I hope you’ve been enjoying this short story. If you’re just finding this for the first time, feel free to click on “Test Drive” in the left hand column and read the previous 7 entries. Please enjoy the next excerpt:

*******   TEST DRIVE   ********

“Ever the knight in shining armor aren’t you dear brother?” John asked sourly. Looking at Peter over his shoulder, he threw the car into reverse, the gears grinding like the tension roiling in the air between them. Margo had no idea what she’d fallen into. As dirt and rocks flung backwards, she wasn’t sure whether it was the extreme acceleration or the fear, but her stomach lurched and she swallowed the bile as they turned onto the main road.

“Listen, we’re not too off schedule, we should be at the border in ten minutes. We’ll figure out what to do with this beautiful lady.” Peter tapped Margo on the shoulder.

“Shut up! Just shut up! Will you, let me think?” Spittle flew with the unexpected explosion of anger. Peter had warned her of John’s volatile temper, but this was the first time she’d seen him get angry without cause. John flipped on the radio, the crooning oldies a stark contrast to the turmoil in the car.

With the volume hindering any further dialogue, Margo focused on her breathing. At least she wasn’t tied up and in the trunk. Between the screaming music and the terror pounding in her ears, she found it hard to string together two rational thoughts through the emotional fog. Nervously she cracked each of the knuckles of her right hand, hoping to mask the tremble in her hands.

Peter had rifled through her pockets and taken her cell phone and wallet. She didn’t like that she had no identification. Did they intend to kill her and dispose of her body, hoping it would take longer for them to link these men to her? She shook her head, refusing to give into those kind of thoughts.

She pondered how long it had been since she left her office; thirty minutes, more? She doubted anyone had even noticed. Once, on a beautiful summer day, she’d taken a convertible out with a girlfriend. They were gone close to an hour. Only the receptionist had commented. She missed her only because it had run into her lunch hour. There was a chance no one would give her a second thought until the police showed up asking them to identify her body.

Dylan wouldn’t realize she was gone until late tonight when he was looking for dinner. She never bothered to call her boyfriend during the day, knowing his lazy habits would only upset her. So even he wouldn’t wonder where she was.

The hill leading up to the border was lined with trees blazing with crimson leaves. But she wasn’t on a fall foliage tour, she was headed to some unknown destination. On the other side of the border could be nothing for her but danger.

With this tiny crossing in northern Maine, getting into another country would require nothing more than a piece of identification and answers to a few questions. 

John slowed the car and turned to Margo, evil mapping ugly roads across his features. “Don’t say a word. Don’t smile. Look straight ahead. Don’t even draw a deep breath. Nothing to bring attention to yourself.” Venom dripped with the words he pressed through clenched teeth. He hit the switch for the window as he pulled up to the brick building.

The glass window on the side of the building slid open, the elderly gentleman barely looking at them as he ticked information off on the registration sheet in front of him. “Beautiful morning. Everyone a U.S. citizen?” Canadian border patrol were always pleasant.

“Yes, all of us are from Willowdale, we’re having lunch in Great Falls.” John replied.

“I need driver’s licenses, birth certificates or passports.”

Peter handed two things to John who passed them onto the grandfatherly man leaning out the window. Obviously Peter had pulled her license from her wallet.

Margo’s head spun. What was she doing? Scream. What would these men do to her in Canada? The reality of her situation crashed down upon her once again and she refused to cower under its weight. Scream. The word echoed in her head. Do something. She sat back up and turned to the border patrol. Her mouth opened, but fear for her life kept the sound locked in her throat. 

The barrel of a gun pressed painfully through her jacket, digging into her ribs. Peter had it pressed into her right side. She slouched back into the warmth of the leather. Her glazed eyes of defeat once again stared straight ahead. 

The man perused the licenses in his hand. “Wait.” He readjusted his glasses and looked at the identification and then into the back window. “Peter, this you?”

“Yes, sir.”

Hope soared even as Peter pressed the gun painfully into her side. Perhaps they would be asked to go inside.

“You were born on Christmas Day same as my youngest,” the older man stated. His tongue clicked on the roof of his mouth. “She always hated not having another day to celebrate. You’re about the same age.”

“Yes, sir. It is a disappointment.”

“Guess we all live with disappointments.”

As he handed back the licenses, Margo wanted to scream out her own disappointment. But the gun in her side may as well have been wrapped around her vocal chords. No air would pass over them. Even as she screamed for help in her head. Only silence filled the car as she waited for the man to realize something was terribly wrong.

He handed back the licenses and in a monotone voice ran through the obligatory questions. “No mace, pepper spray…”

“Nope, nope and nope.” John smiled through the window for the first time since arriving at the dealership. He certainly knew how to toy with people.

“Have a nice lunch.” The gentleman waved them through.

The Sebring rolled out of the shaded protection of the building into the blinding fall sun. For the first time in her life, rather than the giddy anticipation of a vacation, crossing into Canada brought with it a sense of finality.

Copyright Nina Pierce 2008

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