Desert Pursuit

Desert Pursuit

by Chris Hugh

The little butterball lawyer whimpered and I laughed. I had her arms behind her back, in a painful lock that made her stand on the tips of her overpriced shoes to keep from dislocating her shoulder.

"You got her?" Poppy called. Was he kidding? I smiled and made the lawyer whimper again. She'd done a bit too much investigating at her law firm, uncovered some shady dealings. It seemed like she was gonna go to the cops. It was a career limiting move.

"I think so. You guys go ahead and take off. I'll meet you later."

"Don't lose your keys out there, man. You could die."

"I got it covered," I said. Lawyer lady and I were about to do some hiking and climbing and it's too easy to drop keys when you're doing that. I made Poppy leave his GPS behind so this place could stay my secret, so there wouldn't be any help if I made a mistake. So I made sure there wouldn't be mistakes. I had my keys in a zipped pocket. I also had my spares in the damn ignition. Food and plenty of water in the trunk too. No reason to take chances.

Poppy and Squeegee left in Poppy's patrol car. I heard the wheels crunch on the desert floor. Poppy would use his old-fashioned compass and drive in a straight line for thirty-one miles and then he'd hit the interstate. It wouldn't take him long. The ground was so flat and hard they test airplanes in places like this. The whole area is one big runway, except for the little canyon we were about to go into.

No hope for this bitch now.

The sun was low overhead, but it was still hot; hardly anything grew that could give any shade. I'd found this place, a rocky defile gauged into the floor of the desert. It's so ugly and so far out of the way that even yuppies didn't come here to try to hike or bike or whatever the fuck it is they do. It's also dangerous landslide area. How the hell the rocks can keep sliding, I don't know. You'd think they'd slide once and then stay put, but they don't. Every time I come out here I see there's been another landslide. And you're always in danger of being hit by a rock left unstable from the last avalanche.

All I needed to do was manhandle the bitch a hundred yards or so into the canyon, bash her head in with a rock and leave her. It would look accidental enough. Sure, someone might wonder what she was doing out her in her corporate high heels and fancy suit, but it would be just one of those things. Anyway, there were coyotes out here.

I led her in, and the walls of the defile grew high around us, giving me some shade. Then I slipped a little on the pebbly stones and my grip on her loosened a little. Bitch saw her chance then, or maybe she panicked. She started pulling me, straining like a maniac. I felt like kicking her, but I didn't want to leave a boot-shaped bruise on the million-to-one chance her body was found before it decomposed. Still, it was all I could do to keep hold of her. Damn, she was heavy. Then she suddenly stopped pulling me and jerked backwards, bowling me right over. Next thing I know I'm flat on my ass with her fat butt on top of me. She knocked the wind right out of me. Then she scampered off.

I got up and dusted off. Swore a little. Then followed, heading deeper into the canyon. I'd found the path, if you can call it that. It's jagged and uneven, and has a lot of switch backs, but it's the only way up or down unless you're a rock climber, and she didn't seem like a rock climber. I'd find her.

I turned a corner and saw she'd lost her shoe. She wouldn't last long at this rate. She shoe was in a craggily jagged scar, but I needed to get it so I could put it on back her after I dashed her damn brains out. If she was found right away, it wouldn't make sense for her to be missing her shoes. Million to one chance. I climbed down there, leaned over and picked it up, and just as I was standing up, I felt a painful blow against my shoulder and neck. I ducked, thinking she was hitting me, but there was no one. Just a falling rock. I must have unbalanced it. It wasn't her. I heard a sound a down further in the canyon. That was her.

I followed, turned a corner. I had to walk carefully along a little ledge that wound next to a rocky bank that sloped down at about a forty-five degree angle. Beyond that there was a narrow flat area, and down past that was sheer drop down into a gorge or something. I don't really know where it went down to. I hadn't explored there. Too damn dangerous. There was no water down there, though, that was for sure. There wasn't ever any water anywhere here, especially not now, not in summer.

There was another corner a ways ahead. She went that way. And I looked down again at the rocky slope. Yup, another shoe was there. I guess that bitch had tricked me with that first shoe and she was trying to do it again. Yeah, I rubbed my neck where she'd hit me with that rock. She probably thought she could throw some more rocks at me while I was down there getting the second shoe, maybe get me to fall down into the gorge. Okay, this time I'd get her, kill her, and then come back for the shoe later.

And I'd be careful. I took out my Glock and then I caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. I flinched and got off two panic shots before I saw what was going on. I'd just a little bit of her skirt flapping. I looked up. Hell, she was a climber after all. The wall of the defile above me sloped at a pretty steep angle, but there were handholds and outcroppings. She'd scaled the thing and was hiding behind the big boulders there, with her skirt flapping in the breeze. Sloppy bitch. I laughed a little. She must be scared out of her mind, hearing those shots.

So, she was up above me among the rocks. Was she going to try to push one over on me? No, not just yet. I couldn't see her and she couldn't see me. She was probably waiting to pull one of her bullshit tricks as I walked further down into the defile. Funny.

I just needed get to where I could see her. I doubled back to where I knew I could climb above her position. Maybe I could start a landslide on the bitch or something. Maybe I'd shoot just her. She was getting hard to deal with.

It took me a while, and night was closing in. It comes fast in the desert. I couldn't see her; it was hard to orient in the dark. I finally made my way down to the boulder itself and found her skirt, but not her. The bitch had tricked me again.

It was getting dark. I decided to get in my car, maybe head to a motel, get some sleep, hunt her down in the morning. I climbed back toward the opening of the defile, back toward where I'd put my car. I didn't really need to come back. Stranded out there, she'd die soon enough. And no one would find her; I'd explored this whole area and I'd never seen any sign that any else had ever been here. No help, no water; she'd be dead in two days. Screw coming back in the morning. The nearest motel was seventy miles away. I'd just tell Poppy that the deed was done and go spend a couple days in Vegas. I was glad when I got out of that defile. After the darkness in there, the flat expanse of desert was bright in the moonlight.

It was still hot and I could hear a coyote or something worse howling in the distance. I could see for miles around.

My car was gone. Pin It Now!

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