A picture paints … well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And the story:
It was once said that a desperate man has everything to lose.
The man I was chasing was desperate, but I, on the other hand, was more desperate to catch him.
He’d left a trail of dead people from one end of the island to the other.
The team had put in a lot of effort to locate him, and now his capture was imminent. We were following the car he was in, from a discrete distance, and, at the appropriate time, we would catch up, pull him over, and make the arrest.
There was nowhere for him to go.
The road led to a dead-end, and the only way off the mountain was back down the road were now on. Which was why I was somewhat surprised when we discovered where he was.
Where was he going?
“Damn,” I heard Alan mutter. He was driving, being careful not to get too close, but not far enough away to lose sight of him.
“I think he’s made us.”
“Dumb bad luck, I’m guessing. Or he expected we’d follow him up the mountain. He’s just sped up.”
“How far away?”
“A half-mile. We should see him higher up when we turn the next corner.”
It took an eternity to get there, and when we did, Alan was right, only he was further on than we thought.”
“Step on it. Let’s catch him up before he gets to the top.”
Easy to say, not so easy to do. The road was treacherous, and in places just gravel, and there were no guard rails to stop a three thousand footfall down the mountainside.
Good thing then I had the foresight to have three agents on the hill for just such a scenario.
Ten minutes later, we were in sight of the car, still moving quickly, but we were going slightly faster. We’d catch up just short of the summit car park.
Or so we thought.
Coming quickly around another corner we almost slammed into the car we’d been chasing.
“What the hell…” Aland muttered.
I was out of the car, and over to see if he was in it, but I knew that it was only a slender possibility. The car was empty, and no indication where he went.
Certainly not up the road. It was relatively straightforward for the next mile, at which we would have reached the summit. Up the mountainside from here, or down.
I looked up. Nothing.
Alan yelled out, “He’s not going down, not that I can see, but if he did, there’s hardly a foothold and that’s a long fall.”
Then where did he go?
Then a man looking very much like our quarry came out from behind a rock embedded just a short distance up the hill.
“Sorry,” he said quite calmly. “Had to go if you know what I mean.”
I’d lost him.
It was as simple as that.
I had been led a merry chase up the hill, and all the time he was getting away in a different direction.
I’d fallen for the oldest trick in the book, letting my desperation blind me to the disguise that anyone else would see through in an instant.
It was a lonely sight, looking down that road, knowing that I had to go all that way down again, only this time, without having to throw caution to the wind.
“Maybe next time,” Alan said.
“We’ll get him. It’s just a matter of time.”
© Charles Heath 2019
Find this and other stories in “Inspiration, maybe” available soon.