"Why are you doing this?" I asked softly as we raced out of La Canada. A quick glance in the review mirror showed me no one was following me. Nobody was on their way to rescue me. "They're not going to let your brother go and eventually they will catch you - -"
"Shut up. Just shut up, faggot!"
I thought of denying I was gay. Maybe he had a particular hard on for gay guys. He'd been in prison for several years. I'd heard what happened in places like that. Rape. Gang bangs. It could warp any man's mind.
Then I glanced at his face and knew it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference. Steve Williams' nose was leaking copiously and he kept sniffing up streaming loads of snot. His eyes were red and puffy and his mouth worked constantly, the jaw knotting and unknotting as though he chewed on something hard and sour.
Junkie eyes. I remember the sketch artist Claire had said big brother Clarence looked like he was a junkie. If he wasn't it was a sure bet brother Stevie was.
Then I thought of offering him money. If he had money for a hit maybe he'd lose interest in killing me.
Except he'd just kill you, take the money then enjoy his hit.
I was trapped and I knew it. When would David notice I was gone? Probably not until he finished up with Parsons and Hernandez and came looking for me in the coffee shop. That could be an hour from now. Longer.
I glanced at the door handle, then out at the roadway beyond. Steve had the car cranked up to at least fifty. I'd kill myself if I hit the pavement at that speed. I'd have to wait for him to slow down, or do something to make him slow down.
We sped out of business area and veered down a secondary road toward the distant purple gray foothills. Lots of open space out there where a body could be dumped and never found.
Steve giggled. "Never killed me a faggot before. Does your blood look any different than a normal guy?"
Blood. Ah. "It looks the same, snot-face, but it'll kill you dead."
"Haven't you heard of AIDS? We all got it you know. It's a faggot disease. It kills you slow like. But not before your dick rots and falls off. You ever see a dick rot, snot-face?"
We were passing through an industrial area that had lost the war of the recession. Lots of old abandoned buildings crowded side by side alongside abandoned cars.
"First your balls swell up like balloons. Then they fall to pieces. Go all black and smelly like." I jerked at the crotch of my pants. "Your dick shrivels up and rots and you piss green slime. You want to see mine?"
He screamed and waved the gun at me while he tried to steer the car. The tires thumped over the shoulder of the road and before he could straighten it I grabbed the wheel and gave it a hard jerk right.
The Taurus slewed sideways, picking up speed when a freaking Steve hit the gas instead of the brakes. I saw the abandoned tow truck ten seconds before Steve did. I ducked and flung myself sideways across his lap.
He screamed again, whether at the specter of an AIDS riddled walking corpse touching him or at the tow truck I never knew. The passenger door crumpled under the weight of the truck, something punched through the window where my head had been and went through the back of the seat.
Steve pulled the trigger, the gun bucked and filled the car with the smell of cordite. Steve's scream this time was thick with pain. The idiot hadn't bothered aiming and had shot himself in the leg.
I lunged to grab the gun before he could shoot again. I was half sprawled across his chest, both of us covered in his blood. He stared at me, wide-eyed with horror. I bared my teeth.
"Move or I'll bite you. It's like rabies, Stevie. I bite you and you're a dead man." I threw him a rictus of a smile. "Give you a blow job, Stevie and we can both watch it rot off."
He punched me and scrabbled at the door handle. It clicked and the door popped open, spilling us both out onto the cracked ribbon of concrete that had been a parking lot at one time.
"Not gonna touch me, don't you touch me, you sick mother fucker." He tried to raise the gun only to realize he no longer had it in his hand. So he kicked me instead.
His foot connected with my jaw. I roared at the pain and fell backward, nearly sliding under the idling Taurus. The gun fell out of my hand and bounced under the car.
Steve rolled away from me and scrambled to his feet. But his wounded leg buckled under him and he went down on one knee. He looked back at me, his face a mask of fear and loathing. I knew part of it was hysteria brought on by withdrawal, but it was still a sickening sight to see someone so terrified of me just because I was gay.
Then he picked up a length of rusted pipe and came after me and I wished I could kill him with a touch. I ducked when the pipe came whistling at my head.
"Faggot, suck on this!" He swung the pipe again and it slammed into the car door above my head.
We both spun around and I saw David standing behind the open door of his unmarked, his gun drawn and his face taut.
"Drop the weapon, Williams. NOW."
Steve hesitated. The steel pipe sagged in his grip, the end of it nearly touching the ground. Then he recognized David.
His eyes bugged out. He screamed and lifting the pipe over his head as he charged at David.
I saw the flashing bubble lights of two other police cars pour into the parking lot. I heard David shout again. Then there came the throaty roar of his .38 as he squeezed the trigger.
Steve's charge turned into a jitter bug of destruction. Two bullets slammed into his chest and he spun around, still clutching the steel pipe. Then he sagged onto his knees as several uniformed police officers swarmed the scene. One of them reached Steve and wrestled the weapon away while several others stood over him, weapons drawn, waiting for some sign he was going to keep on fighting.
Steve's fight was over. Even I could see that from where I sat against the door of the Taurus, watching his bright red blood leak onto the dusty pavement.
While the others crowded around Steve's body, David holstered his gun and raced past them to my side. He knelt down beside me and touched my face. His eyes widened when he saw all the blood.
"Christ, man!" He turned and roared at the cops. "We need an ambulance here. A man's been shot."
I grabbed his wrist and held on tight. "No, David. I'm okay. It's Steven's."
He fell down beside me and checked me over himself. He was laughing almost hysterically by the time he was done.
"I thought you were dead. I watched him force you into the car but I couldn't get out of the room in time to stop him. It's stupid, I was watching you but wasn't ready to do anything. I nearly let him get away with it. Then he goes driving in here like a maniac and I hear shots fired and I'm sure he's killed you."
Completely oblivious to the other cops around us he took me in my arms and buried his head against my chest.
"I couldn't stand it if you were dead. Just like I couldn't stand it if you left me. Promise me you won't leave, Chris. Promise me."
"I'm not going anywhere, David. I'm here to stay."
"You mean that."
"With all my heart."
[More to come]
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