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Mar 1 2009

Dart Award Honorable Mention

Aftershocks of a Crime Spree

7:15 A.M.

Dando and Doyle are outside a gas station in Pontiac called On the Run, waiting for somebody to rob. A woman pulls up in a Lincoln Town Car.

Dando and Doyle are outside a gas station in Pontiac called On the Run, waiting for somebody to rob. A woman pulls up in a Lincoln Town Car.

Cheryl Gibbons, 32, of Pontiac gets out of the car and leaves it running. She is early for work and wants a cappuccino. Carrying an extra set of keys, she locks the door.

Walking across the parking lot, she notices two people in a truck.

She buys the cappuccino and returns to her car. She gets in and tries to shut the door, but something's blocking it. Figuring it's the seat belt, she turns to look and Doyle shoves a shotgun against her left cheek.

"Scoot over," he says. "Scoot over."

Shock runs through her body. One thought goes through her head: If I slide over, I'm gonna get raped.

"I'm gonna get out," she says. "I'm gonna get out."

"Scoot over," he demands, his voice growing angry and frustrated. She refuses to move.

You're gonna have to shoot me before you rape me, she thinks.

"Give me your money," he says.

"I'm getting out!" she says.

Dando is hunched down in the truck with her window open, listening.

Another car pulls into the lot, and the headlights scare Doyle.

He runs back to the truck.

"I didn't get nothing," he tells Dando.

Gibbons watches the truck drive away and turn right onto Baldwin. She gets out of the car and realizes she is soaked with cappuccino. It should be scalding hot, but she can't feel it. She doesn't remember spilling it.

Suddenly, the strangest feeling comes over her: She begins to think the whole thing was a joke. She has a good friend who lives by the gas station. Maybe it was one of the Curtis boys.

Yeah, maybe it was one of them playing a joke.

Until she realizes she is wet and shaking and thinking: Am I going crazy?

She walks into the gas station.

"Did you just see what happened?" she asks the manager.

Nobody did.

She goes home and calls the police. Over the next few months, she will grow even more terrified. She becomes afraid of being out in the open, especially at night. And she will jump when something brushes against her left cheek, where Doyle held the shotgun, even if it's her own hair.

"I feel like I'm a prisoner," she will say, "like he raped me of my freedom."

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