Ryan shivered to the bone. Trudging through dense rain, he appeared as if he had just climbed out of a lake. ‘So hungry,’ he thought. That didn’t matter. Not the lack of food, not the lack of shelter. These were secondary. What he needed was a fix. Just a little more heroin and all his woes would be gone. He searched his right jeans pocket and revealed four pennies. He needed a better lot in life, but few would give a teenage runaway a chance.
His sneezed onto the backside of his hand and folded his arms tight against his soaked torso. He looked up. The activities and lights of a gas station met his eyes. He was not sure how long he had been walking on the sparsely settled road, or which direction he had been going. He knew he could not tolerate the rain much longer. Perhaps they will let him inside the convenience store. If not, he could still dry out under the awning protecting the gas pumps. He worked his way to the fringe of the dry pavement and placed his hands in his pockets. His presence intimidated nearby customers despite his efforts to be invisible. He shook his coat overdramatically as if to display to his skeptics, “look I am just drying out.” He watched a dark blue Audi with tinted windows roll into the nearest pump. A large muscular passenger lumbered into the store, while a smaller weasel-like man worked the pump. The weasel man looked around cautiously while pumping, and sized Ryan up with disgust. He said something quietly into the car once the gassing was complete, and turned for the store.
Ryan paced. The need for heroin again tapped him on the shoulder, whispered in his ear, sent a thirst through his veins. He had never stolen anything that would not fit in the pocket of his baggy hoodie. He knew the plan was poor, but that Audi sure was sweet. It would certainly pay for his addiction, and then some. The door was ajar; the weasel man abandoned the keys on the driver seat. Ryan swallowed hard, and vibrantly ran for the Audi.
He plunged into the seat, shoved the key into its place, and vamoosed with a screeching of tires. The weasel and the bulkier man sprinted out of the store in time to witness his escape. The men revealed pistols, forcefully pulled an elderly man from his nearby Cadillac, and took to chase.
Ryan was immediately impressed with the hum of the engine, smoother than anything he had driven with his driver’s permit. The rear view mirror angled his sight to spot a lumpy green blanket spread across the leather back seat. Before he adjusted the mirror away, the blanket squirmed.
“What the…” Ryan reached backward and forced the blanket to the floor. Lying across the back seat, a small blonde girl bound and gagged stared fearfully back at him. She huffed and flailed with her arms helplessly tied behind her back.
“SHIT! OhmyGod… no f…”
BOOM. A gunshot took out the back window. Ryan swerved and resumed control of the car. He reached back to remove the gag from her mouth while staring ahead.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Are you a bad guy too?” Ryan was unsure how to respond. He did not think grand theft auto qualified him as “the good guy.”
“Look girl I’ll take you home! I need to know your name so I can help you!”
“My name is Chloe! I want to go home!”
“Stay down! I’m gonna try to…”
BOOM POP HISSSSSSSS. Ryan gripped the steering wheel tighter upon the hissing sound of a deflating tire. He depressed the gas pedal with augmenting force, but the Audi soon felt as if it were riding over rocks. Ryan’s white knuckles turned away from the car’s leftward pull while Chloe screamed behind him. The Audi went into a whirl and the encroaching Cadillac pushed Ryan and Chloe into a ditch. Ryan looked up from the airbag, “Chloe, you ok?”
No response. Chloe was unconscious, but breathing. Ryan realized the danger of the situation and kicked the door open. Perhaps he could carry her; perhaps he could flee and report to the police. He jumped to his feet and was met with a firm grasp of his collar.
“You FUCKING LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT! I’LL KILL YOU!” The shorter weasel man threw Ryan into the hood of the Audi. He shoved the pistol against Ryan’s neck. CLICK.
“No Carlos,” the giant man placed a hand on the weasel’s shoulder. He looked Ryan up and down and showed a smile that told Ryan death would be favorable, “He may be worth something. Tie him up. I’ll put Chloe in the Caddy.”
Carlos the weasel man gave a look of disgust Ryan had first seen him wearing, “You’re a sick man, Brick.” With the Audi set ablaze, the party of four departed in the borrowed Cadillac.