In this week's Moving Forward, Marshall finds himself in a precarious predicament. See what's going on, and don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to! Their links follow my tale!
Suddenly all the pressure around his neck was gone, and so was the weight of Cody’s body on his. As Marshall coughed and gasped for breath, he dimly heard Cody’s angry roar. Marshall rolled onto his knees. As he waited for his dizziness to pass, he took in the scene before him.
Cody was staggering toward Dustin, who’d backed up against the far wall. He held one of the laundry room chairs in his hand, raised in a threatening manner. He must have hit Cody with it. Blood flowed from Cody’s head, down his face. Dustin had hit him hard enough to hurt but not enough to knock him out, damn the luck.
“You fucking little prick!” Cody screamed. He lunged toward Dustin, reaching for him, as Marshall gained his feet.
“Get away from him!” Marshall yelled. He hurled himself at Cody’s back. His unexpected attack drove the already-injured man to his knees. Marshall may not have ever played football, but he could tackle well enough. That was something he’d learned from Lee, during the course of some of their rougher games.
Cody bellowed as he thrashed about, trying to shake Marshall off, but Marshall clung tightly. An expected elbow jab to his midsection followed by a quick punch weakened his grasp, and he found himself flat on the floor, facing Cody’s fist. He braced himself for the blow, but it never came.
Suddenly Cody’s arm was arrested in mid-swing. Marshall looked past Cody, to find that Lee had arrived, thank God. Lee wasted no time in pulling Cody off Marshall
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Lee grabbed Cody and slung him to the other side of the room where he fell against the washers in the wall and slid to the floor. Ignoring him, Lee turned back to Marshall, concern in his eyes.
“Are you all right?” He helped Marshall off the floor, grabbed the closest chair and helped him to sit.
“Am now,” Marshall said breathily. His throat hurt where Cody had been choking him. He reached blindly for Lee, and Lee wrapped his arms around him and held him tight.
Wait, was Dustin okay? Marshall reluctantly drew back, even as Lee asked, “What’s going on here? I waited, but when you didn’t show up after my text, I got worried and decided to come down and see what was going on.”
Marshall followed his gaze as it fell on Dustin who was sitting quietly on the floor, keeping his distance from them as well as Cody. “Has he done something?” Marshall knew who Lee meant.
“No, he didn’t. This wasn’t his fault,” Marshall quickly replied. “That guy’s the one they’ve been looking for, the one who beat up that passenger. He threatened both Dustin and me and then he attacked us. Dustin was just trying to help me. He’s not with this guy.”
A small crowd had begun to gather in the hallway, drawn by the noise, no doubt. A single figure pushed through the rest, into the laundry room. Marshall was glad to see Denver. Denver scanned the room, as if attempting to make sense of what he saw.
“It’s not his fault,” Marshall spoke up. “Dustin tried to help, honest. It was all that guy’s fault.”
Denver seemed relieved as he hurried to Dustin’s side and helped him up.
“Are you guys okay?” Marshall saw Roger had turned up too, with Kenny just behind him, looking like they’d just rolled out of bed.
“We need to get security down here,” Lee said, “and we need to get Marshall and Dustin looked at in the infirmary.”
Marshall started to protest that he didn’t need to be seen by anyone, he was fine, but one look from Lee and he realized he was wasting his breath. He gave up and nodded his surrender instead.
“Security’s coming,” one of the onlookers said. “Someone should be here any minute.” Moments later, a man wearing the uniform of the cruise line made his way through the throng and stepped into the room.
to be continued
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