Stafford and three men entered the Diner and sat at the counter. There was no one in the place except the morning cook and the waitress, Sally.
"Hey, Sally. Bring us four coffees, will Ya?"
"Sure Stafford. You boys eatin' anything this mornin', or just the coffee?"
"Nah, just coffee, thanks."
Sally grabbed the pot off the burner and brought it and four cups over to the counter.
"There ya go. Sure you guys don't want nuthin' to eat? Jorge's jus' sittin' back there watchin' that Spanish shit on his little TV. It ain't gonna bother him none ta whip up some grub fer you guys."
"Nah. We don't want nuthin' ta eat, Sally - but I'll tell ya what. It'd sure help us out if you could tell us whether you seen Jake today or not."
"Yah, I seen him. He wuz in here this morning with that girl that's been stayin' at the motel for the last couple o' days. They left out o' here, oh, 'bout an hour ago."
"You know where they went?"
"Nah. She went one way an' he went the other."
"What time did they leave?"
"I dunno - must have been after 6 - prob'ly 6:30. Yeah, it was around 6:30."
"But you don't know where they went?"
"Nah. She went South, he went North. That's all I know."
"I know Jake's car - what was she drivin'?"
"She's got a jeep of some kind. Tan. Like from the war, I think."
"But you don't know where they went?"
"Nah. How would I know? Jake and me - we ain't tight. Ain't no woman tight with that man - 'cept maybe Ma."
"Well, maybe we should check with Ma, eh? Thanks for the coffee, Sally. What do I owe ya?"
"40 cents, Stafford."
Stafford laid a dollar bill on the counter.
"Keep the change, Sal. I'll see ya later."
"Gee thanks, Stafford. Come back again, when you're gonna spend some money."
She watched out four men walk out of the Diner.
Stafford threw the car keys to one of the men with him.
"The rest of us are gonna walk over to the motel. Bring the car over and wait out in front. And keep the engine runnin'."
Stafford and his two men walked across the dusty parking lot and into the lobby of the motel. Just as they entered, Ma stepped out of her quarters and closed her door.
"Good morning, may I help you? Oh, wait a minute ... aren't you Stafford, one of Jake's friends?"
"Yah, that's me. I was lookin' fer Jake. You got any notion where I might find 'im?"
"No, not me. Did you try his shop, down the road? 'Cause if he ain't there, why, I ain't got no idee where the hell he might be."
"Now tell me, old woman, just why don't I believe you?"
"Are you callin' me a liar? You git out, hear? Just git right on out. You ain't got no call to call me a liar so you just skedaddle."
"Skedaddle? You hear that boys? She wants us to skedaddle."
Stafford started to reach into his windbreaker when a voice came from behind him.
"Don't even think about it Stafford."
Jake stood in the doorway, holding a gun on the driver who had been waiting outside with one hand, and pointing the Skorpion at Stafford and friends with the other.
"The way I see it, Stafford, you've got five minutes or less to live. If I were you, I'd spend that time getting as far away from here as I could."
"S-s-sure Jake! We're goin' ... right now. We didn't mean no harm or nuthin' ... we wuz just gonna fix it up after last night - you know, no hard feelin's, right?"
"Get out, Stafford. Put your weapons on the floor and get movin'."
Stafford and the men put their guns on the floor and filed out of the motel, got into their car, and sped off to the south as fast as their old Chevy would take them.
Jake turned to Ma.
"Ma, call the Sheriff's Department and tell them there's a car full of guys headed south from here and they've got explosives in the trunk of their car."
"They do? How do you know there's explosives in their car?"
"I put them there, and they're on a timer. In a minute or two, Stafford is gonna put two and two together, and they're gonna get out of that car. When the car blows up, they're gonna be stuck out there with no ride and no where to go. The Sheriff can pick them up and put them up in the pokey for a while."
"What if Stafford doesn't figure it out? Jake, those guys could get killed!!!"
"They were lookin' to kill me, Ma. If they don't figure it out, then the world is minus four shitbird morons. But I know Stafford. They'll get out of the car alright."
"Did you have anything to do with that explosion I heard earlier?"
"That was them. They must have blown up my trailer. They were lookin' for me - when they didn't find me, they sent me a message."
"Yeah, Ma. These guys are gonna play it fer keeps. Listen, call down to the shop and let Two Feathers know that Sarah is comin' in from the desert side in a Jeep. I know he's a little nervous right about now - he has to be wondering what that explosion was all about and I'm hopin' he doesn't get too trigger happy."
"Sure, Jake - but you listen to me. Don't you go gettin' that girl hurt - or by God I'll be on you like stink on shit."
"Don't worry 'bout Sarah, Ma. She'll be okay.
"She'd better be, that's all I gotta say. She just better be."
Jake stood there for a moment, a wry smile on his face.
"You know Ma, you woulda made one hell of a Marine."
"Kiss my ass."