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Runaway!

All rights reserved © 2015 by Ernest Bywater

Author's Note: I've taken some poetic licence with the Window Rock High School information and events because I was unable to find an official email address for the officials at the school or the school district websites when I was writing that part of the story in 2015. Thus I've kept events there very bland, plus the details may not be accurate due to the problems with getting real information about the school and district.

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. All rights are reserved by the author, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

Product names, brands, and other trademarks referred to within this book are the property of their respective trademark holders. Unless otherwise specified there is no association between the author and any trademark holder is expressed or implied. Nor does it express any endorsement by them, or of them. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark, service mark, or registered trademark.

Cover Art

The background images are Batlow by Leigh Blackall (top) and Looking East over the Murrumbidgee River near Gumly Gumly by Bidgee (bottom). Both are copyrighted by their creators and their use is allowed by the Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike Licence and terms. Cropping, size adjustment, and text are by Ernest Bywater. All rights to the cover images are reserved by the copyright owners.

8 November 2019 version
Published by Ernest Bywater
E-book ISBN: 978-1-387-18646-4

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The titles in use are a Chapter, a Sub-chapter, and a section.

Table of Contents

Life Changes
More Changes
Escape
Fast Mover
Transportation
High-school Life
Homecoming Dance
Overall School Life
Arizona Life in General
Home on the Range
Walks in the Country
Desert Discovery
Another Discovery
Follow Up
More Follow Up
Christmas Holidays
Spring Surprise
Summer School
Senior Year
University Life
Life in General
Junior Year
Senior Year
Graduation
On the Road Again
First Stop
Tampa, Florida
Moving On
Roadside Stop
Following a Wandering Star
Back Home?
Home!
Guns
Danger in the Desert
Trouble in Town

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Life Changes

Warrant Officer Bryan Jones, his wife Mary 'Bright Arrow' Jones, and their nine year old son David 'Light Arrow' Jones are enjoying a holiday in Kuta, Indonesia, during October 2002. Bryan recently finished a long training course and he's now on leave prior to a deployment overseas, so David's parents have him skipping classes for a good family holiday. A late dinner plus a two hour walk through the nightclub district while 'people watching,' a favourite family fun activity, is a happy time for them until the moment they turn to go back to their hotel. They're just beside a lane when there's an explosion in one of the buildings a bit further up the street. Bryan spins around. He's shoving his wife and son into the lane when hell opens up around them and Bryan is violently shoved into David by a huge blast. A fireball washes over the street and all of the people in it. David is knocked unconscious when he hits the ground.

Hospital

David wakes up in what looks like a scene of hell from Dante's Inferno, but it's the emergency ward of an Indonesian hospital. All of the staff are busy treating people with obvious severe injuries so the few without any clear major injuries, like David, are sitting in seats to wait for their turn. Some of those waiting have bad injuries, but not as bad as those being treated. It's clear there aren't enough medical staff to properly treat the injured and they've put a system in place to treat the worst cases first.

After taking a moment to evaluate the situation David's training is activated by what he sees, so he pulls out his mobile phone. He checks it works, he has a connection, and he makes a call. The phone is answered and he says, “Gramps, Davy, I'm in Kuta, Indonesia, as you know. Explosion in the street. I'm bruised with some minor cuts and I was knocked out. I'm in a hospital ER with a lot of others, but I can't see Mum or Dad and I don't know where they are. You best start some enquiries.” He talks to his great-grandfather for a little longer before he hangs up.

David is nine and a half years old, trained and qualified in first aid by his parents. He looks about the room, on seeing some basic supplies and equipment on a cart near the middle of the room he goes over to get some bandages, band-aids, antiseptic creams, gauze, an electronic blood pressure monitor, and tape. After a moment to apply cream and cover his cuts he starts work checking the people in the chairs. He checks their BP (blood pressure) and treats the minor cuts. When he finds one person with a worrying BP he goes over to see a nurse. She's not happy with being annoyed by a boy while treating someone, but when he waves the BP monitor while pointing at a person waiting she stops to listen, then checks the person the boy is pointing to. A moment later she's helping the man to the more critical area as she's worried about possible internal injuries. When she has time to check on the boy again she can't find him.

Once he's helped all he can with his low level of training David puts his borrowed supplies and equipment onto the cart and leaves the room to go to the hotel his family is staying in. He has some local money so it's no problem to get a taxi to the hotel. Once there he goes to his family's room and he has a wash before lying down to rest. He knows he may have a concussion and he should be monitored, but he also knows the hospital is so overloaded with patients they won't be able to do it, so he leaves wake up calls for every three hours at the front desk. Every few hours they call to wake him up, just like he requested.

The Next Day

In the morning the bombing is the only news topic, but no one has a list of those hurt in the attack. David knows it takes time to find things out because he's been well trained by his parents and great-grandfather. So he leaves that and he goes down to the dining room to have as much breakfast as he can eat; which it isn't a lot, but enough to end his hunger.

While he's walking back through the lobby one of the desk staff asks him, “Sir, why do you want to be called every three hours?”

He turns to the young woman, “I was knocked unconscious last night and I'm concerned about having a concussion. The hospital is full, so I came back here to rest. However, I need to frequently check how I am to make sure I don't have any adverse effects from the hit.”

“Would you like me to have the house doctor check on you when he's able to do so?”

“Yes, please, but it's not urgent, unless I don't sound well when you call me.” The young woman smiles and makes a note on her pad.

On his way back to the room David checks his text messages. There's one from Gramps stating he's chasing information but he hasn't found out anything yet. David knows the authorities won't tell a boy anything, so he leaves that line of enquiry to his great-grandfather.

Late in the afternoon the hotel's house doctor checks on David, and he says David is OK. The doctor gives him some more bandages and creams for his cuts so he can put on new bandages after he has a shower.

Second Day After the Bombing

After he has breakfast David asks to speak to the manager, and he's taken in to see him a few minutes later. David sits down and says, “I don't know where to go or what to do, but I feel you should know about my situation. The other night my parents and I were out on the town when the street blew up. I was knocked out and I woke up in the hospital. I've not seen my parents since just before the explosion, and they were in front of me when it happened. My great-grandfather is trying to find out what happened to them, but he's not getting any information. He'll come for me if he has to, but I don't want to leave until after I know about my family. Is there anyone you can contact to find out about them, please? I need to know where they are and how they are!”

The manager is saddened by the story, so he picks up his phone to make a call. He has a brother in the local police force so he calls him to tell him of the situation, along with the names of the missing adults. No information is available because the authorities still aren't well enough organised to handle this sort of event at this time.

There's not much David can do, so he stays at the hotel. He reads a lot when not checking the news or any of the contacts he can make.

News

Four days after the bombing the news reaches David they've located his parents' bodies. His great-grandfather is arranging for them to be shipped home on the same Royal Australian Air Force plane as many of the other dead are being sent home, along with some survivors who're going home now - including David.

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David doesn't return to school for the rest of the school year because of the many changes in his life and the issues they cause him and his great-grandfather. A lot of David's time is spent in counselling and grief management, as well as fighting the family services people to keep him out of their system. The fight is long and hard, but David ends up in the care of his great-grandfather, Dave Phillips.

To meet the State laws the estates, insurance, and other funds due to David are all put into a trust company Dave Phillips creates for David. The company rules and by-laws require a public trustee to manage the fund until David is a legal adult, but David can tell the manager of his wishes. David knows his wishes will be carried out if the trust manager agrees with him about them or can be convinced to approve the request.

The man and boy move from Sydney to Bowen's Creek to give them both a change of environment from their past. A large section of land is bought on the edge of town and the two live in an old and run down house while they work together to build a new large house beside it. They also plant fruit trees and a big vegetable garden in the backyard. The house takes them two years to build and they move into it, then the old house is demolished.

Life goes on while the two of them make the best of life they can.

More Changes

On a Monday in early April 2009 Dave Phillips and David Jones have an application being heard by Judge Mills in the City of Rivers as they're seeking to have young David declared a legal adult. The judge has the file before him. He's read their reasons for the application and the longer document from the family welfare people opposing the application since they think he's far too young to be on his own. The Judge looks at Dave while asking, “Mister Phillips, why do you feel you need young David to be made a legal adult at sixteen years of age?”

Dave Phillips stands then says, “Your Honour, David is a very intelligent and mature young man. I've been his legal guardian since his parents were murdered, several years ago. However, for most of the last three years it's been more a case of David looking after me than me looking after him. I've an advanced cancer and I don't expect to live much longer. I've already outlived the original date from the doctors by a few years. But the pain is getting to the point where the drugs no longer stop it. I need to see David is set up and OK. He's a smart and independent character, he has access to his own money, and he's extremely capable of looking after himself. If this application is granted he can continue with his life as he sees fit while continuing to live in the home he helped build in the town, and be with the friends he's known for the last several years. If not, when I die the welfare system will absorb him and try to break his spirit. At the most, they'll only have him for a bit under two years so he won't be going to any long term carer, while a short term carer will be more trouble than help for him.”

The judge listens to the welfare case, then he asks for David's view.

David Jones stands and says, “Your Honour, my parents raised me to be independent and to look after myself. Gramps has enhanced that training. I've been doing the cooking and cleaning for us both for the last few years, so I can live by myself. I'm prepared to, and can, pay for a housekeeper to live-in to help look after the house while providing me with advice. But I need to be in control of my environment and not be under the control of people who don't know or understand me. Also, I don't want to leave my home or home-town, but the welfare people don't have any foster homes in Bowen's Creek, so I'd have to move to go live in a much smaller house if they're in control. I want to avoid that.”

Judge Mills makes some notes, checks some books, and looks at both Dave Phillips and David Jones. He says, “I understand the concerns and reasons you've both given. However, sixteen is too young for him to be given legal adult status. Seventeen, yes, but not just turned sixteen. The application is denied.”

The welfare lady smiles at the decision and she moves over to speak to Dave Phillips about arrangements for David to go into care now, but she's simply told, “Go away, you harpy. I'm not dead, yet!” She's angry when she turns and walks away from them.

David Jones packs up their papers then he helps his great-grandfather to walk out of the courthouse and over to their car parked in the street. Once in the car the boy says, “I think we'll go with Plan Bravo Echo!” He turns to look at his great-grandfather. He gets a nod yes in reply while Dave starts the car before he slowly moves the car into the traffic.

The rest of the day, and the next one, are spent packing a few things up and moving them into an environmentally controlled storage facility in Rivers. Their house is cleaned and made ready to be rented out with the bulk of the furniture in it. The car and other items are sold. Traveller's cheques and foreign currency are obtained from another city, along with train and plane tickets, as well as finalising the arrangements for David to have access to money outside of his own trust account. All is ready for the next act in this complex play called Life.

Escape

Late Thursday the trust manager, Mr Williams, visits the house to sit down for a long talk with both of the residents. Just on sunset Dave is able to sneak around the side of the house to get into the passenger side of Mr Williams' SUV without being seen, and he squats on the floor of the front seat. A few minutes later David shows their visitor out of the house, and he looks at the car parked opposite which has been there since Monday afternoon. They don't know who is watching the house, but they do have a good idea on whose behalf they're doing the watching.

Young David closes the door, then he goes through the house turning various lights off and turning controls on while Mr Williams sits in his car to write some notes. David walks out of the back door, locks it behind himself, picks up his backpack waiting on the verandah, and goes around the side of the house. While crouching low he makes his way to the SUV and he taps on the rear passenger side window. Mr Williams sighs, finishes his notes, puts the books away, turns the interior light to the 'off' position, and he starts the car's ignition. When he turns the car's headlights on they light up the driveway and footpath in front of the car while throwing the area beside and behind the car into deep shadows.

David opens the rear passenger door, slips his backpack in, slides in while staying below the window level, and he shuts the door behind him. The whole trick of getting into the car unnoticed works well because it's parked on the driveway area beside the garage and is facing across the front of the house. Mr Williams takes care driving out and down the street. He turns and heads toward his home, but he diverts from the path when a few streets away. Once he's on the open road to the next town to the north he says, “Nothing in sight. I think we did it!” Both passengers rise up from where they're hiding on the floor of the car to take their seats and to put their seat belts on. “I'd love to see the look on their faces when they realise you're gone.”

Dave Phillips replies, “Well, we usually don't go out of the house on the weekends, so not seeing us about will be in character. The issue will be late next week. With the holidays there's no reason for us to leave the house, except to get food and to check mail. I've the mail being held, so there's no mail. They shouldn't get concerned until late in the week.”

The three of them laugh at them getting away clean. A bit over an hour later Dave and David are on the train to Sydney. Later that night David Jones is on a flight out of Sydney on his way to Auckland, New Zealand, while Dave Phillips stands at the terminal window thinking, Good luck, Son, God's speed and stay safe. I hope you find someone over there.

Sitting on the plane David Jones knows he'll never again see the man who raised him for the last six and a bit years. They both know how far along the cancer is, and Dave will be dead within a week or two. David says a prayer of thanks for his help, and he starts his grieving process while he thinks, I'll be back, Gramps! One day, I'll come back to our home.

Dave watches the plane vanish into the night, turns, and makes his slow way out to the taxi ranks. He gets into a taxi and says, “I need to go to the hospital! Take me to the nearest public hospital, please.” A little later he's being examined in the Emergency Room. He's admitted. For the next few days he's given increasing dosages of painkillers to help manage his pain levels. All involved know it's a losing battle. But they fight on just the same, because it's in their nature to fight on - even when losing.

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The flight to Auckland, New Zealand, isn't long and as soon as David arrives there he collects the little luggage he has, shows his Australian passport to go through New Zealand customs, and walks over to another airline's check-in desk to get his boarding pass for his flight to the USA. This time he shows his US passport while getting his boarding pass.

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Just after three in the morning on the following Wednesday an alarm goes off at the nurses' desk. She goes to the patient concerned to check his pulse, it's not there. She calls for the duty doctor then she commences to turn off and remove the various monitors that aren't needed now. The doctor arrives, makes the relevant checks, and writes the results down. All expect this, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with. The doctor steps over to pick up the envelope on the chest of drawers beside the bed, its simple address is: 'To be opened upon my death, Dave Phillips.'

He reads the letter, opens the top drawer, takes out the cell phone, turns it on, opens a message, and activates the 'Send' command. It sends the prepared message to three phones, none of them being the phone of David Jones because it's been sold as they don't want to show a way to trace where he is. In Bowen's Creek and Rivers a doctor, a trust manager, and a funeral director receive the text message on their phones. They'll read them when they wake up in the morning, and will act on them then.

Funeral

Dave Phillips is back in town the Saturday nine days after leaving Bowen's Creek, and he's waiting to be buried in the cemetery. Only his few closest friends have been told of the funeral, but a few others are also in attendance. The local Returned Services League (RSL) are doing the honours for the funeral of Warrant Officer Dave Phillips, George Cross. The service is like all of the other funerals the RSL has organised until they get to the lowering of the coffin into the grave where an extra song is included. A good local singer performs the John Barry song 'Born Free.' When he finishes the song the 'Last Post' is played, followed by a moment of silence by all at the grave site.

Senior Constable Keane walks over to stand beside Mr Williams and asks, “I don't see young Davy, where is he? And what's the point of the song 'Born Free' in the service, it seems out of place?”

Williams looks at him for a moment, and he notes Keane isn't in his uniform. He asks, “Is it the cop or the friend who asks?”

“The friend, unless you tell me I need to tell my other self!”

“Born Free is a declaration of his life, a statement of intent, and an order to someone else. Think on the words of the song, especially the first two words of the first three stanzas, plus the final chorus.” Keane thinks back over the words while trying to remember them. Williams helps him out by saying, “Born Free, Live Free, Stay Free, and finishes with 'life being worth living because you're born free.' He's making his point to us, and to young David while giving the lad his final orders to stay free.”

Damn! The boy's done a runner, hasn't he?”

“The reason Dave was in Sydney when he died was he went into the hospital after seeing David on his way to freedom. He's had a week to get lost. The longer before the welfare people wake up to that, the colder the trail will be, and the better for the boy.”

“I see that! What's with the George Cross, it's for civilians?”

“Dave was a soldier in England in nineteen forty-three. He was on leave when he did something he never talks about. It warranted a medal, but a military award wasn't appropriate, so they gave him the George Cross. It had to be dangerous, but I've no idea what it was.” Both turn to look at the headstone:

Warrant Officer David Phillips, GC
20 August 1920 - 15 April 2009
Born free - lived free - died free.

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The funeral is covered in the local paper on Sunday, and it's seen by the local welfare office manager. On Monday she turns up at the Bowen's Creek house to collect David Jones, and she isn't happy to learn he left on a holiday over a week ago. No one knows where he is because only Dave Phillips had the information. It's also obvious the house has been cleared out and is now ready to be rented out, so she knows David isn't coming back here. She's angry at them avoiding her, so she returns to her office to initiate an investigation. Like a typical bureaucrat she's extremely angry when things don't go the way she wants them to go.

Over the following six weeks one of her staff manages to track the two to Sydney, and she also finds the plane David took to New Zealand. Ten days later they find the plane he took to the USA. He's outside of their jurisdiction, but the manager issues an international alert on a runaway child. Various computers have the name of David Light Arrow Jones entered in them as being wanted by the NSW government. The case rests there until it may come up again due to new information being put into the system and being made available to the relevant authorities.

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cut to print book page 35

Arizona Life in General

Unlike most of his neighbours and classmates David's life is on hold until he's old enough and with a suitable education to return to Bowen's Creek so he can live his life the way he'd planned it with Dave. But that's a few years away, and he still has to decide to do tertiary studies in the USA or in Australia. One advantage to attending a US college is his extra studies means he can reduce the time to get a degree. In his first year of high school at Window Rock his Advanced Placement and extra classes account for a full semester of the general knowledge college course work, and what he plans for the next few years cuts more out as well. With a good plan for his college courses along with a lot of hard work he can have a degree only two years after graduating high school. It's a lot to think about, and he has a lot of life to live before then. Just living in Window Rock results in interactions with others, so does his love of the local desert with his frequent camping trips.

David learns a lot about living in the desert and life itself from Jason and his neighbours in Window Rock. Some lessons are good and some lessons are bad, but all are educational in one way or another. A lot of aspects of life in the USA are like life in Australia while some are a little bit different and some are very different. However, all are interesting to him and he takes them in while noting the differences and why they're different. In general, life in Window Rock is a placid event for David, but there are times when unusual events do happen to him or near him.

Home on the Range

Mixed in with all the things Jason teaches David are the traditional ways of fighting, the unarmed combat and knife fighting Jason learned in the Marines, as well as the care and use of a variety of handguns and rifles, including the sniper rifle Jason has. The fighting is taught in the land behind Jason's house while the shooting is taught in a number of ranges in the region, including one near Gallup with a very long section for sniper shooting. David proves to be very good with the handguns and rifles for hunting, but even Jason is surprised at how soon David is accurate with long range firing of the .338 Lapua Magnum Barrett M 98B. On one visit to the range Jason talks a friend into letting David fire his .50 BMG Barrett M82A1A. David proves to be deadly accurate with both of the rifles at all of the distances to the range's maximum of 2,000 yards.

David can't understand why Jason and the others are surprised at how accurate he is with the rifles and guns, after all, Jason taught him how to use them and he just applies the knowledge. What he doesn't know is how hard it is for many people to apply their training so well as quickly as he's applying it. As one of the range directors says, “David is a natural with a gun and you only need to let him be himself with it.”

Once Jason is happy David is properly trained in the safe care and use of all the firearms he reduces the number of trips to the ranges to just one a month to maintain their accuracy. Competing with David forces Jason to work back up to his previous proficiency level. One aspect of firearms use Jason sees as odd is the total lack of interest David has in his range scores. All David worries about is hitting the bullseye as best as he can.

Jason also arranges for a couple of visits to ranges with a Combat Decision Course where the shooter has to fire three magazines at targets that pop up and out at them while deciding if the pop up is a danger or not. This course is done with a handgun. Dangerous and non-dangerous targets are in the course. The points are scored for the number of targets hit plus the speed the course is done in while points are deducted for hitting the wrong target and targets missed. David does well, once he learns the rules and how to identify the dangerous targets.

Walks in the Country

David enjoys running in the school cross country meets, but they're nothing compared to the desert hikes Jason sends David on. He does four different weekend-long hikes which run through a lot of varied rough and challenging terrain. One route goes east out of Window Rock well into New Mexico, turns north for a long distance, then heads west a bit north of Fort Defiant to end at a meeting point on Indian Service Route 12. The other is from Nakaibito, New Mexico to the same meeting point on Indian Service Route 12. The other two are both these routes in reverse, to show the same area is different when travelled in another direction. One reason Jason gives for taking the same routes often is to learn how the area changes with the seasons, and this is only realised by seeing the changes in an area that's known and very familiar to you.

The first time David goes on these hikes, in either direction, Jason is along to show him the way while teaching him more about the desert. A friend drops them both off and also picks them up. After that the hikes start late on Friday afternoon with Jason taking David to the starting point and watching him for a little while before going home. David walks until near sunset before he stops to set up camp for the night.

David is familiar with these hikes by the end of August, and he knows the desert can change a lot with the weather as well as the season. Paths through some areas that are good when there's been no rain for a week or more aren't so good if rain has fallen in the area during the last week. He also learns how rain many miles away can have an effect on his travel path due to the water travelling along the watercourses. He needs to be especially aware of flash-floods which can rush down a dry watercourse some hours after there were heavy storms well up stream or up slope.

On his desert hikes David takes along plenty of food, water, first aid kit, cooking gear, cell phone, an emergency beacon, multi-frequency emergency radio, a .22 hunting rifle, 10 x 50 monocular, compass, maps, Global Positioning System (GPS), flares, and a two round shotgun pistol for close defence against snakes and animals. Jason organises a special permit for David to carry the mini-shotgun on the Reservation Land. David is ready for just about anything he could meet out in the desert.

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cut to print book page 88

On the Road Again

All of David's summer semester classes are over: the last exam is done, the last assignment is handed in, the major project is finished, he's all packed up and ready to leave. The staff check his room and sign off on it being correct, so he hands in this last piece of paperwork before heading to the car park to leave the university and Albuquerque. Four weeks ago he visited Window Rock to transfer his vehicle registration and driver's license back to Jason's address. While there he picked up his concealed carry permit, and he was surprised it was done so fast. It was issued by Arizona because his long-term residential address is still with Long Arrow in Window Rock. It also has endorsements by the states of Texas and New Mexico, plus the Federal Department of Justice. The last means he's legal in all of the other states.

A few minutes after leaving the university car park David is at the local police station signing out the 9 mm Beretta M9 pistol plus his .22 rifle they have in their gun-safe for him because he didn't want to keep them on the university grounds. The pistol slips into the cross-draw holster on his belt and he puts his rifle in the car's gun-safe.

It's still early morning of a Wednesday in late July and he has no set destination because he just wants to see a lot more of the country. His initial direction is east to Amarillo so he can see another part of Texas he hasn't seen yet. From there he plans to go to Dallas, then south to Corpus Christi, and back along the gulf coast to Florida. David intends to make many stops along the way.

First Stop

David has some sandwiches and drinks on the seat beside him when he leaves Albuquerque, so he sees no reason to stop until he's tired of driving. He cruises along at or just below the speed limit, only leaving the right hand lane to pass the few vehicles going a bit slower than he is. The traffic is light enough he can safely look around at the countryside a lot, and he likes what he sees. Interstate 40 is a good road to drive on, compared to the local roads he's used to driving on near Window Rock, and a lot less traffic than what he's seen on the roads in Albuquerque.

A few hours later David turns off Interstate 40 onto South Mountain Road on the south-eastern edge of Tucumcari to have a hot lunch. There are two truck stops here with one on each side of South Mountain Road. He chooses the one on his left simply because he'll be able to make an easy right-hand turn out of the parking area when he leaves. Although he still has plenty of fuel he stops to fill up first, just to be safe, and it only takes a few minutes. David moves to the main car park, pulling through one bay to park in the one behind it. This way he's facing out without him having to reverse in or out of it.

Once parked David stands, takes his large Thermos and rubbish into the back, rinses out the Thermos, and puts the trash into a bag. With the Thermos and trash bag in his left hand he opens the back door, gets out, and stops to make sure the door locks properly. As usual he looks all around him before he starts to walk across the car park. There's a sedan with the motor running and a driver in it parked in the spot closest to the building entrance, so it's obviously waiting for someone to come out.

David takes two more steps then stops when he hears two gunshots. He drops to a squat while putting the things in his left hand on the ground at the same moment his right hand draws his pistol. He's quick to have it up and in both hands, but the three men charging out of the restaurant's front door are fast too. The men are armed and scanning the area around them. One sees David and he starts to raise his pistol. That's as far as he gets. David rapid fires two rounds into his chest, using what Long Arrow calls a 'double tap,' switches to target and do the same to the other two gunmen at the same time as they look at him and raise their guns. All three are down, so David looks around for further dangers.

The idling car pulls out of the parking bay to race toward the exit. It isn't a threat to David so he simply notes the license number. After a full check of the area David puts his gun away, gets his carry permit out, clips it to his shirt pocket, collects his Thermos and bag, and he walks over to the restaurant just as two men walk out the front door.

One of the men is on the phone, so David calls out to the other man and asks him, “Anyone inside hurt?”

The man shakes his head no as he replies, “No, the people were fast to hit the floor, so the shots missed them.” The two of them don't have much time to chat before some Sheriff's Deputies arrive. Then both are very busy giving statements. The car David saw is found abandoned a few miles away, it was stolen shortly before the robbery.

Two hours later David leaves after giving his statement, paying for his fuel, dumping the rubbish, having a hot meal, refilling his Thermos with hot chocolate, and getting four cold roast beef sandwiches to eat while on the road. In the early evening he reaches Amarillo with no further problems and he spends a couple of days looking around the town, just like any other tourist.

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Note: In a search of the places where the deceased robbers lived the police find evidence of their involvement in over a dozen other armed robberies in the area. The driver of the getaway car is never identified well enough to charge anyone. However, the number of armed robberies in the area has a significant drop.

When he tells Jason about the incident David is told to replace the barrel, which he does at a large gunsmith shop in Amarillo. He gets a good deal by buying a set of six barrels in a pack.

A few weeks later David gets a phone call from the headquarters of the restaurant chain. A week later he collects a card as a VIP customer sent to a store he nominates as it entitles him to a discount at all their stores.

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