Jordan took the keys and the three of them walked back to the cars in the dark. Jordan’s nagging subconscious told her not to go with them, to get into her own car and go home, but she wasn’t listening.
When they arrived at the state store, it was just as Jordan had said, closed. The store sat along a stretch of abandoned buildings on an old two-lane highway that had been replaced by a four-lane about five miles south. The guys jumped out of the car. Jordan didn’t see the point in getting out. The guys disappeared around to the back of the building where Jordan could no longer see them. She had the car window down and could hear their voices echoing, but couldn’t make out the words. She jumped at the sound of the building alarm and it was less than a minute when she heard the guys hollering and laughing. They came running from behind the building with bottles in each of their hands.
Frank jumped into the front seat, out of breath and laughing. Dodger jumped in the back.
“Drive,” Dodger commanded.
“It doesn’t matter, just get going.”
She did as she was told because she didn’t know what else to do.
“What did you do?”
They didn’t answer, just kept laughing. Dodger opened one of the bottles and took a long drink. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve. He passed the bottle to Frank who also took a drink and then offered it to Jordan. She didn’t know why, but she took the bottle with a shaking hand and took a drink. Vodka. It burned her throat.
“I don’t know where I’m going”
“We are in your hands darling.” Frank said. “Remember, we’re not from here.”
Jordan had just passed Mill Road. She knew the old abandoned mill sat empty so she spun the BMW around and headed back. Mill Road was rocky and a rough ride. Jordan slowly dodged deep pot holes that had been carved by years of torrential rains and winters. The ruins were just as Jordan had remembered. In the midst of all the fragments of buildings was one large red brick and mortar building, with open windows where glass had once been. It was still pretty much intact compared to the surrounding, smaller buildings.
Dodger grabbed a flashlight from the back seat and they headed inside the building. One of the windows overlooked the wheel that once brought water up to the mill from the river below.
“The river is dry.” Jordan explained. “They built a dam about four miles up from here and a reservoir. The river in the park used to flow through here and along the next two counties. There was a major fight between all the counties to make that decision. About half the people were for it and half against.”
Frank passed Jordan a bottle. She took a drink without thinking. This time is was whisky.
“The Hatfields and McCoys,” joked Frank.
“Something like that.” Jordan wondered if he was making fun of her and thought this is surely a hick town, but then she knew it was, so it didn’t really bother her. These guys were used to the city. Restaurants on every corner, bars, clubs, theaters; you name it, the city had it. Her tiny town didn’t even have a movie theater.
There was a shuffling noise behind them. Dodger jerked around with the flashlight. A man lay in the corner.
“Hey, what you all doing here?” His voice gravely from just waking.
Jordan instinct was to run. Frank moved forward to the man.
“We’ve come to visit the mill, sir.” He extended his hand. “I’m am Frank, this is Jordan and the impolite man holding the flashlight in your eyes is Dodger.
“This ain’t no mill no more.” The man sat up and leaned against the wall. He was lying on a make-shift newspaper bed and had piles of things all around him.
“Would you like a drink?” Frank held out the bottle.
“Yeah, what you got?”
“Whisky and vodka.”
“I’ll have a little whisky if you don’t mind.’ He dug in one of the piles and came up with a used Starbucks cup. Frank poured it half full and held the bottle in the air. “Cheers!”
The man nodded and took a drink. “Ah, that’ll warm ya up. I’m Ross.”
Ross dug through some other things and found a kerosene lantern and lit it. The light from the lantern gave the room a warm glow and gave way to see other newspaper beds in different areas of the room; and more junk piles.
“You alone here, Ross?” Frank asked.
“Nope. They ain’t come in for the night yet. I don’t leave too much anymore. I got a bad leg. Don’t let me walk around good,”
The four of them sat around the lantern like it was a campfire, drinking from the bottles and telling stories. Frank was in the middle of a story when they heard the noise coming from the distance.
“That’ll be the folks that live here comin’ now.” Ross explained.
Three men stopped abruptly at the door way when they saw Frank, Jordan and Dodger.
“What the hell is this?” the taller of the men shouted.
His voice startled Jordan, but she had enough vodka in her to sit there sluggishly.
“We got company fellas.” Ross smiled.
“We don’t want company.”
Jordan thought one of the men looked familiar.
Frank stood up and went to them. “I’m Frank” he extended his hand. No one took it.
“I said, we don’t want company. Now you all can just be on your way.”
Jordan got to her feet and headed toward the door. Frank turned to Ross, bowed and said, “it has been our pleasure.” When Frank and Jordan got to the door the familiar looking man stuck out his leg in front of her so she couldn’t pass.
“Well, looky here Paulie. In the bad light I couldn’t tell you were a woman. Maybe they could stay a while longer. You like to party honey?”
Frank stepped beside her and took her hand.
“Thank you for your offer, but we really must go.” He moved forward as if to more around the men, but they didn’t more.
“Let them pass,” Ross said. “They been nothin’ but friendly.”
“I just asked them if they wanted to party some more.”
It was then that Jordan realized where she had seen the man before. It was on the news. He had been arrested about three months ago for rape. He had been accused of waiting outside the Wendy’s for a 22 year-old girl to come to her car after her shift. He hadn’t been to trial as yet.
“You’ll go when we say so.” He never took his eyes off Jordan.
In a split second of silence a click came from where Dodger was standing across the room. Frank smiled.
“Gentleman, my friend has just cocked his Colt M1911 that he carries with him at all times, right inside his jacket pocket. If you would kindly let us pass and go without trouble.”
“He’s bluffing.” The taller man grunted.
“Let them go,” Ross shouted.
Dodger walked over to Ross and placed the unfinished whisky bottle on the floor beside him. He pulled the gun from his pocket and looked at the men. The men slowly stepped aside and let Jordan and Frank through the door. Dodger followed, backing his way outside. Once the three of them were almost to the car and clear of danger, Frank and Dodger high-fived one another.
“What a rush.” Frank exploded.