Wind brushes my face as I let in the warm end-summer breeze pass me by. I’ve always loved driving. There’s both a sense of rush and calmness that goes with it. Always has. A sense of control yet freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. I hang my arm on the open driver side window and tap my cigarette on the metal frame before lighting it up.
“Hello,” I say, as I try to put it on my ear against my shoulder.
Muffled noises echo in the background as Nathan’s footsteps can be heard shuffling around.
“Hey, John. Where are you?” He asks. “I’ve been trying to reach you.”
I smirk and look at the city lights turn into a blur.
“I’m coming. Just got what this occasion needs.”
I hear a breath of sigh on the other line along with chatter behind him.
“Look, Nathan. Just enjoy this day and breathe a little. Drink a beer or something.”
I end the call and arrive at the parking lot of WestCo., a small convenient store near the city’s edge, and shuffle out of my vehicles, keys jingling on my hand and enter the store.
“Hey, Jimmy,” I greet the green-vested, middle aged dude at the counter. He nods. “Off-night I see,” I add.
I walk towards the beer and find the finest, cheap in here. I grab two and meet Jimmy dead-faced looking at me. He bags them and I collect the change. I try to push the door but realize I have to go to the restroom. I point to the restroom door and Jimmy, once again, nods.
I piss and as I near the mirror, I drink some alcohol. The walls are filled with vandal.
“This is as good as it’s going to get.”
I open the door and walk past some racks to see Jimmy frozen. With his hands up. I chuckle and am about to call him out for it but he sees me and stares at me hard. I hear a gun click in front of him and I immediately duck.
What is going on?
Jimmy eyes me to run. My hands are shaking and my fight or flight is kicking in. I creep up slowly and see the hooded guy nearing Jimmy at gunpoint. I slowly grab a bottle and make steady steps towards the armed man, readying myself for the hit.
Just as I swing, he turns towards me and he knocks my bottle off just as I grab hold of his wrists. We struggle for control of the gun and I see Jimmy make a run for it.
“Help me, man.” I try to yell out.
I keep struggling and try to kick him hard only for shots to fire. I, instinctively, crouch at the sounds and he does the same. This time, I ease my grip of his gun and his power hold causes him to hit himself hard, sending him down. But not before a last shot is fired.
I close my eyes.
I feel my chest but feel nothing. I open my eyes and exhale a sigh of relief as I look at the assailant unconscious on the floor. I run towards the exit. Only to find a bullet going through the glass door and Jimmy outside, dropping his phone connected to 911, as he clenches his chest. He looks at me and I instantly know something is wrong. He drops to the ground and blood pools under him.
“Jimmy, you’re alright. You’re alright." I, repeatedly, say as I try to stop the bleeding and find his phone.
“Quick, call an ambulance. He was shot and the guy who shot him is unconscious inside the store. Please hurry.” I, frantically, say.
The operator says the officers are five minutes away and the ambulance is on its way. I try to collect myself and walk in circles.
Gurgled coughing breaks the silence and I look at Jimmy trying to gasp for air. I walk towards him and try to do something but I just end up breaking down.
What do I do?
I walk towards my vehicle and try to call Nathan.
“What now? He asks, irritated.
“Look, are you going to be here? You’re messing up this night for us.”
“I, what?” I try to collect my thoughts.
“Just come here, okay?”
I hang up. I keep hyperventilating and am trying to catch my breath. I fall to the ground and tears fall down my eyes. I look at my hands on the cold pavement and my vision starts to blur. Suddenly, a bright light blinds me and I look up to see a vehicle coming up towards me. I crawl and weakly stand up. I yell at them, waving at them but my whole body is shaking and I keep tipping while my eyes try to focus on the lights; the vehicle; something; anything. My words are slogging into each other as I quicken my pace towards the vehicle.
It’s not the police.
I try to shield my eyes from the blinding light and see a frightened woman behind the wheels. She is in a state of panic and looks at my bloody hoodie and hands then trails down to Jimmy.
“Wait. Please help us.” I try to voice out as I reach my pocket for the operator.
She cries out and hits the gas, driving straight towards me. Bang.
A hit. A hit was all it took for me to be sent flying into the road near the lot’s edge. The crossroad.
Thunder echoes above me as I try to breathe but sharp pains limit me, and blood is flooding my lungs every second.
The first drop falls from the dim heavens and lands on my forehead. Rain starts to downpour and in the distance, I see the stoplight, once green, turn red.
Cassidy grabs hold of the locket she has on her and kisses it as tears stream down her face. I come closer to her and kiss her on her forehead.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
I shift my focus to the little thing squirming on her arms and chuckles at the beautiful sight.
Tears stream down my face.
“What shall we call him, Nathan?” Cassidy asks.
I look at the baby boy and cry, as I hold Cassidy’s hand.
“How about…” I trail off.
Cassidy smiles at me and then looks at the baby boy.
Where are you, John?