Runner – Part 14

This is Part 14 of my serial narrative, “Runner.” Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.

***

Part 14

I called Deacon with my cellphone, praying that he’d pick up.

“Are you guys okay?” I asked.

“We’re fine,” Deacon said over the phone. “Those two goons were Hatters. We scared them off. What happened to you?”

“I lost him. He ran back to his house, and two guys grabbed him. I didn’t want them to follow me back to the House.”

Silence on the other end. Finally, Deacon said, “They were waiting for him?”

“Yeah, seemed like it.”

“Okay, come back to the House. We’ll figure this out.”

The police arrived about two hours after the skirmish. Deacon had called them after he talked to me. When the police arrived, it was a single officer in a patrol car. The man looked like he had forgotten to shave in the morning.

The officer listened to our story and took some notes. His expression changed when I told him about Shake.

“Let’s go over to his house then.”

The officer drove his cruiser to Shake’s house and got out. We walked up to the porch, and the officer knocked on the door.

“Hello, this Officer Fields from the New Athens police department. This is just a courtesy visit — just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

Silence. The officer looked over at us.

“Your friend … you think he knew these people?”

We looked at each other. “Maybe.”

“So it’s possible he left with these people.”

Officer Fields handed Deacon his card.

“Call me if you something else happens,” he told us. “You can file a missing persons report if you haven’t heard from him. Sorry guys. This town has gone to the wolves since the university shut down. We don’t have enough men since they killed the security force.”

The officer drove away in his cruiser, and we walked back to the House. Deacon decided to call a Pathfinder meeting for that evening.
Later that night, I returned to the House.

Angel pushed open the shattered front door and stepped into the House. She scanned the room. When she spotted me Angel marched over and grabbed my arm, pulling me into the next room. We were alone.

“What the hell is your problem?” she said.

I didn’t know why she was angry.

“When this went down, did you think to tell me?” she asked. “I care about this town more than you do. The next time you go and do some crazy stunt — tell me first. Got it? I don’t wanna find out because Deacon calls us together for a meet-and-greet.”

“I’m sorry.”

Angel sighed.

“There’s a lot happening here,” she said. “And it’s dangerous. We need to stick together, okay?”

“I can handle myself. I’m not a child.”

Angel smiled. “I know you can, blondie.”

She patted me on the shoulder and walked across the room.

The meeting began after the remaining students arrived.

First, Deacon explaining how Shake started peddling meth. Then Paulo told the group about the two visits to Shake’s house. I told them about chasing the drug dealer and the two strong-arms that grabbed him.

“The policeman called me this evening and told me that Shake is in the hospital.” Deacon paused to let the phrase sink in. “Shake told them he fell down some stairs. I don’t think anyone believes that.”

Ryan said, “If we continue provoking them, we’ll have something close to gang warfare very soon. They won’t shrink from this. The Hatters will see this as a direct challenge to their turf.”

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