Due in part to the tremendous feedback on last week's Friday Flash Fiction entry, I wrote a follow up story. I figured since Cormac is taking a vacation this week, Tuesday would be a good time to post the second half. I feel expectations are running high, so I'm hoping I haven't let you guys down. Enjoy!
Band on the Run, Part 2
The pain was starting to get to me.
I hadn't been waiting that long, but the bullet in my shoulder and the image of what Travis was doing to Brenda wedged in my mind made it feel like the world was moving in 12/8 time. I checked the makeshift bandage on my shoulder and leaned against the wall.
I had waited a couple minutes to make sure Bernstein was gone before I sat up. Then I went into the store and tore open one of the trumpet polishing kits they kept along the back wall. I put two of the soft polishing cloths on either side of the wound and tied it tight with a couple guitar strings. Not an easy task with just one arm.
Opie's beat up red pickup pulled to the curb and the door opened. "Shit, man. What happened?"
I got in and said, "Take me home as fast as you can."
The key to reading Opie was his eyes. They were pretty much the only part of his face that you could see. He always wore a bandana pulled down close to his eyebrows and his bushy beard stood up nearly two inches from his cheeks. "No way, man. We gotta get you to a hospital."
"Brenda's in trouble. I'll explain on the way."
He peeled out and we were off.
Opie looked like the bastard son of a biker and a roadie, only twice as surly. We met in prison through an inmate known only as The Bishop. Prison has all sorts of programs to rehabilitate convicts, but if you were serious about staying straight, you went to The Bishop. Opie got paroled a month before I did and gave me a place to crash while I looked for work.
"When you called me, you didn't mention anything about you getting shot."
"I didn't want to worry you."
I told him what happened and what Trevor was doing to Brenda. Opie ran a red light.
"What about Bernstein?"
"I'll come up with something. The priority right now is to save Brenda."
Opie gripped the wheel tighter and his muscles made the woman tattooed on his forearm dance a striptease.
We pulled up to my apartment and Opie jumped out and grabbed a tire iron from the bed of his truck. He bounded up the steps to my second-floor unit and crashed through the door. In the bedroom, we saw Trevor with his pants around his ankles, plowing my girlfriend.
Opie pulled him off Brenda and threw him into the closet door. He set about tenderizing Trevor's ribs with the tire iron as I pulled a sheet over Brenda. I looked over at Trevor and it took all the self restraint I had not to shove a drum stick through his eye.
I said, "Where's Bernstein?"
Opie swing the tire iron a couple more times.
“Listen, dipshit,” I said, “I know you're not ambitious enough to come up with an idea like this yourself. Tell me where Bernstein is or we'll start to get rough.”
"I don't know. I swear, I don't know."
Opie looked at me and said, "Is he a rightie or a leftie?"
Opie straightened out Trevor's right arm and laid it palm down on the floor. He put his thick-soled work boot on top of the hand and started to press down.
"OK, OK," said Trevor. "Victory Gardens. Apartment J2."
We tied Trevor up and threw him in the bed of Opie's truck.
Bernstein's lights were out, so Opie parked his truck across the street, and we waited for Bernstein to come back. I hated waiting.
I drummed a beat on Opie's dash with my right hand and I felt a numbness starting to set in in my left. I looked at the bandage and saw the wound was still bleeding.
Opie said, “After we do this, you're going to the hospital.”
“You'll get no argument from me.”
Around a quarter after two in the morning, Bernstein stumbled home with a girl on each arm. They bobbed and weaved up to the front door like they were one giant drunk beast with six legs. He dropped his keys twice before he was able to open the door. He didn't shut it after them and that gave Opie and me our opportunity.
Bernstein must have heard us because he turned around just in time to get a right cross to the jaw from Opie. The two hookers were worn out old hags with dead eyes. They gave each other a look and walked out, leaving us to our business.
Bernstein started to say something, but Opie punched him again, sending him backward onto the couch. I said, “What did you do with the money?”
“Ha! Thash funny.” It was hard to understand him the way he was slurring so much. He was obviously drunk, high, and full of himself. “It's my money. If you said yes, you could've had a cut. But noooo. You made me get nashty.” He waved a hand in the air. “Bye bye. No money for you.”
“Do you think I want it? I'm going to kick your ass and put it back where it belongs.”
He tried to stand up, but Opie shoved him back on the couch. “You kick my ass? Don make me laugh. Tell him to back off and I'll show you an ass kicking.”
I grabbed his Martin, the only acoustic guitar he owned, and said, “How about one more joke? What's black and blue and laying in a ditch? A guitarist who's told too many drummer jokes.”
I smashed the guitar over his head, splintering it into a hundred pieces.
I hadn't told Bernstein the whole truth. I didn't put the stolen money back in the safe. Instead, I put something even more valuable.
It wasn't hard to find where Bernstein put the money – at least the part he hadn't spent. The remaining money we laid out on the kitchen table, making it look like they were divvying up the take. We left him and Trevor, still without his pants, unconscious and handcuffed to each other in Bernstein's apartment.
After Opie dropped me off at the hospital, he went back to The Den to clean up my blood and anything that might have my fingerprints on it. He took a crowbar and scuffed up the safe so it would look like amateurs tried to open it. He then gave the police an anonymous tip that he saw two suspicious men walking out of The Music Den.
The police called Erik, The Den's manager, and asked him to get to the store as soon as possible. They looked at the damage and made Erik open the safe. That's when they found my present.
Bernstein and Trevor's driver's licenses were inside.