Townies, Cronies, and Hayseeds II C10-6

Finally, Brielle broke the seal of their lips and looked at Malcolm with soft eyes.

“Honey, I’ve got to answer this call. The person keeps trying to call and it might be Jane. What if she and Bruce are broke down on the side of the road?” she said before picking up the phone, and looking at the screen.

“I understand,” Malcolm assured.

The caller ID read, “Grandma.”

“It’s my grandmother calling so this has got to be important. She’s watching Olivia and the baby. One of them might have gotten sick or something,” Brielle told him before pushing the answer button, and placing it to her ear.

“Hello,” she greeted before pausing.

“Brielle! Honey, Jo’s been trying to call you. She finally called here looking for you,” Grandma’s panicked voice said on the other end, The Double Nickel is on fire!”

Suddenly Brielle gasped as her eyes widened with horror. Malcolm flinched.

“What!” Brielle cried in terror.

Suspicious Things

“The truck stop and restaurant, Brielle! It’s on fire! It’s burning to the ground right now, as we speak! They managed to get all the customers and staff out before the fire completely engulfed the place! They think the fire started in one of the hotel rooms where someone left a cigarette burning or something!” Grandma cried.

“Oh, no! Listen! We’re going there now! We’re on our way!” Brielle said.

“The Double Nickel and Bobtail Bud’s are on fire!” Brielle cried before she and Malcolm jumped off the tailgate, ran to the doors of the truck, and jumped in.

Malcolm cranked the ignition, shifted into drive, and floored the gas as they slung gravel, pulling away from the riverbank and heading back toward the main road.

“We gotta get to Atticus and to Jo,” Brielle said as her voice broke, and she began crying.

“Did they get everyone out?” Malcolm asked, afraid for his brother and sister-in-law.

“Yes, Atticus managed to get everyone out of there before the place went up!”

“Thank God!”

When Malcolm finally turned onto the main highway, he and Brielle sped north. In the sky, just above the northern horizon, they could see a reddish-orange glow. Tears streamed down Brielle’s cheeks. Malcolm reached over and rubbed Brielle’s thigh, then her shoulder.

Fire!

“Everything’s going to be alright, babe,” he assured.

“I know.” Brielle said in a raspy, broken voice, “At least they’re all still alive and unhurt.”

Meanwhile, it was late, and Bruce drove Jane home to meet her midnight curfew. As they rounded a curve, Bruce tapped his break pedal and noticed that the car was not slowing down. His eyes widened and he glanced over at Jane. Jane looked at him with a look of concern.

“Uh-oh,” he said in a low voice.

“What’s wrong?” Jane asked.

“My breaks aren’t working as well as they were earlier,” Bruce told her.

“Come again?” Jane asked louder.

They barely made the bend and came to a straightaway. Again, Bruce tapped the brake just to be sure he wasn’t imagining things. Sure enough, the brakes were not working. He then pressed the brake all the way to the floor, the car didn’t slow down. At all!

“Oh, shit! Shit!” Bruce uttered, trying to stay calm and being sure to keep from shouting, “My brakes! They’re gone!”

“It’s a good thing I’m wearing my seatbelt,” Jane said.

“Well, you better tighten it because we’re in for a real bumpy ride!”

Jane continued looking over at Bruce as a look of terror crawled across her face. Bruce spoke again.

“Wait a minute! We’ve got the emergency brake,” he said as he slowly downshifted and began easing up on the emergency brake handle while continuing to press the brake pedal with his foot. The car began to slow but not before they came to a sharp bend. They were still moving at about forty-five miles per hour.

“Bruce!” Jane cried.

Careening Toward Danger

Bruce’s eyes widened as he saw the sharp curve looming closer and closer in his windshield.

“Hang on!” He shouted.

Fortunately, the bend had a guardrail. Bruce turned the wheel in a gallant attempt to make the bend. Sparks flew as the passenger side of the car sideswiped the guardrail, running along it and emitting the sickening, cringe-inducing sound of scraping metal on metal. Jane let out a high-pitched scream as she ducked down in the seat.

Thankfully, Bruce managed to make the second bend.

“Welp, there goes my paintjob,” Bruce resigned.

“Screw your paintjob! Just get us out of this!” Jane cried as she sat back up in the seat.

Just then, they saw what appeared to be a four-way stop just ahead. As the intersection got bigger and bigger in the windshield, Bruce’s face turned red and contorted as he let out a long, guttural grunt, pressing the brake pedal so hard, he practically stood on it, while continuing to pull upwards on the emergency brake.

The car slowed significantly, but not enough to avoid blowing the stop sign and going through the intersection.

“Shit! Hang on to your ass!” Bruce shouted.

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