The group all lay flat on their bellies on the grass as bullets whizzed over their heads. Even after the sound of the flying bullets had ceased, they lay motionless for many long moments, terrified.
"Whew, that was close!" Matt exclaimed.
"How are we on ammunition?" asked Daryl.
"Okay for now," Jed told him.
The group soon arrived at an abandoned rest stop. Thankful for the temporary shelter, they huddled together in the dark, Jed, Matt, and Daryl keeping watch with their guns at the ready. After a few hours, Robert and Aardvark took over for them. Finally trusting Yuri, Jed tried to hand him a gun, but he refused.
"I understand that you must defend yourselves," he said. "But I cannot shoot at my own countrymen."
"If you're going to be with us, you're going to have to pull your own weight," Matt told him.
"It's all right. I'll take over instead," Erica said. "I understand how he feels. He's afraid he might end up shooting one of his own family members."
Yuri looked gratefully at her, but Matt scowled.
Eventually, several men wearing camouflage and speaking Spanish came into view, accompanied by a couple of men dressed in dark green.
Bullets flew. One of the men in dark green went down, and his companions scattered.
To everyone's surprise, Yuri dashed to the fallen man as soon as the coast was clear. The rest of the group gasped in shock as he tenderly cradled the man's head in his arms and began to sob.
"Yuri, what on earth?" asked Erica, approaching the sad spectacle.
"Boris!" Yuri cried, obviously heartbroken. "Oh, Boris!"
Erica frowned. "Did you know him?"
"He was my best friend since I was four years old," Yuri moaned.
"Oh, Yuri, I'm so sorry." Erica held him as he cried.
"I must bury him," Yuri said after awhile. "Otherwise, wild animals will get him."
They had nothing to use for digging but their hands, and the hard earth soon tore their fingernails, leaving the ends of their fingers torn and bleeding. They struggled to dig a hole large enough to slide Boris' body into for what seemed like ages. Rain began to fall, which softened the dirt into mud and made the digging much easier, but the sky quickly began to darken and they realized that they still had a long way to go.
"Here, use this." Startled, the two looked up to see Tex standing beside them, holding a shovel.
"I got ta thinkin' and decided that perhaps I was a might hasty in throwin' y'all out," he explained. "I went to look for ya, and seen ya from the road tryin' to bury a body in the pourin' rain. That's when I knew that y'all must be decent folks, after all."
"Thank you very much, sir," said Erica. To her surprise, Tex said nothing at all about the dead man's uniform.
With Tex's shovel, Yuri soon dug a hole large enough to hold his friend's body. Quickly he buried Boris and left an arrangement of rocks at the site as a marker.
"Why don't y'all come on back to the house and get dry," Tex suggested once the sad job was completed.
"Would you have room for my friends as well?" asked Erica.
"Depends. How many friends ya got?"
"Well, there's Jed, Matt, Daryl, Aardvark, Robert..." Erica ticked them off on her fingers.
"All right," Tex said. "They can ride in the back of my truck."
A couple of hours later, the group were all clean, dry, well-fed, and settled down for the night in Tex and Willa Jean's living room. Erica slept on the sofa, and the guys slept on the floor. All of them, especially Yuri and Erica, were so tired that they were asleep within seconds.