Jewel chanted the phrase over and over as Luke gripped Alfonzo’s shoulder to try to shake him awake.
“Fonz! Fonz, wake up, we’re gonna crash!”
Luke’s yelling had no effect whatsoever on Alfonzo. Another sharp gunshot whizzed through the night. Ron cursed and grasped McKenna’s hand tightly.
Before anyone could muster up a good panic, Luke plummeted himself up to the front seat to land on top of Alfonzo. Alfonzo didn’t move but his right shoulder was now beginning to drip blood onto the console.
“Jewel, get something to stop the blood, now,” Luke said brusquely as he gripped the steering wheel and tried to maneuver the gas pedal over Alfonzo’s Birkenstocks. McKenna hadn’t heard this authoritative tone from Luke before, and apparently Jewel wasn’t used to it either. “Jewel!” he snapped.
Jewel tore her eyes from the road that was streaming by as Luke steered them as safely as he could through their high-speed chase. Luke was dodging around seemingly slow-moving vehicles while their followers lagged only seconds behind.
Looking around briefly and not finding anything to staunch the blood, Jewel started to panic. “Luke, what should I use?”
Luke was intent on finding an exit or somewhere they might pull off to find safety; McKenna realized she needed to pull herself together and be helpful to the cause of saving their lives.
“Here, use this,” she said, letting go of her dad’s hand and offering up her sweatshirt. “Dad, should I tie it straight around the wound to give it direct pressure even though the bullet is likely still in his arm?” She only possessed minor experience with first aid and nothing beyond that, and she was quickly getting sick at the sight of all the blood.
“Yes, just like you’re doing,” Ron offered, glancing behind at the fast approaching black vehicles. “Make it tight.”
McKenna tied the sweatshirt around the best she could.
“Any suggestions, folks?” Luke asked with a high-pitched edge to his voice. “I can’t find a turn off anywhere nearby. The signs are flying by too fast.”
“Jewel, keep holding this right here,” McKenna instructed. She looked up to try to offer advice to Luke, but only saw thick trees lining the highway and not much else.
Ron suddenly jerked his head up. “There’s a gas station on your right about two miles ahead,” he said excitedly. “I used to stop there on the way from the school to Artichoke. If they follow us there, the gas station will be populated so they shouldn’t be able to hurt us there. Well, I hope not anyway."
“Sold,” Luke said. “I don’t think we have another choice. Here goes nothin’.”
McKenna spied the speedometer creeping up to 135. If they missed the turn or didn’t slow down fast enough, they would all be toast before their assailants could even reach them.
Looking back, their followers had backed off a little bit and weren’t keeping pace with Luke’s higher speed. They might just be able to make it after all.
The rest stop flashed into sight. They were almost there, so close to the bright lights that would give them protection.
Then McKenna’s brain registered something rather strange for the late hour at the gas station.
“Luke, don’t turn in!” she screamed.
“Why?” he howled back, hands ready on the wheel to make the quick turn.
“They have back up!”
The other occupants of the car looked to the gas station and saw at the pumps another foreboding, black limo and sedan with tinted windows.
The image was brief as Luke swiftly took McKenna’s advice and rocketed past the gas station.
At the gas station, a dark-haired man jumped out of the sedan, but before any of them could get a good glimpse, they had flown by the station.
“Look, the other cars are pulling into the station. I think we’re free now,” Ron said with relief. “Good work, Ken.” He ruffled McKenna's hair like he used to when she was younger.
“Not to rain on our success train but we need to get Fonz to a hospital stat,” Luke said.
As if he heard his name, Alfonzo’s eyes slowly opened.
“No time for a hospital,” Alfonso croaked. Luke then remembered he happened to be sitting on his uncle so he shifted to try to make Alfonzo a little more comfortable in his injured state. “Jewel,” Alfonzo said, looking into his niece’s wide eyes. “Use my phone, call speed dial 7 and make arrangements to use the jet at location 4. We’re only about forty minutes away. Less than that if Luke keeps driving like a maniac.”
Everyone went silent as Alfonzo’s eyes closed again and his head rolled to the side, his forehead creasing with discomfort and pain.
“Fonz, what about your shoulder? You need a doctor,” Luke said forcefully.
“Luke, we can worry about my injury on the plane. We need to make this flight or we won’t be able to stop them in time.”
Nobody dared ask who and what they were supposed to be stopping and why it was more important than a crucial hospital visit.
Jewel wordlessly picked up Alfonzo’s phone, dialed 7 and waited for an answer.