it out to Janet’s property, about forty-five minutes away. Craig’s little shack would be my base until I could figure something else out. The next day I arranged to meet David Ball in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart nearest to his office. 

 “Dude, that is the shittiest disguise that I have ever seen.”  My died hair and eyelashes were half-grown out. 

 “Thanks, but if I need fashion advice, I’ll call somebody who isn’t charging me $450 an hour.  What have you found out?”

 “Not much. They don’t have to cooperate with a lawyer who represents a fugitive. So they don’t.”

 “I’m paying $450 an hour for you to drive out here and tell me that you haven’t discovered anything that might help me?”

 “I said I had found out ‘not much.’ I didn’t say ‘nothing’.  Your boy Craig is going to live. They’ve transferred him from the hospital to the county jail. He’s being held without bond.  He’s charged with capital murder.  Bullets from his gun were found in the Deputy Sheriff.”

 “Bullets?  I saw Craig shoot the deputy, but it looked like it went right through his jaw and kept going.”

 “He was shot twice more in the torso.  Those were found inside the deputy.”

 Mr. Ball saw my look of incredulity, and just nodded to reinforce what he had just said.  “And, the Sheriff claims that he saw the entire shoot-out.  He claims that he witnessed Craig murder the deputy in cold-blood, and then that he witnessed you murder the trooper in cold-blood.”   

 My jaw dropped. Mr. Ball looked as though he had seen his clients deny committing the crime before.

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