Lucky Flash: A Lucky O’Toole Novella
The pistol fire punctuated the show’s final pounding, pulsing crescendo as the overhead lights of the Fremont Street Experience exploded in color. The music reverberated in my chest. Or maybe that was my heartbeat. Who needed paddles to jump-start the old ticker? A .45 unloaded in the general vicinity usually did the same trick.
The Saturday night crowd packed in under the lights tighter than cattle at a feedlot—smelled sorta like them, too. I waited. They shifted. A few oohed and ahhhed. But nobody fell. Nobody screamed. This seemed like a good thing, although the jury was still out.
When Johnny Pismo had bolted off the stage in the middle of the show at the Desert Breeze Casino and I’d followed him, I’d known we were both leaping headlong into trouble. I’d made the leap before.
My name is Frederika Gordon, folks who know me call me Flash. No, I won’t tell you why, but I will say I’m an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the local rag that, despite the flight to the Internet and the fact none of the visitors in town read anything longer than the list of porn channels on their in-room feed, was still hanging on (probably by a thread but I’m not perched on a high enough rung to really know).
But that’s beside the point, except when my rent is due. Right now, I had agreed to chase Johnny Pismo who normally would be considered news only if everyone on the planet was beaten senseless with stupid stick. Reality T.V. indicated we were closer to that cataclysm than I feared, but I chose to ignore that.
So, tonight, like most nights, I was chasing a story. But unlike most nights, this story had just gotten interesting. Gunfire had a habit of piquing my interest.
Between you and me, I hoped whoever was jerking on the trigger had perforated Johnny Pismo’s hide. That’d dispatch one problem. But, in my experience, problems were a lot like Medusa’s heads—hack off one, three more took its place. Beside that, my pal Lucky would be pissed. Apparently she had some business with Johnny Pismo, though I couldn’t fathom what a high and mighty corporate exec would want with the low-life.
Narrowing my eyes, I scanned the crowd again. I was either the only one aware of tiny lethal projectiles hurtling through the air or the only one smart enough to panic. Of course, I had been listening for gunfire. Even then I’d had to strain to hear it.
Angling my head, I swiveled it in a methodical sweep, like radar seeking a ping. On the second pass I caught the faint pops of another round of shots. Turning toward the sound, I began pushing my way through the wall of people all looking skyward. Still nobody seemed alarmed.
“Excuse me.” I elbowed aside a tourist couple dressed in the usual cliché—Bermuda shorts, white socks, loud shirts, cameras. They gave me a collective glance that succinctly conveyed their irritation—I was impressed—but they moved so I could pass. At barely five-feet, I usually had to push the issue to get anyone out of my way.
With the show over, all the craned necks resumed a normal posture, and the crowd started oozing along Fremont Street. Still nobody had raised an alarm so I assumed no blood had been spilt… yet, but the night was young. Johnny Pismo could tap into the milk of human kindness like a wildcatter with a nose for oil, draining it dry.
I increased my pace, feeling like a salmon fighting a strong current. Lowering my head I moved as fast as I could. I didn’t even bother with eye contact and niceties—I just bulled my way through. Finally, when I glanced up, I saw the man I was looking for: Johnny Pismo.
Okay, I saw the back of him. “Johnny, you little creep, stop right there,” I shouted at his retreating back.
Much to my amazement he did. Of course, so did everyone else. The crowd was looking for a show, any show, and, if my hunch was right, this one was going to be a doozy. The mass of people moved back until they’d circled around Johnny Pismo, giving him room. If he was smart, which I knew would be a huge stretch, he’d pass a hat—Saturday night had aged sufficiently that most folks were feeling…generous.
Instead, Johnny Pismo looked stupid-scared.
All twitchy, he shifted from one foot to the other managing to look like a rat ready to run. Dressed in a red-and-white-checkered blazer with wide lapels, orange pants and a splash of purple sock where his pants failed to meet the tops of his white bucks that coordinated with his lavender shirt, he looked every inch a throw-back, or a throw-up, but I tried not to judge. Permed in tight curls, his hair was dyed an unnatural flat black. His eyes, narrow and dark, flicked over the crowd. Finally they landed on me. I thought he looked relieved to see a friend, but that was probably a figment. Last time I’d seen him had been ugly. This time wasn’t shaping up any better.
Bad men. Bad times. And a nose for bad news. My epitaph.
But, the one bright spot was I didn’t see a gun in his hand.
“What are you doing here?” He snarled, trying to mask the tinny high-tones of fear. He’d been a singer, well, that what his press release said anyway. He’d fancied himself Frankie Avalon’s successor—a rather grand vision for a guy with a thin voice, an average mug, a less than average bod, and no Annette Funicello. Lucky told me he was mounting a comeback, hoping to struggle out of obscurity to his former position smack in the middle of mediocre. Personally, I thought he was overreaching.
But nobody really cared what I thought. Lucky asked me to find him. What she did with him from here was her business. “Trying to keep your ass in one piece.” I gave him some attitude—it had always worked before.
He kept his eyes moving. When they passed back over me, they paused. “They’re trying to kill me.”
Even though it sounded like an exaggeration, I could tell he believed it. I thought I could smell his fear from where I stood, but that may just have been a gas leak. “Who’s trying to kill you?”
He shook his head, taking in the onlookers with a glance. “Not here.”
I took a deep breath and stepped into the circle. A few in the crowd murmured in surprise as recognition dawned. I sorta had a rep around town—I wasn’t exactly the wallflower type—and this little standoff would make great water-cooler chat tomorrow. They crowded in closer. “Fine. But let’s get you out of here.”
Johnny looked receptive but rooted to the spot by fear or indecision, so I took a step toward him intending to prod him along.
His narrow shoulders sagged a bit allowing his chest to sink into his paunch. In the fight against physical decline, Johnny Pismo didn’t appear to even be mounting a battle.
Shouts arose from somewhere deep in the crowd opposite me. I whirled, but not before I saw Johnny stiffen.
The crowd parted as two huge black men forced their way through.
My heart sank. One of them I recognized, one I didn’t, but I knew bad news when I saw it. “Wrong guys, Johnny. So wrong,” I whispered.
Pounds of gold hung in ropes around their thick necks. I’m not one to do that whole racial profiling thing, but I felt like shrinking back into the crowd—these guys looked like they meant business and, if the word on the street could be believed, they could bring it. Broad and bulky where it counted, lean and mean where it didn’t, like ex-NFL types, their gold grills flashed with reflected glow from the lighted canopy high above giving their smiles a weird rainbow effect. Dressed in tight white tees, black jeans slung low across their hips, unlaced Timberlands that looked fresh out of the box, they postured putting the bad in badass. With their shoulders hunched in a show of anger, their arms crossed to showcase bulging biceps, they lowered their heads to glower at Johnny Pismo who quaked liked a sapling in a hurricane. But, the one bright spot? If they had pieces, I couldn’t see them.
Busta’ Blue, the biggest of the man-mountains, stepped toward Johnny Pismo, shaking his head like a parent preparing to scold a misbehaving child. Busta’ was a big dog in the local gangsta rap scene. He’d even gotten some national play, but was still working his way up the food chain—I didn’t even want to imagine what that might entail. A bright smile flashed then faded leaving his eyes hard. “You got something of mine, Pismo. I want it back.”
Johnny tilted his chin. “Possession is nine tenths of the law.”
Busta’ Blue gave him a chilling smile. “Fine, then you won’t mind if I just relieve you of my property.” He uncrossed his arms and motioned to his muscle to follow as he stepped toward Johnny Pismo.
Johnny reached around to the small of his back. When he brought his hand back into view, it clutched a gun. At first I thought it might be a toy, but I decided to act like it was real on the off chance I was wrong.
Johnny Pismo pointed at the men. “Don’t come any closer.” The gun in Johnny Pismo’s hand wiggled despite his two-handed grip. “I’ll shoot you. I swear.”
Frankly, I’d put the odds of him hitting either of the two men at less than one in ten. But the odds of him hitting a bystander, one of the hordes of gamblers who make it possible for Nevada to resist a state income tax on it’s residents, like little ‘ol me, were better than even. As a potential taxpayer, I had skin in this game.
“Johnny Pismo. Don’t be a fool.” The minute the words escaped my mouth I cringed—that was like asking a fish to quit pulling oxygen from water.
Johnny Pismo ignored me which men did only at their peril, he knew that. But his reaction did solidify my disinclination to risk bodily harm to save his tiny, white ass.
Busta grinned, his eyes fixated on Johnny Pismo. This time his smile stayed, which had me worried. He didn’t seem worried, though, which was comforting. If he had anything to hide, like a gun or something, he wouldn’t be toying with Johnny Pismo like a fisherman who’d trolled into a school of marlin. “If that piece is all you got, white boy, you better start running. That little popper might slow me down but it won’t stop me.”
Johnny nodded toward me. “I got her.”
All three of the men turned and looked at me. I raised my hands, open palms toward Busta’ and his muscle, and gave them a smile and a shrug. “I’m sure we can work something out. Don’t you agree?”
This time Busta laughed, then, motioning his man to follow him, he started confidently toward Johnny Pismo.
I saw the little twerp’s arms tense. “Johnny! Are you nuts?” I shouted.
He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger.
“Where’s Johnny Pismo?” I sidled in next to my best friend, ace investigative reporter, and Vegas know-it-all, Flash Gordon. Even though well past an acceptable hour, I had no trouble finding her—apparently she had not only discovered that it was possible to dress head to toe in Day-Glo orange, she owned it. We huddled in a dark alley, the only illumination a spitting street lamp dying a slow death. I tried not to see it as a metaphor.
Before we get too far, I ought to introduce myself. My name is Lucky O’Toole and I am the Vice President of Customer Relations for the Babylon, Vegas’s primo strip property. This is a fancy way of saying I’m the chief problem solver, hence my being on the Strip at an ungodly hour, chasing down some has-been who was slated to perform at one of our lesser properties downtown. My boss is my father so I have a bit more incentive to corral wayward talent than most vice presidents in my position. It’s sort of a long story, probably better suited for another time. But, as an executive at the Babylon, back alleys behind closed hotels were not places I frequented much less at two in the morning, so I was in a less than stellar mood, which was probably exacerbated by being cold, hungry, dead-dog tired and short on my daily dose of medicinal spirits.
Flash tossed her mane of red curls as she gave an exaggerated head tilt toward the rear of the hotel across the alley. Fronting the prime section of the Strip, surrounded by much grander properties, it was finally undergoing a facelift. Unfortunately, right now the whole thing was as dark as a hooker’s heart and surrounded by an eight-foot chain-linked fence. I could hear the hum of traffic, occasional twitters of raucous laughter, shouts of joy, the thump of bass woofers as carloads of young men cruised the Strip looking for mischief—the party known as Saturday night in Vegas.
The glow of the multiple hotel marquees that sprouted along either side of this section of the Strip—a blinding display of competition between the properties—lit the sliver of night sky above the abandoned hulk like a multi-hued sunset. Unfortunately it did little to illuminate my present location or brighten my mood.
“Where is the jerk?” I pulled my sweater tighter against the night chill.
“He shinnied up that tree.” Flash dropped that little tidbit with a condescending tone, as if I should’ve known that. Like everybody picked a tree as a hiding place.
The trees stood like a line of weary soldiers, listing and sagging under the assault of too little attention, but still standing guard because it was their duty even though they no longer had anyone to protect. I eyed the drooping palms, their fronds a dead shade of brown. It always surprised me how quickly the Mojave could suck the life out of abandoned flora and fauna. “Which tree?”
“Third one down.” Flash spoke out of the side of her mouth as if worrying somebody would figure out what we were talking about.
I sent furtive glances into the impenetrable shadows. Though it wasn’t hard to imagine all manner of nasties lurking there, as far as I could tell we were the only fools in the alley—besides Johnny Pismo. The smell of over-ripe garbage and countless nights of over indulgence were effective deterrents. “Why are you talking that way? And how the hell did you find him?”
Finally Flash gave me her full attention. Being unarmed, I wasn’t sure that was a good thing. With her lush figure, all barely five-feet-if-you-stretch-it of her sheathed in that nauseating color, her put-out frown, flat delivery, sharp eyes and her sharper wit, she scared me… a bit—enough to make me pay attention anyway. And don’t you ever tell her—if you do, I’ll never admit it.
Flash hitched one hip and put a hand on it. Bey-girl, Queen B, attitude. “Why am I talking this way?” She lowered her glance and her voice. “Because I’ve been chasing this half-wit has-been around this silly burgh for the better part of the night and I’m at the end of my rope.”
“Too bad. We coulda used it to string him up.”
That stopped her mid-whine. “No rope, but I got a serious case of red-ass.”
“Not helpful.” Johnny Pismo had lurked on the fringes of fame for decades. I assumed he’d developed some pretty good survival skills. “He ran you around did he?” I enjoyed that visual, don’t know why.
“And gave me the slip more than once. Slimy little bastard.”
I crossed my arms and leaned against the light pole. “So how did you find him?”
Flash let out a long sigh as her smile faded, then her eyes skittered from mine. “Johnny and me dated a bit. I know all his secrets.”
I tired hard not to laugh, I really did. But I failed…miserably. If Flash had one downfall it was her consistently abysmal choices in men. Of course, I’m not one to brag, but we aren’t talking about me right now. “He has a habit of hiding in trees in back alleys?”
Flash let me have my fun. “You don’t want to know, trust me.”
“Oh, but I do. Every tiny, embarrassing, enlightening detail. But, I’ll let you off the hook…for now.” Fighting a serious case of the giggles, I tried to adopt a serious tone. “I appreciate you finding him, I really do. You’ve saved me from a huge headache. But now, with all your knowledge of intimate details regarding Mr. Pismo, do you think you could come up with a way to get him out of the tree?”
She held out her fist for a knuckle bump. “I got your back, girlfriend.”
I ignored the knuckle thing. “Glad to hear it.” Flash and I went all the way back to college days at UNLV. We knew so much about each other blackmail was an inevitability. I let out a sigh. It was getting later by the minute. “Now, about getting him down from there.”
“Couldn’t we just leave him? I mean no loss, no foul, right. He’s not exactly the kind of booking for the Babylon, is he? What’s all this about?” Flash could sniff out a story before anyone knew there was one.
At her question, a faint alarm sounded in my deep recesses. “I’m not really sure. Something’s going down and Pismo is in the thick of it.” He’d been nothing but trouble from the get-go. This was the Big Boss’ fault. I might have the last laugh, but it was costing me some serious shut-eye, no to mention after traipsing through the alley my shoes would be history—and that was going to cost the big Boss big time. To be honest, he was used to it—this sort of above-and-beyond thing came with the territory so often hazardous duty pay seemed like an annuity.
Sometimes being right wasn’t as much fun as it should be.
And being the chief problem solver was a pain in the ass.
Unable to conjure much meanness, I leveled my tired gaze on Flash. “I don’t think you can tease anything salacious out of this, sorry.”
She gave me a look. “You think not?”
I didn’t like her tone. It was too… hopeful. “Okay. What don’t I know?”
Flash graced me with a benign smile that seemed a bit tight to me.
“Fine, play coy.” I rolled my eyes, which was probably lost on Flash considering the relative darkness. I hated it when she gloated over being one step ahead—that’s what I paid her for after all. I’d kept my eye on the tree while we’d bantered so I knew Johnny Pismo was still up there. “Just tell me how to get him down.”
Flash glanced toward the tree that ostensibly hid Johnny Pismo. “Well, it’s not that easy.”
“Of course not. This is the start of a three-day weekend, one that I, miracle of miracles, actually have off. So of course there has to be some complication.”
“Really?” Flash turned big eyes my direction. “Three days? You’ll never be allowed off the corporate leash that long. Unless… ” Her eyes brightened. “Are you going somewhere?”
I nodded again. “Uh, huh.”
“Where?” Flash warmed to the story. I could just see her writing a headline. “I bet the Big Boss gave you the corporate jet, didn’t he? So, where to? Cabo? San Francisco?”
“Paris? Rome?” She tugged on my arm. “Oh please tell me you’re going to Rome. Those Italian men… I’m so down for that.”
For a moment I thought about pointing out a rather interesting interpretation of her word choice, but I was too tired to keep playing, so I gave it up.
“Flash,” I couldn’t keep the tired out of my voice. “I’m going to bed.”
She pursed her lips. “Typical. But, it still could be fabulous depending on who you take with you.”
“Which is none of your business. Now,” I put my hands on my hips and turned my attention to Johnny Pismo’s perch. “How the hell do we get him out of there?”
“I bet it’s Jean-Charles.”
Flash goaded me—Jean-Charles Bouclet, a rather dishy French chef, had been worming his way into my life, not that I objected or anything. Of course, my former lover, Teddie, had just reappeared complicating things and increasing the odds that I would shoot him and end up in jail with no conjugal visits, so I’m not sure any of it mattered. “Pay attention. Johnny Pismo? The tree? I’d really like to wrap this up and go home, not that it hasn’t been a laugh a minute.”
Her face clouded as the fight left her. I knew what that meant—she wasn’t jerking my chain.
I deflated. “What?”
“There’s a problem.” She avoided my eyes.
I got one of those hollow feelings in the pit of my stomach. You know the ones. The one’s that make your mouth go all cottony right before you hurl. “A problem? Of course there is. He’s hiding in a friggin’ tree.” I leveled my best dirty look as I pulled myself to my full six feet. Nothing really intimidated Flash but I was desperate enough to pull out every stop. “What. Is. The. Problem?”
“He shot somebody.” Flash avoided my gaze.
I snorted in disbelief. “Johnny Pismo? He doesn’t have the balls.”
Flash gave me an unenthusiastic shrug. “Well, I saw him aim and pull the trigger. After that, things got a bit sketchy. I heard a yelp, then the crowd erupted like a swarm of bees prodded from the hive—ready to attack but all flutter with indecision. Johnny Pismo took off like a scalded dog. Since he was my target, I took off after him.”
Under pressure, I switched to automatic problem-solving mode. My heart rate slowed, my vision sharpened, my brain jump-started. “Did you see who he shot at?”
Flash squared her shoulders. “You are sooo not going to like this.” Her eyes skittered from mine.
“I already sooo don’t like this.”
“Busta’ Blue.” She took a step back awaiting my reaction.
She got one. I flapped my arms and stomped around as my blood ran cold. “Great! Just what we needed. Now I’ve got to save his pansy ass from the gansta’ and gun crowd. Terrific.” The thought sobered me. “Did he kill him?
Flash tightened her lips into a thin line and shrugged. “Like I said, I didn’t hang around. From the reaction of the crowd—women didn’t faint or anything dramatic—I figure he just winged him, but I don’t know for sure.”
I didn’t know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, not that the answer really mattered all that much, it just defined the rules of the game and who the players would be. Of course I was ignoring the fact that it probably mattered a whole lot to Busta’ Blue. And, not that I cared, it also factored greatly into Johnny Pismo’s longevity. But, dead or alive, damage had been done. And retribution was required by the Code. “I wonder if Johnny Pismo appreciates his position—he’s just started a turf war with the toughest guys around.”
After Tupac got gunned down on the Strip, that whole part of the music scene had been a powder keg ready to blow. I glanced up and down the alley with a new sense of urgency. “We’d better get him out of that tree before someone else finds him. Any idea what his beef with Busta’ Blue is?”
“I heard Busta’ say Johnny Pismo had something of his and he wanted it back.”
Flash shrugged. “It wasn’t exactly a good time to wring details out of anyone, you know.”
I didn’t respond as I tried to think.
“When he scurried up that tree, I tried talking to him, but he’s pretty shook,” Flash continued. “He’s talking a mile a minute and I can’t understand a word. Maybe you’ll have better luck; he’s scared of you. But,” she put a hand on my arm as I started for the tree. “He’s armed.”
Something in her tone sounded off, but I blew by it. “He still has the gun, I know.”
Holding on to my arm, Flash squeezed tighter. “No. He traded the gun.” Her lips pursed, serious clouded her eyes—I caught it all in the glow of a streetlight nearby.
I gave her my full attention. “He traded the gun?”
Flash batted at my question like shooing away a pesky gnat. “All I know is, he had the gun. Then he didn’t.”
“So you lost him?”
“The Strip’s packed. One minute he was in front of me, then nowhere. I doubled back. Took me a few minutes, but I found him again. He took off. I chased him here.” Flash motioned at the tree.
“So he stashed the gun.” I stopped, my brightening mood felled by a thought. “You said he traded the gun. What made you say that?”
Flash bit down on her lips fighting a smile. “When I found him again he didn’t have the gun. He had something else.”
“What?” I stretched out the word, fighting for patience.
“A tiger.” Flash bobbed her head as she motored on not giving me time to absorb the punch. “I’m pretty sure he traded the gun for the tiger.”
I looked again at the tree. “A tiger? In the tree?”
Flash fought a grin—a hint leaked out, curling her lips on one side. “I told you, I only lost him for a few minutes. Next thing I know he’s got a tiger. I don’t exactly know how.”
“Siegfried and Roy big.”
I gave a low appreciative whistle. “How’d he get it up a tree?”
“Beats the hell out of me.”
I mentally squashed the other questions burbling up—they could wait. I tipped my head toward Johnny Pismo’s hiding place. “Let’s talk him down. The longer we wait, the better the odds of increasing our problems. Busta and his crowd aren’t stupid. They’ll find Johnny Pismo sooner rather than later.”
Lights arced across the back of the building as a car turned down the alleyway, its engine idling. Flash and I instinctively ducked back into the shadows. A figure leaned out the passenger-side window and flicked on a powerful light, the kind that reminded me of the ones used to spotlight corner girls.
“Shit.” Flash, still squeezing my arm, pulled me close to her side. “You’re like some friggin’ prophet or something.”
The car eased our direction as the light flashed around the alley. “Just once, when it comes to this sort of thing, I’d love to be wrong.”
“What should we do?”
“You wouldn’t have a gun, would you?” I asked Flash even though I knew she hated the things.
“You think I have a gun? Seriously?”
“Just a passing spark of unbridled hope. But, just for the record, they do come in handy from time to time.” I took a deep breath. “This would be one of those times.”
Feeling powerless, I tried to think. A couple of garbage cans, a few empty bottles, not much in the way of firepower. “Be still. Maybe they won’t find him.”
“They knew enough to come down this alley.” Flash whispered.
That case of redass she’d mentioned hardened her voice to a flinty brittleness. Flash—the Champion of the Underdog. I loved that about her—except when she drug me into a lopsided fight.
As the car inched closer, we pressed further back, squatting behind the shelter of a dumpster. Its top open, it reeked of the rotting detritus of dreams. Johnny Pismo had reeked of it. And desperation made stupid people do seriously stupid stuff. If I ever got my hands around his neck, I’d toss the twerp in the thing and leave him there—after I figured out what the hell was going on.
I held my breath and ducked out of sight as the car rolled past, so close I could smell the sweet stench of its over-cologned occupants. When I saw stars, I deigned to breathe again. My breath escaped in a long, silent sigh as the car continued past. I ventured a peek around the dumpster. Brake lights painted the shadows an eerie red. The spotlight still probed the darkness. The car pulled even with the first tree. Leaning over me as I crouched, Flash put a bracing hand on my back as she craned for a better view. I don’t think either of us took a breath, holding onto the air we had.
The fronds of the first tree, an impenetrable tangle of dead brown and hopeful green shoots, tossed the light back. I dared a shallow breath, as the car kept moving.
Two more trees until Johnny Pismo would be out of the woods.
The black hulk of the empty building muted the noise of the Strip. The idle of the car’s engine faded until there was nothing as if time had stopped, pausing life. Silence filled all the spaces around us.
“You think they have guns?” Even though my positive thinking was often dashed, I clung to it. One of these times I had to be right… right?
Flash leaned down, her mouth close to my ear, and whispered. “Hell, these guys accessorize with the latest calibers.”
A shot split the night.
Flash and I both jumped. “Now you’re the friggin’ prophet,” I hissed.
“You had to ask,” Flash’s voice lowered into a growl.
But hers wasn’t the only growl. Echoing down the alley came the distinct, low rumble of an angry, large…. very large, feline.
I let my head drop. If we heard it…
Sure enough, when I hazarded another glance, the light now probed the third tree, Johnny Pismo’s tree. Parking lights flashed on. Doors opened, then shut. Three shadowy figures gathered under the tree. The light was too weak for me to make them out perfectly, but, from their posture, they had meanness on their minds.
A voice growled, “Pismo, get your pansy ass down from there. You got some answerin’ to do.”
Still with a balancing hand on my back, Flash leaned down again. “Busta’ Blue.”
I’d gotten that far on my own but didn’t feel the need to say so.
“Guess Johnny’s aim is as bad as his act,” Flash continued.
The urge to spring to his defense coiled inside me. Why all of a sudden I felt the need go bounding to his rescue beat the hell out of me. It was a knee-jerk thing, not a thought-type thing—sort of a save-the-world character defect. I opened my mouth to object.
Busta’ Blue beat me to it. “You and me got a score to settle, Pismo.”
Silence. The night stilled as if it too was afraid of Busta’ Blue. Even the hint of a breeze that had raised goose bumps on my arms had fled, although the goose bumps remained.
In the weak light, I saw one of the men raise his arm and point toward the tree. Metal glinted in the light. A gun. Both hands on the grip, he took aim.
Damn. Why did men always seem to bring a gun to the fight when fists would solve the problem?
Without a thought, I pushed myself to my feet, apparently catching Flash off guard. She yelped as I hit her chin, slamming her mouth shut.
“Sorry, I threw the word over my shoulder as, legs churning, I ran. “No!” One small word wasn’t much defense against three big dudes with a gun, but fresh out of ideas, I was winging it.