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"What happened," I hear behind me. Debbie and Missy are standing there about dumb-struck. "Just trying to get us out of here alive, the whole **** town is in a riot," I say. Matt tries to tell them what went on. I walk over and pick up the hood's gangsta gun. It's a worn 9mm Jennings like they sell in the pawn shops. It was probably stolen, but it had a full clip. I stick it in my front pocket. There's more people outside now, looking in at us. This store is a death sentence if we stay. We may not be able to escape any time soon if the whole city's in a riot. It's hot outside and we've got no food or water in the truck. I try to think what coach told us to eat and drink during football practice.

So I get the family together. I'm just as shook-up as they are, so I try to hug everyone to calm us down. "We're gettin' out of here, okay, but we need some stuff. So y'all grab all the sports drinks, nuts, energy bars---anything you can carry." One of the wings ladies is crying and praying, "Help me Jesus!" The counter guy is on the phone. "Hey, I need some sacks." He hands me a handfull. "Fill these up as fast as you can," I tell my wife and kids. The counter guy isn't getting through. "How do I get back on Interstate 85?" I ask. He tries to tell me in his furrin India accent, "I-20 West here. Go right on street there," he points to the left, then..." "Hold on now, I ain't got a clue where I'm at," I say. So he gives me a map of the city and tries to tell me where to go. People begin to pound on the windows out front. The **** with this! "Mister, is there a back door out of here?"

"We're leaving now." I tell Debbie and Missy to follow the India guy out back. Matt is standing there, wondering what candy bar to take next. "Time's up." I put a fist full of Butterfingers in his bag and push him out the back. We open the back door. The India guy says he's staying. His funeral then. No one's around, so we head left around the side to get to the truck. Two locals are drinking beer as we run past them. They see me holding my .357 and say nothing as we pass. We round the corner and see a dozen people in front of the store. "Back off," I bark at some guys leaning on the front of my truck. They move off a bit, cursing. Debbie scratches the door trying the key, then unlocks the doors to the quad cab. One of Missy's cheap plastic bags rips open and bottles and snacks spill out. "Keep going," I say pushing her up in the truck after Matt. Some of the crowd moves towards us as we fly out of the lot. As I start to trun on the street to the interstate onramp I see it's backed up. If I get stuck in traffic next to this place, the gunman and his buddies will kill us.

I do a U-turn and head away from the interstate. I see a group start to rush us from the gas station. I hear several thumps from stuff hitting our truck. We all say lots of "Oh my God's" and other stuff as we haul *** down the road. I don't know where I'm at, I'm just driving like a madman. We get a good way away, then I turn on a larger street. It's a so-so residential area. Not too many people were walking around, so I slowed it down. "We made it. Ha!" Our little celebration didn't last long. Debbie says, " Rob, think someone's following us. A black car with yellow headlights. You see it?"

So sure enough it's back there. The kids started crying again. I turn at normal speed at the next street. A few seconds later I see the yellow lights in the mirror. Oh ****! Now what? What did my buddy Jeffrey say to do when driving in hostile territory? He was a private security contractor who spent time in Iraq. I think he said the three rules of driving over there are: keep moving, don't obey traffic laws and have plenty of firepower. Alright then, I don't have a machine gun, but I can drive.

I speed up when I'm back on the main road. The car follows us and's getting closer. I glance back and see a black pipe being held out the window. "O.M.G. they got a gun," Missy hollers from the back. I floor it, then come over a hill and see a four way stop with traffic backed up. Rough-looking people are all around the cars. A grocery store is being looted further down the road. "Hold on," I call out. Time for the new rules. I jump the curb to the right, knock over a trash can, then tear the mirror off Debbie's side rounding he corner of a store. We escape down the side street. We figure we lose the car for good, and the screaming starts to die down. I finally get on a street that I think will get us out when I see it leading back downtown. In the distance smoke is comin' from some of the buildings. People are swarming in the streets like angry ants. "Pull over, durn it," Debbie says shaking my arm. I see a quiet looking street with old homes and no around. I go down it a few blocks and stop.

We finally gather our wits. "Anyone dead or injured?" We were all still scared but okay. "Rob, have you been shot?" Debbie says looking at my gut. There was some blood on my shirt, so I pull it up quick and just see the gouge the checkered hammer of my .357 left. "Ouch, now I feel it." Debbie cleans and patches me up somehow. That done, I find the Atlanta map I was lucky enough to grab along with the other freebies. As we try to figure out where we are Debbie says, "We've got company." An old black guy, 60-something, walks down his drive to us. He seemed harmless, so I tell Debbie to roll the window down. You people need help?" he asks. "Yeah, you bet."

Anyway, long story short, we tell him what was going on with the riot and being chased. He didn't seem to believe us. "There's a few jokers that cause some trouble round here, but there's nothing worth stealing on this street. By the way, I'm Sylvester. If you want, just put your truck in my drive and y'all can wait here for the cops." So we take him up on the offer, of course. The drive went up past the house and some trees sort of hid the truck. We all get out. Missy throws up. I tell them, "We're safe here, so everyone take a chill pill." Looking over the truck I find some small dents, the side mirror gone and three bullet holes, one a few inches behind where the kids sit. I show them to everyone. Sylvester is beginning to get the picture. We hear sirens all around us in the distance with scattered gunshots. He invites us inside.

The house was older than him, but it was in fair shape. Slyvester tells us his wife died several years back, so it's just him. He doesn't work now and looks burnt-out after years of hard living. When we get inside, Debbie, Missy and myself try to get through on our cell phones to 911 and the folks back home. No luck. Sylvester has no luck on his land line either. There's an old color television in the living room, so we all end up in there. At least he has cable. We find the channels with news.

The riot's been on for a couple hours and almost all the news channels have breaking news about the "protests." For the rest of the afternoon most of the news stations talk about the city councilman, the cop killing the kid and the demonstration at the capital. They all show the police shooting teargas and riot guns into the crowd. There's also some live footage of the rioters. I'm amazed to see some white and brown faces among them. Most of the big news companies have big shots and politicians talk about civil rights stuff. One cable news channel showed old news footage of black dudes being lynched and white cops beating and settin' their dogs on black protesters. This happened, what 50 years ago? Come on now, is this helping to stop the riot? What about us poor fools trapped in this thing? Debbie and myself try to keep our comments to ourselves. Sylvester sometimes makes a comment bout the fat *** mayor, but mostly sits by the window and looks through the blinds.
 
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