Chapter Nine – The Final Chapter
The driver tried to keep his eyes on the road ahead of him, but it was difficult becuase he kept glancing over at the person in the passenger seat.
He still could not believe what had happened.
There had been that strange look on the face of the guard. Then without a moment’s hesitation, he had picked up the semi-conscious Shepherd and carried him back to the cab of the truck. It took both of them to hoist him up ino the passenger side of the cab.
The guard had turned to the driver and said, “Get out of here before I realize what I am doing.” To which the driver had readily complied.
So here they were on the other side, the fears fading fast behind. Beside him, his precious master slept, a look of peace upon his worn face.
The driver drove toward freedom, and with tears streaming down his scruffy cheeks, he began to sing.
The guard drew up to Dana’s house and parked the car. He sat there awhile, going over the night’s events in his head, thinking about what was to come. Tomorrow he would put in for retirement. It was time.
He hadn’t said much when his replacement showed up, early as usual, the tailights of the big rig disappearing in the distance. At the question from the other guard, he pointed at the log entry. “Just another overnight trucker,” he said, glancing at the the poster on the wall as he left.
It all seemed so surreal. One moment, he was counting the reward money. The next, he was letting the fugitive (and that reward money) get away.
But deep down inside he knew he had done the right thing. In that moment, when he had looked down into those eyes, they had caught the glow of the flashlight just right. That strange shade. He had seen it before. Then he knew.
All of them had that shade.
He got out of the car and walked up to the house. He raised his hand to knock but she was already opening the door. And there she stood, smiling in welcome. God, she took his breath away.
He looked into her shining eyes and he knew that his memory had been correct. He had seen that same shade earlier tonight.
As she drew him inside, a strange joy began to warm him within. He gathered her into his arms and whispered into her ear, “The Shepherd is safe.”
She pulled back in surprise, but he pulled her close again.
“And your secret is safe with me.”
Then he held her as her tears began to fall upon his unshaven cheek.
Author’s Note: 5 O’clock Shadow is an original ongoing serial novela with a new chapter written and published every Friday. (See the Publication Schedule page for more information).