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“I know we were in Illinois at one point.”

“Several times,” Ahmed said while he kept digging through the pockets. He came up with something and said, “It this it?”

“Yes.” Hakim took it and stuck it into the USB port. “And what was wrong with the route I had laid out for you?”

Karim looked at his watch and said, “I did not want to be seen, so I decided to stay off the main roads.”

The man was a stubborn idiot. “And you got lost. Did it ever occur to you that the big roads have more traffic? That it is easier to blend in?”

“And they have more police,” Karim said boastfully. “That is why we got lost. I wanted to avoid St. Louis. Too many police and there was construction.”

“You left the farm more than eight hours ago. If you had followed my plan you would already be in Oklahoma, and well on your way to Houston. Now you are barely in the next state.”

“Everything is fine,” Karim said dismissively.

“Three minutes ago you were lost.”

“I knew we were near St. Louis.”

Hakim didn’t believe him. He glanced at the laptop screen and saw that he had a connection. He logged onto Google Maps and double-clicked on the middle of America. Using the track pad, he began to zero in on the area north of St. Louis. He eyed the distance between the Iowa farmhouse and Mexico, Missouri. “You have traveled approximately 150 miles in eight hours.”

“That is a good distance.”

Hakim realized the idiot was still thinking as if he were in the mountains of Afghanistan, where traveling twenty miles in a day was considered a huge success. “If you had trusted me, you would have traveled more than five hundred miles in that time.”

“It does not matter. We are safe and we know where we are.”

“Doesn’t matter? Three Arab men in America’s heartland. A town like Mexico is probably 90 percent Caucasian. The other ten percent is divided up between Hispanics, blacks, and some Asians. They have probably never seen an Arab b


“It doesn’t matter. No one will be looking for us in this part of the country.”

“And when they find the father and son in the house?”

“It will be days before they find them,” Karim said with confidence. “If they find them at all.”

“I would be willing to bet that they have already found them.”

Karim shook his head. “Not possible. We are fine. All we need to do is wait for nightfall and then fill up on fuel. With your device we will no longer be lost.”

“Why wait until nightfall?”

“We only have cash and that means we must go into a store to pay. They will see our faces.”

The man was an idiot. Hakim asked Ahmed for the backpack, and after digging through a pocket for a second he pulled out a small billfold. It had a Texas driver’s license, cash, and a few other things. Hakim held up a credit card. “We can get gas now.”

“Where did you get that?” Karim asked with derision. “How do I know it is safe?”

Rather than answer the question, Hakim began tapping away on the keyboard. A moment later he’d pulled up the website of the Iowa City Press Citizen. It was the closest big city to the farmhouse. He found what he was looking for at the very top. “Double homicide,” he announced and turned the screen so Karim could see. “The bodies have already been discovered and it has been ruled a murder.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“You are a stubborn fool,” Hakim said without passion. “The Americans work fast. I’m sure somebody will recall seeing an RV driving away from the farm at about the time of the fire. The police will call other departments and ask them if they’ve seen an RV that fits this description. Before you know it they will receive dozens of calls that it was seen wandering back and forth between Illinois and Missouri for most of the day.”

“You give them too much credit.”

“And you obviously don’t give them enough. They will alert all of the law enforcement in the region. It is standard procedure. Did you burn the barn down as well?”

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