The Joelene Stonehouse
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FOLLOWING TWENTY-FIVE YEARS flying every kind of attack helicopter the Army has to offer, Joelene Stonehouse returns to a civilian world she barely recognizes. But sitting home alone painting pictures of horses and cows doesn’t cut it. Following a life of danger and excitement, what’s a warrior to do?
So her sister sets her up as a kind of independent courier / transporter for an alliance of East Coast import / export operators. Now, equipped with a set of hot wheels and a tight schedule, she’s off — no questions asked . . .
Then her world comes apart, sending Joelene on the warpath again — which is just the way she likes it.
Musical Inspiration: Five Alarm Funk – Hot Funk Sunday
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OUTSIDE SANTA FE, 3:30 A.M.
WAY BACK THERE, flashing lights — a kaleidoscope of crazy dancing reds and blues — closing like a rocket.
“Oh, shit! It’s the cops! Gettin’ stopped out here simply won’t do, girl. No way,” Joelene says.
She punches it.
Her ride — made up special with custom state-of-the-art suspension, wheels, tires, engine can outrun anything!
“You dunno who you’re messin’ with.”
The flashing lights recede.
“Ah-hah! Chase is on now, sonny-boy.”
She cracks a wide smile. One-twenty-five and climbing. Dips in the road punch her in the gut. Weightless one instant. Whamo! the next. Needle cranks past one-forty-five. Outside’s a streaking blur.
She cracks a wide smile, checks her side mirror. Hello, heee’s back!
“Whoa, baby!” she shouts. ”Time to light the candle.”
Joelene slips on a pair of night-vision goggles and cuts off the headlights. Everything turns green. She flips a special switch. Stomps hard on the accelerator.
KAPOW! Twenty-five feet of angry flame lashes back at the cop car. And this time she really is gone, but for the heady scent of burning, spent kerosene.
She’s flying now! Not like the old days in her Black Hawks and Apaches during repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only . . . Only . . . Oh, hang on!
Fuck me! Dude’s still coming.
Red and blue flashers closing from behind, until . . . until . . . oh no, his headlights bouncing crazy in her rearview mirror.
Fuck! He’s off the road for sure. And . . . Oh, fucking no! What’ve I done?
JOELENE BRAKES HARD, BROADSLIDES, whips a neat one-eighty just in time to see a tower of flame geyser into the night sky.
“Oh, Christ, he’s burning!”
Her body jerks as triple-shots of adrenalin slam into her bloodstream.
Hmmm, that good old one-two punch. Oh, baby. It’s pucker time now.
Control! Control! Control! The mantra screams in her head as she jams her foot to the floor. She rockets back down the road, tires screaming, to discover yet another horror she’s created.
CLOSING ONTO THE wreckage, none of it looks good. The patrol car’s rolled and flipped. Doors are gone. Hood, too. Fuel tank’s corking off.
She jumps out, fire extinguisher in hand. Races into the blazing inferno. He’s still strapped in, head flopped onto his chest, seat back ripping with fire. Raging tongues of flame snap at her. She lets loose with the extinguisher. Hosing her way in, she fogs a narrow path to the burning vehicle.
She tries to grab him, but her hands feel like they’re melting. She reaches in again and again. Her fourth attempt frees his seat belt. She’s got only one chance to drag him out of there and she needs both hands to do it. Dropping the extinguisher, she grabs his leather jacket and pulls with all her might. Immediately, the flames are on her like a nest of blazing hornets. Unable to turn him loose, she flails at her burning hair with the sleeves of her fine red-leather jacket, now rapidly turning into char. She ducks her head, scrunches her eyes. In one last gasp, she pounds backward against the earth for what seems like forever, until she loses her footing and the two of them collapse in a smoldering heap.
Right then the trooper’s eyes pop open, and he’s looking straight at her, through her.
“Least I haven’t killed him . . . yet.”
Copyright 2018, 2019
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in ANY form.