CROSS COUNTRY by Jim Wilsky

“License and registration, please.” The state trooper was standing by the window, slightly behind Donny Lee Hildebrandt.

Donny turned sideways in his seat and took a better look. The trooper was a big bastard, way over six feet, and his right hand was resting on the butt of his holstered sidearm. The blue and silver Texas Highway Patrol badge on his chest glinted in the flashing lights.

Donny glanced across the seat to Teresa, still in her work clothes from the bar. Her eyes were wide, looking at him for some kind of explanation.  

“Officer? What’d I do?” For once in his miserable life, Donny hadn’t done anything wrong. He’d been straight for a while now.  

“License and registration.” The trooper leaned down, tipped up his cowboy hat, and stared past Donny. The blank, vacant eyes drilled into Teresa.

She sat still, met the trooper’s eyes, then looked straight ahead. It came to her right then, remembering those eyes. Earlier that night. End of the bar.

“Yessir, but I still don’t know what I did.” Donny dug his license out of his wallet and got his registration out of the glove box. He handed them to the officer and the trooper stepped back a pace.   

“Officer, I just know I wasn’t speeding. This old truck don’t even reach seventy no more. I just nurse her along.” He tried using his best smile.

At two a.m., there were no other cars on the country road and it was lined by dark open fields on both sides. Still, the trooper looked up and down the dark asphalt before drawing his gun.

“I need you to exit the vehicle, son. Slow.”

“Wait, what?”

“Do it.”

Donny opened the door slow. His mind was racing. He hadn’t missed a parole meeting. He was still working. No drugs. No warrants. Bad past, sure, but he was clean now.    

“Stand up.” The trooper’s voice was flat, no emotion. “Easy. Show me both hands.”

Donny stood. He squinted into the cruiser’s high beams and the rolling red and blue lights on top of the car. No, this wasn’t right.

“Lay down on your stomach, hands behind your head.” 

“Sir…wait.”

“You’re under arrest for attempted murder.”

“Whoa now.”

“On your stomach. Do it now. Right now.” The voice was firm, all business.

From the ground, Donny watched the trooper’s legs and boots approach. That sealed it. His brain screamed at him to do something, but he froze. Then a heavy knee was between his shoulders. One big hand grabbed his left wrist, pulling it behind him. When he felt cold metal and heard the click, it pushed him over the edge, but it was too late.

“Passenger! I need you to step out of the car. Walk backwards toward the sound of my voice,” the trooper shouted.

The other cuff clicked just as Donny finally yelled, “Teresa, run! Run, damn it!” He rolled then, giving it everything he had. The trooper grunted, lost his balance, and went sideways. Just enough for Donny to get up on a knee, stand, and head for his pickup.

He stopped though, seeing Teresa out of the truck now. She looked at him, shaking her head in disbelief.

Run, baby! He’s not a cop!“

The first shot hit Donny high in the shoulder and he was spun around, almost going down. Staggering again towards his truck, he couldn’t see Teresa anymore and shouted weakly into the dark fields, “Don’t stop for nothin’.”

The gun cracked twice more, catching him in the right side and hip. He went down hard on his back.

Rolling his head to the left, he saw the man, but his vision blurred. His couldn’t hear, except for the pounding of his failing heart in his ears. When everything went completely dark, he knew it was over.

“I’m comin’, you little bitch!”

The man’s yell brought Donny back. His vision flickered on, off, and on again. Like a flashlight with dying batteries.

He watched those old Timberline boots run by, but he just couldn’t move. He’d been too damn slow to react. Texas State Troopers don’t wear those. They also don’t drive a Jetta with a single bar of lights suctioned on the roof.

His eyes glazed over and those fake rolling lights were the last thing he saw. The distant, mournful call of a freight train passing through Nacogdoches was the last thing he heard, and his last desperate hope relied on the fact that Teresa Gallegos had been a cross country state champion two years ago.


Jim Wilsky is a crime fiction writer. He is the co-author of a three book series; Blood on Blood, Queen of Diamonds, and Closing the Circle. He’s finishing up a new book that will be coming out soon, as well as planning to release a published collection of his short stories.

His short story work has appeared in some of the most respected online magazines such as Shotgun Honey, Beat To A Pulp, All Due Respect, Yellow Mama, The Big Adios, A Twist of Noir, Rose & Thorn Journal, Pulp Metal, Plots With Guns, and others. He has contributed stories in several published anthologies, including All Due Respect, Kwik Krimes and Both Barrels. He is supported and strengthened by a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters.


Copyright © 2016 Jim Wilsky. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.

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