Amongst the cars and the concrete is a string of businesses huddled together in a single building. You notice one of the businesses still has a closed sign up even though everything else is open. Hmm, you would be willing to bet your life that that business is closed permanently. There are also apartments on top on the businesses. This would be the perfect hiding place for a man on the run and his bag of goodies.
Good. Now that that is taken care of, you look around for something you could use as a lock pick, something that will not require obvious physical damage to the property. The pliers? Hmm, you do not really know what you would be able to use those for. However, that does not mean that they will not eventually serve their purpose. You grab them out from underneath your seat and place them in your pocket. You dig around the back seat cushions. Paperclip. Paperclip. Safety pin? You will take it.
Your grasp on your bag tightens as a line of police cars zip by you. Four cars. None of them stop for you or your buddy Calvin. Thank God there is more than one criminal in this town. If they were looking for you, then clearly taxi cabs are not on their list of places to check. You count your stars, thank your angels, and pray for every rabbit that ever gave a foot to make it into bunny heaven.
“You see,” you say to Calvin, sounding calm even though you anything but. “They were not looking for you.”
“Yeah,” he says, with a shaking breathy voice. He had obviously been holding his breath for the entire time you two were parked. “Yeah. That is great, man. I was really worried.” Calvin pulls out into traffic with his usual care and grace, nearly getting you sideswiped by a bus in the process.
You glare at the back of Calvin’s head before praying, “Dear God, if you let me get killed by this man after everything you have already put me through this morning, you will leave me with no choice but to join Satan’s army and roll all over those pearly gates.”
Finally, the Westin is so close you can almost touch it. Its lights and the “W” on the top make it seems like the most inviting place in the world right now. All stupid Calvin has to do is get you to the door, without getting you pancaked by on-coming traffic. If Calvin can manage to do that one simple…
“Hey. Hey, Calvin, why are you turning? We are going to the Westin, remember? It is right there.” When he does not answer, you call him again. “Yo, Calvin. What are you doing?” He still does not say anything. He makes a few more turns and you notice that the traffic is getting less and less. Oh, you really hope this fool is not about to try what you think he is about to try. It is going to be a bad day for him if that is the case.
Calvin pulls down an alley. “I’m sorry, man,” he says as the cab rocks and shakes with every bump and urban crater he drives over. “You seem like a cool dude. But the fact is, you know my name and the fact that I have a record. And it is only a matter of time before you figure out the reward that is on my head and try to turn me in. I am not going back to jail, man. I have been a law abiding citizen for the last five years. I got a good life now. I am not the same person I was before. I learned my lesson. I mean, I may not have served all of the time that I was supposed, but I served 20 years. Isn’t that enough? Should that not be enough?”
“Look, man. We do not have to do this,” you say to Calvin. You can only imagine what this man did to get over 20 years. Apparently, this would not be his first attempt at killing someone. “I am not interested in you or your reward. I have my own shit to deal with. So, please just let me out and we can go our separate ways. It will be better for you. I promise.”
Calvin gives you a mocking laugh. “Better for me? I don’t know if you noticed this, jack, but I’m the one with the gun.” He jumps out of the car. You go through scenarios of how you are going to handle this. You determine that Calvin is not going to shoot you while you are in his car- Calvin would not want to have to clean up the mess that that would make- which means that you will be able to fight him once you get out of the car. If Calvin wants to kill you, he is going to have to work for it.
New Jersey rips your door open. “Get out of the car,” he orders, pointing his .45 at you.
You hold your hands up to show Calvin that you are unarmed. You push the bag out of the car ahead of you in order to make sure you do not take your eyes off of Calvin.
“Leave the bag in the car.”
You do as he says; all the while you are planning everything that you could say to keep from having to hurt this man. It would be really inconvenient if you had to try to get a last minute room at the Westin looking like you live in this alley after ducking it out this guy. “Look, Calvin, man…”
“Shut up!! Do you think I got this far by taking chances, huh? No. I didn’t. So, just get on your knees and don’t make a scene about this. It sucks, I know. But it sucks for me, too. But this is a dog eat dog world, man. And I am not getting eaten.”
Your original plan was to do a parry and punch the guy in the face, moves that your big brother had taught you on the playground to deal with bullies, but then, out of nowhere, you find that you have a little Jet Li locked away in you. Before you know it, your parry becomes a three move take down. Not only is Mr. New Jersey on the ground, but you have managed to acquire his gun.
Calvin stares up at you, looking just as surprised as you feel. You take a couple of seconds to take that in, before speaking to Calvin through the cross hairs on the gun. “Look here, Jersey. I don’t want to fight you. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t know and I don’t want to. But if you try some shit like this again, I will end your life.”
You disarm and dismantle the gun like a pro, dropping the pieces to the ground once you are finished. Keeping a gaze on Mr. New Jersey, you walk around him. You reach into the back of the cab to grab your bag, all the while, daring Calvin to try something. Your bag o’cash in hand you look down at Calvin and sigh. Calvin looks so pitiful lying there on the ground, bested by a man who just wants to get to nice hotel so that he can forge some credit cards. You know Calvin is worried that you are going to turn him over to the police, so you take a second to console him. “Look, man…”
Before you can finish your I have got better shit to do speech, Calvin trips you. Calvin kicks your legs out from under and sends you straight into the filthy alley concrete. Before you know it, Calvin is on top of you. His 200 pound weight pins you to the ground. He punches you a couple of times in the face before pounding your head into the concrete. You try to stop him, but you are too dizzy from the impacts. You feel like a fool. Why did you think you could trust this goon to play nice? You are just a nice trying to do a nice thing for your fellow man. Well, screw that. If you make it out of this alive, you are going to send that bastard on a one way road trip to hell.
Calvin pauses in the middle of his beating just long enough to pull a knife out of his pocket. And while the moment is really only a couple of seconds, it feels like minutes, which is more than enough time to you to formulate a plan. But all planning ends when you see Calvin trying to drop a six inch blade into your face.
Faster than a speeding bullet, you reach up and grab a hold of Calvin’s wrists, stopping him before the steel can pierce your flesh. Your hands and arms shake as you fight with Calvin for the top spot in the struggle for life. Calvin is a strong man and you both feel that you have your whole worlds to lose here. You grimace and moan as you fight against him. And you are losing. Based on Calvin’s size alone you would wager that he is stronger than you are. Also, from this position, Calvin has gravity on his side, which does nothing good for your chances of survival.
In your whole entire life, you have never been a quitter. Even when something was a simple case of are you right or wrong, you would hold on to your cause for dear life just because there was no reason to let go. Now, with death staring you in the face for the umpteenth time today, you are glad you already have a habit of not backing down. If Calvin was going to kill you, his ass was going to earn it.
Your mind races at the thought of dying in the alleyway like a dog, like an unwanted unloved dog. Then you think of your wife dying the same way. No name, no fingerprints, no identity of any kind. Just killed and tossed like trash in an alley. You couldn’t let that happen, not to her.