I reach into my back pocket, unfold both copies of the formula and hand them to him.
“Here’s the Fountain of Youth,” I say.
“Golden,” Jake says, squinting at the figures. “Cheryl, you’re amazing.”
“Careful,” I say. “Looks like rain.”
He leans against his car, gives me a look. He places his hands on my shoulders. The pages of the formula rustle near my ear. Here it comes, I think. This kiss will answer a lot of questions, and throw up a dozen more.
That’s when I notice a shadow moving up the street right next to the Penn Treaty office building. What with the fog and darkness, I can just about make out movement, more than an actual thing. Suddenly, one of the lights on the building’s truck loading dock flashes on. It’s a car.
Jake had been leaning into me. I push him off, and to the side, snatching his keys with one hand and drawing my gun with the other.
“What the….!” he says.
I fire at the sky. Sure enough, gun barrels and arms jut out of the car’s windows and the driver floors it toward us.
“In!” I scream, shoving Jake into his car as the bullets fly about us and the back window shatters.
“Over,” I scream, as I fire from behind the open door. He sort of humps over the divide and sinks on the floor of the driver’s side.
“Come on!” I pray, as I dive in and slide the key into the ignition. Great, it’s the right one. No fumbling.
The window on Jake’s side shatters as I spin out of the lot. Their car tries to ram our backend and just misses. They are still firing, trying to knock out the tires.
I glance at Jake, who peeks above the seat.
“Here!” I shout, sticking the gun on the passenger seat. “Use it!”
He picks up the gun, fires once
“Don’t be stingy!” The Glock holds 13 rounds.
He sways with my swerves, trying to get a bead. Suddenly, there’s a crash and I think for a moment that they’d pulled a grenade-launcher. No, it comes from above. Thunder torrents rain upon us. It smothers the windshield.
In the exposed back, it sounds as if twenty toddlers are throwing temper tantrums and kicking their legs furiously. The shots keep coming.
Ed fires a few more times, but there’s absolutely no chance — zilch — of him hitting the car. He keeps swaying with my turns and now the rain stings his eyes. He blinks like a seal. I keep glancing at him and then out my window to see the road.
I always tell people I can get anywhere in the neighborhood blindfolded. Well, here’s my chance. I squint and can just make out a green overhead sign.
I turn, floor it down the street, go about a block and stop at the corner of one of the small streets, making Jake’s back hit the dashboard.
“Sorry,” I say.
“Why….” The car was still swaying.
“We lost them,” I say, “that’s why I stopped. They think we’re on 95. I think. You OK?”
He rubs the back of his head.
“Yeah,” but he doesn’t sound so sure. That was a good thump he’d gotten.
“What’s your name?”
He looks at me.
“Just checking,” I say.
“How long we staying here?”
“I want to make sure they can’t spot us just in case they decide to back down 95 and back down the ramp and do another search of the neighborhood.”
“Are they that crazy?”
He’s picking glass off the passenger seat, as the rain starts to let up.
“You sure you’re OK?”
He finally sits. His feet squish. All of him squishes. He moves like a boxer who’d just gone 15 rounds.
He sighs. “You look dry.”
“Feel my other side,” I say. “Also, I’m wet with sweat. Maybe even piss.”
He shakes his head as he examines the damage. “My car.”
“So long as we have that formula, I’ll be the most popular girl in Fishtown.”
Suddenly, we both look at each other, eyes wide.
“You don’t have it? Well, I don’t have it. Shit!”
I floor it again, racing back to the parking lot at Penn Treaty Park, but it’s too late.
We search for an hour but the wind could have swept the papers out to the Delaware. Either that or the rain pulped them. They were gone, gone.
“What now?” Jake asks.
“Search me.” All I know is that without that formula, I am going to live a very, very, very long life.