Friday, July 26, 2013

Baxter: Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-One

They were in a two-story parking building next to a mall, about the only parking lot in Hood Canal with a roof. There were only a handful of cars in employee parking, but no security cameras. 
“I think we’re gonna have to risk the bigger city,” Baxter told her as he popped the lock on a silver Taurus. “Anything we take out here in the sticks will be reported too soon for us to get very far.”
“And no time to repaint the car, and license plate won’t matter to the satellites. They’ll track the only silver Taurus that left Hood River in a certain window.”
“So we need to get to the city stat so we can get something from long-term parking and get a head start.”
“Or rent a car on one of your workings IDs.”
“Or both.”
“Or both.”
The Taurus turned over and he popped the trunk. She deposited their bags and wrapped guns and climbed in next to Baxter. 
“So we need a stopgap, something to slow them down, more than a switched car,” she said.
“The Dalles is nearby, it’s a bit bigger.”
“How does that help?”
“I don’t know. We could hole up for the day and steal a car which would give us overnight to run before it’s reported, but that would require us sitting tight for twelve hours in a small town, and it’s too risky.” He sighed. “Be honest, how hard do you think they’re looking?”
“Smith had both of us via satellite before the Blackhawks showed up. Ops told me we weren’t a priority, it took me until you were driving along the river to get you on camera. But maybe they were lying and had you the whole time.”
“Assume that.”
“Then they’re not going to let us go. We’re lucky they’re not us already.”
“We could buy a car.”
He looked at her. He looked at the clock in the car. “Wow, that’s pretty obvious. Cash up front would be suspicious, but we can sell a story. Be a couple hours before a lot opens. Should we risk it?”
“Risk it in The Dalles,” she said. 
He nodded. “Sold.”
He backed the car out of the parking space.

It took almost another hour to reach the Dalles. They found a Fred Meyer that was already open, and bought new outfits. Then they scouted and found an auto dealer that was not too big to pass up an unusual deal. They repacked their bags, partly dismantling the MP5s, and took everything with them. The silver Taurus was left in another cover parking garage and they left separately and by different routes. 
They met in the lobby of a hotel, entering via different doors. There was a cafe in the lobby and they skipped the buffet line and sat in a booth, both on the side that faced the main door. As soon as she was seated, Barnes slipped the Sig out of her waistband and placed it on the seat between them, covered with a napkin. 
They both ordered coffee, he opted for pancakes, bacon and overeasy, she went with a Benedict. When the food arrived, she ate first while he watched, then they traded. When they were finished, she watched while he drank more coffee and read the road atlas. 
“Depends on how fast we want to go,” he said, after flipping some pages. “We can go straight south of here, stay in Bend for a night. We buy another car to keep the trail cold, and then we either drive east to Boise, or go to Boise and keep heading south until we get to Reno.” He shook his head. “I guess Reno, it’s closer to L.A., and that’s the eventual target, right? We can’t take you on a plane with the ID you have.”
She frowned. 
“We might be able to get a train in Boise to Salt Lake, keep heading south, find another cache. But I don’t know if we want to be stuck on a train.”
“No, we want the flexibility of a car.”
“Well then shit.”
“The longer we’re on the run the further they have to assume we’ve gone. They won’t concentrate in Oregon anymore, they’ll have to look at Boise and Seattle and...Sacramento, I guess?”
“Right, then San Francisco, Vancouver, L.A., Salt Lake and Vegas.”
“And then the country.”
“Circle gets bigger.” She ran her hands through her hair and blinked. She looked tired. Her leg bounced, so she was still amped up, but it would catch up with her soon. She looked up at the clock near the entrance.
“I guess we can leave,” he said, “keep talking about it in the car. We have to get that and we have to leave town no matter what.”
“We shouldn’t go there when it first opens.”
“I’d normally agree with you, but this is a small town and we’re paying cash. Guy at the lot’s gonna remember us no matter what.”
“I guess,” she said. “Let’s go sell a story, then.”

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