I thought they were probably going to take me into the alley by Gordo’s Liquor Store. I had been in there and knew there was a recess about half way down that housed the liquor store garbage containers. It was smelly and full of shadows, a perfect spot for them to do their dirty deed. I’m sure they had it figured to where they’d be long gone by the time I was able to pick myself up and scramble for help.
I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to need any help. Of course a little doubt always seems to elbow it’s way in at times like these and this time was no exception. What if Skinny had the rest of the gang sequestered away in the alley for reinforcements. In that case, I would be overwhelmingly out numbered and in big trouble. This wasn’t a Hollywood stunt. This was real life, mine.
My antennae popped up and went on full alert. I had to be ready for anything.
We paused at the alley and both boys looked around. It was eerily quiet. The street was mostly empty of pedestrians and devoid of cars. Mrs. Cooley was putting out oranges in front of her tiny market and there was a lady walking her black poodle near the bank. Other than those two people nothing was going on. A surreptitious glance into the alley fortified my belief that it was also deserted.
“This way old man.”
Of course it was The Skinny One with all of his bravado that hissed and gave me a yank. I had planned to take them by the garbage cans, but the yank disengaged me from The Vulture and I used the momentum to fall and roll. I grabbed Skinny by the shirt, planted my feet in his groin and tossed him into the alley on the backside of my roll. There was a disconcerting crunch.
“You Mo Fo!” he growled in obvious pain.
That was sugar to my ears. I had him wounded but thankful that it wasn’t mortally.
I rolled back onto my feet into a crouch and braced myself to pounce on The Vulture. But The Vulture hadn’t moved, he was standing frozen at the mouth of the alley. His mind and eyes looked as if they were running on Meth overdrive.
“What the Hell you lookin at?” Skinny railed from the alley behind me, “Get the old coot.”
Vulture mustered a hesitant lurch toward me and then stopped as we locked eyes. He didn’t like what he was seeing and that was enough, he turned and boogied back up toward the bank.
I put my attention back on Skinny. He had managed to get himself into a sitting position up against the brick of the liquor store. His left ankle was clearly broken and was going to need a good surgeon to piece it back together. He moaned.
“I am going to go into the liquor store and call an ambulance,” I said, “But before I do I want to give you a little advice to think about. You do have the capacity to think, don’t you?”
He glared at me.
“I mean what I say.” I emphasized.
He continued to glare but was obviously struggling with the pain. I could see the beginnings of a crack forming in his facade.
“It goes like this,” I said, “The Vulture flew the coop. It is not a bad thing to do when flying is called for. He saved himself a world of hurt and a visit to the hospital. I know in your mind that he saved nothing because he didn’t save you. It is your intention to hurt him bad because you failed to hurt me. I’m telling you to drop it. You and your little gang. Just leave him alone. The consequences of dishonoring me and hurting him are not something you can afford.”
My eyes bore into him. “Do we have an understanding?” I asked as I pressed him harder with my will.
The pain was more than he could bear. He dropped his head and looked away. His body wilted and his bravado vanished into the broken lost child he truly was. A sob suddenly escaped his constricted throat.
I knelt beside him and gingerly put my hand on his head. It was a calculated risk I was willing to take. He flinched but didn’t bite. To his everlasting benefit, The Skinny One gave in. He asked for help.
I rose and turned to go.
“Thank you,” he said or he didn’t. I can’t say for sure, I can only hope.
Part 3 to come soon. Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®