The Halfback by Night (PG-13)

Kolchak was snapping pictures of the empty casket, nodding as he did so. When he looked up to Rockford it was with a strange, adrenaline-fueled light in his eyes, “And I’ll bet you 200 dollars a day plus expenses that if you lean on the director of this place, he’ll admit they found much the same thing Monday night but chose to quietly fill the grave back in.”

“Because a missing body is bad for business,” Rockford muttered.

“Exactly,” Kolchak concurred.

Rockford’s head pounded and he leaned against the wall of the hole, “Why Monday?”

Kolchak was placing the lid back onto the casket, meeting Rockford’s eyes. “Because they rise after three days.”

A voice which each of the men was fairly sure belonged to neither of them disrupted the eerie calm of their hole in the ground, “HEY!”

Rockford and Kolchak immediately scrambled. “Godammit!” Rockford hissed as he used the coffin for a stepping stone and hoisted himself out of the grave, Kolchak right behind. They hastily grabbed for their discarded coats and ran. There was a pair of small head­lights bobbing along the hill, weaving towards their position with the soft electric purr of a golf cart motor.

“HEY, YOU! STOP!” the security guard, who was neither as little nor old as Kolchak had promised, somewhat rotely bellowed.

Rockford and Kolchak made their way back towards the wall encircling the enormous cemetery, hearing from behind them as the security guard walkie-talkied to his partner back at the guard shack that there was a situation that required backup and the police. Kolchak, to Rockford’s surprise, sprinted into the lead.

They had made it to the wall and were bolting over it by the time the security guard’s cart rocked to a stop and he rejoined the chase on foot. He was only yards away. Rockford hoped he wasn’t armed.

A gunshot broke the night wide open just as Rockford’s head dropped below the rim of the wall. So much for hoping, Rockford thought.

On the other side of the wall, within feet of Rockford’s car, the two men started to separate until Rockford grabbed Kolchak’s arm. “Get in the car!” Rockford barked.

“What?” Kolchak panted, “But what about-?”

“STOP RIGHT THERE, YOU PRICKS!” the guard shouted from his position – arms and head peeking above the top of the wall. He punctuated with a gunshot that pinged off the gravel between Rockford and Kolchak’s feet.

“Get in the car!” Kolchak suddenly parroted as he shoved Rockford towards the Trans-Am’s driver’s side.

In the seconds it took the guard to gain his footing on the out­side of the wall, Kolchak had leapt into Rockford’s car while the detective gunned it to life. They peeled off down the sloping hill road bordering the cemetery, passing Faye’s abandoned Chevette on the way. The guard fired one last shot at their wheels but missed.

Rockford didn’t turn on his lights or slow down until they merged onto the 101.

“Cripes!” Kolchak expelled at last, breathing deep and shooting a look through the car’s back window, “Faye is going to be less than pleased when the cops knock on her door tomorrow.”

Rockford still looked grim, eyes riveted to the road in front of him. His voice rolled with the terse drawl that seemed most promi­nent when Rockford was stressed, “You can call her when we get back, coach her to tell the cops she broke down and thumbed her way home. There’s nothing tying that car to us, so she’ll be alright.”

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