This is the second part of a three-part short story. You can read the first part here and the third part here.
I left the diner, I was feeling pretty good about things. Because honestly, Trish was a mega-bitch. A pouting, whining, controlling mega-bitch. Easy on the eyes and killer in the sack, but in the end, it just wasn't worth it. Or so I had decided while chomping my cherry Life Saver.
So I left the diner, and decided to catch a movie. I bought a ticket with my credit card—for a while afterwards, I figured that's how they found me, but now I'm having my doubts. But anyway, I bought the ticket, I bought some popcorn and a soda, even though I knew I wouldn't eat it all. I did it because she was constantly complaining when we went to a movie about how stupid it was for me to buy a tub of popcorn that I wasn't going to finish.
I never could get her to understand that it was all part of the movie experience. But now it didn't matter. I bought a pack of Skittles on general principle, knowing that I probably wouldn't eat all of them, either.
The movie wasn't bad—some stupid action flick that didn't make much sense but had a ton of explosions, something she would have absolutely hated, something that I hadn't gotten to enjoy in the six months we had been dating. I threw away my soda cup and about half a tub of popcorn, and left the theater.
I was deciding what to do with my new-found freedom when I felt the hands close around my neck from behind. Before I even realized what was happening, I was yanked off my feet, and thrown into a car that I hadn't noticed a second ago. The people all around, the ones on the sidewalk, the ones crossing the crosswalk with me, they didn't even seem to notice.
When I say I was thrown into the car, that's exactly what I mean. I wasn't shoved or pushed into the car—I was thrown. Into the back, all the way across the backseat, smashing into the window on the opposite side hard enough to tear a gash just above my eyebrow. Not hard enough to break the glass, though.
I felt a presence cram in beside me and then the door was slammed. Everything smelled like farts and burning. I gagged a little, but managed to avoid puking.
"That him?" The guy in the front seat asked. He looked like a ‘roided out guido from Jersey—bleached blonde hair, bronzer layered on so thick that he looked muddy, and a series of pink Polo shirts with popped collars. The guy was massive, though. He took up most of the front seat, and I wondered how he was able to drive. I didn't wonder for long, though—I had more important things with which to occupy my mind.
"Nah, I just liked the looks a this guy, figured I should nab ‘im," the guy beside me said. "Fuck yeah, it's him." He looked almost identical to the man in the front seat, only his hair was spiked a little differently, and his shirts were powder blue instead of pink.
"You don't wanna be talkin' to me like that, Frankie," the guy in the front seat said, glaring into the rear-view mirror. "I'll break ya fuckin' face for ya."
"Oh, yeah, tough guy? Like ya did at Sundown's? Like that?"
"Hey fuck you! Johnny S hadn't stepped in and broken that up, you'd still be lookin' for your ass."
I yanked the door handle, deciding it would be better to try my luck bailing from a moving car and rolling around in traffic rather than stay here with these two much longer. The door didn't open, but I did manage to draw attention to myself.
"Sorry there, chief, you ain't goin' nowhere," Frankie said to me. He put his hand on the front of my chest and slammed me back against the seat. "What you wanna do right now is sit there real calm and peaceful-like, and don't cause trouble. The boss wants you alive, but he didn't say we couldn't maim ya up if ya gave us shit."
"Trish's old man."
"Shut your pie-hole, Ruben! What'd the boss say?"
"Oh come on. What's it gonna hurt, he knows it's Trish's dad?"
"It don't matter. He said not to tell this mook nothin', so that means we don't tell him nothin'."
Holy shit. You could take what I know about organized crime on the East Coast, put it in a thimble, and still have room for your finger. But it sounded like I had involved myself with a gangster's daughter. Fantastic.
"I just don't see what it'll hurt."
"Don't matter. Just don't say nothin'." Frankie turned and looked at me. "And you, you just better keep quiet there, too. Be just as easy to knock your punk-ass out and be done with it."
I nodded. There was no doubt in my mind that he could do me some pretty serious damage if he put his mind to it. I turned to the window, but it was tinted so dark that I couldn't see out. I focused instead on my feet. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do.
You live your life, you worry about getting good grades so you can get into a good university, and then you worry about getting good grades so you can get a good job. Then you worry about doing good at your job so you can get a better job. Maybe you worry about flying, or about getting mugged when you're walking home from a show late at night.
And that's kind of the extent for a normal guy, you know? A guy like me doesn't know how to deal with a situation like this. I mean, what regular guy knows how to deal with getting snatched off a crowded street by mobsters?
I suddenly remembered my cell phone in my jacket pocket. I reached down as subtly as possible, and felt around on the buttons until I was able to dial 9-1-1.
"Nine one one, what is the nature of your emergency?"
In the silence of the car, the operator sounded like she was talking through a bullhorn. Frankie looked confused.
"It's his phone, ya dick!" Ruben said. "Check his pockets!"
Frankie yanked my arm out of my pocket and then reached in to grab my phone. The seams ripped as his enormous hand searched. He brought out my phone and crushed it. No smashing it against anything, no using two hands, just CRUNCH. He dropped the pieces onto the floor and then looked seriously at me.
"I told you to relax or things were gonna get bad. And did you relax?"
I didn't say anything, just looked at him. I had to pee more than I've ever had to pee.
"No, you didn't. And since you didn't relax, that means I ain't gonna relax." He popped his knuckles.
"Don't kill ‘im," Ruben said, looking into the mirror.
"I'm just sayin', pal, sometimes you get carried away. You don't wanna be doin' that this time."
"I said I fuckin' know, didn't I?"
"Yeah, you said, but that don't always mean th—fuck me runnin'! Look at this shit."
Frankie and I both leaned forward to look out the window where Ruben was pointing. I couldn't see anything through the glass.
"No way," Frankie said. "Are you serious right now?"
"That's that bitch in the boots."
"I know who it is. What are we gonna do?"
"What was she doin' in a car?"
"I don't know, man. We gotta tell boss."
"We'll be there in a couple hours."
"She was goin' the other way, ya numb fuck. We go two hours the other direction, that's like givin' her a four-hour head start or something."
"I think it would be more than that, ‘cause ya know, she's still drivin' the other way."
"That's not the point!" Frankie yelled. "The point is we need to pull over and call the boss right now, see what he wants us to do."
"All right, hang on." Ruben pulled over into a side street, looked around, and then hit a button on the dash. Immediately, I could see out the windows. Both of them flinched a little—the way you do when someone suddenly turns on a light—even though it was still dark outside.
"I'll be a minute," he said, and climbed out of the car. It bounced as it was freed from his weight, and I swear I heard the shocks sigh.
"Un-fuckin'-believable," Frankie said. "Of all the nights."
"Is that bad? The bitch in the boots?"
"Sorry. Just…you know, tryin' to make conversation."
"Yeah, well don't."
"Okay." I sat silently. Ruben was pacing furiously back and forth, screaming into the phone about how he didn't care about no meetings, he needed to talk to the boss now.
Frankie sighed and rolled his eyes. He was bored. Impatient.
He sighed again. "She's just this bitch. The boss has been lookin' for her for a while now. Wants her brought in. Offered a reward and everything. But nobody ever sees her for long. She's quick. And just our luck, we see ‘er when we're s'posed to bring you back right away."
"Oh," I said, because I couldn't think of anything else to say. I tried to feel his pain, but just couldn't get around the fact that they were taking me to meet a man who put prices on people's captures. "Hey, I know you aren't supposed to talk about things, but…is he gonna kill me? Your boss?"
He shrugged. "This ain't ever happened before. I mean, when she first started datin', he went berserk, right? Maybe left some bodies around, if ya know what I'm sayin'. But then he kinda seemed to deal with it, like she had grown up, or whatever, right? But this? I mean, what the hell was you thinkin', breakin' up with her?"
"I don't know. Somebody somewhere got tired of putting up with her shit, you know?"
He looked at me, eyebrows raised. "No."
"Oh. I think it was a joke. Or a saying. Something like that."
"Huh," he grunted. "Well good luck explainin' that to da boss. A sayin'. That sounds dumb to me. I can't imagine what it'll sound like to him. He'll probably have us rip your legs off."
I looked at his massive upper body. "Like…literally?"
He scoffed. "Yeah, literally. Why would I say something like that figuratively?"
"To scare me?"
"No need to scare you right now—you'll be scared enough when the time comes."
I'd been nervously looking at him during this discussion, but I had also been looking out of the corner of my eye at the open door. And at Ruben pacing back and forth in agitation.
It wasn't a good chance, but there was a chance. If I could time it just right, I could bound over the seat, dive out through the door, and race away. These guys had caught me by surprise the first time, but they didn't look like they'd be able to run any distance. So maybe if I could escape, I'd be home free.
Of course, they had already found me once, so it didn't seem like they would have any problem tracking me down at my apartment. I'd have no place to go, no place to hide. But that was something I could think about later.
Right now, I just needed to think about escaping.
"I was just hoping to get kind of an idea about holy shit, that chick is showing her titties!"
I gaped out the window and pointed. Frankie turned his head and searched for the woman who was showing her titties. I dove over the seat, lacking completely the grace and ability I had imagined. I smashed my head into the dome light, and heard the sound of plastic cracking as I tumbled into the front seat.
And still, the power of a woman flashing her tits was amazing—Frankie, instead of realizing I was making an escape worthy of the Three Stooges, asked, "Where? I don't see her."
I dove from the car, landing just behind Ruben as he paced. I didn't wait around to regain my footing—just lurched off as fast as I could. I heard Frankie screaming something like "Get ‘im, get that motherfucka," and I heard Ruben yelling something back, something like, "Would you shut the fuck up? I finally managed to get her to put me through to da boss."
And then I didn't hear them anymore, because I was too far away, dashing around the corner, across the street, through the park. Wherever.
I ran until I puked, and then I ran and I puked, and when I finally couldn't run anymore, I stopped by the brightest place I could find—the Apple Store.
They wouldn't let me in, probably thinking I was some sort of drunken derelict, so I went to the place across the street, bought a new set of clothes, and then went back, waving around my credit card.
They tried to throw me out at one in the morning, so I ordered all of us coffee. The guy who delivered it looked suspiciously like a shrunken version of Ruben, and he squinted away from the light. I decided not to leave until sunrise.
The store was open twenty four hours, but they still don't like people milling around for six hours, so I eventually had to buy another iPod.
On one hand, I was kind of pissed, because I had already owned one—had just bought it a week ago, actually. On the other hand, I figured that I wouldn't be able to return to my apartment for quite some time, and it'd be nice to have some music to listen to in the meantime.
I sat around sampling music and buying songs until the sun came up. I bought us all another round of coffee before I ventured out of the store, just for good luck, and then I went on my way.
The fully-loaded soundtrack helped my confidence a little, but not nearly enough. In the end, I had to turn it off, in case someone tried to sneak up on me. Not like I could really hear them with all the noise of the city, but still.
I spent that day in a weird state: completely alert due to panic, and completely zoned out, due to lack of sleep. And nothing happened.
At one point, I tried to withdraw some money from an ATM, but it said that all of my accounts were closed. When I tried to use my credit cards, the police were called.
Paranoia got the best of me, and I ended up destroying my cell phone. I had four hundred bucks to my name, and a card for a free pizza at Domino's.
I finally decided to check into a sleazy motel. It cost me forty bucks, and the room looked like the setting for a snuff film, complete with a dirty, stained mattress with no sheets. I was asleep within minutes.
I awoke to the sound of the door being smashed in, and I was diving through the window before I even realized I was moving. I heard Ruben and Frankie arguing as I ran down the cement walkway, around the swimming pool filled with mud-brown water, into the parking lot covered with broken needles and broken beer bottles.
I cut my bare feet as I ran, and I wished that I had left my shoes on. Luckily, I was smart enough to sleep in my clothes. Or too tired to take them off.
I learned something that night—if I kept moving, they couldn't find me. If I stopped for too long, they'd show up. They didn't always know exactly where I was, but they would know the area. So I continued to move, to walk, to run.
When the sun came up the next morning, I checked into another motel. I was scared, but I was also exhausted—I'd only managed to catch an hour and a half of sleep the previous night. I had formed a theory that they could only find me at night. I probably only thought it up because of the sleep deprivation, but it made sense in my head, and that was enough.
I woke up just before dusk, rested, but still unsure of what to do. So I kept moving.
continue to part 3