The stimulus this time was the bark of one of the dogs. My eyes snapped open, and I crouched in the car shell, ready for action. The dogs had cornered a boy against the stack of cars I was on top of. They held him at bay while he looked around, desperate for a way out. A low whistle brought the dogs to a sit and wait position. I looked around and saw the source of the whistle. The owner, presumably, and two other men were coming at the boy, menace emanating off them, reeking of rancid oil, ammonia, and wet dog.
The boy started babbling. “Hey, it’s all a misunderstanding, see, if I could just explain…” He was terrified, but trying to act nonchalant. I didn’t have to smell him to know it. The lead thug advancing on him chuckled. He twirled the long metal pipe for emphasis and then pointed it at the boy. “You can? You hear that, boys? He can explain this little misunderstanding.” The two men with him chuckled too.
“I give you product, you move the product, you give me the money. Simple. Now you tell me the money is missing? Fine, give me back my product.”
The boy shook his head. “I can’t! Please, I told you. I was on my way to deliver it and some dude stole it!”
“Some dude stole it,” mocked one of the thugs in a baby voice. “Not our problem, maggot.”
“Yeah, we can just take it out of your hide.” Sneered the other one. “Since it got stolen.”
“I swear! C’mon guys, I wouldn’t do you like that! You gotta believe me!” The boy had dropped his cool as a cucumber act, and was flat out begging.
The thug holding the pipe began walking forward, twirling it faster. I figured I’d better make my move now. I slipped out the window area of the hollowed out car on the opposite side of where they were standing below and lightly dropped to the ground.
“Hey guys!” I trilled, walking around the stack of cars to stand by the boy. “What’s going on?”
They all looked at me in shock. The boy turned his head to stare, his eyes huge, and his dark skin still managing to look pale.
The owner stopped swinging the pipe. “Who the frig are you? How’d you get in here?” He looked at his dogs, who were wagging their tails at me; one whined a bit in his throat. He swore at them, and turned his attention back to me. “Listen, girlie, I’m not sure what you think you’re doing but this here is private property, and we got private business, so get moving.”
I nodded my head in agreement with him. “Sure, no problem. He’s coming with me though.” I nodded at the boy.
“Like hell he is!” one of the other thugs blustered.
“OK. Which one of you is going to stop me then?” I smiled sweetly. They looked at each other, confused, then smirking. Each of them had over a foot and a hundred pounds on me, not to mention their crude weapons. They were men; I was a slight teenage girl.
The boy looked at me like I was insane. I smiled at him. Turning my attention back to the men, I gave them the standard warning. “Leave now, and I’ll let you go unharmed. Stay, and fight me, and you will regret it.”
They stared at me, then looked at each other. I smelled indecision and confusion, anger and adrenaline. On some primal level, they recognized the truth in my words, but their conscious, ego-driven minds simply refused to acknowledge what their eyes saw before them as a threat. They hesitated, then laughed, and lunged forward.