In the Humvee Suzy turned to Peter. “Uh-oh,” she said. “Looks like trouble.”
He nodded and reached for his door handle.
“Sit tight,” he said.
“Pete, are you sure it’s wise to….?”
“No,” he said, cutting her off. “I’m not.”
Then he shouldered open the door, exited the car, and walked toward the Ford over the narrow park road.
That was when Sheriff’s Deputy Walker seemed to take notice of him, belatedly, and for the first time. He cast a quick glance at Oliver, then past him at the parked Hummer, keeping the automatic trained on Oliver…. Who had also partially turned in Peter’s direction.
“You blind, mister?” Walker said. One eye on Pete, the other on Oliver. “Or did you just happen to miss what’s going on here?”
Peter shrugged. “Tourists,” he said. “We’ve been waiting awhile.”
The deputy said nothing. He looked at the Idling Hummer again, this time suspiciously, checking out its Louisiana brake tag, located on the lower corner of the windshield.
“It’s a rental,” Peter said. Stalling trying to cook up some kind of plan that would extricate Oliver, not to mention himself, from the situation.
Whatever in hell the situation was.
“Wife and I are headed for La Provance,” he said “Figured I’d ask when we might could pass.”
Walker stared at him, dazed and confused.
“You see,” Peter, said, “we’ve got reservations at an inn, that they will only hold for another thirty minutes. And being we drove all the way from New Orleans on 190…” (the alternate route around the lake.)
“Which is what you’re going to have to swing back onto”, Walker interrupted. “Right this minute!”
Peter shook his head. “Sorry,” he said, “can’t do that.”
Walker looked bewildered. “What did you say?”
“Can’t do that,” Peter repeated, knowing he’d really stepped into it now. “There aren’t any other rooms available this time of the year.”
Walker flushed; his attention turned fully to Peter.
“You better arrest the whole **** lot of them, Walker, cause my back’s gonna snap like a twig, I stay bent over like this!”
Walker eyed Peter with a kind of hostile exasperation, unconsciously wagging his head, looking uncertain what to do next.
An instant later Oliver made the decision for him. Taking advantage of Walker’s distraction, he suddenly stepped away from the car, caught hold of his outstretched gun, hand at the wrist, and bent it sharply backward, simultaneously turning sideways and snatching the automatic with his free hand.
Walker released a cry of pain and surprise as the pistol was torn from his grasp. He was still gaping in disbelief when Oliver’s leg snapped forward and up in a powerful front kick, the ball of his foot striking him in the broad, chunky stretch of his stomach. The air rushing out of him, he stumbled backward and landed hard on his behind, his legs spread wish-boned in front of him.
Caronne, meanwhile, had pulled his head out of the car’s open door and hard charged at Oliver from behind. However, before he had gotten more than a few feet, Oliver spun in a smooth circle on his left leg. His right leg swung parallel to the ground and thrust out from the knee - catching Carrone in the groin with a time-perfected roundhouse kick.
He flew back against the side of the car and doubled over, groaning, his hands held cupped between his thighs.
Oliver ejected the Browning’s magazine he took from the warden, and tossed it into the thick brush along the side of the road, then shoved the gun into his vest pocket. Alex then gave him the nod, and Peter strode over The clip joined the one that was already in the bushes.
Oliver knelt over Walker and patted down the bottom of his trouser leg.
“Nothing there to say peek-a-boo?” he asked, sarcastically.
Walker glared and shook his head.
“Okay.” Oliver told him, stepping back. “Here’s how it goes. We’re all driving off, me with my catch, you two without your guns and our friendly tourist with his nice wife and rental car, will leave at once; once I’m outta here. You forget about this thing, maybe I don’t report the little scam you and Carrone tried running on me to Wildlife and Fisheries or the Attorney General’s office up in Baton Rouge. You really behave yourselves, maybe I won’t tell anybody in town how I kicked both your asses and disarmed you barehanded. In two seconds flat.”
Walker continued starring at him in baleful silence for another moment, then slowly nodded.
“Good,” Oliver said. “Stay right where you are until I’m gone.”
Walker snorted, spit over his shoulder, and looked back up at him. “How the hell am I supposed to explain losing my gun?”
Oliver shrugged. “Your problem,” he said.
Behind them, Carrone was still leaning against the car, moaning and clutching himself. Oliver turned, strode over to him, grabbed his shoulder, and roughly shoved him away from the car. Carrone tripped and fell on his side, drawing his knees toward his chest.
Oliver looked at Peter, then moved up close to him. “Poor bastard should’ve kept his hands off my ignition keys,” he said in a voice too low for the others to hear.
“Welcome to the north shore, Pete!” Alex said loudly, and for affect with his hand outstretched to shake Peter’s own. Then quietly said, “You had better get back in your car and follow along behind me. I’ll explain everything once we’re at my place.”