By Eric Burbridge
All hell broke loose and a bullet ricocheted off the side of the corner building and hit Milton’s leg. It stung, but that didn’t slow his power scooter. At his age he could kick himself for going to the corner on a Saturday night to buy black market weed instead of the state dispensary. Street weed was cheaper and killed his back pain.
What good is it if you’re dead?
More shots rang out in rapid succession followed by screams of terror as two young boys ran down the alley and hopped fences. Swerving left and right the wheels of his chair bounced on debris in the dimly lit alley. He slammed into his neighbor’s garage just two houses down from his. Which yard to cut through? The ping of bullets off chain link fencing decided for him. He pulled into the shadows of two garages; one abandoned the other under renovation. Piles of siding, drywall and other material leaned against the side of an opening big enough.
When he backed in his head still brushed against stacked lumber. Thank God for being short. He turned off the power that illuminated the controls. Shots continued from the street on the next block. It was all out war between those young boys.
Oh no! Two guys in dark clothing stopped in front of him.
Don’t look this way! The street lights flickered on and off. Could they see him? When they turned to duck out the alley he was deep enough in the shadows. They missed him and peeked out looking for whomever.
Don’t make a sound, Milton.
“Whoever come dis way shoot em,” one guy whispered.
“Got it,” his accomplice replied.
The silence was eerie, no cars, no wind, just the sticky humidity and the smell urine in the enclosure that shrouded him. Sweat trickled down his face, he dare not wipe it and a slight shake of his head didn’t cool him.
What? That was strange, but he didn’t move. One of the young guys turned, stepped back and took a leak against the garage. He tucked it and went back to his position. Thank God. Milton gripped the handlebars when he felt hair tickle his ear and then a sniffing sound.
A rat! Don’t move, don’t move. Little needle like feet stepped on his shoulder. A squirrel? That beat a rat, but both carried rabies. The pricks stopped and a bushy tail brushed against the side of his face and it hopped on the ground and ran to the alley.
It was a squirrel.
The young boys jumped slightly but maintained their focus on whatever. His stomach rumbled. He had to fart, but that meant death. Don’t squirm either, relax it will go away and it did. Suddenly a mosquito started to buzz in his ear and then those fools got restless and started to stir.
Oh no! Please don’t turn around, and they didn’t. But, that damn mosquito landed on the tip of his nose and went to work. He wiggled it, but it hung on and when it lifted off the itch almost drove him crazy. Now, he had to sneeze.
A vehicle sped down the alley.
“Here they come…I think,” the little guy said.
“OK, get ready…now.” The two of them fired simultaneously as it passed and then ran behind it.
Milton turned the power switch and prepared to shoot across the alley past the neighbor’s garages to his house.
WAIT A SECOND!
What? He heard sirens then screeching tires enter the alley. Seconds later several cop SUVs zoomed by. It took them long enough. He inched forward and looked both ways. Nothing. He pushed the joystick and sped to his house. The gate latch stuck for a minute. He slammed up against like his life depended on it…it did. It popped and he was between two garages on the way up the back ramp. He’d made it. Thank God.
Milton finished dressing his flesh wound and rolled to the kitchen table, dumped the weed and rolled one. The affects relieved the pain. Good he listened to the inner voice he’d never heard. Strange…real strange. Instead of off and on listening to the church broadcast that preceded his Sunday morning news program he’ll pay attention.