Runner – Part 17

This is Part 17 of my serial narrative, “Runner.” Here’s a link to Runner – Part I if you haven’t read that yet.

***

Part 17

I followed Angel across the lawn and up to the front door. I was carrying a 6-pack of beer that Angel had bought earlier. Three guys were sitting on the porch. One of them stood and pointed at me, “Scram freshman. We’ve already got a bad ratio.”

Angel said, “If you don’t let in my cousin, we’re both leaving.”

Before they could respond, I said, “You guys want any beers?”

“Give them to me,” the leader said.

We walked into the house. The Friday night party had already started, the music pounded into the walls, and bottles littered the tops of tables. Angel grabbed my arm and breathed into my ear, “We split up.”

I walked into the raucous clamor alone. Paulo had shown me a picture of Travis. I was supposed to pose as a druggie looking for a score, just one of Shake’s crowd that needed a new supplier.

I recognized a few people, but I didn’t know them. I finally spotted the target in a side room. He was sitting on a couch and smoking a fat cigar. I walked by the room twice, getting up my nerve. Finally, I wandered into the room and sat down. He ignored me.

“Hey, you’re Travis, right?”

He looked at me for a moment. “Do I know you?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “I’m a friend of Shake. He skipped town or something. Can you help me out?”

I pulled out some bills that the other had fronted me. Travis stared at the cash then looked up at me.

“Wait here.”

He got up and left. After a minute, Travis stepped back into the door frame.

“Come on,” he said and beckoned.

I followed him. He walked to a closed door that led to the basement, He went down first. I looked around when I got to the bottom of the stairs. A washer and dryer, some cardboard boxes, a ceremonial mask. Travis was standing by an empty workbench.

He didn’t speak.

Two guys came down the stairs. I figured these two were Hatter enforcers. I felt the cold rush of adrenaline dumping into my system. I was trapped.

“Who are you?” Travis said.

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“Who are you?” Travis demanded. “Shake isn’t a friend of mine. I want to know why you know about me.”

“I already told you. Shake talked about you.”

Travis gestured, and the two guys grabbed me. Travis stepped closer. “What’s your name, punk?”

The noise from upstairs became noticeably louder — someone had opened the door. Someone started walking down the stairs. The two Hatters loosened their grip on me but didn’t release me.

I craned my neck to look over my shoulder. It was Angel. She was holding a red cup and looking perplexed.

“Is the bathroom down here?” she asked.

All three of them stared at her for a moment.

“Sorry babe, no bathroom down here,” Travis said. “How about you run back upstairs?”

“The bathroom isn’t down here?” she said.

He walked around me to escort her back upstairs. Angel kicked Travis in the stomach and slammed her knee into the head as he bent over. He crumpled to the concrete floor like a boneless animal.

I had been waiting for her to do something. I yanked free before the two Hatters could recover.

“Run!” I yelled.

Angel turned around and bounded up the stairs. I followed her.

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