Tim to the Rescue
My first inclination is to speed to that mall faster than a speeding bullet, but common sense says no, you’ll get pulled over and too much time will be lost in explanations to the police. My next thought is why not actually call the police? It’s a kidnapping, right? An illegal action? Isn’t that what they’re here for? To protect and to serve?
But I know that if I do that, Sonny might not come out of this alright, and I can’t bear that thought. I just have to do this myself.
So here I am at Riverview Mall, standing in line at the Orange Julius, studying the menu—not like I don’t know it by heart or anything—and trying not to shake. When I reach the front of the line, I place my order. I have to repeat it twice, ‘cause the first time I say it I swear I sound like I’m speaking Greek. Or Venusian or something.
I glance toward the sound of the voice, it’s coming from right behind me. Oh crap, not a good time to run into an acquaintance, but I just did.
“Hi Roger.” I turn back toward the counter, thinking I’ve just completed my social obligation. Wrong again, o wise one.
“Howya doing?” he comes up to me, claps a hand on my shoulder. I try not to jump too high at his touch. “Where’s your better half? How’s Sonny doing?”
Damn, another one that didn’t get the memo. I should start up a newsletter or something, call it Sonny: Yes, He’s My Ex. Jesus.
But I don’t have time now to explain, so back to incomplete truths. “He’s Sonny,” I laugh, “you know how he is.” A neat way of saying absolutely nothing but seem like I’ve answered the question.
The drinks are ready, and they’re in the carrier. Thank god. Roger opens his mouth, no doubt to ask me something else equally inappropriate, but I’ve grabbed the Orange Julii and I’m on the fly.
“I’lltellhimyousaidhi,” tumbles out of my mouth, as I tumble out the door, racing through the mall to the exit which leads to the parking lot numbered 7E.
The parking lot is pretty deserted, ‘cause most of the stores on this side of the mall are closed, and no one parks here except maybe junkies trying to buy, or hookers wanting to sell. Luckily none of them appear to be in evidence tonight.
What there is is a single car, sitting in the right place, right under the big halogen light, the only working light on this end of the lot, under the sign that says 7E. So this must be the place, it must. And that guy lying on top of the hood must be the guy, he must.
I take a deep breath. Almost out of the woods, I hope. Calm down, Tim-tim, I tell myself. Dammit, why do I sound like Sonny? I walk purposefully toward the car, determined not to show any fear, maybe even regain some sort of upper hand.
I’ve never seen this guy before in my life. He’s long and skinny, and dressed all in brown; jacket, and pants and shoes. He looks like a walking Slim Jim. As I approach, he unfolds himself, and smiles at me.
“Tim, thanks for coming.” Like this is some kind of a social call. What a moron.
“Where’s Sonny?” I cut to the chase.
“He’s safe,” he assures me, “and he’ll stay that way. If you cooperate.”
“If I cooperate? I got your drinks, dude.” I hold up the crowded drink carrier, trying not to slosh them around anymore than I can help.
“You think that’s all we wanted? Sheee-it, you got a lot to learn, bro. Now, get in the car, you’re gonna drive.”
“I’m gonna what?”
“Drive. It’s this thing you do when you get behind the wheel of a car. You know, with a gas pedal and a brake pedal—“
“I know what driving is,” I interrupt, refraining from calling him jackass. Or worse. “I mean, why am I driving? Where?”
“To Sonny, of course. That’s when I’ll tell you what it is you have to do.”
Great. Peachy keen. Sounds swell.
What choice do I have? In for a penny, in for a Sonny, right?
“Fine, let’s go,” I snap. I stomp over to the driver’s side. He grabs the carrier before I can spill it, with one hand, with the other he grabs my shirt, twisting it between his fingers.
“Look, Fuckface, try anything funny, and Sonny’s gonna be sleeping with the fishes.”
Fine, whatever. Let’s just do this.
The key’s in the ignition. I realize that I can’t do anything but listen, what do I want with this guy’s car?
Nothing, it’s Sonny I’m after. He climbs in, on the passenger side. It’s only then that I notice that he’s armed. Shit.
He buckles himself and the orange drinks into place, and then he tells me where to go and I follow his directions and drive. He directs me into a part of town that I’m not familiar with, and it’s not long before I’m totally lost.
We’re really out in the boonies now, so far from civilization that the residents have propane tanks, a sure sign of the rural condition. I pull up to a house that sits at the end of a cul-de-sac, and he signals to me to go in.
My heart’s pounding in my head, I can barely breathe, as he pushes me inside the door. Where is he, where is he, where is he?
There, on the sofa. It’s him, it’s really him. It’s Sonny. I want to rush over to him, throw myself at his feet and kiss them, then count all his toes.
Hey, don’t look at me like that! I want to, but I don’t. What I do is look at the guy sitting next to him, holding his hand.
Who the fuck?
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