SWITCH

ford truck We’ve all done it. A nice day, some idle time to read the baseball scores and sip a fresh cup. Nothing bad ever happens around here. . .

From my recently released crime novel, GROUND EFFECT:

The problem of the Lexus solved itself, along with the need for a map. Ghali left Walid in the motel after a couple of hours sleep and went out to find something fresh to eat and the map. The Ford F150 had a crew cab and West Virginia license plates. The truck was idling in the parking lot of the big superstore as Ghali drove by looking for a parking space away from other cars. He noticed the older man sitting in the driver’s seat with a newspaper propped on the steering wheel and a paper cup of coffee on the dash. The man appeared to be over eighty and unconcerned with what was happening outside of his open window.

Ghali pulled past and parked two slots away. The Sig was in his belt and he pocketed the keys and got out. The parking lot was busy and people were going in and out of the entrance with the word “Market” over the door. No one seemed at all interested in him or the old man in the truck. Ghali walked around the back of the truck and up to the driver’s door. Without hesitation, he opened the door, leaned in and slid the pistol up and into the ribs of the old man.

“Move over,” Ghali ordered. The old man looked wide eyed at Ghali and then down at the black pistol in his side. “Move, now.” Ghali emphasized his order with a heavy push of the gun into the man’s ribs.

“I don’t have any money. Only a couple of bucks. I…”

Ghali reached with his other hand and pushed the man hard, leaning him over the center console. The old man scooted his butt over to relieve the pressure and tried to lift himself over the hump.

“Wait, I’m moving. Wait,” the old man said. Ghali climbed up and took the space the man vacated and slammed the door shut. The old man’s hat tumbled to the floor and the coffee cup followed it, spilling onto his pants and shoes.

“What do you…” Ghali cut the man off by swinging the pistol backhanded hard onto the man’s nose. Blood spurted down the front of the man’s shirt and his hands started up toward his face. Ghali finished it by another, even harder hit with the pistol, this time catching the man on the side of his head as the man tried to turn his face away. That crumpled him into the passenger door and he began to slide down into the blood and coffee on the floor in front of the seat.

Ghali found the transmission gearshift and slipped the truck in reverse to back out of the space. He drove away from the store and out of the lot back onto the street toward the motel. He watched the man’s folded body in front of the seat but he did not move at all and Ghali drove past the motel and deeper into the rural Maryland countryside. He did not have to go too far before he found a dirt road and turned off the paved road. Two curves put him over a culvert with pasture on one side and hardwoods on the other.

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