Bandits surprised Corey and Michelle Biannaib when they walked through the dark parking lot behind the theatre, empty now, except for them. Caught off guard, Corey hesitated, then dropped Michelle’s hand and stepped in front of her. Defense, he thought, her safety is more important than his. Even though it’d been years since his old karate days, muscle memory kicked in.
“For what it’s worth, I have a black belt," Corey said, his voice rising, making the statement sound more like a question and gave them the appearance of an ineffectual dork.
“Good for you," the taller one with a diamond studded eye patch said, “but I have a gun so if you want to play rock, paper, scissors. How about you turn over your wallet, purse, the diamonds, and you can go your way.”
“I’d do what he says honey, this stuff isn’t worth fighting over,” Michelle said as she swept her hand down his back and stuck a small sheathed knife inside his belt.
“Jack, I’d listened to your lady,” the shorter man said with a smirk as he waved what looked like a kid’s toy pistol at Corey who knew looks could be deceiving however and he he felt Michelle’s hand grip his arm for balance. Kicked her shoes off, he thought, the stiletto high heels she'd been tottering on, sharper than the little knife she'd passed him.
Lights, bright as hell, lit up the night and they took advantage of the distraction. Michelle blasted an ear-piercing whistle and simultaneously threw her steel toed heels at the pirate bandit while Corey pulled the little knife and sent it whistling in the direction of the little guy, before they dashed into the little alley running between the buildings.
“Nice move, dear,” Corey whispered, scuttling through the dark passageway, weaving past dumpsters and boxes, pulling Michelle in his wake as they tried to keep to the shadows and listen at the same time for the voices or footsteps of the bandits. Only thing he could hear was laughter bouncing off the bricks and traffic swooshing past the end of the alley in the distance.
"Pooh, those were my favorite pair of Jimmy Choo's; do you think we can get them back""
"Queen," Corey looked behind them, more concerned about their lives than a pair of high heel shoes, and said, "If you're quick and quiet, but you have a choice between getting your head shot off or climbing that fence."
"Right and how do you expect me to do that barefoot?"
"Stand on that box and I'll boost you up."
Tempted still to go back and see if the men were gone, Michelle squeaked as Corey gripped her around the waist and lifted her as high as he could.
"Up you go," he said, adrenaline giving him strength enough to heft her halfway and when she grasped the fence, he planted his hands under her bottom and pushed. Victory he thought when she reached the top, steadied herself and reached down a hand to help him up.
"Wait, and watch," Corey said with one last glance behind and confident his wife had his back, and they wouldn't be able to see him in the dark of the alley, he stepped on the box, and climbed, Xanth crossed his mind for some odd reason, an obscure fantasy novel he'd read. Years and years ago when he was a teenager in fact, so why would it pop into his head now? Zig zagging up the fence, expecting to be shot in the back at any moment, he made it to the top in one piece.
Zeal made him grab Michelle, fold her into his arms and she squeaked as they tumbled over the side together, thankfully landing on something soft, which exploded with a horrible stench of something he couldn't identify and really didn't want to know. Yellow blinking lights stippled the walls, making it look like the bars of a jail cell.
Xylophone music tinkled from one of the windows nearby as they both struggled to their feet.
"What are you going out there," a high pitched little voice said from above and they looked up to see a red headed girl, probably about 4, frowning at them through a security screen.
"Vacating the premises as quickly as we can," Corey said, brushing off his clothes, wondering how they'd gotten into this mess.
"Uh oh, are you in trouble," the little girl asked.
"Totally," Corey murmured to himself as Michelle smiled with a parent's patience and said, "Ignore him dear, and shut your window and lock it. Stranger danger, remember. Run along, and do what you're told," she said with a whoosh of her hands, expecting the child to do whatever she said.
"Please," the little girl mumbled and when Michelle planted her hands on her hips and let out a soft growl, the youngster disappeared from sight, screaming mommy, mommy, stranger danger, stranger danger."
"Okay, let's get out of here before we're arrested for peeping toms or something worse," Corey said and marched down the alley, past reeking garbage bins until they reached the end and peaked left, then right at the street. Not a soul was about at this time, except for a vagrant huddled and fast asleep in the doorway to a shoe store, and Corey remembered why George had cautioned them about this area on Sundays.
Memories surged, reminding of his past life and all the dangers in the streets of Dalton. Life on the streets hadn't been pleasant. Kids, too young to be out on their own, some his age, had taught him how to survive. Justice on the streets quick and mean. Independence fought and paid for.
He shoved the memories back, packed them away again in the hidden box in his mind, not in the mood to dwell on the past when he'd worked so hard to make something of himself.
"Go," Corey said when he saw the coast was clear. Fortune followed when they found a wayward cab parked a couple blocks away across the street from a bar. Ethan's, a blues joint, with lights, music, and people spilling out of the doorway, fostered a safe haven for them to relax. Diving into the back seat of the cab, he ordered the driver to take them home. Corey and Michelle rested shoulder to shoulder, holding hands as adrenaline faded, leaving him spent.
"Baby," Michelle said, learning her head against Corey's shoulder, aching all over, "Next time, let's listen to George so we don't have to do that again, at least anytime soon."
Rules for the road: Alphabet stories start and end with the letter chosen and each sentence begins with the next letter of the alphabet.