Ahead of me, a tractor-trailer rig was in the right lane, brake lights flaring. I looked in the left rearview mirror, to pull into the left lane and pass, but a blue and white pickup pulled even with me and crowded me toward the rail. As I slowed, he slowed. It looked at first like the normal stupid driving one sees on the bridge every day, until I glanced in the rearview and saw an identical pickup on my rear… much too close to my bumper.
I started bumping the brake to keep the guy behind me off the back bumper. We were all still moving at about twenty or twenty-five mph. Where were we on the bridge? Yes, up there ahead. Just about a half-mile lay the last U-turn.
The pickup behind me tapped the Jeep’s rear bumper, the rig in front slowed even more. The pickup in the left lane had pulled alongside, then slightly ahead. These damned pickups looked like the ones I had seen at the turnarounds with trailers to haul off vehicles that have broken down. But these were sure as hell not driven by the Causeway emergency crews.
I had always idly wondered, and never knew, what those small trapdoors about sixteen inches square, on both sides of the large rear doors on some tractor-trailer rigs were for. Just then the one of them opened, and I saw one use. The door on the right side dropped down and the ugly nose of something that looked like an assault rifle poked out and pointed down at us.
I hit the brakes, still going about fifteen mph and was rewarded with hard smack on the rear bumper from the truck behind me. I simultaneously yelled at Rita to get down under the dash and snatched the Desert Eagle from its holster from under the seat.
The windshield exploded as two rounds slammed through. Either the bastard shooting was a lousy marksman, or the moving target and strange lighting on the windshield threw him off. He missed both of us.
Then the back window blew out. We were stopped. Surrounded. I slammed the Jeep into park. The engine was still running. I flipped the safety to the “fire” position
on the Desert Eagle.
As always, in the haze that envelops me in battle, I remember tiny, insignificant detail; like how the glass from the windshield had shattered into such tiny pieces and sparkled on the dashboard. The rig ahead was silver, and needed washing. The guy in the rig was swinging the barrel of the weapon for a carefully aimed shot. He had evidently figured the angle.
I put two quick rounds just below the trapdoor, about a foot apart, blowing neat holes through the thin skin of the trailer and probably out the other end of the rig. The “double tap,” handgun instructors call it. The rifle barrel disappeared.
The passenger door to the pickup on the left was opening. I couldn’t see who was exiting yet, but there was a weapon preceding him. I shot through the door of the truck twice. A man with a stubby assault weapon fell out to the pavement. I was about to put another shot through the cab at the driver, when I felt and heard the whip-snap of a bullet nearly taking off the top of my right ear.
The truck behind! Brinson, you dumbshit!
I was damned nearly deaf from the big .50’s roar inside the jeep, and had been totally involved in those who I could see ahead and to the left of me. I opened my door to drop out just as a round hit the left rearview mirror. As my door swung open, two rounds went through it. I pushed it to the full open position then spun across the seat to the passenger door, raised up quickly, shot through the windshield of the pickup behind us, left and right. The shooter was hanging out the passenger door with what looked like an AK-47. He dropped behind the door, apparently not hit.
I had two rounds left in the pistol and one more seven-round magazine. I shot one of those remaining in the pistol through the radiator of the truck behind me, ducked down, changed magazines and quickly popped up to see what was in front of me.
Nothing. Both the tractor-trailer rig and pickup truck to the left had gone. I left the door open, leaned left and looking at the road between the door hinge and body of the Jeep, snatched the gear selector into drive floored the gas pedal. I nearly jolted myself out of the seat, but managed to hang on to the steering wheel. A round from the truck behind us hit the left front roof column, and I swerved back and forth a little to screw up his aim. Screaming down the road with wind tearing at my eyes, my ears ringing I managed a glance back.
The truck wasn’t following. We were alone on the bridge.
The tractor-trailer rig had evidently gone straight ahead. One of those pickups must have been towing an emergency hitch and trailer—probably for my jeep.
I reached out to check Rita. She had not moved or made any sound since she had crouched in the well under the dash. I didn’t think she could have been hit, but a cold, immediate fear blanketed me. As I touched her back, she uncoiled to face me, her face white and eyes glittering. She held a small automatic. Then, understanding she was safe, shrunk back into her seat gulping for air.
“Keep your pistol ready and your head down.” I spoke to her as if she were a fellow trooper in combat, which was true enough at the moment. I paused long enough to make sure my pistol was on “safe,” and headed the Jeep toward home.
I shook like a drenched man standing in a cold wind.