The big car ate a couple more minutes worth of two-lane before Grace chanced another look in the bag. Stack after stack of bundled twenty-dollar bills. The Lord shall provide went through her thoughts but she quickly hushed the notion. "What's a small market out here in the middle of nothin' doing with this kind of money?" she wondered aloud.
"What're you saying?" Ray asked.
"Maybe the child's telling the truth. Maybe he did find the bag."
Grace could see Ray chewing on the idea, his eyes no longer focused on the road but turned inward on his thoughts. Finally he admitted, "Benny's never been able to lie worth a damn." He looked in the rearview mirror. "Where'd you say you got this bag?"
"Garbage can," Benny sulked.
Ray shook his head. "That don't make sense."
"I did!" Benny's voice hitched on a sob.
Grace's heart went out to the boy. His father, his best friend and hero, didn't believe him. "Suppose somebody put the bag there by mistake," she offered.
"It'd take a real idiot to accidentally throw out – " Ray cast her a sidelong glance. "How much money are we talking about?"
"Looks close to a hundred thousand."
Grace continued her conjecturing. "Could be drug money. Maybe Benny interrupted a switch, a payoff, a whatever-you-call-it." She looked around at the no-man's land of scrub brush and horizon speeding by. "But why out here?"
"Well hell, how should I know?"
"Either way, we should put it back, in case whoever it belongs to – "
"No!" Benny cried. "Finder's keepers!"
"There's still the little matter of the gun," Ray reminded her. "I doubt that clerk appreciated having it waved in his face. He's probably called the cops by now."
"How can you be sure he even saw the gun?"
"I know my son." Again Ray looked in the rearview mirror. "Did you try to rob the store like Thelma?"
"Did you hold the gun out where everybody could see it and tell them 'Simon says,' like Thelma?"
Grace frowned. "Who's Thelma?"
"Thelma & Louise? You know, the movie?"
"Yes, I know the movie." A feeling of unreality came over her as everything began to settle into place. "That's why we're not going through Texas?"
She remembered only snatches of the story. Her youngest daughter, Olivia, had insisted she watch the movie with her. Grace found it a little too farfetched for her liking. The ending, though – the women holding hands as they plunged into the Grand Canyon – was entertainment legend. She studied Ray's determined profile and wondered just how deep his grief went. She remembered the times Papa railed because he couldn't find his derringer. When Grace asked him what he wanted it for, he shaped his fingers into a pistol and pointed at his temple.
Was Ray suicidal?
Grace swallowed the wad of cotton in her throat and slanted him a look from the corner of her eye. She carefully asked, "What do you boys plan to do when you get to the Grand Canyon?"
Her voice must have given her away, because Ray looked at her like she'd gone mad. "Good God, woman. We're not plannin' to drive off the edge."
Benny thrust his face between the bucket seats, his red, puffy eyes a contradiction to his huge grin. "We're gonna fly."
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