Cool off with a winter story by J L Wilson

Hi there: J L Wilson here. Seems like I write a lot of winter mysteries. But hey -- I live in Minnesota. Maybe that's why?

Here's one you might enjoy featuring a woman's whose past catches up to her... She's enlisted the help of Harry Mortonson, retired Sheriff and it almost costs Harry his life...

It was his defensive driving and his police training that saved his life. Harry glanced in the mirror and saw the brown pickup behind him. It wasn’t a four-wheel-drive, which raised a red flag in his mind immediately. Most pickups in Minnesota were four-bys. Because they were driving due north, the sun was on his right side. And because they were on the bridge there were no obstructions to hinder the sunlight. Harry caught a glimpse of an intent male face, brownish-gold hair and a gun balanced on top of the steering wheel, aimed at him.

He pulled his Glock out of his shoulder holster, setting it on the seat next to him. Then he tugged out his mobile phone, opened it and set it beside the Glock. He looked to the right and saw heavy construction equipment. On his left was a green minivan. Ahead of him a small white Honda was slowing down as the traffic neared the lower-speed zone. Harry glanced in the rear view mirror, seeing the man and the gun.

Donaldson. The sun illuminated the face just enough so Harry could identify him. He focused on the road. It widened to three lanes ahead, but only briefly because the far right lane started as an on-ramp, ending as an off-ramp. Traffic was always faster there as cars jockeyed for position merging on and off the road.

Harry stayed in the now-center lane, glancing at the brown pickup truck behind him as the man maneuvered into the far right lane. Harry had expected it. He picked up his phone and punched the panic button. When the 911 operator came on, he said, “Shots fired, I-35E, near Randolph exit. Shooter is in a brown pickup truck, two-wheel drive, white side stripe.”

Every ramp had traffic cameras positioned overhead. Harry was hoping they’d get a clear shot of the license plate. That would give the State Patrol the head start they’d need to catch Donaldson. Harry closed the phone and put his hand over the Glock on the seat next to him.

He glanced to his right. Donaldson’s left arm was raised, grasping the steering wheel. Then Harry saw the gun, nestled in the crook of Donaldson’s left arm, held by the right hand. Donaldson’s driver’s side window was rolled down. Harry looked around. Traffic was moving smoothly and there were no bright taillights in sight. He picked up the Glock and leveled it at Donaldson, his hand steady. Then he punched the button for the window control and his passenger window rolled down.

Donaldson’s eyes widened when he saw Harry was armed. Harry was counting on it. Harry’s finger tightened on the Glock’s trigger and Donaldson suddenly sped up, the brown pickup shooting ahead of Harry’s truck. Harry managed to change lanes and get behind Donaldson.

Then Donaldson switched lanes again and suddenly the brown pickup was on Harry’s left. Harry had to set the Glock down to manipulate the buttons for the windows. He started to lower his driver’s side window when a bullet shattered the small window on his truck’s extended cab back seat. He instinctively ducked as fragments showered around him and his truck wobbled on the snowy road surface. Harry tapped the brakes as he groped for his gun even though he knew he couldn’t respond with gunfire. If he did hit Donaldson’s truck, it would cause such a massive traffic accident people would inevitably be injured. He raised the gun anyway, though, and turned his head.

Donaldson drove with his left hand on the wheel and the gun pointed straight out the shattered passenger window on the brown pickup truck, right at Harry. Harry slowed his truck and Donaldson slowed too, the gun never wavering. Harry raised his eyes and for a split second stared into Donaldson’s face. The eyes were cold and hard. His face looked carved from ice and was so dispassionate Harry wondered if he was even alive.

Donaldson’s finger tightened on the trigger as he took his foot off the gas, letting his pickup truck slow. Then Harry tapped his brakes again and suddenly the brown pickup was ahead of him on the left. Harry tapped his brakes again, hearing sirens in the distance—lots of sirens. The shoulders of the roads here were big enough to accommodate a bus during rush hour and Harry had no doubt it could handle a few squad cars.

Taillights flared on the cars in front of him. Harry put on his right turn signal, inching his way into the off-ramp lane. Donaldson was in the far left lane, hemmed in by cars with no way to get out. Traffic was slowing as the sirens sounded ahead and behind. Harry managed to get into the exit lane just as a patrol car came up on the far left shoulder. He caught a glimpse of Donaldson’s brown pickup jumping into the shoulder lane and speeding off.

Harry stopped at the top of the off-ramp and looked down at the interstate, clogged with cars. He realized it was cold in his truck. He rolled up the windows, then frowned at the missing back rear window. “Shit. One more errand to run today.”

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