Prompt: The story behind how that one random shoe is lying in the road
You’re going to think I’m crazy. Scratch that. I already think I am crazy so it doesn’t really matter what you think. I don’t know how it happened, I don’t know why it happened. All I know is that these events took place and I have the bumps, bruises, scratch marks, and shopping receipts to prove it.
It all started that morning after I walked down to the corner gas station to get my daily Mt. Dew freezie. I wasn’t a coffee person, never would be, so I took my caffeine heavily dosed with sugar. As a young man with the physique of a rail, I felt I didn’t have to worry about the notion of putting on weight. In fact I would have welcomed a few extra pounds to better fill out the shirt that billowed around me like sail.
I stood outside the door, happily slurping my icy beverage when my friend Todd drove up in the old LeBaron that his dad had given to him. It looked about as attractive as a bull in a tutu, but it ran decently enough to get us around and the gas mileage wasn’t too harsh on our allowances. The driver side door creaked in protest as Todd climbed out and affronted me.
“Dude, you won’t believe it.”
I nodded my head, too intent on my drink to agree with his statement. Todd had a way of exaggerating the smallest of details and adding rows and rows of embellishment to make it sound like a pipe dream come true.
“I have a date with Stacey Connors.”
Stacey, junior prom queen, and currently so far out of Todd’s league that she might as well have been orbiting earth itself for her lack of availability to some mere schmucks like Todd and myself. I didn’t doubt that Todd had talked to her, because they were neighbors and Todd liked to seize any opportunity to make small talk with Stacey. If she agreed to a date, he must have drugged her or she was suffering from a terminal disease that caused her to take pity on creatures so beneath herself.
“Well,” Todd shrugged. “I sorta got a date. I just have to do something for her.”
I rolled my eyes and finally removed the straw from my mouth, “You’re such a chump. She’s using you again. Remember when she got you to clean out her father’s garage so she could go to some concert?”
“No, man, this time is different.” Todd shook his head.
“Good luck,” I waved my hand in farewell and turned away. Unsurprisingly, Todd jumped in front of me to halt my escape attempt.
“I need your help,”
I stepped around him, “Na-uh. Not this time.”
“Please!” Todd got down on his knees, hands clasped and raised before him as he scuttled after me. “Please, please, please!”
Curiosity already had its claws in me, but I couldn’t resist making a spectacle out of Todd before I agreed to tag along, “What does she want?”
Todd jumped back up on his feet, brushed the dirt from his knees and could barely keep from bouncing foot to foot as he told me something about having to go get some package from a guy across town. Instantly the red flags went up in my mind, but I pushed them back down by assuring myself that Stacey wouldn’t be so cruel to send Todd to go get the piss beat out of him, or pick up some kind of shipment of drugs. Todd was annoying, and Stacey had her fair share of dealing with Todd’s quirks, but I never knew her to be entirely vindictive. She was manipulative, but I didn’t know any pretty girl that wasn’t a touch manipulative. If anything, I would go to make sure Todd didn’t get himself in too deep in whatever game Stacey was playing.
“Alright, but I get to pick the music.”
The guy Todd ending up meeting might as well have been name Bruiser for what he threated, by appearances alone, to do to Todd when we first stepped out of the LeBaron. The man was dressed like a biker, donned in black riding leathers with a handkerchief cover the shaved head. He stood a good few inches taller than the both of us and when he crossed his arms I couldn’t help but notice how board his shoulders were and how huge his arms were. It wouldn’t take the man much to snap my thin little neck in an arm like that. I could appreciate it on one level of my mine, the one that was envious to the man’s ability to pack on muscle where I barely had the outline of a bicep when I flexed. However, the rest of me was terrified for the well being of me and my foolish friend.
I tried to grab Todd’s arm to at least make him hesitate before rushing head first into the situation, but he didn’t seem to feel my feeble grab for his elbow and went right up to the bike that stood glowering at our physical weakness.
The bikers eyes narrowed, a sudden uncertainty passing through him as he glanced between the two gangly teenagers confronting him. “What do you want him for?”
Todd paused long enough to cast a questioning look back at me. I shrugged at him, because one, I didn’t know what Todd was trying to ask me, and two, I didn’t know who Schmit was nor did I know what I wanted from him. I moved a step closer to my friend as a means of support, or really, just so that at the first sign of trouble I could grab his arm and attempt to haul him back to the car.
“I’m picking up a package for Susan.”
The biker scoffed. “For Susan.”
As the biker walked into the alley Todd and I exchanged more confused looks. I think he wanted to follow the man, but my grip on his shirt and vigorous shakes of my head kept him in place. He pushed my arm aside and we struggled for a moment about what we should do (go or stay) when the biker walked out carrying a wrapped package. Todd and I immediately dropped our arms to our sides as if our mother had just walked in and caught us rough housing. Todd cleared his threat and reached for the package. The biker pulled it out of reach with one hand while the other palmed the center of Todd’s chest and shoved him back a step.
“You tell little Miss Susan that next time she want something, she needs to get her primped ass down here.”
Todd and I shared another look, this time both of us on the same level, because we were both wondering how the hell Susan was involved with this guy. We got the package and scrambled back into the car, but didn’t take off right away. Once the doors were closed we sat in silence and took in how messed up the situation was and how we probably were a hair’s breathe away from getting pommeled by some guy named Schmit. The package we got sat on the armrest between us and we both stared at the brown wrapping paper. Our eyes lifted at the same time, but it was me that put words to the twin inquiring looks, “Should we look inside.”
Todd wanted to, I could tell, but he leaned back and put the keys in the ignition. “I don’t think Susan would be happy if we did.”
“Screw her,” Sometimes I really hated when my friend wasn’t on my side. “We don’t even know what we just risked our lives for.”
Todd turned on the car. “Oh come on, we didn’t risk our lives. The dude was just a little scary, that’s all.”
I sat back in my own seat and buckled in, annoyance in full bloom on my scowling features. Todd pulled away from the street corner and in silence we began the drive back to the other side of town. We only made it a couple blocks before we heard the sounds of an engine revving behind us. Todd checked his mirrors while I turned in the seat to see the motorcycle speeding up behind us. It was the biker from before, but this time he had two of his buddies following him in formation. They didn’t look happy, but honestly I had never known any biker to look happy.
“Oh shit,” we cursed in unison and Todd stepped on the gas. I sunk low in my seat as every action movie I had seen told me that the men behind us had guns and were going to start firing at any moment. The roar of their bikes grew louder as they neared, seeming to catch up on us without any effort. The LeBaron wasn’t a race car, and honestly Todd was too cautious of a driver to really push the limits even in the face of danger. I could be grateful, at another time, that Todd insisted on being a safe driver rather than wrapping around the nearest telephone pole. Yet at the moment I wanted him to go faster, or at least try to side swipe one of the motorcycles that were now edging around our car.
I could see Schmit by Todd’s window, and an older man with a white beard was next to my door. “What the hell do they want?”
As if he heard me, Schmit pointed inside the car then made a gesture that read as ‘give it to me’ before his hand was back on the handlebar. The package, they wanted the package. I grabbed it and began to roll down my window. I felt Todd seize my arm and try to take the package back while still keeping the LeBaron on the road. “Don’t do it! I need that!”
“They’re going to kill us!”
“You don’t know that!”
As we struggled over the package (Todd was surprisingly strong with one hand when his love life was threatened) I felt an arm close in around my neck. The stranger’s hand tucked in under my shoulder and began to haul me out of the window of the car. Todd abandoned his fight over the package and tried to grab at my leg instead. I couldn’t do anything. My body was rigid with fear and my mind a blank as it watched the road pass by underneath me. I was going. I was going to die because my friend wanted to go out with the most narcissistic girl that ever existed. I vowed to haunt Todd from the grave and curse him with a lifetime of failed relationships for doing this to me.
Instead of grabbing the door to try and fight to stay in the care, I gave the package a death hug and just tried to breathe as the muscled arm kept me close. Todd’s grip slipped away from my leg and I felt my lower half slip out of the window. Time slowed as vertigo hit me. My feet were falling toward the asphalt and in that moment my life flashed before my eyes. I saw my mother’s smiling face. I heard my dad’s laughter. I saw my room in his mixed state between childhood and being a teenager, toys mixed with posters and school books. In that moment I longed to back in my room, safe and sound, and for my mother to come hassle me about picking up my dirty clothes. I wanted to go home.
Time resumed, my feet hit the ground and dragged against the asphalt. I felt my shoe give away before the biker hefted me up and over the front of his bike. He was already slowing down and it wasn’t long before he and the other two were at a complete stop and standing around me. Too shocked to argue, I stood there with only one shoe on and continued to shake. Schmit took the package from my fingers that refused to obey my commands to let it go. He laughed at my pale features before he handed me a different package, this one wrapped similarly aside from being a little lighter in weight. The biker mussed up my hair, “Sorry, mixed up the packages.”
And with that the gang of bikes was gone and soon afterward Todd was in my face asking if I was okay. I shoved the package into his chest, my glare feeble given that I was shaking like a leaf. “You owe me a new pair of shoes.”