The Passing at Highway 10 – Part 23

Sam threw open the doors and we darted in as fast as we could, and before we knew it, he was rigging them back up with the clinking heavy link chains.  Sally and I hurriedly chipped in and fumbled with the chairs and the tables, and did the best we could to re-create the makeshift barrier that those in the bar had created to shield themselves from the chaos of the outside world.  Sam weaved the chains in and out of the double door handles as securely as possible, and joined the whole steel pretzel together with that monster padlock.  He jiggled the whole thing a few times just to make sure, and it clanged and jingled with a low, ominous resonance; from the look of it, it was as drum tight as a bank vault.  And for whatever reason, we were now safer behind it.  Sam took in a long, slow breath, looked out the window, and then looked over at us.  “Frank Dorchester…fine time to finally make it in for a drink, huh?”  He reached out his arms and flashed me a frugal, tight-lipped smile, and pulled me in for a hug; he was a good friend, and it had been too long.  We clasped each other and he gave my back a few hardy slaps before he pushed back and took a look at Sally.  I introduced the two, and Sally shook his hand and thanked him for what he did…thanked him for saving us from those fucking thugs out there.

We both blurted it out at the same time before we realized that we’d spoken over one another, “What the hell is going on, Sam?”, Sally and I both asked in unison.  My hands were still shaking from the shock of what I’d done out there.  What the hell would the consequences be?  I was a fucking murderer now…I mean, I killed a man…men.  But wasn’t it self defense?  I had to do it, right?  Before I could finish the horror of that thought, Sam was offering us a drink, and walked us over to the bar.  We gratefully followed.  Five or six people spread out from the shadows and quietly greeted us from a distance, all patrons that had been drinking at the bar when it was attacked by the kids outside; now prisoners in this mess that we were all entangled in.  They all looked fucking shell shocked.  We greeted each one with a hello and a nod and took Sam up on that drink, and he twisted off the cap and took a long slug of whiskey.  He explained how the night began as a normal night…what night doesn’t begin as a normal night, right….and how a guy came in bleeding and screaming and frantic out of his mind.  Behind him were two or three friends that had carried him in, pleading for somebody to call the cops.  The guy was apparently pretty busted up, so Sam got on the line and dialed the sheriff, and two deputies showed up not long after.  “It was a mess, Frank”, he kept saying, then trailed off into silence.  “They um, they bit Bobby, Frank”, he said, before he trailed off once more.  “The sheriff, you mean?”, I had to ask, just to make sure we were on the same page.  “Yeah”, he replied…”Those kids out there…they…they uh….they ate him”.

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