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He jiggled a few wires that looked loose and gave the battery cable a smart tap with a rock he’d picked up from the road. Nothing happened except that he got grease on his hands. He surveyed his surroundings. There was nothing but green pasture as far as the eye could see. It was great country if you were a cow, but he had his heart set on finding a telephone. At that moment he’d be willing to bet that nobody for miles had ever heard of Alexander Graham Bell. He’d often read of the backside of nowhere, and now he was there.

He mopped his face with his handkerchief, then pulled a hand-drawn map from his hip pocket and calculated how far he was from his destination. Five or six miles, he thought. Maybe he could walk it if his loafers would hold out.

“I’ll get you for this, John Searles.” With a muttered oath he set off down the road.

o0o

Hannah Donovan raised her .300 Magnum to her shoulder and sighted along the barrel. The shot cracked in the still air as she picked off a soup can. She pulled the bolt back, shucked the spent shell, and fired again. Another can bit the dust. Handling her bolt-action rifle with expert ease, she got off another three shots in rapid succession.

Suddenly she felt movement beside her legs. The husky that had been sitting at her feet whirled around and raced across the pasture. He was a blur of gray as he leapt into the air and brought down his quarry, a man about the size of a half-grown grizzly.

“Hold him, Pete.” She raced behind her dog, arriving only seconds after the big man had hit the ground. She planted her right foot on his chest and pointed her gun at his crotch. “You’re trespassing.”

The man on the ground chuckled. “You shoot trespassers around here?”

When he laughed, she instinctively knew he was harmless, but a longtime habit of caution kept her hand on the gun. “Only if provoked.”

“They told me all about southern hospitality. I never expected to encounter Miami Vice. Do you mind pointing that gun somewhere else? I’m partial to that part of my anatomy.”

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