Patty stepped out of the pickup truck and was immediately slammed by Lamar who picked her up off the ground and then set her back down again.
"Hey...! What's wrong with you....?"
"Do you know what you have.. the shooting on the interstate... been looking all over... scared the out of me... the kids missing... they're killing people.... "
"Lamar, slow down! What are you ranting about?" Patty countered backing away from the frantic Lamar.
The woman in the scrubs hurried over and placed herself between Lamar and Patty, but it was useless.
"Thought Peri and those crazy women got you and the kids... and ..." Lamar babbled.
Patty had enough and slapped Lamar across the cheek as hard as she could. He kept up babbling and when Patty reached back to slap him again, he stopped her hand in mid-air.
"Hey, that hurts Patty. Cut it out." he said.
"Finally. What's gotten into you Lamar?" exclaimed Patty.
"I've been looking for you. Where did you guys go? I thought the worse had happened." he replied
"Well that's nice, Lamar, but you could have asked Pastor Stone. He was here when I left." said Patty.
"No I couldn't. He and a group of the locals here have gone in the direction of the interstate. When I woke up and saw you gone, I thought you had gone with them. And then Shirley showed up and told us what happened and I assumed the worse." he said.
"Why the interstate? What happened? Oh, I'm sorry, my name is Patty Valdez, and you are..." said Patty to the woman in the hospital clothing.
"Shirley, Shirley Wintergreen. What Lamar is talking about is the shooting down on 20. Actually, there were several shootings and it was still going on when I left this morning."
"Shooting? What sort of shooting? What's going on?" asked Patty.
"What I know is the group I was with were in the area near the cut off from I20 for the state highway when a large group of people, fifty or more, came down the east bound lanes and were basically rounding up anyone they met and taking what they wanted. Food, water, even women or girls it looked like. Of course, some people were fighting back and there was shooting."
"We, the four others and I, headed this way and walked all night in the pitch black. We thought about making a torch or something, but we were worried someone would see us. We reached Winona this morning and found the church and here we are." finished Shirley.
"I can't believe it. We were just at the same place two days ago," said Patty.
"Which is why I was worried. I thought you and the kids had gone back that way or something... I don't know, I was just worried." said Lamar sheepishly.
"That's very sweet of you, Lamar. But you know I can take care of myself and I won't let anything happen to the kids. Say, did you see what we got? Bikes, another trailer and some food for the trip! Come check it out." announced Patty.
Lamar came over to Stubby's truck and met the older man and helped unload the bikes and other gear. Just then, Katelyn came up to Patty and whispered something in her ear.
"Are you sure? Okay, let's get inside, I think I can help you. Let me get my backpack." said Patty.
A few minutes later, Patty came back outside.
"Well, what's up with Katelyn? Is she alright?" asked Lamar seeing that Patty came back alone.
"She's fine, in fact, she's very much normal. But I am afraid we may have to wait a day before we get going." said Patty.
"Why? I was ready to get back on the road. I've had plenty of rest, but frankly, I want to get back to Ellen as soon as possible what with that business back on 20." said Lamar.
"Well, Lamar, I am sorry, but Katelyn needs a day off her feet, if you know what I mean." said Patty pointedly.
"Wha? Look, I don't... Oh, that time of the month, huh? You know Ellen just be-bops along when that happens and Katelyn is half her age, so I am not trying to be insensitive, but you know, can't she manage for a few miles today?" said Lamar in a low voice.
"Lamar, you're a man, but you try riding a bike for five or six hours on your heavy day and get back to me on how that works out for you, okay?" said Patty.
"Oh, ahem, well, I had better move these bikes. Come Brad, let's take of these and the wagon and get this place ship shape." said Lamar bruskly.
"Well, missee. I had better head on down to the Interstate and see if I can't help out with the Pastor and all. Seeing as they don't have a truck and he ain't getting any older, he'd probably appreciate the ride." said Stubby.
"Mr. Tyrell, thank you for everything. We will be here when you get back, but you be careful, you hear? We came from down there and things weren't nice then, but I am sure they are worse now." said Patty.
"Yes, ma'am. Alright then, see you later. Say bye to the kids for me." replied Stubby and then he climbed in his old truck, turned it over and headed south on the state highway.
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