THE SCARECROW



It was the surprisingly loud and unexpected explosion that accompanied the shattering of my rear windshield that gave me the first indications that I might not be entirely welcome back in these hills. The glass fragments of the rear safety glass window erupted into the interior of the vehicle in a hail of crystal menace. It was the surprise of the attack, more than actual fear that had startled me. I had just barely noticed in the rear view mirror, the ugly twin barrels of an old shotgun peering from the side window of the battered pick up behind me, when the explosion occurred.


Only the good reflexes of an old athlete, and the remembered lessons from a security driving course at Quantico, saved me from veering over the edge of the mountain road and into the yawning and final embrace of a frighteningly precipitous ravine. I slammed on the brakes, turned into the skid and when the vehicle straightened itself, hit the accelerator. The aging Chevrolet surged forward with all of the pent up velocity that the suped up V-8 engine could deliver. God bless the agency mechanics that serviced her! I roared up the narrow and winding incline, until the adrenaline rush began to ebb. The rear view mirror was free of pursuers and the quiet calm of the hill country returned, as if nothing had happened. Shakily, I piloted the vehicle into a small, off-road area, turned off the ignition and took stock of the last few minutes. As always during events like this, time ran in slow motion. I could see, in my mind's eye, the evil looking shotgun as it barked fire and lead, the window glass imploding like splintered crystal. I would relive that scene many times in the nights to come.


“That was a close one,” I thought as I breathed deeply of the pine-scented air. Several of the spent buckshot pellets lay on the dash, radiating the kind of inert menace that only metal projectiles aimed at you personally, emitted. “Who the hell was that?” I wondered aloud.


It took me a few minutes to clean the glass fragments from the seat. Several deep breaths of the brisk mountain air composed me. I would contact the local authorities, in short order, and see what could be done about finding my assailants. I think I would recognize that pick up pretty easily. There couldn't be too many battered, 1949 Ford pick-ups with a missing left front fender driving around. Even up in these parts, it must be an oddity.


I got back in the car and continued on up the narrow dirt lane. I was looking for a small side road. Our informant had said that it would be marked by the remains of an old brick well house. Down that road, lay the Brennerman place and, so we were told, a pretty good-sized illegal still that brewed a considerable quantity of bootleg alcohol.



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