The Sheltering Country

The Sheltering Country


"Rescue's on its way.  Don't move."  Andy said over the PA.  Baxter grumbled expletives under his breath, took a long last drag on the half-finished cigarette he managed to dig out of the ashtray, and then flicked it out the narrow opening in the window.  Andy and Jeff leaned forward as the engine of the SUV revved up.  Andy put the patrol car into reverse just in case Baxter gunned it and tried to ram them.  The SUV's engine revved again, then they saw Baxter's hand move out of sight.  For a moment the reverse lights lit up.  Andy let the patrol car start to creep backward.  Then the brake lights on the SUV went off as Baxter shifted into drive.  Andy put the patrol car into park, and then he and Jeff got out and started forward, guns drawn and ready.  Baxter stepped hard on the accelerator pedal and a split second later the SUV disappeared into the blackness before them.  Before Andy and Jeff reached the edge of the bridge and looked down, their eyes scouring the darkness, a shot rang out and they heard a loud splash.  The two men looked at one another.  Jeff shook his head. 

              "A bad way to go," Andy said. 

              "His choice," Jeff answered.  "It's all about the choices we make."  

They stood there a moment in the blowing wind and driving sleet, tree branches snapping and falling all around them, and then they walked back to the patrol car and climbed in.  Its warmth enveloped them.  Andy radioed dispatch to alert emergency personnel that a vehicle went into the river and it had a body inside.

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