The Explosion from the vehicle bay nearly blows Gilberto through a wall. It takes him a few minutes to gather his senses, and when he does, he rushes to the animal stalls and flings open the doors before stumbling his way into the open corral and opening the gates to the outside world.
Dazed and confused animals scatter to-and-fro across the yard before finding their way to open pastures and beyond. Soon, the area is empty of deer.
Gilberto glances towards the warehouse and sees the fire is raging and spreading rapidly. The fire alarms from the warehouse are sounding wildly and soon Hale’s fire department will arrive. He monitored the radio exchange between Vassco and Anglerodd only minutes ago and he prepares himself mentally for an encounter he must avoid until he completes his business with Charles Anglerodd himself. Before then, however, he needs to mobilize the men. He snaps the radio from his belt, switches to the channel he uses to communicate with his crew and commands everyone to report to the corral area to help contain the fire.
Gilberto flips open his Nokia phone and contacts Deason, but there is no need. Deason has already heard the commotion and is on the move toward the rear patio of Anglerodd’s house.
Timing is everything. Vassco will likely want to supervise the activity of the Hale Fire Department personnel, whom he considers outsiders. This will give Gilberto a chance to slip away and get to Anglerodd’s house. Once there, he should have no trouble drawing Anglerodd to the rear patio and near where he hopes Deason will be waiting. The fact that Charles Anglerodd has never allowed Gilberto to enter his home will work to his advantage today. Hopefully, this will give Deason the opportunity to exact redemption for his son, Kleary.
The hard part for Gilberto will be trying to slip away while Vassco is on the prowl for him. The confusion of the situation should work in his favor, he hopes.
Gilberto now hears the wailing sirens of the Hale fire and emergency teams moving headlong toward the ranch. They should arrive in the next several minutes and a few of the ranch hands are arriving now. Finally, Gilberto sees Carl Vassco’s SUV roaring toward the warehouse on the gravel lane coming from Anglerodd’s house. He’ll be ready to make his move as soon as he arrives.
Mitchell Granger, November 9, 2pm
It seemingly takes forever, maybe longer, for the early morning daylight hours to stretch into the early afternoon. I am begging for a diversion when an explosion nearly knocks me off my portable stool. The event commands my full attention. I rise and look west, toward the sound of the blast in an effort to comprehend the event. Other than the echoing reverberation of the blast making its way across the area, everything seems perfectly normal. So, now what do I do? Do I charge to the scene and see what’s up, or hold my ground and see what the wind brings? Maybe the commotion will rouse the quarry I seek, so decide to hold my ground and call Bill Leeman.
Bill said the explosion rocked his place, too and he immediately started working the phones to officials in Hale to get any details. As he reports that status, I hear sirens from approaching vehicles making their way to the scene.
“Bill,” I said, “I may as well stay put and stay out of everyone’s way. I’ll keep hunting for you know what for the time being. No one knows I’m here anyway and I don’t want to compromise Gilberto. You’re not planning to go over there are you, Bill?”
“No,” said Leeman. “I’ll hang back, but I’ll call Gilberto and see if he’s okay. I sure hope so. Are you sure you’re okay out there?”
“Yes, certainly,” I said. “I have an escape route thanks to Gilberto if I need it. Besides, maybe the excitement will get the beast off its ass and show itself. I’ll hang out for that. With the fire department on the way, we should stay put away. If you hear from Gilberto, send me a text.”
Bill responds, “Will do, Mitch.”
When we break off our chat, I go back to stool sitting downwind of my stinky deer mannequin and the semi-fresh pile of dog food sloshed against the high fence. Occasionally I glance over my left shoulder to make certain there’s no fire roaring up my backside.