A Burning Cold Morning (Part 69)

In the vehicle Williams was complaining loudly to Leo.

“Damn it! You’re throwin’ me all over the place in here.”  Just as he spoke Leo pulled out of the sliding turn he was in, jamming his partner back against the passenger door.  

“No time, no time for keeping you cozy,” he snapped back.  “Besides,”

That was a far as he managed to get in that sentence before catching a flash in his peripheral vision.  It was the windshield of Deputy McIntee’s squad car, which was bearing down on them from the west.  Yelling a quick curse word, Leo slammed on the brakes and yanked the steering wheel harshly to the right, causing the vehicle to careen in a small semi-circle and almost roll completely over.  His quick action did cause the police vehicle to miss them and they heard the squeal of its brakes as the deputy tried to avoid crashing into an oak tree.  Taking advantage of the moment, Leo jammed his car back into second gear and stomped on the accelerator, tearing off back onto the road and speeding away toward Paynesville.  A minute later they passed by a group of women who were apparently out for a walk, and also heard the roar of the police vehicle approaching again.

1929 Colt revolver

1929 Colt revolver

“Damn, damn, damn!” Williams shouted.  “I’ll kill that copper!”

Taking his gun out of the pocket in which he had stashed it, he rolled down the window, flung his arm to the rear and started shooting.  Leo reached over and grabbed his partner’s shoulder, trying to pull him in enough to get the firing to stop.

“Knock it off!  Idiot!  You’re going to hit one of those people on the road.”

Williams fought back, slugging Leo in the side and pushing him away.  “Shut up old Grundy, you gotta toughen the hell up.  You think you wanna go away for this?  You know what it means, gettin’ pinched for bank robbery?  Life is what it means.  You drive.  I’ll take care of the coppers.”

With that, Williams went back to firing out the passenger window and Leo, who had enough to worry about as he tried to control the vehicle at speeds that exceeded seventy miles an hour, did not try to stop him again. 

Deputy McIntee was doing his best to stay close to the fugitive’s car, sustaining several hits to this police cruiser from the shots being fired.  He had radioed in his location and knew that help was on its way but he wanted to be there to arrest these two criminals.  The firing stopped for a minute and he figured they were either out of ammunition or reloading.  

Back in the getaway vehicle it turned out to the latter, and as Williams fumbled getting the shells into his pistol, Leo spoke up again, his voice a little high-pitched from excitement and stress.

“We gotta ditch this thing and get into the brush somewhere.  They’ll be setting up a roadblock for sure, can’t hardly believe we haven’t run into it already.  Get loaded up and then I’m pulling over.  You plug that deputy and then we run.”

“Shuck that all to hell friend, we keep going in this car.  On foot we’re as good as dead or cuffed.”

“No way, we’re gonna hit that roadblock anytime.  We ain’t got enough ammo to shoot it out with the whole police force.”

“Probably the FBI too by now,” Williams replied with a glint in his eye, “keep driving.”

“It’s my damn show,” Leo snapped back but did not get a chance to finish as the front right wheel, which had drifted off the road, ran into a tree stump.  The impact only caused the vehicle to jump and rattle around, but once it has settled back down it was obvious that a tire had been blown off its rim.   

Forest

Forest

“Looks like you’re getting your wish,” Williams stated as he snapped the chamber closed on his gun and stepped out of the car.  “We gotta get to running.”  He turned toward the patrol vehicle which had stopped about thirty feet away and fired once, then took off at a sprint into the nearby woods.  Leo, pulling his own gun but not firing, followed closely behind.  Before the deputy had the chance to pull his weapon and return fire they had disappeared into the thick greenery of the oak, elm and fir trees about ten feet beyond where their vehicle had come to a halt.  

McIntee could hear the men thrashing their way through the underbrush and, although he knew he was supposed to wait for back up, decided to go after them.  Radioing in that he was a going in pursuit, and not waiting to hear the reply, he checked his weapon and headed into the trees.  He was about twenty feet in, moving quickly but trying to stay under cover for protection, when he heard the other vehicles of the posse pulling up nearby.   He could hear the sheriff cursing him out for not waiting and then instructing the men to follow him into the woods.  McIntee kept on pressing ahead, determined to make the arrest.

It was a cat and mouse game for awhile, with the two fugitives occasionally in sight but quickly disappearing.  The deputy almost had a shot once, just as Williams crested a small rise and had to step over a large tree that had fallen fairly recently.  The branches of that tree made the criminal slow down and his entire upper body was silhouetted against the light slipping in from the holes in the canopy.  McIntee was just about to pull the trigger when Williams disappeared from sight.  It was five minutes after that when the deputy almost met his own end as he was standing behind a large oak tree.  He believed that he was in cover and did not realize that the suspects had partially doubled back in his direction.  Leo had slipped into a small grove of strawberry bushes and had a clear line of sight on McIntee, raising his gun slowly while breathing heavily.  He held it there, arm shaking slightly from the exertion of the past forty minutes, watching the law man peek around the tree in a direction he and Williams no longer were headed.  Then, with a deep sigh, he lowered the gun and moved on.  The resources of the posse, which was large at twenty-five men but not near the one hundred that was later reported, eventually won out.  Leo and Williams ended up surrounded just on the other side of a small creek that cut its way through this particular forest.   Although there were a few tense moments before they gave up, eventually both of the fugitives emerged from cover with their hands held high in the air.  McIntee did get to put the handcuffs on Williams, with Sheriff Henderson taking care of Leo.  

“We got ya, boy, we got ya and now you’re going away for good,” Henderson stated as he clicked on the cuffs.

Leo shrugged and replied, “Well, it’s all just part of life, I guess.” 

…to be continued

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