By J.R. Hayslett
“What’s so odd about that?”
Janet turned and looked out the back window. “It’s probably nothing. Look. Another car has passed that one and it’s behind us now.”
But that car, a small foreign sports model, gained on them, pulled into the passing lane and sped by.
“Damn!” he muttered.
“Hold on!” Greg warned and, swerving suddenly, he cut onto the shoulder and jammed
on the breaks. Their car careened and slued drunkenly.
Greg leaned on the steering wheel and rested his forehead on his arms. “I—I don’t know. I guess I got spooked.” He blew out a long breath. “You’re right. I must be nuts. As soon as it passes, we’ll go.”
He threw the car into gear and spun out, gravel and dirt spewing in a great gray cloud and Janet gripping the seat with both hands. They rode in silence for several miles, watching the road ahead and the car behind as Greg clenched his jaw and alternated between mashing down on and letting off of the accelerator.
As he talked, the dot of something appeared on the road far ahead. Greg sped up and the dot grew into the shape of a big-rig. Soon, the rig’s rear double doors loomed in front of them. Greg pulled into the passing lane and rode alongside, gauging the truck’s speed. Then he pulled ahead. After he cut back into the right lane, he slowed so their car stayed a couple hundred yards ahead of the semi.
With the truck shielding them from the other car, they rode for some time without talking. Janet turned on the radio and twisted the dial until she found an oldies pop station.
“Good idea,” Greg said, his stomach rumbling at the suggestion. Food, gas and motel signs began to dot the roadside as they neared an exit. “We’ll try one of these places.”
They slid into a booth overlooking the occupied parking spaces in front of the building and soon had bowls of soup and club sandwiches in front of them. But Janet picked at her food.
Janet stared out the window. Suddenly, she sat up straight.
A dozen or so people were eating. Several more browsed the shelves of snacks and souvenirs in the shop. It was impossible to know which one the driver of the other car might be.
With refilled iced-tea glasses and half-hearted attempts at small talk, Greg and Janet waited.
in front left until, after nearly an hour, only one other couple remained.
They tried to saunter, but Janet suspected they looked more paranoid than casual. After paying their bill, they went out and rounded the corner of the restaurant. They stopped short and gaped. The space they had parked their car in was empty.
Janet nodded, then stopped. “Wait. What about the car like ours in front?”
reason. They might have taken our car instead. Maybe it was that last couple that left the restaurant.”
“Could they have hotwired it?”
The other car was still there. Greg caught up with her just as she looked in the window. He looked, too. His jaw dropped.
to the restaurant. “Wait there. I’m going to check where we were sitting or see if anyone found them and turned them in.”
It took only a half beat for the fear of standing out there alone to send Janet hurrying after him. “Wait!” she said. “I’m going with you.”
“What? We can’t do that. It would be stealing.”
“Coincidence,” Greg said. “Lots of people listen to that kind of music.”
“I guess so,” Janet said.
Greg glanced at it. Once, then twice. “My God, Janet! What the hell is going on?”
“Look, bud, we’re taking care of everything. You just get back in your car and keep going. Traffic’s bad enough without people stopping to gawk.”
“But I need to know who was in that car. I think it might have been stolen.”
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Anatomy of a Trial is available in hard copy from Amazon and from the author. It's available in e-format on Amazon Kindle and most other retail e-readers. It is rated 5 out of 5 stars in reviews on Amazon.
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