Patty found a quiet corner of the lobby away from everyone else and she took stock of what she had taken from her attacker in the alley. The Glock 19 had one magazine in it and it contained twelve nine millimeter hollow point rounds. The other magazine was worse off as it only contained three rounds. The gun was in bad need of a thorough cleaning and she worried what sort of past it had.
The cash counted out to twenty seven hundred and forty three dollars. She knew the money was proceeds from drug sales or some other illicit enterprise, but she made the decision it was compensation for the attack and the scars it would leave.
She decided when morning came she was going to first go the pawn shop Lamar had visited and see if she could purchase or barter for any sort of firearm they might have in stock. She preferred to get a shotgun if possible and a .22 if it was available for a number of reasons.
Lamar made it clear he was not familiar with firearms and she wanted to get something simple he could use. Further, she wanted weapons with common calibers and which would easier to get more of later. If it was possible, she wanted another handgun, a nine millimeter, for Lamar but knew with the waiting period that would be difficult under any circumstance.
In addition, she wanted some personal protection tools which had other uses and which she had overlooked in her initial preparations. A folding knife, a fixed blade knife, a hatchet, pepper spray and possibly a bow, crossbow or slingshot for small game and stealth.
She realized much of what she was thinking about was specifically due to the attack by the drug addict. She realized that she was in a state of shock and internally dealing with the trauma that normally would be addressed by a functioning medical and law enforcement community. Unfortunately, that was not possible and she was going to have to deal with it on her own.
After the pawnshop, she planned on going to the sporting goods store to obtain more nine millimeter ammunition, a holster and cleaning kit for the Glock. She also wanted to look for the other options on her list and consider anything else they might need. Clothing came to mind. More active wear, socks, underwear and possibly another pair of shoes. She had no idea what Lamar had, but assumed it was a combination of dress and impractical clothing a man in high compensation sales might own.
The bike trailer opened up possibilities, and was probably rated to carry one hundred pounds, but that would have to be dominated by food, water and camp gear. And both she and Lamar would to be cautious and not overload it as Lamar would be pulling the trailer and probably was not in the best shape. It also occured to her that they would need additional bike supplies like a patch kit or tubes for Lamar's bike and the trailer. That meant a possible side trip to Hammonds and to see David once more, which wasn't such a bad thing.
Out front, the noise of the group attacking the CVS drugstore died down and it could only be assumed that it had been broached and the stock plundered. She would make an early trip over there at first light to see if anything of value had been overlooked, but it was clear, things were breaking down fast.
Patty went to the window and peered out into the darkness but could see nothing. She had no idea where the rest of the guests had gone, but could hear snoring coming from the bar so she assumed that someone had found a corner to bed down in. Realizing she had not eaten, Patty went to the kitchen all while attempting to bother any of the other residents.
In the kitchen, Patty lit a few of the candles which had been left on the counters and tables and dug around in the food for something to eat. She took a couple of apples, a hard roll, some butter from the slushy ice chests and a can of Coke from the bevarages. She wished she had time to defrost and season some of the meat left for jerky, but knew she did not have time for it. Maybe Manuel could do something with it.
She was just staring to eat when an older woman who apparently was staying at the hotel and who Patty had not met yet came in the kitchen.
"I am sorry to bother you, but I saw you come in here, would you mind if I joined you?" she asked.
"No, not at all. There's food over there if you are hungry, it's not much, but it's more than the police officer said was available out there." replied Patty.
"Thank you, I will." said the woman and she picked up an orange, a bottle of water and a a package of crackers.
"My name is Deidre Crawford, please call me Dee. And you are..?" she asked
"Patty, Patty Valdez. It's nice to meet you Dee." said Patty.
"So, what do you think we should do? Should we stay put or try and find some assistance such as the police? I am starting to think that this may not be the best place to be considering what was going on across the street tonight." said Dee as she peeled her orange.
Not wanting to give too much information to someone she just met, Patty was careful about what she said.
"I am trying to figure that out myself. I am going to go check with a few of the remaining businesses at first light and find out what the locals are going to do and if they have heard anything. After that, I don't know. Where are you from Dee?" said Patty hoping to change the topic
"Louisville, Kentucky. I was here for a conference of low income housing advocates when this happened. I was supposed to go home Friday night. If only I had left on Thursday, I never would have experienced this and would be with my family." she said regrettfully.
"There's no use in getting upset over what you can't change. Have you thought how you might get home?" aske Patty.
"I assume that FEMA or some other agency will be bringing in buses and arranging for transportation because after all, the government is there to meet the needs of the people during a crisis. It's only when certain selfish people are running things or allowing other selfish people to do what they want do we end up with that mess like we had in New Orleans a few years ago, don't you agree, Patty?" responded Dee.
"You know, I had not thought about it that way, Dee." responded Patty more diplomatically than before, "All I know is I can't wait to see my daughter again. Tell me about your family. Do you have any children?"
"Yes, but mine are long since grown and left the nest. My partner and I are considering adopting though since she never had any children." replied Dee.
"What a nice idea," said Patty trying to remain as neutral as possible.
"Now I saw you and that tall man talking in the lobby. Are you two friends? What are his plans? He seems like he is well off and you know how it is, people like that often have connections and the means to get their way, you know?" said Dee pointedly.
"Who? The man in the lobby? I spoke with him yesterday and I don't know what his finances are like. From what he told me, he was on a business trip like myself and is just as concerned as you and me as to how he will get home.
"I think I am going to go upstairs and try and get some rest, Dee. I don't think we have anything to worry about and like you said, FEMA or someone will probably be here in the morning and straigten everything else. It has been so nice to talk with you. Good night." said Patty standing and collecting her trash.
"Good night, Patty. I will see you in the morning." said Dee watching Patty carefully as she left.
Something about Dee made Patty's skin crawl. She could care less about how the woman lived her personal life, but the inferences Dee made about Lamar and people she had never met made her nervous. Dee was the kind of person who could delay or ruin Patty's plans to get out of Shreveport and home to Elena.
Patty was glad that Dee had not asked "how" Patty was going to get into her room and learned about the house keys she obtained. In fact, the less Dee knew about her the better it would be.
In her room, Patty was tired but decided it would be best to organize her things should she need to make a fast getaway tomorrow. She took all of her clothing and personal belongings out and laid them out on the bed. She put aside her business clothing and put her casual clothing into one of the organizer bags from the luggage store.
Next she arranged her food stores and put the freeze dried foods in the backpack first followed by the short term foods in cans and wrappers in next. Then she added her single burner stove, gas cartridge and water filter. Then she put all her water containers in the bathroom to fill in the morning.
She used one of the storage bags for her first aid and hygeine products and another for socks, underwear and one pair of dress shoes for a spare in case she could not find something more suitable.
Afterward, Patty went up to Lamar's room and found him inside, the room lit by a couple of candles from the bar and his front door propped open.
Patty knocked quietly and asked, "Lamar, can I talk to you for a moment?"
"Sure Patty, I was just having something to snack on before bed. What's up?" he said.
"I think we should be ready to leave tomorrow as soon as we have found whatever else we need. Some of the other guests are starting to concern me and I think they may attempt to delay our leaving or help themselves to our things." said Patty. She then went on and told Patty about the angry man in the lobby and Dee.
Lamar listened carefully and said, "Patty, you have had your head on straight this whole time and I will support whatever decision you make. But I have to tell you something, you seem very stressed and distracted by something. Do you want to talk about it?"
Patty paused and said, "Not right now, Lamar, maybe later. My only concern is getting home to my daughter and not getting delayed here or by any other reason. OK?"
"I understand. Let's plan on getting started first thing tomorrow. Judging by tonight's activities, I don't want to be here any more than you do." said Lamar.
Patty woke before the sun came up and felt more tired than she did the night before due to her inability to fall into a deep sleep or get any rest. Rather than sit and try any longer, she got out of bed and cleaned up as best as possible, changed and went down to the lobby.
A few moments later, Lamar came in dressed more casually than she had seen him before as he was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a windbreaker.
"Didn't think I knew what to wear did you?" he said in a voice several decibles lower than his trademark sonic boom. "If there's anything Lamar Hughes knows, and that's how to dress for the occasion."
Patty stifled a laugh and said, "Let's go over to the CVS and see what the damages were and what's available. We don't want to get caught as looters so be ready to run or make a good explaination."
They moved the furniture, unlocked the front door and carefully went out into the early morning lit street. In front of the CVS were several small items which looked like they had been dropped in haste or out of waste by whoever was last in the store.
Stepping over the smashed glass door threshold, they saw the interior had been pillaged but without rhyme or reason. Clearly the pharmacy was targeted as the metal gate over the front was peeled back and left wide open, but other stocks were targeted as well. The coolers were opened and empty of soda, beer and wine. The floors were littered with chip and snack bags most with the contents stil inside but crushed.
There were dozens of cigarette packs and loose cigars on the floors, but surprisingly, many food and random useful things were left undisturbed and ignored. Patty grabbed an empty plastic bag and handed one to Lamar.
"Get any sort of food or small medical items we may need." she said as she scooped a pop top can of peaches off the floor. In a few moments, both their bags were full and they hurried out of the CVS to the hotel lobby. It was still quiet inside, so they went to the kitchen, retrieved their bikes and went out the back door through the alley.
Their first stop was the pawn shop and found that it was unmolested and surpringly, there was someone inside behind the counter. A hunched man came to the door and unlocked no fewer than three deadbolts and let them and their bikes inside.
"It is good to see you again, sir." he said to Lamar. "Do you have something else you wish to relieve yourself of? I told you that bracelet and signet ring were very interesting to me and I am always prepared to offer a good price for them."
The proprietor was an older man in his 60's, with thinning hair, thick glasses, crooked teeth and a two day shadow on his face. He led them into the dark recesses of the store which was lit with only a single Coleman lantern above the counter.
"Hi, Lamar told me about your shop and I wanted to come see it for myself." started Patty.
"How nice, is there something in particular you wish to sell or are you in the market for something?" he asked.
"I was wondering what your selection of firearms looked like. I understand you have a few and it all depends upon what they are of course, but I have been looking to purchase a shotgun or .22 rifle." said Patty as non-chalantly as possible.
"Ah yes, in these trying times, the exercise of the Second Amendment becomes such an important right. Yes, come right over here miss and let's see what we have." he said.
On the wall behind the counter were about a dozen long rifles while in the glass case, there were only four inside. Only one looked of interest; it was a classic GI model Colt .45 1911. Patty paused briefly before looking at the long weapons. She spied a pump shotgun and asked about it.
"This Miss, is a Winchester Defender in twelve gauge. Excellent for home protection and personal defense." he said as he carefully laid it out on the counter.
"I am familiar with it," said Patty as she racked the slide to see if it was loaded which is was not. She then carefully studied the barrel and stock before asking about the price.
"That particular weapon is available today for the low price of twelve hundred dollars young lady."
For a moment, Patty was stunned and then said,
"Twelve hundred? That seems odd as that shotgun is what, about two hundred fifty, three hundred tops in the stores? What makes it so special?" she asked.
"It is available and there are no background checks needed for purchase. There are shortage of firearms for sale at present due to a variety of factors and I may not have this one available at any price come tomorrow." said the proprietor before placing the shotgun back on the rack.
"What about the Ruger 10/22? Same pricing model?" asked Patty.
"Same model? Perhaps, but for your comparison shopping, that rifle is eight hundred dollars." he calmly replied.
"Okay, Lamar, I think I have seen enough. David said he will part with that Marlin and the Remington for my earings, so I am going to have to deal with it. Thanks, Mr....?" said Patty turning towards the door.
"Cooperman. If you don't mind, what earrings are you speaking of? I might be interested in them and if so, would be willing to consider a discount on the weapons I showed you." said Cooperman quickly.
"Well, I can show them to you, but I have a deal with another vendor down the street who is expecting us this morning. I only wanted to see what you had and were willing to part with. Here.." said Patty holding out her diamond earrings.
"Oh, diamonds, I see. What are they? One half, three quarter carat?" he said
"One carat total weight. Anyway, I appreciate your time, Mr. Cooperman, you have a good day. Say, did you hear about the CVS down the street getting looted last night? There were about ten people who tore the bars off the windows and the gates off the pharmacy. What a mess they left. Oh well, we have to get going, c'mon Lamar." said Patty.
"Hold on if you please, Miss. What sort of price were you looking for those earrings. I have some lovely things and could also part with cash if you are interested." said Cooperman.
"Mr. Cooperman, I have a Marlin 60 .22 rifle and a Remington 870 waiting for me down the street in exchange for these earrings and one hundred dollars cash. Mr. Hughes and I really have to get down to the other shop as the owner is closing his doors by noon today so he can relocate all of his stock elsewhere. The police we spoke with said looting in this area is about to go through the roof and we can't miss that deal." said Patty and then she closed her mouth and stared at Cooperman with a blank look.
Copperman paused, looked at the rifle rack and then said, "I can match that price, however, I would need Mr. Hughes signet ring as part of the deal."
"No deal." said Patty as soon as Cooperman finished speaking and then turned and started our the door with her bike.
"Alright, alright. Both guns for the earrings and one hudred dollars cash." said an exasperated Cooperman.
Patty stopped with her back to Cooperman and slowly turned around and sighed.
"Alright. Maybe I can make a deal with David for some ammunition or other things and his feelings won't be so hurt. I hate ruining a relationship like that."
"Ammunition? While it is illegal for me to actually "sell" ammunition, per se. I do have some available and for a donation, might be willing to let go. The preferred donation amount is one dollar a round." said Cooperman.
Five minutes later, Lamar and Patty exited the store with the two long guns, fifty rounds of .22, twenty five twelve gauge shotgun and ten nine millimeter rounds.
"Why didn't you get more while were were there?" said Lamar. "He would have sold us more if we asked for it."
"Because I wanted him to think we were broke and were going to spend our last dollar at his store. He wanted to feel like he got the upper hand and that worked our well for us in the end. Besides, if we get to the sporting goods store, they may have even more of what we need." replied Patty.
"Who's David?" asked Lamar.
Patty smiled to herself, "Don't worry about it, let's hurry."
The bike trip over took about thirty minutes this time as Patty and Lamar had to avoid a couple of burning buildings and one uncertain looking group of people. When they finally made it to the sporting goods store, they found the door locked but a man was standing inside with a shotgun.
"No cash, no sale." he said through the glass.
Patty displayed a few hundred dollars of her money and the man opened the door slowly.
"May we bring our bikes in as well? We don't want to lose them." said Patty.
"Sure, just keep them here by the door, no dragging them around the store." said the man.
Looking around the dim store, Patty was amazed to see at least half the stock gone and empty racks and shelves.
"Do you still have ammunition?" she asked the clerk holding the shotgun.
"Sure, but we are limited in certain calibers. Go on back and Dill will help you, but don't try anything funny, we are all armed." he cautioned.
Patty and Lamar hurried to the back and found that most of the firearms were sold or stored away, but there was still ammo on the shelves behind the counter.
"Can I help you?" asked the Dill, Patty presumed.
"Yes, I need two hundred rounds of nine millimeter hollow point please, fifty twelve gauage with forty rounds of buck shot and the rest slugs. I also need one brick of .22 as well." she said.
Dill piled the boxes on the counter and asked, "What else?"
"A holster for a Glock 19, three spare magazines, a cleaning kit, some Hoppes, two long gun cases, two long gun slings and any spare magazines, any size for a Ruger 10/22" she replied.
"Only have the ten round magazines for the Ruger, got the rest of your list though. Hope you brought cash for this because there are no discounts." he said.
"What's my total so far?" asked Patty.
The clerk did some figuring on a nearby pad, checked it a second time and then wrote it down on a slip of paper and put it in front of Patty. Without hesitating, Patty pulled out four one hundred dollar bills on the counter and slid them over.
THe clerk paused, smiled and said "What else?"
"We are done here but need to look over the camping supplies and clothing. Oh yeah, boots, I need some boots and so does he." Patty said.
When they were done and an additional five hundred dollars lighter, the bike cart had the new gear inside as did the panniers on Patty's bike. From the sporting goods store they were able to get two spare inner tubes, a pump and patch kit for the bikes so they decided to skip going by the bike shop which made Patty a bit sad, but the clock was ticking.
The rode quickly back to the hotel with the plan of hiding their bikes, packing their gear and spending one last day in the hotel before leaving for home.
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