OK, I've failed to bring this story to a close today. I tried to, I intended to, I wanted to, but in the end I just couldn't get Darren to his final resting place, as it were.
Although some of you may be enjoying the continuance of the story, I respect that others may be saying, "Enough already." I will therefore, make a bold and valiant attempt to put this one to bed in chapter seven.
I've seen many pithy, humorous, thought provoking, witty...etc. quotes to ring in the new year with, so I'll refrain from adding to what you've already said so well, other than to say God speed in 2008 to you all.
If you're new to the site or haven't had a chance to read the first chapters of this story, I would encourage you to go back a few posts and start there. Enjoy.
Miles felt like getting back in his car and chancing it at the next station.
What's that going to look like though if I just turn around and leave? he thought.
Considering his two options, he decided staying put would probably raise less suspicion, so he moved his car to the other side of the island.
As the attendant came over again, Darren handed him his card.
While inserting it next to the pump's keypad the man said, "Debit or credit?"
"Wait a minute. . . Don't use that!" Darren barked at him. "I forgot, I have cash instead."
"OK, let me cancel this." As he fumbled with the pump he said, "For cash you'll have to go inside."
What he thought would be a quick and simple fill-up was now taking entirely too long and as much as he wanted to leave he knew he didn't have any choice but to finish what he had started.
Once inside, the smell of hours old hot dogs turning on stainless steel rollers in the 'hot foods' case greeted him. Normally he wouldn't have given it a second thought, but it had been several hours since his last meal of half a sandwich at the cafe.
The aroma, reminiscent of bad carnival food, reminded him how hungry he was. Opting for a couple of microwaved burritos, a bag of corn chips and a jumbo sized soda, he made his way to the register.
"I'm on number five." he said to the kid behind the counter.
As he looked up, everything in his peripheral vision turned black. He could focus on only one thing. Behind the young man standing in front of him were two surveillance cameras; one pointing towards the door and the other aiming directly at him.
He quickly looked back down at the counter, but realized it was too late. His image had yet again, been caught on tape.
The clerk, not thinking anything of it, rang-up his makeshift dinner and added the gas to it. "That'll be $68.49" he said.
Reaching into his pocket, Darren pulled out the same small wad of fifties he used to pay the cabby with earlier. Peeling off two of them, he handed them to the clerk.
The kid looked at him and said, "I'm sorry sir, but I'm not allowed to take anything larger than a twenty after 10:00PM."
"It's all I've got!" Miles replied.
"I'm sorry, but I could get into trouble if I"
Cutting him off, Darren threw the two bills on the counter and said, "Dude, you have no idea what trouble is. Keep the rest for yourself, but that's all I have."
He gathered up his things and left.
He was back on the interstate and had crossed the state line about eighty miles earlier. One more to go and I'll be on the Southern boarder of the country. he thought.
It was well past 1:00AM and his eyes were starting to grow heavy. As much time as the nap had cost him, he was grateful for having had it now. Even with that he knew he'd have to pull over soon and get some more rest.
He saw a sign ahead that said, "REST AREA 3 MILES".
Although he wanted to stop, he figured if the cops were tracking his progress South, they were sure to make a quick search of all the rest stops along the way. This may have been the first smart thing he'd done all day.
I'll find somewhere to stop at the next town, he thought.
Twenty-six miles closer to freedom, he came to a city where he felt he could find an out of the way place to stop. Monitoring the exits, he decided to take the one that said, "LOS RIOS INDUSTRIAL AREA".
A few turns and a couple of traffic lights later, he found himself next to a large concrete tilt-up style building. There were delivery trucks of various sizes behind a chain link fence and a couple of cars in the small parking area along the side. Besides being quiet and not very well lit, the best thing about the parking area was that it had an assortment of shrubs around it, making it impossible to see from the street.
Perfect! he thought.
"BEEP-BEEP-BEEP,.. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP "
The alarm on his wrist watch was signaling that it was 6:30 AM. . . Time to wake up!
With the sun poking its nose over the horizon he knew it was time to get going.
"Arrrrhhh" he groaned as he stretched his arms and back.
Between the cold air and the condensation from his breathing, he couldn't see a thing outside except the sun's glare on the windows as it rose higher in the Eastern sky. Firing-up the car, he fiddled with the knobs on the dashboard until he found the right combination for the defroster. A few minutes later he was on his way.
As he was getting ready to make his way out into traffic, he was met nearly head-on by a large semi pulling out from the warehouse across the street. His blood ran cold as the truck finished its left turn exposing the name on the side of the trailer it was pulling. There in large dark green letters with the trademark Italian flag under them was the following: "Bennetelli's Fine Frozen Foods".
"NO FUCKING WAY!" He exclaimed. "IMPOSSIBLE!"
He couldn't believe he'd actually spent the night right across the street from their South-West regional distribution center.
This house of cards he'd constructed was continuing to crumble before his eyes.
To be continued.