“SHE’S OUT,” GERALD said.
“Good. We need to hurry.”
Otto popped the trunk. “Let’s take care of Joanna before anyone comes.”
Gerald and Otto exited the car.
“You sure she’s out?” Otto asked.
“At least for an hour. I’ll need to monitor her on the way back.”
“We need to strip off the girl’s clothes and put them on the dead one. We can’t dump a naked body.”
Gerald stomped his foot. He hadn’t thought of that. But still, Kaylee appeared by happenstance on their way to rid themselves of Joanna. Funny how life and death could upend your plans.
Otto rounded the car while Gerald remained outside next to the open back seat door and at Kaylee’s feet. He rubbed his nose. The girl could land one hell of a punch. That could be a problem.
Otto leaned into the back seat. “I’ll get her arms. You get her feet.”
Gerald and Otto stripped Kaylee.
“Man, she really is down for the count,” Otto said.
Gerald wrapped a towel around her.
Then he and Otto rushed to the trunk to get Joanna.
Gerald squinted. Joanna was past the rigor mortis stage.
“She’s fuckin’ heavy,” Otto said.
“Just get the bra on her. I’ll pull her up so you can snap it.”
Otto laughed. “I’ve perfected that move.”
“Just do it.”
As soon as Otto finished, Gerald released Joanna, and she flopped onto her back. He managed to get her feet through Kaylee’s panties and pulled them up to Joanna’s waist.
“There’s a reverse move,” Otto quipped.
Otto made Gerald’s hands feel even dirtier.
Together they finished dressing Joanna in Kaylee’s clothes.
Gerald slung Joanna over his shoulder. He glanced down the road in both directions. No sirens. No flashing lights.
He slid down the muddy bank and landed on his back. Joanna fell off his shoulder and rolled down the swampy, brush-covered hill.
Joanna crashed onto the car’s bumper, and the car lurched forward.
“Stop it,” Gerald commanded the crashed vehicle.
As if the crunched car could comply.
But the vehicle seesawed to a halt.
Turned out Joanna did him a favor. The car’s new position made it much easier to shove her in the back seat. Where the car ended up after that wasn’t his concern. All the occupants were dead anyway. Nothing he could do about that.
Gerald slogged up the slippery bank.
Sirens got closer.
“Fuck! Get in the car,” Otto yelled.
Otto started the car.
Muddied, Gerald jumped into the passenger seat.
Otto made a U-turn onto the road, away from the sirens.
Gerald looked back. The red strobes were getting clearer.
This had to work. Kaylee and Joanna looked pretty much alike. The Greek would never know the difference, Gerald convinced himself.
Then he leaned back in the seat.
“Over there!” An EMT pointed.
His colleague pulled to the roadside, directly above the crashed car.
“Shit! They hit the tree.”
“By the looks of the skid marks and the mud tracks, the driver must have lost control of the vehicle. Not hard to do with these wet roads. Every rig’s been busy today. Grab the bag and let’s get down there.”
The EMTs rushed out of the rig, leaving the red flashing lights engaged.
They sidestepped into the slippery bank, land-surfing down to the wreck.
“Hey! Rescue’s here. Can you hear me?” the EMT called.
“Ambulance!” the EMT yelled louder. “Anyone hurt?”
One EMT looked in the vehicle.
“We’ve got three people down and unresponsive. Male driver. Female in the passenger seat and one in the back seat.”
“Here comes another rig. We’ll need the help.”
“Sir? Sir? Are you hurt?” The EMT called louder.
“Nothing,” he said to his partner.
“Hey! Female in the back seat moved her leg.”
The EMT leaned into the back seat to check it out.
“She’s moving her finger. Let’s get her out. Any response from the victims in front?”
“No. They’re gone. Neither has a pulse or respiratory effort. I’m ninety-nine percent sure neither is revivable, but the young female has a chance.”
“Pull all of them out before the car goes under. I’ll pull out the young female in the back while you get the two out of the front.”
“I’ve got the male and female in the front.”
Another responder slid towards them.
“We’re the only other rig available.”
“Assess the two victims in front. We’ll work on the female from the back seat.”
“Got her,” the EMT said. “Oh my God. She’s just a teenager.”
Another EMT returned with a backboard and the EMT slid the girl onto the board.
“I feel a faint carotid pulse. Beginning CPR!” The one at the girl’s head squeezed oxygen into her lungs with a bag valve mask.
One applied the pads from the AED, automated external defibrillator, to the girl’s chest in between CPR attempts.
“Stand back. Analyzing rhythm,” the AED computerized voice called. “Sinus bradycardia. Resume CPR.”
The EMTs continued CPR and paused again for an AED assessment.
“Look! Spontaneous respirations!”
“Sinus rhythm. A beautiful thing! Let’s get her transported.”
The EMT looked at the ones tending to the front seat victims. They shook their heads.
“No rhythm. They’re clinically dead,” the EMT said. “We’ll transport them to the hospital where they can be officially pronounced dead. At least it looks like the girl is gonna make it.”
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