Back in room 22, Frank interrogated Stan as to his whereabouts for the previous couple of hours. He’d asked for his gun back as soon as I got through the door. I didn’t like the way he kept it in his hand while he was asking questions. He wasn’t pointing it at anyone, or even brandishing it, but I didn’t like it.
It turned out that, after getting the beer from the gas station, he’d been walking back to the car when somebody cold-cocked him from behind. Because he’d parked out of the attendant’s line of sight, he’d lain there unconscious until the station closed and somebody, probably the same guy I’d been served by earlier, found him and woke him up.
“After I came to, I saw somebody had stolen your car, Johnny,” he looked over at me with a guilty, worried expression. “I’m sorry, there was nothing I could do.”
I shrugged philosophically at Stan. I hadn’t had the car long enough to get attached, after all. That said, I liked the car more than I had liked Travis. The killer had just made this a little bit more personal.
If Stan was telling the whole truth, that was.
Frank was thinking along similar lines. “He KO’d you.”
Stan looked over at Frank, looking surprised that the attention had shifted away so quickly from what he saw as the important subject - the stolen the car.
“You didn’t get a look at him.”
“No, he was behind me.”
“So this guy completely got the drop on you.”
“And yet you’re not dead.”
Stan looked puzzled, massaged the back of his head as if to verify the information himself before answering. “I’m fine, sorry to disappoint you.” He looked around at the rest of us, and then back at Frank. “Why should I be dead?”
“No reason, we just thought you’d joined the club, along with Mitch and Travis.”
“Travis is dead?”
I decided to clarify things, as Frank wasn’t being too helpful. “Somebody cut his throat. And earlier on, I narrowly missed getting a shotgun facial. Sounds like you had a lucky escape.”
“Yeah,” said Frank, the suspicion heavy in his voice. “So I find it a little strange how somebody goes to a lot of trouble to kill two people related to us, and attempts to kill a third, and yet you walk away with a bump on your head. I find that damn strange, Stan.”
Stan paused for a second, realizing that everyone was looking at him. He opened his mouth, looking like he was about to yell at Frank, ask him what the hell he meant by that, but then closed it again. When he spoke, his voice was uncharacteristically hard-edged.
“Well maybe I didn’t do anything to piss him off.”
Stan and Frank locked eye contact for about five seconds before Stan spoke again.
“Look. I don’t know what the hell is happening. All I know is somebody knocked me out, stole the car, and when I wake up, one of my partners is blaming me for killing somebody.”
Frank held his gaze for a moment and then sighed. “Okay, forget about that. The important thing is we stick to the plan - stay here for the night and then get the hell out of here tomorrow morning. Hopefully before we lose anyone else.”