The people on the sidewalk of the Walnut Street walking bridge are mostly a blur. Sometimes there’s a moment of slow motion in specific glances but the most just pass by in quick bursts of blur. Hitting the corner at the foot of the walking bridge is an older but athletic figured police man. Not the stereotypical fat-slob pig that can’t catch up, I get the proven-healthy boar that strides like a fucking gazelle.
One cop, maybe the slob cop, is probably staying at the scene to see if there are any accomplices hanging out; which probably means they called up another unit to assist with depending on how they feel the severity of this situation is.
After a hard sprint uphill the bridge plateaus. Police man number one is only part way up that hill as Larry’s legs hold strong maintaining the necessary distance. Keeping its warmth the evening sun begins to fall. Stretching from mountain to mountain the river beneath the bridge brushes escaping winds at the side of Larry’s face, and ultimately also the fabric on the side of his body. But in this welcoming January sunshine you don’t mind the cool wind. Days like this, they’re good for a run.
One decent stereotype from chase scenes that seems to prove true is that rarely to never will a passing or passed civilian try to stop the guy that’s being chased. They’ll jump to the side or stare in light shock trying to piece together why this less than casually dressed individual is running top speed across an expectantly busy bridge. They’ll make up scene-related reasons in their head why what’s happening is normal like I’m a jean jogger or playing tag where base is on the other end but they won’t really make any real sense of it until the cop comes up the same path no more than ten seconds after me where it’ll finally come to them that I was not a very good guy of most sorts after all.
Or maybe it’s the black ski mask he’s wearing that’s scaring the people from jumping after him. You can’t guess what a man in a black ski mask is capable of, right. The couples, the families, the daters and the performers; vigilance is laughable.
So in the cum of things this makes only the simple equation of cop number one chasing private enemy number me.
The bridge feels forever but the intensity of the run takes away from the reality of the whole thing. It’s tricky how the most alert of situations clicks a series of chemicals from and throughout your brain and body that allows you to escape from the actual complications of it all. It gives you a sense of honest freedom in mind and that could make you dangerous. All the toxic, negative and doubting thoughts filter to further lands and all possibilities become known. You realize your physical boundaries are non-existent. Your sight is focused primarily on the next and the next move, you’re the Bobby Fischer in this war. The object, crush the opponents mind.
The bridge gets shallower of people once Larry makes it near the other side. Strollers turn into bolted trash cans, families becomes empty benches. Old men and women are now mostly old rusted beams and fat wires. Little children are now potted flowers. Underneath the water turns into big black, distorted rocks. He wonders a moment if he could jump, preferring the surrender of falling into the occasional wash of the Tennessee River over his lifeless body than to this prick in pig skin.
A galaxy of bridge just ran and Larry is no further or behind from the start of this race. Bank a hard right at the final stretch and you’re taken downhill. It’s a hard downhill that makes your ankles strain a little in attempt to maintain speed and balance without busting your face on the too smooth sidewalk.
At the bottom a left takes you south on Market. Pocketing the mask Larry keeps his pace around the corner. With the sun at his shoulder and what should be the budding night life of Chattanooga ahead he continues a few block past a couple chained restaurants and a liquor store on a street corner where he glances back a moment to see how far police man number one is. But he’s not there.
It makes me slow my speed down a little to a lot to a stop and he should be hitting the corner any second, but he doesn’t. If I can find a place to hide out for just a moment I should be fine even in just one of the shops. I’m better than this, I haven’t been in a chase since my second holdup. ‘The Marathon Escape’ Ed had dubbed it.
The adrenaline is at a peak right now as he continues down Market, crossing Third, and keeping an easy jog in case of any surprise encounters. Still, no cop. It’s too strange to be right.
Finally Larry takes the chance to just rest his eyes on a stationary setting taking the moment to just be. The air is light, easy and cool, not taking the sun so seriously that it humidifies itself into making your pores burst with sweat. With this type of air we get a perfume of a simpler world overwhelming the cooked and grilled airs. The sun is orange and the sky is blue. Yeah, you’ve got to love the winter in the southeast. Pure as the byproduct of the newly produced chemicals flowing for our survival mode. His entire body is warm even against the cool wind and it’s felt in his breath. These extra senses though, they still seem to bring on the extra sensory sense of pig. A three-sixty turn around show no sign of any threat to him at all. He passes Fourth.
Across the street he catches his eye on a trio of pretty young girls about his age strut their methane figures into a Panera Bread.
‘I can go for a tuna sandwich,’ he says to himself just before he makes the conscious effort of movement and at the same time he hears a terrifying burst of boot steps and
In this moment this cop tackles me with the perfection of Polamalu, considering I was simply a standing target. A standing dummy; everything goes black. And in this blackness is when everything seems to slow down. I’m in space. One second.
*** *** ***
6:08 – Doster Green — Sorry man I can’t make it. I’m not even back in town yet.
Ed brings three glasses of Mad Dog into the living area of the apartment styled dorm. Cathleen and Brynn inspect the drinks like they’re wine connoisseurs. Neither one takes a sip before Cathleen speaks up, “Ed, your concoctions suck. Can’t you just give us one of something? Or at least let us decide what you mix.”
Get fucked Cathleen.
But Brynn takes a drink.
“Thank you Brynn. And it’s not one of my absolutely brilliant concoctions, it’s Mad Dog, the good red grape wine of course.” He gave the words Mad Dog a dry flair and let it settle on them but they don’t react. “It’s good, just drink it. Cheap wine with good alcohol. It’s what I’ve got so take it or leave it.”
Cathleen had already taken a couple sips while I talked and grimaced at me like she was casting a spell, a fuckin curse on me. “Stop exaggerating.”
“It tastes fine,” Brynn says and smiles. Holding her glass out for a small cheers and Ed clinks his against hers, returning the smile.
I’m pretty sure she’s already made her mind up about tasting my nuts tonight. I know I have. About her genitals.
This two seconds of lustful connection magnifies Cathleen’s missing date. The one I promised for Brynn’s friend but had canceled. I knew Brynn’s friend was a Cat, but she didn’t say it was Cathleen.
She stayed over New Year’s night, or morning. Just a good ole fashioned New Year’s party filled with drinking and flirting and who’s going to be your kiss? and you are and making out back to my room and she springs on me I’m a virgin. At first I thought she was going to let me be her first but she assured me she wasn’t ready. The most I got from her was some titty licking. Oh and she did rub on my cock, but only after I moved her hand there and even had to start the motion. After she fell asleep I went out and drove a couple nails into this Elizabeth chick. Business major you know? Me and Cathleen hadn’t really shown much interest in each other after that night when she woke up and I wasn’t there. She was gone by the time I came back later the next evening. It’s pretty easy to avoid someone when they’re trying to do the same to you. Or maybe I’m wrong considering we’re in the same room once again.
But back to the point, even if I knew, it’s hard to sell a virgin. Everyone I know just wants to get laid and then figure out later if we want to get to know you, and if we must get to know you we want to be rewarded with some ass. Telling your friend that the girl is a (resistant) virgin will likely back them so far up I might as well ask God himself. Find your own date bitch.
Coming back from Christmas break people apparently tend to come back as last minute as possible. At least they do here at UTC. Except for Brynn and Cathleen from Nashville. For some reason they say they prefer Chattanooga nights.
“No it doesn’t,” Cathleen says but continues drinking.
No drink should ever taste beautifully great. “No real drink should ever taste beautifully great. It’s the cringe in the drink that makes it a drink. If anything, the cringe is what makes it taste beautifully great. Embrace the cringe.”
“Not with wine.”
“Vodka!” Brynn squeaks out. “Vodka never has a, cringe problem.”
“That’s because you girls like to mix it with all kinds of shit. That’s all vodka is now is a base to mix shit with to get off easy.”
“Shit like this?” Cathleen starts looking at the drink like she thinks I might have slipped something in it.
I continue, “And if it were my choice it would have all been beer. But I don’t have a fake.” Neither did the girls so we had to settle. No parties in the vicinity and really not much to do. What was the plan anyway? The girls seemed content with just hanging out here.
After the last swig from her glass Brynn laughs and accuses, “How do you have twelve bottle of mad dog wine?”
“It’s what the guy used to pay me with from what he owed me.”
“What did he owe you for?”
“A bet.” Ed refills her glass and his own.
“A bet on what?”
“Miss America Pageant.”
She laughs, “Who did you bet on?”
“I didn’t get to watch it, who won?”
“I won… Miss Indiana.”
“Ah,” her laughs catch up to the conversation, “and what was her name?”
But my laugh left her behind. “I don’t know.”
“Why would I remember her name?”
She stops laughing but holds a grin, “You’re a pig aren’t you?”
“Only if I can eat your slop.”
“I think I’m going to go.” Cathleen calls my bluff that anyone is even coming. She apparently thinks I’m playing a joke on her. Good.
“No Cat let’s stay. Let’s drink. I don’t want to go now.”
“Yeah yeah my friend is only running late. He’s just getting back in town.”
“He’s not even in town yet?” Cathleen asks with the rhetoric of a bitch. Brynn’s phone starts to vibrate violently and she steps aside to answer it, “Arny! Hey!…”
“No. He’s not. But really where are you going to go? No one is here, you might as well chill and drink here instead of just hanging out by yourself.”
“I can go to the void.”
“Ah fuck the void no one’s there tonight. And they charge you double for being under twenty-one. Yeah, fuck that place.”
“And you think here is better than there?”
Ed’s phone begins ringing.
“Hold on here, here he is, see?” He holds his phone up to show the caller: Larry Felun.
He steps into the hallway separating the bedrooms, away from the living area.
“Larry please be my savior here and drink with me and these two girls I know you’ve got a girl but all you need to do is just help me entertain the friend. I’ve got Brynn here and she’s one head bob away from getting dick smacked and I think you’re my key for letting this happen you just got to chat up this, hey Larry… Larry…?
*** *** ***
You only get an instant of a second to react when you get smashed off your feet and onto the ground which provides a second second of opportunity to wriggle from what grasp has you. As the cop lands on top the best thing to do is push his lock down and away as you force your hips against his grip and torque your body to turn over.
I want to give a quick kick to keep him down but it won’t give me any long term advantage, if anything it’ll slow me down. Distance and invisibility is what I need.
The sound of fresh Fila’s thuds the air anyway and not far behind the struggle is cop number one’s twin catching up ready to pump Larry full of fifty-kays but they’re already gone. Each sprinting with only several yards between the other. “Police! Stop!” Cop number one’s breathing begins to deepen, shorten and thicken.
I feel fine. Minus the strawberries the sidewalk gave me across my side and what tastes like a busted lip and bit tongue. It tastes purple. And then it dissipates. The physical pain is of the past and for the future as the mind is strained into the chemical focus that makes escape possible. With the taste of purple, get the cop to believe escape is possible, and you’ve won.
Larry throws his mask back on and hurries his pace. Turning onto an uphill Sixth street he can see he’s getting distance. Cop number two looks up as Larry looks back and there’s eye contact. When the cops finally reach the hill cop number two takes the lead and pushes the hill with evil force.
Near the top I scoop my phone from my pocket. Four missed calls. It’s hard to read but I just need to make a call. Twelve missed texts. Christ, twelve? What the hell that could mean I’m not so sure but this is no time to find out. I just need to make a call. And fuck this hill.
*** *** ***
“Eddie are you home?” His voice what shaky and breathy.
“Yeah pal, what are you doing?”
“Unlock your door I’ll be there in a minute…” Sirens blast in the background. And click…
Oh you dick I hope you’re not doing what I think you’re doing.
Ed goes into the kitchenette and cracks the door open. He grabs the bottle of Mad Dog and gets back to the girls waiting for the news.
“Good news, looks like our friend is only a couple minutes away so how about we drink to that eh girls, we’ll make this guy catch up.” This minute of excitement was just the spark needed to get their juices flowing. Though they would have liked any announcement if it were followed by the call for consumption of more alcohol.
“Oh and Arny too!” Brynn tells us and then starts telling me about this guy she’s been friends with all through high school was coming through town back to Atlanta and made a stop to see her. Apparently he showed up at her dorm building, called her, and she gave him directions to my place. “He’ll be here soon.”
Cathleen taps her now full glass on the coffee table and bounces it back to her mouth where she gulps down half.
“Gaddamn girl,” Brynn says as Cathleen lowers her glass. They both smile at each other and then Brynn taps her glass and follows suit as Cathleen cheers her on with laughter. There’s a little bit of tear coating Brynn’s eyelashes as she set her glass down letting out a couple small coughs.
“To Larry…” I tap my glass and chug half, “Mmhow about, some” I hurry over to Sam’s too old stereo and flip on the radio. Some bullshit rap pop girl singing bullshit, ‘Give me five seconds Imma bout to make a deposit, Damn yous a dirty boy you need to step out that closet,’ “music; egh what the fuck is this?”
“Yeah! Keep it there!” Brynn doesn’t hesitate to start weaving her body side to side. “Missy Yolanda; I’ve got the back seat drive baby back seat drive baby, you’ve got that front seat stride hunny that front meat ride.”
I look at her, and then at Cathleen bobbing her head.
“jesus christ,’ I quietly laugh to myself and bottoms up the rest of my drink.
“Aye! To music! Brynn makes her drink disappear.
“To, taste!” Cathleen pours the last half of the red grape wine down her throat.
I hope to hell she was talking about the Mad Dog.
‘Gimme five seconds gimme gimme five seconds…’
*** *** ***
It takes five seconds for an ambulance to pass by intensely against their direction and its sirens to reach a more comforting distance. Up the hill the road plateaus becoming Vine street and the cops aren’t visible anymore. A hard sprint is an understatement in the speed he needs to pick up to get down the three blocks to Houston street where he can turn and disappear. The sting of sweat in his eyes makes him go faster. It’s a long stretch until that beautiful green sign comes into view. And then a cop cruiser comes strolling around the corner.
I slow my speed to a walk and snatch the mask from my face. Squeezing it in my fist. Fuck. The cruiser passes by me but I don’t make eye contact. I don’t even look. It doesn’t exist. I speed walk forward. Straight, casual. And then you hear the power steering.
You turn around and palm your face with your free hand to see that they’re no more than ten yards away and that the street’s too narrow for them to make a full turn. Squeeze the mask harder. The cop in the car looks at you and speaks into his talkie. Just keep walking backwards. Away.
My breath is heavy against my palm. The cop keeps talking. Looking at me. Looking at him through my spread fingers. Keep moving away.
The cop turns his head in time to see cop number two hit the plateau and I sprint back into beat with my previous pace around the corner up Houston street. Out of sight by the time I can barely hear the guy get our of his car and yell something like ‘stop,’ or ‘don’t!’
Up Houston makes a steady rise in slope going against the one way. Houses and a Church of God is on the right and on the left is one dormitory after the next. Johnson, Holden, and then after McClain is a gap before an entrance that leads to the open door-ed Pinsky dormitory stairwell.
*** *** ***
‘Hey girl, see that thang, see that thang I’m gonna make you sing, All Night!’
I can’t help it, when ass is on the line you evolve.
Brynn is off her ass and I’m right there on it with the music. A smooth creepy groove. An escaping fume of her pubic sweat gives my body an awful little twitch but my every sense craves it. Embrace the cringe.
She takes a step away from Ed, teasing in her dance. He steps into her as she in sync steps back until he’s danced her onto the counter separating the room from the kitchen. She’s trapped. She smiles. Before he could initiate she lunges at his lips for her own good hard kiss. After a moment she breaks and peaks her head to the side at Cathleen standing by the balcony door, “Oh Cat can I have one,” and she slips from the inescapable trap. “I left mine in my room.” Brynn catches a camel cigarette, menthol, and lights up by the open door letting the smoke catch on the passing winds outside.
Lesbians. I just want to fuck already just to get it over with. But I give in to the fact that I can’t win right now. She’s in teasing mode.
“Here give me one and let’s just sit outside on the balcony.” I motion for a cigarette from Cathleen but she starts messing with her phone. She’s ignoring me or just didn’t hear so I snatch the cigarette from her lips to take as my own, breaking her from her disillusionment.”
“What the fuck Ed”
*** *** ***
The spiral stairway is partially cemented closed. Leaving large openings like windows to mark each floor and a view of Pinsky Court.
Take every second step instead of every one or third so you can keep the quick, choppy speed but the advantage of a decent stride.
I pass the third floor door when the fresh cop starts his ascent. I’m faster than these guys. They realize escape is possible.
*** *** ***
It’s been a minute or two since that call with Larry. I thought maybe we could see him come into the dorm grounds from here. Cathleen lights up and sits in one of our camping chairs.
The “Original” Church of God sits almost directly in front of my balcony view off campus. It’s ridiculous, don’t ask me why. A row of houses head down to the street corner at the student deli. And beyond this row is our beloved city barely awake. Sitting beneath a twilight not yet ready for sleep.
“Let’s just stay here tonight.” Brynn suggests.
“Why not.” I say.
“I mean let’s not go to the Void and just drink here.”
“Who said we were going to the Void?”
“Nobody now,” she smiles, “besides, when our friends get here we’ll have some real fun right!”
Girls, they’ll make dry babies with you one second and then insinuate fuckin around with the fresh meat coming in, it’s the only truth in beauty about them.
*** *** ***
Once through the fourth floor entrance there’s a two second stretch of hallway before a right down an open door-ed hallway heading for 4E but not before I knock down this fat ass obstacle with G-Unit jeans into the wall and out of my way. I can hear the cops deep in the stairwell when the door slams shut and I hit the turn. 4A, 4B, 4C,
*** *** ***
“Uh, yeah, I’m not sure how long we’ll even stay here.’ Cathleen sets her cigarette on the concrete ledge by our feet and heads inside, still rubbing her phone, “Mad dog in the fridge?”
“Mad Dog in the fridge,” I say with no allegiance to a specific tone.
“I’ll get the glasses,” and Brynn goes back into the living area. Their cigarettes on the ledge. I can hear from inside Cathleen say something about church when a loud crash busts my door open and the cause body slams into what sounds like my fridge. When I turn around I see an invisible force slam my door shut and then Cathleen, “aaaAAAHHH!”
*** *** ***
4D, and I thrust myself into 4E immediately meeting a sturdy, yellowing refrigerator tossing me to the floor quick enough for me to taste the door bouncing back. Some girl in the kitchen starts screaming just as I kick the door closed. Shaking myself from her hypnotizing yell I shoot to my feet and corner her against the counter top with my hand over her mouth muffling the scream until she stops. Squeezing her face in my hand tight so she knows I fucking mean it. Her eyes peek out over my fingers and lock onto mine, terrified.
*** *** ***
The taste of some type of fake leather seems to do the trick in shutting me up, especially when it’s forced onto my face like an octopus’ sucker. The thought grosses me out when I look into the guy’s eyes. There’s something wrong with him. The black ski mask doesn’t help me think otherwise.
“What the hell?” Ed starts to raise his voice when he comes back inside to investigate this very questionable situation.
The guy motions for Ed to stop but still keeps one hand over me. “Shh…” he says.
“Larry?” Ed speaks a little more calm. And then outside a hesitant thunder of boots come rolling by the door.
We hold our breath. I do mostly because he allows me so little room to force my breath through. Through my nostrils is where I’ll get most of my air, pushing in and out the smell of wet wood.
I can’t move my head. I can’t see Brynn. I can’t hear her. Why would there be something wrong with her why is she quiet? What is going on? Am I… Am I…
And then very slowly, he releases his grip from my face. Rebooting my oxygen, every breath makes my chest heave heavily as I try to catch up to what’s happening. I look around everywhere but at this stranger. Brynn is pale but respectfully stays quiet keeping her mouth shut with her own hands.
Until, “Oh my god get this guy out of here!”
“Shut, up!” Ed shouts, breaking his own rules I can see he realizes. He’s already pulling the leech off me and directs me to keep my mouth closed and don’t answer that door if anyone knocks. “same goes to you Brynn sit on the couch, Larry you go into my room actually girls go sit outside on the balcony.”
We all do exactly what he says as he’s saying it so in a matter of seconds the living room is deserted.
“What the fuck was that?” Brynn asks as she paces back and forth the closet sized balcony. I can’t sit either but lean on the poled barrier looking out. She picks up the only cigarette on the ledge and she takes a drag to sit down on. Through a breath of smoke she asks “we can’t get in trouble can we?”
“I think, first, it’ll be best that we try and not get anyone in trouble.” She takes another drag.
Everything seems to have appeared at once. Far away there are ambulance sirens. Over by the student deli is a police car with silent flashing lights. I’m sure that’s got something to do with this “Larry, is that what he called him?” But I hope those ambulance sirens aren’t because of him. I don’t know if I can fully commit to the morality of covering that up. How badly could the person be hurt? Brynn doesn’t seem to make any distinction between the faraway sirens and the silent cop car so I keep this frightful thought to myself.
I look back through the glass doors into the empty living room in time to see it quickly become occupied by Ed who looks like he knows something. He looks at the door and then at us. And then I hear Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
*** *** ***