January 26th, 2016
My day started in the backseat of a car with a gun pressed against my hip.
By that I mean when the calendar day started. I woke up some time Monday, hungover on the beach. But as the crappy wrist watch chimed midnight, I was being driven through the city by three men I “met” in a bar.
I know I should stop going to bars.
There were two in the front, one in the back. The one in the back was the one holding the gun against me, telling me to keep my head down, telling me if he pulled the trigger it would shatter my pelvis, “you’ll never fuck again.” Actually, part of me thought Rob had hired them. After all, the last time I had seen Rob, he was pretty concerned with my sex life, too.
After driving for thirty minutes, we pulled into a parking lot. I could tell from the street lights passing above the rear window. For hours they sat there, taking turns napping while someone held a gun on me. I figured we must have been outside the pharmaceutical company that was offering the reward on me.
Around five the sky was turning from black to purple with hints of pink reflected in the low-hanging clouds, one of the men got a text. “He says the door’s open,” the man said. The handle of the gun smashed into my head. It didn’t knock me out, but while I was reeling from how amazingly uncool that was, someone managed to get a bag over my head.
They pulled me out of the car and I felt a cord tighten around my neck before they pulled my hood over my head and down in front of my eyes. “Okay, let’s go.”
I didn’t resist. I’d done that earlier. They weren’t as nice as to roofie me the way Trevor had. Instead, when they first grabbed me, they beat me until I knew they weren’t going to kill me. Then I gave up. My feet dragged across the parking lot, my sandals falling off as they did. By the time we were inside I could feel blood running down my toes from where the skin had worn away.
“Take him to the equipment room,” one of them said. “We’ll keep it clear.”
And so we went back to waiting. I could hear them texting, playing games on their phones. Occasionally the door would open and I would get a sense through the bag that we were sitting in total darkness. After a long while, after one of the men began to panic, two of them began to fight. I could hear someone being thrown about, trying to escape. It would have been a good chance for me try to escape myself but I was sure whomever was shouting for them to stop was still holding a gun on me.
“Let’s just turn him in,” I heard one of them whimper from the ground. “Let’s just take the money and go.”
I don’t really know how to explain what happened in my mind after that.
“Please let me go,” I said to no response. “You don’t have to do this.”
I could hear the two men still struggling maybe ten feet away.
“We can all walk away from this,” I plead.
“Shut the fuck up!” the third man shouted. For that second, I knew exactly where he was.
I jumped from my knees into him, body-slamming him into what I guess must have been a wall.
Catching my balance, I ran towards where I had seen the light coming from earlier.
The gun fired and I kept running. A second shot. I reached to pull the bag from my head. A third shot hit my shoulder.
I screamed, even as I pulled the mask off with my left hand. Then came the tackle, then punching to the face. I tried hitting back with my left but the man grabbed my wrist and kept hitting me.
“We definitely have to leave now,” the scared man said.
“He’s almost here,” the gunman replied. “Get off him. Get off him, god damn it!”
The man punching me stopped, forced the bag back over my face. He placed his hand against my neck, leaning in on it. “You move again without my say, I’ll kill you. Do you understand?” I didn’t think a response was necessary. “Say ‘I understand, sir.’”
My throat began closing beneath his grip. “I understand, sir.”
The gunman spoke up. “What we’re getting paid is more than we’d get splitting that reward money three ways.”
“Someone heard those shots,” the scared man said.
“He’s going to be here any minute. You leave, you get nothing.”
The angry man stood and grabbed me by the ankle, dragging me away from the door. I could feel his grip slipping against my blood. After he let go, he placed his knee against my chest and kept it there until the door opened.
“Is this him?” I heard an older man say. They must have signaled their response. “Go on,” he said. I heard nothing. “Go on!”
“What do I do?” I heard a cracking voice ask.
“You know what to do.”
“I can’t,” it was a boy, he still had his voice.
“You’re the one who told me this would work.”
“He’s bleeding,” the older man said. And then there was nothing the squeaking shuffling of rubber shoes on linoleum. It squeaked closer and closer, stopping about my waist. The knee lifted from my chest. “Go on,” the older man said.
I felt a small hand place itself upon my shin and a tickling sensation run from my ankle to my toes. It struck again and again until I could feel the boy’s tongue flush against the abrasions on my foot.
“Is it working?” the older man asked.
The boy stopped. “I… Let me see,” the boy was whimpering through his words. I could see a small light appear, like from a cell phone, through the black cloth on my face.
Heavy sounds of leather smacking gym-floor became closer. “Stand up and let me look at you.”
Why these guys never tied me up, I don’t know.
I kicked blindly, knocking down bony legs.
I guess something was just bound to go my way.
Fast to my feet, I used the cell phone light to guide me, ramming my good shoulder into the older man’s gut.
No one bothered to tie the bag around my neck this time and it flew right off.
My eyes tried to assess the three men as they stood between me and the door but my mind was focused on that narrow crack of light, seeing the handle, knowing how I would make it work.
Someone’s fingers sunk into my bullet wound but I ran free, ripped open the door and ran out into a gymnasium. I ran straight just to keep moving while I figured out which way the exit was. I could hear them behind me.
“Put that god damn gun away!” the older man shouted.
It was the perfect scenario. Everything was empty. People must have heard the gunshots and immediately evacuated. Sprinting like a man on fire wasn’t going to draw any attention to me.
But I could hear at least two pairs of footsteps right behind me.
Bursting out into the open, I saw two people hiding in the bushes. “Gunman! Gunman!” I shouted, pointing at the men behind me. After that, the footsteps stopped. There was a scuff and they began in the other direction.
I didn’t bother looking.
My eyes were struggling with the light, processing where I was. I could see the downtown skyline ahead, the park to my right. I was running out of the naval hospital.
Most importantly, I could see my sandals ahead.
I snatched them up and ran across the boulevard, into the park, towards one of the bum camps I had to clean up during work service.
My car is on the other side of town, so I spent the day trying to sleep here. It hasn’t really worked. I switched my phone on so I could write all this while it was still in memory. When I did, I saw I had made the news again.