RUN FOR THE HILLS – Chapter 37

4:00 p.m. Tuesday, Oklahoma

The weigh station—known as a ‘chicken coop’ in trucker CB lingo—on Highway 69 north of McAlester, had opened at 1:00 Tuesday afternoon, and by the time the bulletin came through, three hours and ten minutes later, Oklahoma State Highway Patrolmen Gerald Case and Fred Browning both had monumental headaches brought on, they believed, by noise and diesel exhaust.

Browning took down the description and when he hung up the phone, read it to Case, along with his opinion that they had better things to do than watch for an old couple with a little kid that could easily be their own grandchild.

Case agreed that they had their hands full with weighing trucks carrying freight and wondered aloud how they would even see an SUV when it had no reason to drive over the scales. They had weighed five more trucks when it occurred to Browning, the older and sharper of the two, that they should mention the FBI request to the truck drivers as they went through.

By 4:30 he had made his pitch so many times with so little result that he had half a mind to give up on it, after all, nobody had suggested paying him anything extra for the hassle. Right after he decided he’d ask three more drivers before he packed it in, he had a possible hit.

The driver of a northbound International pulling a reefer for Wal-Mart said that as a matter of fact, he had seen a kid of that description, but not with an old couple. He reported stopping at the Texaco south of McAlester, and the reason he noticed the little blond boy was that the kid was with a redhead who was, in his words, the answer to every middle-aged, balding man’s secret fantasy. He took both hands off the steering wheel to air-sculpt what he meant.

“The reason I noticed the boy,” he said, “was the hair. He had this real pale blond hair, and I figured the redhead was his mother, but her hair was so shiny and beautiful I can’t believe it came out of a bottle.”

Browning reported to the Bureau number he’d been given and decided he had done his duty for the day.

next chapter

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