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Two big men, who were holding smaller man by the back of his jacket, shouldered their way through the crowd and bumped into Michael. One of the men shoved him into a wall, and the odd threesome carried on walking. They walked right into the ally that Michael had been planning to use as a shortcut home, as he did every day. He hesitated and weighed the options in his mind. He knew that there were many stories about things that happened in the back allies of big cities like Chicago, but he had read something that only about 2% of all crime in Chicago occurred in allies. He also had learned that only about 7% of all Chicago crime occurred in his area, so he figured why not? What could possibly happen? It's well lit and commonly traveled if something bad were to happen someone would help me. Wouldn't they? As he rounded the corner, he heard yelling, and then he heard a loud noise and blood spattered the sidewalk in front of him. He froze, then the bigger of the two men, turned and yelled something unintelligible. Then he ran, with surprising speed for one so large, towards Michael. Michael turned to run, but tripped over an old Corona Light beer can, and stumbled. He regained his balance just in time to have the man tackle him to the ground. The man grabbed for his neck, probably trying to strangle him, but missed and grabbed his school ID in instead. Feeling a rush of adrenaline, Michael kicked him full in the face, shocked the man let go of Michael, who then ran out of the ally and into the mobs of people streaming by outside. Worried that he would be followed, Michael sprinted last few blocks to his house. The only person at home was his 9 year old sister, Lisa. When he ran in panting, plus the terrified look on his face, Lisa could tell that something was up.
“What’s your issue?” she asked rudely.
“None of your business” he replied in kind.
Lisa glowered at him, and like no other 9 year old could, she stalked away.
As she did so, she asked with an evil grin, by the way, where's your ID?”
Michael froze Oh crap! He thought, those men have my ID and they know my name and school! What am I going to do! They could come and find me, if they could kill that man why couldn't they kill me, an insolent kid, to protect themselves! To make himself feel a bit better, he went around and locked all doors and windows in his house, all the while ignoring his sister's sneer. He went up to his room, locked the door, and started to pace nervously. He thought about telling his parents, but he was not the sort of kid who went and cried to his parents about everything. They probably would not even believe him, they'd say “Oh honey I think your imagination is getting away with you.” or some other crap like that. Maybe the men would not even bother to come after a kid like him......Of course they'd come after him!!! He was a witness to their killing; Michael could get them locked up for a long time! They would probably ambush him at school or something. Wait, but what if he did not go to school? Then they would not find him, but how could he ever pull that off? Then he thought, I could fake strep throat! Then I won't have to go to school! That night, when his Mom got home,
He said, “Mom, my throat is starting to hurt.”
“Oh, honey come here; let me see if you have a fever.” She replied as she placed her hand across his forehead. “No, no fever, but why don't you go lie down for a bit, Lisa can set the table.”
At this Lisa turned and glared venomously at Michael, who since his mother's back was turned stuck out his tongue like a child, and walked up to his room. He was a good kid, unlike his sister; he did his work, was not a smart-aleck, and did not lie, much. So, of course, his parents believed him. When his parents went down to dinner were completely oblivious to the fact that their children were throwing mental 'daggers' at each other. After a while Michael excused himself and went back to his room to 'rest'. After checking once more that all of the doors and windows were locked, Michael fell into an uneasy sleep, plagued with dreams of the two man stalking him and the dead man haunting him. The next morning his Mom decided to take him to the doctor, just in case he did have strep, despite his protests.
“Open wide!” exclaimed the doctor.
Michael obliged. The doctor stuck one of those long, white, Q-tip like things down his throat, Michael gagged and then threw up, and he had always had an over-sensitive gag reflex. By the time he looked up, the doctor had left the room to go test it.
Later, the doctor came back and said, “Well, it does not look like he has strep” His mom sighed with relief, “But,” the doctor continued, “his throat does not look inflamed, it does not look at all sore.”
Michael's moms' head whipped around to glare at her son. Michael looked at the floor.
“Thank you doctor,” said Michael's mom said curtly, “Let's go Michael, now!”
In silence, Michael's mom drove him back to school, but he still knew he was in big trouble. The whole drive Michael's heart was racing, but not because of his mom, because of the goons. He was sure that as soon as he got out of his Mom's car that they would leap out and grab him. They did not; he made his way into the school without incident. The rest of the school day went by as normal. As the last few seconds before the final bell ticked by, Michael felt his stress level skyrocket. As soon as it rang, Michael raced out as fast as he could. He did this for two reasons, the first was to stay with crowd, so he'd have witnesses, and the second was to get home faster. As he started to walk away, he thought, Dang it! I have to walk Lisa home today! So he went and stood impatiently by the flag pole to wait for her. She took forever and the more the crowd thinned, the more impatient and nervous he got. Finally she staggered out the door, weighed down by a backpack that looked like it weighed 350 tons.
“Come on, let's go!” He snapped.
Lisa stuck out her tongue and deliberately dragged her feet.
Michael glared but apologized “I'm sorry I've been rude, but please hurry!” Lisa rolled her eyes, but obliged.
“So,” she said as they walked, “what is up with you these past few days? You have been acting like something that came from outer space and does not understand the culture of the 'Great American Society'”
“I just have a lot homework, that's all.” grumbled Michael.
As they rounded the next corner, two, big, burly and vaguely familiar men seemed to be pursuing them. Weirdly enough, they were just at the mouth of the ally way that this whole mess had started at. Without hesitation, Michael turned and led Lisa into the ally. Lisa was not surprised by this, because they almost always used this route as a shortcut home. The men followed them. Lisa turned around and peered at the men, but Michael grabbed and pulled her along. As they got closer to the end, Michael yelled, “RUN!” They both ran. When they were about half way through, Lisa tripped on a beer bottle. Yes, the very same Corona Light bottle that Michael had tripped on the day before. The man caught up to Lisa and one of them grabbed her and held a gun to her head. The other man drew a gun and pointed it at Michael's head. Michael froze, ah, what do I do now?!? He thought. All of the sudden, Lisa kneed the guy who was pointing the gun at her, in the crotch. The man dropped his gun in surprise and the other man turned to see what was going on. “Run, Michael!!” Lisa yelled. As Michael tried to get away, one of the men shot him in the leg, but he did not even feel it he just kept running. His adrenaline clouded brain did not realize, until he was a few blocks away, that he had just left his baby sister, in an ally, with men with guns. Crap, he thought as he blacked out.
It was pitch dark when he came to, “Where am I?” he muttered to himself. To his left a door opened and in walked nurse, who was wearing bright pink scrubs and huge fake smile on her face. “And how are we feeling today?” asked the nurse cheerily.
“What do you mean?” in his head he added, and why are you talking in the third person?
“You don't remember? You got shot in the leg”
“Oh, yeah,” replied Michael, “Sorry I'm still a little groggy, I guess I forgot. And it does not hurt all anymore.”
“That,” said the nurse, who looked down at the floor uncomfortably, “Is because we numbed it with painkillers, because we are gonna have to, um.... put plates and pins in your leg, the bullet....completely shattered your whole leg bone. It did not help that you ran on it either.”
“What?” Michael asked, shocked “I...how..w-what? Where are my parents?”
“They are in the next room, now if you would take this medicine so we can do the surgery...”
"I want to see them.
“Sweetie they are sleeping and time is of the essence!” Replied the nurse, flustered.
So Michael shrugged and took it, anything to escape this madness. He lay down and was soon fast asleep.
The next day, when Michael woke up he saw his parents sitting in the corner, on a big, fat, puffy couch, talking to two policemen. The policemen were both quite fat, but oddly tough looking too. Michael sat up,
“What is going on?” he asked.
Four sets of eyes turned to look at him.
“Hey, how are you feeling today sweetie?” asked his Mom kindly.
“Oh, well uh, I can't really feel my leg... not that I have tried to move it, but other than that I'm fine.”
Just then a nurse bustled in saying,
“Hey, I heard that, and before we let you go we have to see you walk on it.”
Michael shrugged, “Ok, then.” As he gingerly swung his legs over the side of the bed. Just in doing that, his legs felt dead and stiff. The nurse reached out and handed him a cane, “
Here use this,” she said. Michael took it, used it to hoist himself up than handed it back to her. Slowly, carefully, he took a few steps. “Hey, it does not hurt; it's just hard because my legs are so stiff.” He remarked.
After a few more steps, the nurse said, “Ok it looks like your legs are doing find you can lie down again.” Michael grumbled about it, but lay down anyway.
“So,” he asked, “Why are they here?”
“Oh honey,” sighed his Mom, “they said that when you fainted it might.....”
Michael interrupted her, “I prefer the term 'blacked out.'”
“OK then, when you 'blacked out' that it might affect your memory because you hit your head on the ground pretty hard. Anyway these men are here to investigate your sis-sist-” She stopped and ran from the room sobbing.
“Son,” said his father, placing a hand on his shoulder, “Your sister is missing.”
As his father said this it all came back to him, his sister, the beer bottle, the men, the guns, his sister alone...... “Oh, yeah now I remember.” And he proceeded to tell them the whole story, from the first incident in the ally (although he left out his running away and leaving his sister).
“Ok,” The fatter policeman looked over at him, “What do you remember about these men?”
“Uh, they were tall, muscular, not all that smart looking and bald. Your typical humongous bad guy dude look. That's really all I can tell you, sorry.” Replied Michael.
“Ok then, thank you for your time.” said the police man as he walked away.
Michael turned to his dad, “When can we leave? I do not like hospitals; I would rather be at home.”
“As soon as I can call a nurse who will give you a final checkup and then check us out of here.” Said his father as he pushed the 'Page a Nurse' button.
“Sweet,” replied Michael as the nurse walked in. This nurse was another one of those fake, peppy types that annoyed the crap out of him. She made him walk around some more, asked some questions, and then finally said, “Ok, you are good to go! But it is company policy states 'that all patients who have been under the influence of anesthesia in the last 24 hours must leave the premises in a wheelchair'”
Michael shrugged, “whatever, let's just go already.”
As they drove home he realized that in his sister's wing of the school, (elementary school) that they required the kids to wear IDs that had their addresses on them, because the kids kept losing them. Now the men knew exactly where he lived. If he did not do something soon, he was as good as dead. His Dad, who was an FBI agent, had both a bullet proof leather jacket, and bullet proof Cub’s hat. Michael decided that he would 'borrow' (without asking) both of them when he went to find his sister tomorrow. After school, the first few blocks that Michael walked down were quiet and goon-free, though painful for his leg. Then in a different ally from where he first met the guys, he saw a twenty-dollar bill! Now Michael loved money, (don't we all?) and could just not resist the allure.
Then (surprise surprise) out of nowhere, (and in this ally there was nowhere to hide) a big guy jumped out and tackled him, football style.
“Get off me!” Michael groaned.
I'm not stupid, punk.” replied the man defiantly.
Michael whined, “But I did not do anything!”
“Kid,” replied the man, “You know what you did, arguing won't help anything!”
Now Michael was getting very angry. He felt the fury well up inside of him, and threw the man (all 300 pounds) off of him.
“Hey,” yelled the man, “I have your sister!”
Infuriated Michael whirled around, “That was you!?!” Warily, Michael asked, “What do I have to do to get her back?”
The man grinned, “Die.”
“Hey, I don't want to kill you, but you leave me no choice!”
Michael turned and ran. The man just stood there, seeming quite exasperated. Michael peeked back around corner which he was hidden behind. He saw the man turn and walk back in the opposite direction. Michael followed him; the man turned this way and that way, and that way leading him through a complex maze of streets. All of the sudden Michael noticed that they were in the nicer part of the city. The farther in they went the bigger and grander the houses got. Finally they stopped in front of a big mansion that was built to resemble the White House. Casually the man strode towards the side of the house there he opened a small metal door, so small then he had to hunch over, and went inside. He found himself in an Ugly gray room with cement walls and floors; there was one door ahead of him and one to the left. Michael followed him through the left door, down a flight of stairs and came to a metal door the man went in. Michael stood in the corridor, debating what he should do. He thought, that’s my baby sister in there, I have to do whatever it takes to help her! So Michael opened the door a crack, and saw a cement room with a couch, a recliner, and a cruddy little TV. One of the guys was sprawled on couch and his sister was chained to the wall. As he stood in the hall, he wracked his brain for what he should do. On the other side of the door he heard a rumbling sound. He peeked through the door and saw that the man had fallen asleep, he was snoring! Michael snuck in and when his sister saw him, she squealed with delight. Michael glared at her, and she quickly quieted. Michael glanced around looking for keys and saw them lying on the table across the room. Quietly he crept towards them. He heard the man shift in his sleep, and froze, hearting pounding he went even more cautiously to the keys. He grabbed them, and brought them back to his sister. He bent down, unlocked her, grabbed her by the hand, and led her out. Then by some mysterious force, the door slammed behind them. The man woke up and inside and the other man was down the hallway, looking at them. Michael and Lisa could hear shouting. Michael turned to Lisa, “Run!” he yelled. They ran. As they ran into a big empty field, a park, one of the men drew a gun and shot Michael in the back. “Michael!” Lisa cried. Michael staggered but kept going, the vest had saved him. As they ran they wondered what they were supposed to do now.
“Phew, that close.” remarked Lisa.
“Yeah it was too close,” Michael agreed.
“Well what should we do now?” asked Lisa, “Soon enough they are going to catch up to us again.”
“Uh, well....” stuttered Michael.
“Come on! You have to have an idea! You're the big brother, and the one who got us in this mess in the first place.” Lisa was getting frustrated, “While I was captive they told me the whole story.”
“Well, maybe we could like, uh....” He broke off, “I don't know, I have no clue what we should do! All I know is that we should not stand here talking.”
“Agreed,” said Lisa.
Just as they said that, the two men caught up and tackled them both, Lisa and Michael struggled under the weight to get away, but eventually gave up. The men relaxed a bit.
“What are you going to do with us?” asked Michael.
“Oh, don't worry, you will find out soon enough.” both men grinned evilly.
As they were laughing, Michael and Lisa made eye contact. She mouthed the word “crotch” and Michael nodded. The both kneed the captors, who were so caught off guard that they fell right off of them! All of the sudden, Michael had a brilliant idea, “Lisa, follow me!” He yelled. He ran into another ally. This ally was in between a police station and a beer store. The side that was the police station had a small window peeking out into the ally way. Michael and Lisa stepped right in front of the window and stood there to wait. Inside an officer had noticed to kids outside, so he stopped and watched. He saw two big men come up, draw guns and point them at the kids' heads. The policeman gasped in shock, drew his own gun, and ran into the ally crying, “You’re under arrest! Put your guns where I can see them and back away from the children!” the men did. Then the police officer brought in the men to question them, and told another officer to bring the kids home and inform their parents about the coming court date, where they would have to testify against the men.
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