Cassidy chickened out first. Her brakes locked and white smoke came pouring from underneath the little sedan. I could see the look of panic as the back of the vehicle started to fishtail, swaying back and forth on the pavement.
The black truck kept coming, even firing off a few shots that went wild over Cassidy’s car.
Cassidy recovered and accelerated, shooting to the right of the truck and around his passenger side. Then she kept going, onward into the morning hopefully to get some help.
I froze. My feet would not move, even the one that was sending horrid pain up and down my body to at least alleviate the pressure it was under and get some place safe.
Natalie did what she always did in times of stress. She hit me.
Not hard, not really even a hit, more of a clap on the back. Like a strange game of tag, that clap got me moving.
I grabbed her hand and ran toward the nearest line of parked cars in the lot. Well, run is relative at this point, but we made it to cover. We circled the cars, putting two or three between us and ending up far from where we had entered.
“Where’s your car?” I asked her.
“Other side of the lot.”
“Yeah, well, whatta ya want to do?” Natalie asked me. She craned her neck up to see through the windows of the car we were crouching beside.
“I dunno. How about eggs? You down for eggs? I hear they’re healthy again.”
“ Smart ass. I don’t see the other guy, but the truck’s circling around. Can you run?’
“No, but but I can be a damn good distraction,” I said.
“Distraction for what?”
“You get away, get safe. Jesus, I don’t even know why this is happening.”
“Well, that’s obvious, you’re a damn trouble magnet, Banned.”
“That’s unfair. Okay, you feel like running or do you want to try to-”
“Shhhh.” Natalie craned her neck again and looked out.
“You see um?” I heard Hoodie say.
The sound of the motor got closer and I hurt a few grunts, but nothing that I could make out. I tapped Natalie on the shoulder and made a motion of legs moving. She nodded.
Keeping the noise of the truck as a point of reference, we stayed low and made our way down the row of cars. I kept thinking of what would happen if someone stepped out. I kinda wondered why someone had not already. This was a family type neighbor hood. The kids had even left for school already. Where were the concerned adults?
“Well, look at who I found.”
I looked up to see Hoodie standing over me. The red hoodie was covered in mud and sand, and there were a few little scratches along his face and neck. Some leaves clung to his arm, stuck there. He raised the pistol to my head.
“Hey,” Natalie called.
He looked up and I dove forward, getting him around the knees. A shot went out and I heard glass break, then the sound of a giant engine roaring. Hoodie and I went to the ground and I grabbed at his shirt, pulling for purchase to get to his gun hand and his face and anything else important that I wanted to take him apart.
Natalie joined us and went for his gun hand. Another round went off and a hissing sound followed by the groan of a strut as a tire deflated rapidly. I got near his groin and punched and the fight left him. Natalie pulled the revolver from his grip and threw it under a car.
“Evan, come’on,” she said, gripping my shoulder and picking me up off the other man.
We began to run, not paying any attention to the man in the black pickup,. My ankle screamed at me, but I held it back, pushed back that voice that was demanding I stop, sit down, rest. I knew that the pickup wanted to run us over, run us down, that Hoodie would recover and go for the gun and that would be it. We had to reach Natalie’s car. We had to.
And we did.
Have you ever noticed how long it takes to unlock a door? Did you know they made cars in the last five years that do not have power locks on all the windows? Natalie’s does not. Funny that, huh?
It took her five years to open her door, get in, reach over to my side and pop the little lock on the passenger door. Five years of waiting, watching simple actions and somewhere in the back of my mind screaming like I was watching a movie that they should really speed this part up. I mean, we don’t have to see every detail, right? but I was. I was watching every detail of this happen in front of me and it was taking forever.
And then I was sitting next to her and the engine was starting and the music of Sara Watkins filled the air. Natalie moved to turn down the stereo, but I put out her hand and stopped her. It was nice to be jacked up on adrenaline and hear the whine of a violin, stand up bass and slow drum beat as Sara sang about “Long Hot Summer Days.”
I began to laugh despite myself. What more could happen?
I should stop asking myself that question.
Natalie backed out of the space, out of the parking lot and into the street just in time for the black pickup to round the corner of the complex. The truck guarded the street, sitting at an angle and waiting for us to make a move. There was no way we could get by it, especially not by the gun the driver with the mustache was holding towards us.
Hoodie jumped off the back of the truck and started walking toward the car with a limp. He raised the revolver and started firing at us.