WHAT IT IS
Samantha Gallant was one not to be trifled with and the Chaps would soon learn who they were up against as she kicked over the first motorcycle, then a second, then a third until the entire gang abandoned Margaret Brookside and took off to stop her destructive tirade. That was about the effect Samantha hoped for and as the gang closed in on her she jumped into Margaret’s car, sped directly toward the gangsters watching as the angry bikers dove away from the oncoming car. Screeching to a halt in a dust cloud, Margaret jumped into the passenger seat and the two women headed back to New Orleans.
Looking at one another while squeezed into a six foot wooden crate Samantha and Margaret simultaneously whispered -why-did-we-come-back-here? Perhaps it was Margaret’s naivete or Samantha’s unbridled tenacity, but the two women found themselves back at the dilapidated garage, where they first encountered the Chaps. The order went out to Mauls, a beast of a man and a loyal Chaps foot soldier, to check and secure the garage. Samantha peered through a knot hole in the crate as Mauls, a length of chain wrapped tightly around one hand and a three foot pipe wrench in the other, walked slowly in their direction. He rhythmically slammed the wrench into his chained palm sending a sharp, metallic sound echoing through the near empty building. As he closed in on them, Samantha could see headlights bleeding through the cracked, barn board siding of the garage and with the arrival of this vehicle, Mauls did an abrupt about face and joined the other Chaps outside.
Samantha knows the result of a broken knee when she sees it, and as a pilot she has seen plenty. She starred through the knot hole at two men each carrying five gallon pails of something very heavy in both hands. Their gait was crooked and wobbly, their arms unable to hold the pails high enough to keep them from randomly clipping the spongy wood floor. They were told to put the pails into the wooden crate and Samantha’s eyes pivoted from the knot hole to an ashen faced Margaret Brookside.
It is indeed strange how a few well chosen words can lift one’s spirits, can give a whole new meaning to some one’s life or can transform a simple moment in time into something so beautiful, so unexpected. This was the way Margaret and Samantha felt when they heard the words…not that crate, the other one!
A heavy mist overtook New Orleans and when the last Chap deserted the garage, Margaret and Samantha crawled out of their wooden prison. The crate next to them was the object of their interest and when they popped open the lid the four steel pails were nearly invisible, covered in every industrial hazardous label known to man: the corrosive boney hand, the bright red fire decal, the radioactive nuclear insignia and of course the skull and crossbones. Samantha delicately removed an information sheet from a see through envelope, the contents were labelled as an experimental pesticide: 1,4 Dichloropropene-Not for Resale-Not for Import/Export-Not for Atmospheric Use-For Federal Experimental Use Only! Samantha thought of an INSECT agent she knew that might be able to help them figure out why a motorcycle gang would have such a chemical.
WHAT IT IS NOT
It had been foggy, misty and raining for the last three days, but that didn’t stop expert tracker and trapper Bulldog Snipes from his dusk to dawn search for Bill and Emma. He had been over the same area off Hwy 537 a number of times believing the frail couple could not have gotten very far. The fourth day broke as did the others, with low temperatures and a heavy mist, reminding Bulldog just how much arthritic pain he would endure that day. He walked across an old hay field now filled with pigweed, burdock and dandelions and entered a thick, dark jack pine plantation. The self pruning trees left a tangled mess of twisted and gnarled branches on the ground making his progress difficult. It was at the end of the plantation, along a small stream, that Bulldog found the bodies of Bill and Emma.
Every OPP officer has a favorite road to patrol, perhaps because of a good restaurant, perhaps because of the type of folks they tend to meet or just because of the scenery or the quality of the day’s journey. Jessica Potts’ favorite patrol was Hwy 537, a quiet secondary highway with lots of curves, slow traffic and tons of friendly people. On a foggy Friday morning, Jessica exited Hwy 17, turned south on 537 and was about fifteen kilometers down the road when she saw a black SUV down an embankment and half submerged in a stream.
After radioing for help, she inched her way down the steep embankment to offer assistance but there was no one in or around the vehicle. The plates revealed the SUV was a rental, one Floyd Smith had picked it up in a nearby city the previous day, leaving Jessica to wonder who was William Offley Jr. whose driver’s license she found on the driver’s side floor.