His jowls were spiked by barbs of graying beard .
His small , mean eyes regarded Marty steadily , unblinkingly .
His eyes were threaded by little filaments of red as if tiny veins had burst and flooded blood into them .
As he chewed his gum and exuded wheezing breath , Marty smelt the reek of bad whiskey .
Marty recognized the man .
He had driven the car that passed them on the road outside Admassy's place .
This was Acey Squire , proprietor of the juke joint .
Marty smiled at Squire pleasantly and said , `` There was a cab waiting for me here .
Do you know where it might have gone '' ? ?
Squire chewed his gum , his jaw moving in a steady rhythm .
He looked straight at Marty .
He did not answer .
Marty scanned the faces of the others nearest him , looked into their staring eyes .
`` Did anyone see my cab '' ? ?
He asked , keeping his voice casual .
He avoided showing any surprise or annoyance when no one answered him .
`` I have to get back to Jarrodsville '' , he went on .
`` I see there are some cars here .
I wonder if one of you gentlemen could drive me back to town ? ?
I'd be happy to pay for the favor , of course '' .
The seventeen men stood and stared at him for a moment longer .
And then a startling thing occurred .
It was so utterly unexpected that Marty stood for several moments with his mouth hanging open foolishly after it had happened .
There was no word spoken , no apparent signal given .
Yet the men all moved at the same instant .
They piled into the waiting cars , motors roared , the cars sped off .
The station wagon and the old Plymouth headed east toward Jarrodsville .
The Ford and the pickup truck sped west toward Sanford's Run .
In seconds all four cars were out of sight .
Marty Land stood alone on a red-clay road as storm clouds gathered ominously in the sky again .
From a great distance thunder growled and broke the silence .
Land looked back toward the dilapidated house .
He thought he saw a pale face at a window .
Perhaps it was Dora May .
Perhaps she would be glad that they hadn't hurt him .
There were other farmhouses nearby .
Across the road there was one no more than a hundred yards away .
There was another on this side , a little further down .
There were many more between here and Jarrodsville .
Telephone poles lined the road .
They reared tall and mocking .
Their wires stretched out into infinity .
Not a single strand of wire reached into the silent houses beside the red-clay road .
There was nothing he could do but walk .
And Jarrodsville was more than three miles away , down an old dirt road that the rain had turned into a quagmire .
Marty faced east and started walking down the left side of the road .
After he had proceeded a few feet , he paused and turned up the cuffs of his trousers , which were already damp and mud-caked .
The viscous mud was ankle-deep , and in places great puddles spread across the road and reflected the murky light .
As he approached the first farmhouse , thunder sounded behind him again , closer now and louder , like a steadily advancing drum corps .
There were several people on the porch of the farmhouse .
There was a very old man and a young woman and a brood of children ranging from toddlers to teen-agers .
For just an instant he thought of appealing to them for help .
Perhaps they had a car or truck and would drive him into town .
Then he realized the utter futility of the idea .
They were staring at him in the same blank and menacing way that the men outside the gate had stared .
Even the eyes of the smallest children seemed malicious .
On his side of the road there were two farm hands , well back in a field , leaning against a plow .
They , too , stared at him .
The drums of thunder were right behind him now .
A foolish thought came into his head .
He remembered a story he had read as a youth .
It was probably one of Kipling's tales of the British Army .
It concerned an officer who had been disgraced and drummed out .
The steady roll of the drums had sounded behind him as he walked between the endless ranks of the men he had commanded , and each man about-faced and turned his back as the officer approached .
Marty wished these poor farm people would turn their backs .
The fencing by the roadside ended .
Now the dirt highway was bordered on either side by a fairly deep drainage ditch , too broad to leap over unless you were an Olympic star .
The day's rain had been added to the stagnant water .
He was trapped on the road when he heard the sound of an approaching car .
It was coming toward him .
The car was now in sight .
Marty's heart skipped a beat when he recognized it .
It was the station wagon that had passed his cab on the road , the station wagon that had been parked at the Burch farm .
Acey Squire's station wagon .
It had headed back toward Jarrodsville .
That had only been a ruse to lure him out on the deserted road .
Now Acey and his friends were returning to seek him out .
The station wagon came to a stop a couple of hundred feet in front of him , beside a fenced field .
Then there was another sound .
A second car was coming from the west , from the direction of Sanford's Run .
It was the Ford that had been outside Burch's farm .
Marty looked helplessly in both directions .
It was a narrow road , barely wide enough for two cars to pass .
He could not leave the road because of the water-filled drainage ditch .
When the two cars were equidistant from him , the station wagon started up again and the Ford gathered speed .
They bore down on him .
There was nothing he could do except jump into the ditch .
He jumped , and sank to his knees in muddy water .
As the two cars roared by , there was a high-pitched eerie , nerve-shattering sound .
Marty knew how the Union soldiers must have felt at Chancellorsville and Antietam and Gettysburg when the ragged gray ranks charged at them , screaming the wild banshee howl they called the Rebel yell .
For moments he stood in water , shivering and gasping for breath .
He had turned his ankle slightly , and it pained him .
The cars , with their load of howling men , had disappeared in the distance .
There had been two more cars parked at the farm , a Plymouth and a pickup truck .
They would be coming for him next , bearing down on him from both directions .
And then the station wagon and the Ford would seek him out again .
He would be harassed repeatedly and would escape death by inches time after time , all the way to Jarrodsville .
He still had three miles to go .
Back East the more affluent juvenile delinquents , who could afford hyped-up autos instead of switch blades as lethal weapons , played this same game and called it `` Chicken '' .
He could not go through the fields .
That way was barred on both sides of the road by a high barbed-wire fence .
He had to make for the section of road just ahead that was bordered by the rail fence , the section by the farmhouse .
At least he could climb up on the fence when his tormenters roared by again .
The Admassy place could not be far now .
He would go in there , climb through the window , and at least be safe for a little while and able to rest .
There was even a bare chance that the phone had not been disconnected .
He did not dare climb back up to the road .
He was deep in water , but at least they could not reach him there .
He splashed on , mud sucking at his feet with each step , until he reached the end of the drainage ditch and the beginning of the fence that enclosed the farm .
He climbed back to the road , and he felt utterly exhausted .
He stood , panting , for a moment .
And then he saw something that he had not seen before , and panic gripped him again .
The fence , his only refuge when the metal death came roaring at him , was made of rails , all right , but the rails were protected by a thick screening of barbed wire that would rip his flesh if he pressed against it .
He lurched on down the road despairingly , because there was no place else to go .
He lost all sense of dignity .
You could not stand on dignity when you were soaked and muddied and your life was at stake .
Probably people were watching him from the porch or from behind the windows of this farmhouse , too , but he did not bother to look .
He broke into a dogtrot , breathing heavily , streaming with sweat .
He had to reach Admassy's place .
It was his only sanctuary .
The fences on both sides of the road bristled with the barbed wire .
The fences stretched on endlessly .
And then he heard them .
And now he saw them .
The Plymouth was coming at him from the east , the pickup truck from the west .
They had timed it better this time .
They would reach him at almost exactly the same instant .
He stopped stone-still .
If he backed against the fence , one of the cars would brush him as it passed , and he would be cruelly lacerated by the wire .
He stumbled to the middle of the road and simply stood there , waiting for them , a perfect target .
The cars must have had their gas pedals pushed down to the floor boards .
They were coming on at reckless speed for such old vehicles .
They thundered at him .
He held his arms close to his sides and made himself as small as possible .
When the Plymouth neared , it veered toward him and seemed about to run him down .
He forced himself to stay frozen there .
If he moved , he would be in the path of the other car .
He thought the fender of the Plymouth brushed his jacket as it went by .
In a fraction of a second the pickup truck hurtled by on the other side .
The weird , insane sound of the Rebel yell reverberated again and echoed from the distant hills .
He did not leave the middle of the road .
He did not try to run .
He trudged on , his aching eyes focused straight ahead .
He was nearing the Admassy house .
He was going to make it , he told himself .
And then he heard a car coming from the east , and he felt as if he would break down and weep .
`` Oh , no , not again '' , he said aloud .
`` Not again so soon '' .
There was a new sound , a sound as piercing as the Rebel yell , yet different .
It was the sound of a siren .
Now he saw that the approaching car was painted white , and he began to wave his arms frantically .
It was the prowl car from the sheriff's office .
The car drew up alongside him and stopped .
`` Get in '' , Charley Estes said brusquely .
He staggered into the back seat and lay back , fighting for breath .
There was someone in front with the sheriff .
It was Pete Holmes , the cabdriver .
Pete turned around and said to Marty , `` I guess you think I'm a yellow-bellied hound .
But there wasn't no use in me staying there .
I couldn't fight a dozen or so of 'em .
If I'd stayed , all that I'd have got was four punctured tires and one busted head .
Why didn't you wait at the Burch house ? ?
You must've known I'd gone to get the sheriff .
I was lucky they let me go , I guess '' .
The sheriff was occupied with maneuvering the car around in a very narrow space .
When it was finally pointed east , he said , `` You should never have come out here alone .
This is redneck country .
Every man in every one of these houses is a Night Rider .