“Damn place doesn’t have any sour cream and cheddar chips,” the young man grunted, leaning against the counter. He was carrying a soda and a chocolate bar. Looking straight at Bo, he grinned wryly; it was more of a grimace. “I bet this stupid candy’s stale.”
Bo didn’t answer. The young man had an odd gleam in his eyes: a permanently tired look, as though his mind was always in a daydream. And, besides, Bo wasn’t much of a talker. A lot of people thought he was rude, but most of the time he just didn’t know what to say. His ex had understood that… before she’d broken up with him.
The young man was persistent. “Is that your car out there?”
“Just makin’ conversation.”
The young man was quiet for a few moments. He opened the soda and took a long swig, exhaling as though he’d just drunk a shot of liquor. “Where’s that fat sonovabitch Arns? I’m in a hurry.”
“You know Arns?”
“I’m from around here, originally,” the young man muttered. He played with the paper on the soda bottle. He tore it off, tossing it on the ground. Bo was half-tempted to pick it up, but resisted.
“How long you been gone?”
“A time,” the young man replied, and he straightened. “ARNS!” he shouted, banging his fist against the counter. “You got two impatient costumers waiting to pay your dumb ass!”
Bo watched the young man; he had a suspicion as to who he could be, but the prospect seemed impossible. “Hey, you’re not–?”
“Who’s out there? Imma comin’!” Arns lumbered from the back of the station, his large stomach leading the way. “Who–Nash Stevens is that you?”
“Yeah.” Nash’s voice was thick. Bo stared at him; he seemed more normal than he remembered. All aura of coolness had disappeared; instead, he was tense and bitter.
“Nash Stevens! You gotta lot of nerve showin’ up back here.”
“I’m not goin’ to be here long,” Nash said matter-of-factly.
“Oh? Whatcha’ come back fer? Wanna finish that fight with yer old man?” Arns guffawed stupidly; Nash only blinked.
“Returning to my roots,” he muttered, and he twisted slightly, his hand reaching behind his back.
The next few moments happened so quickly that Bo would never really be able to remember them clearly. He remembered seeing the gun–impossibly real, and because it was there, right in front of him, it seemed unlike anything he’d ever seen in a movie. He would remember Arns shouting, and then Nash answering in that same, indifferent tone.
“What the actual–!”
“I don’t have to answer to you, Arns. Put the money in the bag!” He withdrew a plastic grocery bag from his jacket, shaking it hurriedly. “NOW!”
“I ain’t givin’ ya’–”
“MOVE IT!” For the first time Nash yelled, cocking the gun. Arns, deciding the role of hero didn’t suit him, obliged. He threw the money in the bag, whimpering.
“Good,” Nash replied, spinning on his heel. He grabbed as many snacks as he could, and some drinks. Bo only watched, his mouth agape. He’d never witnessed a crime before. He wondered if he’d have to go to court, if he’d have to–
Bo stared at Nash, who was breathing heavily.
“Let’s go,” Nash demanded, pulling Bo by his collar. Bo struggled for only a moment before Nash waved the gun in front of his nose. “Get it?” he asked in a deathly whisper, and Bo didn’t hesitate a moment longer. Tripping over himself, he led the way, Nash pointing the gun at his back. They stalked across the parking lot. Bo realized that his elbow was hurting; he’d rammed it into the counter when Nash had withdrawn the gun. His head was spinning.
“Keys,” Nash snapped, and Bo twitched.
“Give me your keys.”
“I’m not letting you steal my car!”
Nash chuckled slightly. “Yeah right. I have plans for you.” His face morphed into a scowl, and he was all business again. “So move!”
It took a few seconds for Bo to realize he was being kidnapped. He eyed the gun warily. He was being kidnapped by the great small town wonder, Nash Stevens.
“I said move!” Nash hissed, looking over his shoulder. He was bouncing on his heels, edgy and unsure. His attitude made the gun all the more dangerous, so Bo didn’t argue. He passed the keys to Nash, who caught them easily.
“Passengers seat,” he demanded, and Bo hastily slid into the car. Nash followed, thrust the keys in the ignition, and floored it. Bo watched as the gas station–and Raven’s Crossing–fell further and further behind him. With a lump in his throat, he realized he’d gotten his wish: He was leaving–for real.
Bo glanced at Nash. He was shaking; his knuckles were white and his eyes were glued to the road. He was nothing like the suave troublemaker Bo had known three years ago. Instead, Nash seemed completely unstable–the last person Bo would have picked to drive his car on a trip that could be endless.
And, Bo realized, shrinking away from Nash, we’ve got a full tank of gas.
Copyright Sarah Davidson 2020
To be continued.