The giant bird flew south, going downtown with Bob. I braved raising my head to watch it fly away. I could see Bob waving his arms and legs like crazy. As the bird receded into the distance, I stopped being able to see Bob’s arms and legs. Then I couldn’t see him at all, I just saw the bird, getting smaller and smaller. Finally, it got so far away that I couldn’t see it at all, anymore. It winked out like a star at daybreak.
To say we were stunned by the loss of Bob was an understatement. It had been so sudden. It was like we’d been in Hell and a rock had crushed Satan while he was outlining our eternal punishments. We were far from out of trouble, however. We still had his Pit Police to contend with. I was willing to bet money that they planned to use their guns to commandeer the bikes. And, obviously the birds were awake. I was content to stay on the ground for a few minutes, though. Just take it all in. Try to figure out if I’d peed my pants.
Someone else had apparently decided on a course of action. I felt Mike move from my side. He jumped to his feet. He was moving fast, too. He ran to the prone Pit Policemen who’d come with Bob and shot each of them point blank in their heads before anyone could move. Our shock must have been evident in our faces as we looked at him from our comfy ground. Jonathan, taking no chances, jumped to his feet and ran back toward the Burning Pit.
“I’m done fucking around!,” Mike screamed at us and The Universe in general. “I’m done!” He grabbed the guns from the twitching corpses and stood there with an awkward armload of guns.
“Well, OK, then,” Moira said. We all stood looking at Mike while he panted angrily. The uncomfortable silence stretched on for a few moments. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” Moira finally suggested.
We weren’t going to be zooming out of there at any great speed on those Harleys. Three people per bike, and some pets to boot…that was a lot of baggage, even for a Harley. Kate took stock of us and said, “At least none of us are fat. Yet.”
We split up into threes. Mike and I would ride with Kat, Jill and Moira would ride with Kate. That was as close as we could come to even weight distribution. Kate suggested putting the pets into what she referred to as “saddlebags,” but I declined. I didn’t want to find smothered animals at the end of our ride. They’d have to take their chances bouncing off with the rest of us.
I shouted Mike’s address to Kat and Kate, they both nodded, and we started to roll. The poor, handcuffed Pit Police watched us ride off without them. The last I saw of them, they were trying to crawl all the way under the witch platform.
The ride out of Sheep Meadow was slow and bumpy. Mike had insisted on keeping the guns he’d taken from the dead Pit Police. One was strapped to the side of the bike and was rubbing my leg raw through my jeans. Mike held onto me one hand and held one gun up in the air with his other hand. He must have looked like a demented male Statue of Liberty, but I couldn’t see him, smushed as I was between him and Kat.
Kate and her passengers kept pace with us, bump for bump. Moira was in the middle on that bike. Jill had the carrier with Lexington. The strap was around her neck and over her shoulder. I held Bethel’s carrier the same way. It was the standard New York “You Can’t Steal My Purse If It’s Around My Neck” method of carrying a bag you didn’t want to lose.
My damned teeth were on the verge of rattling out of my head when we hit a paved path. We were free of Sheeps Meadow. That was a big relief. The Meadow was such an open space. It hadn’t occurred to me what a draw the smell of burnt meat might be to the birds, but I saw a whole damned flock of them when I chanced a glance over my shoulder. They were gathering at the Burning Pit to peck scraps, if they could find any outside of the glowing embers.