On the Run

Free On the Run by John D. MacDonald

Book: On the Run by John D. MacDonald Read Free Book Online
Authors: John D. MacDonald
Tags: Suspense
So I decided to wait and watch and see if I could find some clue that I was right.” Tears spilled out of her eyes. “Damn you, Sid. Damn you! I’m not the enemy. You don’t have to try to smash me. I’m your friend Paula. Okay?”
    “Okay.”
    She kissed him on the mouth, her lips as tender as though she were kissing a child. He put his arms around her and held her close. Finally she gave him a little push. “Now you drive. I’m too shaky.”
    He went around the car and got behind the wheel. In a few moments he had it back up to road speed. He glanced at her. She smiled at him. She settled herself so close to him they touched from thigh to shoulder.
    “You know, I certainly didn’t get to see much of Houston,” she said.
    He passed a pipe truck and settled back into the right lane. “No punishment?” he asked.
    “What do you mean, Sid?”
    “Don’t you have to get even a little? Shouldn’t it cost me a little more than this? It seems too easy.”
    She reached to the wheel and put her hand on his for a moment. “The ones who matter punish themselves.”
    “You’re a rare one.”
    “That’s what I tried to tell you last night.”
    They stopped in Marshall for a late lunch. While he bought a thermos, an air mattress, a pillow and a blanket, she went down the block and bought a pair of slacks, a pair of sandals for driving and, at his suggestion, a warm cardigan. When they made a gas stop at the far side of the city, she went to the ladies’ room and changed into the slacks. He had folded the rear seat down, moved their bags to one side, and had just finished inflating the mattress with the air hose when she came walking back across the wide concrete apron toward the gas island. The tailored gunmetal slacks made her look leggier, butdid not obscure the tilt and tensions of her hips as she came toward him. He saw her become aware of herself observed, and saw a small constraint. She came toward him, properly aware of self and moment, the lines of her, long and strong and clear, coming near with the heavy brows shadowing the dark eyes, her mouth level with promises, grave with awareness. It was disconcerting to him that all of this could have happened so quickly, and kept happening, changing, growing with each hour of nearness. What had been an irrevocable affront to her pride and dignity as a woman now seemed merely a little awkward hitch, a catching of balance, even a quicker way of knowing. All the wanting was there, but this was not the gross simplicity of lust. This was the complexity of a total involvement, a promise of all the ninety percent she had spoken of. Involvement is the heart committed, in the way of an adult—and with this woman, anything less than that would be worse than nothing. But all he could offer was one small option on despair.
    They went off into afternoon, the sun behind them. She looked at the maps. “How are we going?”
    “Texarkana, and then if we move east too soon we fight too many hills. We’ll cut over on 60 to 51. Up through Cairo, Vandalia, Decatur, angle right on 66, and then take the pikes. Fast and flat.”
    “I don’t want to get lost when you’re sleeping.”
    “I’ll mark it out for you when we change.”
    In a little while she said, “Whatever became of Sid Wells?”
    “He was a quiet type. Peddled the cars, ran the lot, wrote the ads, paid his bills. He isn’t quite dead yet. I’ll kill him off after I unload this car. His name is on the paper.”
    “What do you do then?”
    “Sell the car for cash, find a new city, pick a new name, start picking up the little bits of paper a man has to have. Write myself some predated references and weather them up a little. They never check. Avoid the outfits that want to bond you. It isn’t hard.”
    “You talk as if you won’t get any money from Tom.”
    “I might get it. But I might not want to show up to claim it.”
    “Would you try to change your looks again?”
    “Again? Oh, you mean the change from

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