CHAPTER 4 PART 1: DON




MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14 - GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA

IT WAS PAST MIDNIGHT, local time, by the time Don and Gene had been able to locate the car rental desk. The two friends had tried following the signs at first, but those turned out to be too confusing. They’d wound up walking from one end of the terminal to the other to ultimately find the rental counter just a dozen or so feet away from where they’d started out.

The guy behind the counter looked surprisingly alert despite the time of night and Gene approached the counter to begin the car rental proceedings. Everything seemed to go swimmingly until Gene had provided the clerk with his credentials and they ran into their first snag. When Gene had gone on-line over a month ago to reserve the car, he had selected the option for a sedan, possibly a Nissan Altima. What they got instead was an entirely different set of wheels.

“A Ford F-150?” Gene asked.

“Yes sir, I’m afraid that’s all we have left on the lot,” the rental clerk said. His tag named him Reg. “It’s brand new, less than a hundred miles.”

“But it’s a truck, right?” Gene asked with a hint of panic. “And a big one at that?”

“Yes, sir. It is a truck.”

“Come on, Gene,” Don cut in. “So it’s a truck? You aren’t the one who has to drive it.”

“Yeah, but it’s a truck,” said Gene.

“We know, Gene. I know, Reg knows. Let it pass already.”

Don was actually rather excited about the prospect of getting behind the wheel of something as big and powerful as a full-sized Ford F-150. He may have hated flying, but Don loved to drive. If he’d had his way, they would have been driving all across the country this past month instead of putting their lives in the hands of pilots whose resumes Don wasn’t privy too.

Maybe Gene had been right when he’d said it was all about control.

Regardless, Don was ready to test his truck driving chops.

Gene however, didn’t look convinced.

“I wanted a sedan,” said Gene. “Not a truck.”

“I am sorry, sir,” said Reg. “All we have is the Ford.”

Don fought back a smile at the look on Reg the Retail Clerk’s face. As he dealt with Gene’s complaint, he’d managed to look apologetic, apathetic, and frightened, all at the same time. It was a look Don knew could only be learned when serving the public.

“Gene,” Don said, clapping his friend on the shoulder and looking him in the eye. “There’s nothing we can do here. There’s no fight to be won.”

Gene looked from Don to Reg, then back to Don. He sighed.

“Okay,” Gene said, a hint of regret in his voice. “We’ll take the truck.”

Don snatched the keys off the counter. “Thank you, Reg. You have yourself a wonderful night. Gene, pay the man.”

“Thank you, sir,” Reg said, pointing to a set of doors to the right. “Just straight out those doors. It’s the only truck in the lot.”

Don collected his bags and without looking back to see if Gene was following, headed outside and to the truck. He found it right away, a blue giant on four wheels. It looked like it could survive anything life could throw at it.

“It’s a freaking monster,” Gene said from behind. “You ever drove anything this big before?”

“Nope.”

Can you drive something this big?”

“Gene, I can drive anything.” Don unlocked the doors.

To be continued . . .





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