Footsteps. Caleb was being followed. Separate steps echoed every step Caleb took, some fifteen feet behind him.
Calebs clenched his hands, ready for a fight. He refused to be intimidated. Caleb peered straight ahead and kept his paces even. He listened closely to the heavy, footsteps that continued ten feet behind him. By the sound of the feet hitting the pavement it was clear that Footsteps was wearing rough boots. Only guys who were topping six feet tall and weighing more than three hundred pounds ambled like Footsteps could. A muffled click
click accompanied every other step. A gun, Caleb guessed, or possibly a knife strapped loosely to Footsteps side. If Caleb had to bodily drag his father away he would without hesitation. Jim had sworn, father to son, that he was done selling the drugs. He had lied to Caleb but that didnt mean that Caleb would leave him to the sharks. No, Caleb would wait till he got Jim to safety before pummeling the man. Thank God for that message from earlier today on the phone machine, Caleb thought.
Hey Caleb. Long pause. I know you and Jim havent been on great terms lately but
kid I think hes dealing again. I mean, what do I know, I just work with the guy. But Jimmys been real antsy lately. You know
cant sit still, constantly watching his back like theres some kind of price on his head or something. What Im saying is that Im worried about the bastard. He didnt come into the shop today. I think somethings up. A sigh followed by a second extended pause. Hey! You know what? I remember something Jim said the other day, something
something about the warehouses down between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge. Goddamnit, why cant I remember the name! Whatever, it doesnt matter what the goddamn name is. Its at the corner of
Water Street and Dock Street, cant miss it. Muffled noises. Oh and kid? Good luck, okay. Click.
As Caleb strode down the alley, his vision shifted through the darkness lit only by shreds of moonlight. It was barely wide enough for two average men to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in. That would make it difficult escaping back the way Caleb came. It was always best to have a quick, easy exit. Yet Footsteps lumbered down the alley behind Caleb, blocking the one known exit. Caleb picked up on stray items strewn across the asphalt and propped up against the concrete walls that enclosed him. There was empty glass bottles littered everywhere, easily broken. An abandoned bicycle tire spoke with a jagged rusty end lie about eight feet ahead and to the right. It was too much to wish for a discarded box-cutter, something a warehouse worker might misplace. Caleb had to review what weapons he had access to now so that if things turned ugly, hed be ready to fight back.
It had been two minutes since the two had entered the alley but Footsteps hadnt even made a move. Caleb couldnt make out what Footsteps was waiting for or what he wanted. Caleb wasnt packing, he was no sort of threat. All I want to do is find my useless excuse for a father and leave this shithole. Why do things always have to get complicated? Caleb thought. Everything was in Footsteps favor but yet he was still stalling. It soon became obvious why Footsteps was waiting. Another unknown man appeared out of an intersecting, smaller alley five feet in front of Caleb and to the left. Same build, same advantages and staring right at Caleb.
He was coming towards Caleb with a smile that said it all. That smile told Caleb that it would break multiple bones and enjoy every moment of it. Caleb had no choice but to wait for Footsteps and Bones to surround him.
You shouldnt be here lil man, Footsteps said. Infants not allowed.
Yeah, Bones said, you should be fuckin some cheerleader or whatever it is kids do these days. Bones spat to the side. I fuckin hate kids.
Im looking for Jim Donovan. Soon as I find him, Im gone, Caleb said.
Footsteps grunted. Hear that Frank? This is Donovans kid.
I heard it, Bones said.
Didnt ol Jimmy Donovan screw you outta a deal once? Footsteps said.
yeah he did, Bones said.
Fuck, Caleb thought. It didnt matter if it was true what Caleb said about Jim. Caleb could tell from the way Footsteps and Bones provoked him, goaded him on, that they wanted a fight for the sole reason of driving a fist down someones throat. It just so happened to be Caleb this particular night.
Listen guys, all I want is Jim then Im out of here, Caleb said.
Listen here cub scout. You aint goin no wheres till I draw some blood from that pretty lil face of yours. Bones grinned.
That sounds awesome guys, Caleb said, but Id rather keep my face the way it is.
Thats where we have uh
differing opinions, Bones said.
Caleb thought he was ready for whatever Footsteps or Bones would throw at him. It wasnt until Footsteps had Calebs arms braced behind his back that he realized ready wasnt the problem. Footsteps moved with lightning reflexes after only a seconds glance from Bones. Caleb never had a chance. Adrenaline flooded his veins and his mouth went dry. Caleb couldnt move, which was his first clue that he was in real trouble. There was a flash of unleashed violence that flickered in Bones black eyes peering down at Caleb. It didnt faze Caleb as much as the thought that he had lost the second he walked down the alley. There were no tricks this time. Do not pass Go! do not collect two hundred dollars kind of thing.
Bones reached into the inner pocket of his leather jacket and drew out brass knuckles. Caleb barely suppressed a moan. Those hard knuckles would no doubt be imprinted over and over again on his already scarred face and body. Bones clenched his fist around Calebs jaw and wrenched the ear connected to it towards Bones mouth. Scream and make my day. In the same motion, Bones released Calebs face and stepped back to warm his arm up. This, is gonna take a while. Caleb couldnt tell if Bones meant his arm or the beating. Better not to know.
Out of nowhere, the rusted spoke that Caleb had seen farther down the alley came crashing down on Bones head. Bones tottered and finally tumbled to the ground with a heavy thud. In the mean time, Caleb made use of Footsteps occupied attention. Caleb smashed the back of his head into the tender cartilage of Footsteps nose. With a howl of pain Footsteps loosened his hold just enough for Caleb to swivel around and give the temple a hook punch. Footsteps tumbled to the ground next to his comrade, out cold.
Caleb turned around to find Jim grinning like some deranged monkey. Is that how I taught you to make friends? Jim said.
Caleb punched Jim square on the jaw. Thats for lying to me.
Jim chuckled while massaging his abused flesh. Just because I dont tell you every detail, doesnt make it so much lying as say...skill. Another grin.
Whatever. Did you sell these scumbags the cocaine or not?
Of course, your old man got the drop. I always do.
things always get fucked up right about now too. From a distance Caleb heard men shouting. It wasnt until the sound of pounding footsteps reached their ears that he realized how bad fucked up was right now. Caleb turned on Jim with murder in his eyes.
So I didnt think theyd figure it out so fast, Jim shrugged. So kill me.
I just might, if they dont beat me to it. Caleb grabbed his father by the jacket and bolted out of the alley onto Water Street. What the hell did you do anyways?
Jim pulled a bag of white powder from his jacket. Didnt exactly sell them as much as they bought.
Damn it Jim! Why in Christs name would you make a stupid move like that?
We need the money Caleb. It doesnt get simpler than that.
Caleb growled under his breath, Fine. Wheres the car?
Follow me. Jim took off with Caleb close behind.
Caleb was running so fast and hard that he already had a stitch in his side and breath was becoming a commodity not a good sign. Jim was somewhere in front of him. Caleb had tried to give him enough of a head start so if anyone tried to follow at least it would be Caleb getting some jail time and not his father, a man well past his prime. Alone in a jail cell with a hardened criminal, Jim wouldnt stand a chance.
It was then that Caleb heard the sirens. Shit, he thought, theyre too close. Were not going to be able to outrun them. With the little breath that he had, Caleb screamed ahead for his father to stash the drugs somewhere now! Just in that moment a NYPD squad car rounded the corner on far end of the street, in the direction Jim had been running, blocking the two criminals from their car parked on the opposite corner. This caper was going great.
Jim stopped and raised his hands to let the badges know that he meant no harm and wouldnt resist them. If there was any chance of evading the police, Caleb knew that his father would have taken it. They were caught this time. Slowing his pace to a quick jog, Caleb raised his own hands and made his way to where Jim stood.
When Caleb finally made it to the spot where Jim had parked the chase, Caleb glanced at Jim questionably. Jim merely winked leaving Caleb to subtly determine where the drugs had been haphazardly stowed while they got patted down. Scanning the nearby area Caleb spotted a cigarette collector about ten feet back that looked like it had been kicked in at the bottom leaving a hole big enough to fit the toe of a boot. A chuckle slipped out of Caleb as he realized the old codger must have stuck it there before he had even seen the flashing red and blue block their exit. Caleb knew his old man was good but it always seemed to surprise him when he realized how good Jim actually could be in a pinch.
The cops ordered the both of them against the side of the car to be searched but they wouldnt find what they expected. Just two identical packs of Marlboro cigarettes, wallets with only five dollars and thirty-six cents between the two, and a laundry mat receipt five days old. No one had seen either of them flee the scene of the drug bust, so there was no way that they could be ID-ed and arrested for possession. A smile tugged the corner of his mouth when Caleb realized they were in the clear. Caleb glanced over at his father being patted down by an attractive female officer. While Jim tried to hit on the poor woman, Caleb smiled again but for a different reason because he had realized something. No matter how bad things got, his old man would always be worth the fight.
Tonight Jim would pull out some cheap vodka and they would celebrate their latest success with a clink of chipped shot glasses.