Chapter 7

When Justin came back, he found Brian standing over a pot of boiling water. Two mugs with tea bags in them were sitting on the counter.

"All I could find was tea. Hope that's okay. There's sugar, but no milk. Not even any of that canned stuff."

"Tea is fine," Justin said, rummaging around the still bare cabinets. "Guess the food fairy didn't show up last night, huh?" He pulled out an unopened box of Special K. "This should still be good, although I like Cheerios better. You like Special K?"

"Yeah, but not the kind you eat with bananas." He saw Justin wrinkle a brow. "Special K? The drug? Never mind. You're too young."

Justin sighed as he poured some cereal into two bowls. They had to eat, and this was it for a while. Brian brought the two mugs of hot tea to the small table and sat down. Justin spooned up some dry flakes and popped them into his mouth. "Not bad," he said, through a mouthful of crumbs. They ate in silence except for the crunching of the flakes.  When they finished eating, they sat on the sofa with a second cup of tea.

"We have to think about what we're going to do. We can't stay here very long. I heard a few cars out there last night and pretty soon someone's going to get nosy."

Justin was staring into his mug, which he held in both hands, enjoying what little warmth radiated through the ceramic. "I know," he said, with more anger than he meant. "How long will it take us to get to Pittsburgh?"

"Driving, it's about six or seven hundred miles or so, so, about ten hours. We have to go the speed limit, so we don't get stopped by the cops. It might be safe to travel the highways now."

"Do you think anyone at that place has called the cops on us, yet?"

"I don't think so. They were pretty much holding us against our will. We were kidnapped and forced to stay there with drugs and restraints. I don't think they want that to get out. Whoever they have looking for us, it's private. I doubt any official agencies have been notified at least from Greenhills. The stolen car is another matter. Maybe not the Honda, for the same reason. Whoever it belonged to is probably already driving a new BMW, to keep his mouth shut. The SUV, though, is a different story."

"You have this all thought out, don't you?"

"Not all, Sunshine. Not by any means."

"Okay, do we get another car here before we leave or what?"

"No, I think we're good for a while. We need money, though."

"I maybe can call someone. A friend. She won't say anything to anyone. I'm sure of it."

"We can't take that chance. You know everyone we know is probably under surveillance of some kind. I'm sure your friend has already been questioned about our whereabouts."

Suddenly Justin smiled. "Maybe," he said, "but I know how to get in touch with her without actually talking to her. Her boyfriend goes to school at Clemson. If we can make it there and I can talk to him, I'm sure Daph will give us some money."

"I don't know. It sounds like a long shot."

"So, I guess you want to find another guy in a public bathroom." Justin stood and took his empty cup into the kitchen, wondering where that outburst came from.

"And what's that supposed to mean? I did what was necessary. Did you want me to pull a holdup at the store? We would both be in jail now."

"I know. I'm sorry. It's just that everything..."

"Sorry's bullshit, Justin." The anger softened. "I know you've been through a lot. You got us out of that hell hole and that's something big. Now we just have to work together or it'll all be for nothing. Okay?"

"Okay. But let me try to get the money. I know I can do it. I got us into this."

Brian made the mistake of looking into Justin's eyes. The range of emotions caught him off guard. Excitement, fear, bravado and trust were all competing for dominance. `This is not good,' he thought just before he leaned down and kissed Justin on the lips. Almost as soon as he did it, he pulled back. "We can't do this, Justin. Not here. Not like this."

"Yeah. You're right, I guess. But, um, do you want to?"

"Oh yeah. I want to very much."

"Good, cuz I do too."

"Come on, Sunshine. Let's get out of here before something happens. You can tell me about your plan."

They straightened up the kitchen, gathered their belongings and headed west toward Clemson University.

"Now here's the plan," Justin said as they found their way to route 77.


Several hours later, hungry and low on gas, they arrived in the college town. They stopped at a small diner and Justin called Sam's cell phone. He left a voice message, hoping Sam would call him back soon. Less than an hour later, the pay phone in the diner rang and Justin quickly picked up the receiver.

"Sam, don't hang up. Do you recognize my voice? Good. I need a big favor. Can you meet me?" He gave his friend directions then joined Brian in the booth.

Sam arrived a short while later and Justin told him what he needed. "You can't tell anyone we were here. Please."

"I promise, Justin," he said, and opened his cell phone and hit speed dial 1 for his girlfriend, Daphne. He called her Daphne Duck and said his roommate Jam was going to sell him his guitar and wanted $300 for it. He was short of money and could she loan it to him. He had to have the money now, or someone else would buy the guitar. Luckily, Daphne realized what he was talking about and agreed. DD or Daphne Duck and Jam were names she and Justin had used for each other when they were kids and pretended to have secrets from everyone else. They never told anyone else about the names, thinking they would be laughed at, and it was nobody else's business anyway. It wasn't hard for Daphne to withdraw the money from her school account and send it by Western Union. Sam picked up the money two hours later and the boys were off again, hoping no one was the wiser. If everything went as planned, they would be in Pennsylvania by tonight. They still had to figure out what they were going to do first.

Sam didn't notice the small, bald-headed man sitting in his car near the dorm entrance. The man marked the time in his little book, then activated his tape recorder. "Subject away from dorm for three hours and 18 minutes. Shopped at school bookstore and picked up some take-out. No apparent contact with clients. Will continue surveillance." He didn't feel it was necessary to call the chief, since nothing happened. At least he hoped nothing happened. He didn't mean to fall asleep at the last rest stop, but he had been up all night. He was supposed to be on campus by seven, but it was almost ten before he got there. The "subject" was already out by that time and the little man had no idea where he was. He took a sip of lukewarm coffee, thinking that this was going to be a long boring day.

Return to Escape