What was I going to do?
These folks were bold. They’d hopped the wall. An action which in light of their recent conversation lent a truly sinister impression.
The good thing was they weren’t walking up the length of the wall. If they had…there was no way I could escape unnoticed.
But, my blunder with the phone served as a fortuitous distraction.
Still. ‘Not good.’
I did not want these men to find my phone. I hoped and hoped hard that the battery would just die. I didn’t want them to know who I was, who my contacts were. My habits…everything was there for these creeps to peruse at their leisure.
They’d crossed the gravel road and were fast approaching the source of that unfortunate noise.
Then I heard the most beautiful sound. The wheels of a car had transitioned from tarmac to gravel.
‘Damn it…’ What if it was the woman, or worse…
I remained prone.
The car was making its way at a leisurely pace. Neither too slow or too fast.
It drove past us. I recognized it as the property of the redneck that lived just over the creek that intersected the gravel at its halfway point.
For a moment I thought of hailing his attention. But, decided against it. Who knew what these people were capable of. They were that terrifying combination of furtive and bold. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were armed and would find live targets mighty appealing.
The car drove on. I was at a wits end as the masking effect of the truck receded and I heard that damned beep.
‘Shit…there’s just no way outta this.’
Then my mind latched on to a boyhood memory from the old country. Sure ‘the pioneers’ had disbanded but the antecedents of the old paramilitary spirit of a more cocksure Soviet Union still held sway.
I’d been evaluated. Psychologically. At the tender age of five.
My profile: actor.
I don’t know how accurate it was but…at this moment it gave me an idea.
I stripped down. I mean really stripped down. Till I was naked.
I took a sharp stone that lay nearby and cut into the flesh of my face.
I caked myself with dirt.
Then I stood up and winced as my bare feet began the journey across the gravel.
It was a bright night. The moon was full. I was plainly visible. I hadn’t shaved in days. I’d also just been napping outdoors. My full thick curls were bushy with moisture and leaves. Dirty, bloody, naked, unkempt…approaching in the dead of night illumined by ghastly lunar radiance…
I may as well have been wearing body armor. At least that’s what I told myself. Nervousness would betray me. ‘This is my armor and they are afraid.’
“Holy shit…what the fuck…eh….HEEEEY!” It was the Yankee.
I kept approaching with bold strides. Making sure that I appeared to not feel the pain of the sharp stones, sticks, and thorns that dug their way into my feet. The pain helped me. I used it to make my eyes as wild as I could. I wanted them to look downright dilated.
“Hey…you fuck…hey…one more step and I’ll fuckin waste ya…”
They were armed.
“Awww…shit….!” I yelped in yokel indignation. “fucking damn it…tawt eww pigs whir gon.”
I was standing in the clay now. Among underbrush. Looking directly at the Yankee with the gun and an Asian man. Both were clean cut and dressed in business casual. A feature which filled me with hope. These foreigners were more liable to buy my ruse.
“What the fuck…” The Asian man said. “What do we do Pete? There’s too much noise…if they find this dead freak…we don’t have the time to move him…”
I almost pissed myself. Something that would definitely be visible….
“Wai..” I said, slurring. “Are ya’ll cops…ya’ll don look like it…now dat I got a beed on ya”
To my great relief, the Yankee started laughing.
“This is just like fucking COPS man…” he said.
“…yea…this dudes been hitting the pipe for sure…”
“Ya’ll scart the shit outta me…I threw muh daym phone…”
It was still beeping.
Pete the Yankee lowered his weapon.
“Were you the one mumbling outside that wall..?”
“Uh..I wuz talkin…prolly…i do it summa da time..I suppose yall weren’t Jake?”
“Who the hell is Jake?”
The Yankee was really laughing now. “Finished the supply before you could deliver…”
“Pete, fuck it…we should go…half the fuckin neighborhood is probably awake by now…this guy is not a threat..”
“Ya callin me a puhssy!?”
The two men began convulsing with laughter.
“Ey fughk you!” I yelled. “ain’t…no one laughs at Mitch witout cummuppence.”
The pair was leaving. “Well you know buddy…” The Yankee said. “That’s a great name you got there. I’m sure your cellmates are gonna find a good rhyme to match your new occupation…Mitch the bitch!”
I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing myself. I grunted and cursed to keep the swell of mirth from betraying my ruse.
There was a gap in the wall with a metal gate. The gate afforded handholds, the pair paused, checking for any sign of other nighttime strollers, climbed it and disappeared back into the neighborhood.
I strolled back into the woods singing. Though it probably wasn’t necessary I wanted to continue my act till I was a good enough distance away. I still needed my clothes.
After a ten minute trek, I sat down in the thick little wood.
I felt ecstatic. I’d gotten my adventure after all. Sitting nude on bare earth in the cool night air post adrenaline rush felt positively primeval.
A sense that emboldened me to hunt the hunters.
Moving as noiselessly as possible I retraced my steps back to the wall. Pausing before I crossed the road. The coast was clear. I donned my clothes. Wiped away the blood and dirt using some puddle water. Then I combed my mane as much as it let me.
My clothes were sporty. A pair of sweats, sneakers, and a t-shirt. I left my flannel in the dirt as I made my way to the gate.
I checked around the corner even more cautiously than the pair of creeps.
My phone was still beeping but that was immaterial now.
I clambered over and began to jog.
I knew that dawn wasn’t far. My athletic garb, the hour, and the rushing blur of my motion was a ruse almost as good as the Meth addict.
I jogged in the direction that I knew the house that had hosted the bizarre conversation lay.
As I passed it I noted a large black pickup in the driveway.
I rounded the corner and ran behind the house that stood across the street.
It was risky but the adrenaline rush of nude forest near-death experience brought out the stalking caveman in me.
Who were these freaks in my stomping grounds…
I climbed over a chainlink fence and hid behind an AC unit…watching.
I knew that they were probably going to get the hell out of dodge soon.
Everything about their conversation and our encounter suggested that.
I wasn’t wrong. Because soon all three emerged pausing on the stoop to set something down.
What I saw them carrying still haunts me to this day.
It wasn’t gore…it was implication that terrified me…as I watched them dump three large black trash bags into the back of the pickup.
Then Pete and his friend grabbed a big cooler that sloshed with untold pounds of ice and hoisted it into the bed just ahead of the protruding trashbags.
Hurriedly the gruesome threesome piled in and drove away.
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