The blast was deafening. Slim's truck lifted into the air like a space shuttle and sort of turned over upside down in slow motion. It was like being inside a sunfishin' bronc in the middle of his high dive. Then there was that instant in time when everything seems to go quiet and you're just waiting forever for the bronc to re-enter the atmosphere and crash into the earth. I suppose it was the distraction of Montana's sudden appearance that made me forget to put on my seat belt, but when the truck came back down I was introduced to his roof with a great deal of gusto. I don't know for sure how long I was unconscious, but I slowly became aware of Slim talking. Well, not so much talking as cussin' a blue streak a mile wide. I won't repeat what he was sayin' here, but it was some of the most colorful language I've ever heard.
"Slim" I said, "yer makin' me blush."
My voice sounded strained. I guess it was because I was tryin' to swallow my knees. Slim was upside-down and, being a large man, he was having considerable trouble gettin' loose from the seat belt. I uncurled as best I could and said "Hold on, man, I'll help you with that."
I guess I was dazed from the blast, so I wasn't thinkin' too good. I jammed my thumb into the release button and the great Montana Slim dropped right on his head and flopped over on top of me. Then we both commenced to cussin' with Slim in the lead and me just tryin' to keep up. His arm was still tangled up in the seat belt and the seat itself had come loose and was kind of layin on top of us. We wallered around for what seemed like forever 'till I kicked open the door and we were able to crawl out.
It wasn't 'till then that I realized the truck was on fire and we weren't gettin' out a minute too soon.
Helping Montana to his feet I said "Come on, Slim, we better get away from this quick."
"Just hold on" he said. He reached in behind the seat and pulled out a rifle. It was a mean looking thing with a scope and a big bore that looked like it would shoot through a tank. We hobbled away from the truck as quick as we could, but apparently it had done all the blowin' up it was gonna do for the day.
"Better get ready" Slim said, "whoever did this is likely to do a follow up, just to make sure we're dead."
"You sure we ain't?" I asked. "I feel like I've been shoved through a tail pipe. My head's kinda fuzzy and I think I swallowed a bobcat."
"Just keep your eyes open. I don't feel too good either, but we'd better get to steppin'. We're still in the open. Might as well have a target painted on our backs."
Slim wasn't real big on comforting talk.
I was pretty wobbly on my feet, but we started out walking back toward the house. As my head started to clear, I got to wonderin' about this situation.
"Slim" I said, "How do you suppose we survived that blast? I mean, that was probably stuck on the truck by someone who knew what he was doin', doncha think?"
He actually chuckled at this.
"That truck's been armored. The glass is bullet proof, the sides are reinforced, and the underside is plated. I try to think ahead."
As he was talking, I saw dust rising off the side road leading out to the east. Someone was comin', and they were movin' fast. Slim saw it, too. He dropped to one knee and unlimbered that rifle, adjusted the scope to get a good look. As he did that, I saw a pick-up truck comin' toward us from the ranch house.
"It's three SUV's." Slim said. "They're movin' fast."
"Well," I told him, "here comes some of the boys from the ranch. Looks like they'll get here about the same time"
Slim handed me his pistol and said "Better take this. Things are gonna get hairy."
END OF CHAPTER THIRTEEN