He pulled the car around to a nearby fast food joint and kept it running. I snuck around behind the station through the woods in the back. In my right hand, I had a half-full bottle of everclear. I took an old rag from my trunk and jammed it into the bottleneck so that part of it was bobbing around in the liquid. In my left hand, I held a lighter.
Now, the point of what I was about to do was not to cause major property damage. As much as I loathed BP and its abhorrent business practices, I didn’t want to harm the workers inside. No, the goal was shock and awe. Tossing the Molotov anywhere near the gas pumps would surely cause a massive explosion that would take Cloyd and Emily along with the station, so my options were severly limited.
I looked down at the bottle of liquor in my hand and realized that I had probably gone about this in the worst way possible. I shrugged. Once you start something like this, you have to see it out. I touched the lighter to the tip of the rag, watched for a second as the flame engulfed the tip, and heaved the incendiary to my left, onto the cement, and booked it through the woods to where Cloyd parked the car.
By the time I got there, Cloyd was standing outside with the black ski mask on, just as I told him to do. “Good,” I said. “Now, any second there will be a mass—”
A massive explosion rocked the ground on which we stood. I blanched, turned around, and thanked God that the pumps were still intact. That said, it looked like my Molotov had caught something nasty in the Dumpster on fire.
“And now someone will run out of the store, fire extinguisher in hand.”
A man with a ridiculous handlebar mustache, black pants, and the green polo of the BP family dashed out of the front doors carrying a large fire extinguisher.
“Go Cloyd!” I shouted. “Get your water bottles! Get plenty!”
Cloyd displayed such speed I didn’t think humans capable of. The distance from our car to the front of the BP couldn’t have been more than thirty yards, but to see someone clear that in a second flat was, to me at least, astounding. My group of friends at CRU was made up of those sorts of people who gathered around tables and played things like Risk and D&D for fun—needless to say, sports weren’t generally in our skill sets. So, seeing that, I’d expected Cloyd to be back in about five seconds, round trip including getting the water bottle. Of course, what I didn’t expect was that Cloyd had some severe mental deficiencies—or something—that kept him in there for a good five minutes.
At the five minute mark, sweat started pouring down my forehead. What happened to him in there? Should I go in, get him, and run back? Or should I chance it on the highway in my drunken, manic state? Handlebar came from around the side, shaking his head. In his right hand, he held the blackened remains of my bottle of everclear, and I hoped that I had stayed out of sight of the cameras. Handlebar reached the front door just as Cloyd stepped outside cradling ten one liter bottles in his arms.
I just wished that Cloyd wouldn’t be friendly and introduce himself, but thankfully, Handlebar took a swipe with the fire extinguisher and Cloyd ran away screaming. He reached the car in about two seconds, I dashed in the passenger’s seat, Cloyd jumped in the driver’s, and we pulled out.
Laughter’s a contagious thing. It bonds people together—especially when they’ve just commited a low form of arson. “Gosh!” Cloyd shouted, swerving in the road and nearly running a VW Beetle off the road. “That was fun! I reckon that the man what had the green shirt weren’t too happy with me, on account of the way he started screamin at me like Mr. Gamble when he been drinkin out of his green bottle. That smells kinda like what you got in your bottle back there—you don’t know Mr. Gamble, does you? I wouldn’t want Mr. Gamble to come lookin for me on account of he do—”
“Watch out, you inbred imbecile!” I yelled. Cloyd, while going on his rant about this man Gamble, had slowly been drifting towards oncoming traffic.
He spun the wheel just before a semi-truck smashed into the front of our car, and we careened back into our proper lane—once again, nearly running the same blue VW Beetle off the road. Whoever was driving was probably taking down my license plate and calling the police. However, I had realized that driving while inebriated would have a negative effect on my usually pristine motoring skills, so, before I left Eldritch, I stole my editor’s license plate and took mine off. If the cops managed to track the car before we pulled over and put mine on, then... well, to be honest, I hadn’t thought all of that through.
“Cloyd,” I said.
“Yeah, Mr. Yudavitch? Gosh, that’s a strange name, that is. Where you from. I met someone from Bos—”
“Shut up. You’re going to make me throw up.” The moment passed. “Okay. Drive a while more—at least until we lose that VW behind us, and then pull into another gas station. I need to take care of something.”
“Please don’t make another bottle go kerblooey,” Cloyd said. “That upset my ears somethin fierce, and I don’t know if that guy back there liked us doing that.”
“I won’t. Just—” I checked the rearview. The VW switched on its indicator and turned into one of the turning lanes to go onto I-24 West. “Good. Pull in.”