I spun the steering wheel, taking a hard right on two wheels. The car settled back down. The pain in my arm didn't. Gritting my teeth, I kept going. Right. Left. Left again. A stoplight straight ahead of me turned yellow, then red just before I got to it. I may be law abiding most days but with four men on my tail with deadly intentions I decided to forego that this time and didn't stop.
I almost—almost—grinned when flashing red and blue lights appeared in my rearview mirror as a patrol car pulled out of the side street. Sometimes there is a cop around when you need one. Actually—it occurred to me—twice in twenty-four hours. I pulled to the curb and stopped. As I did, I saw the goons' car go past, now moving just above the speed limit. The patrol car stopped behind me. One of the officers got out and a moment later a familiar figure appeared beside my door.
"License and registration," Officer Parker said. Then he took a second look and swore softly. "Again, Walt?"
"You do know you're bleeding," he commented with a trace of a smirk as he opened the door.
"Noticed that," I admitted. "Just a flesh wound. I think." I swung my legs out so I was facing him.
From there things took their usual course. He called for an ambulance despite my protesting I didn't need one. Then he and his partner quizzed me about what had happened and why. I told them the truth—sort of—letting them know it was the same men as from last night, plus one. The sort of part came in when I said they thought they owed me because I'd been instrumental in getting one of their friends arrested. When Parker asked who, I gave him the name of a man I'd gotten the goods on for vandalizing several stores in a strip mall on the far side of town. I figured he probably had the kind of friends who'd do that—if they weren't so hopped up on drugs they didn't have the energy to do anything at all. The last thing the officers did, just as the ambulance arrived, was take my weapons. "For safe keeping," Parker said, "since they won't let you carry them into the hospital."
Much to my disgust, the EMTs insisted they had to take me to the ER. There I was checked out and bandaged up—because I was right, it only was a flesh wound although a deep one. The docs gave me antibiotics, a tetanus shot, and with the warning that I should go home and sleep, they let me go.
Of course, my car was still where I'd left it. I considered calling a cab to take me back there then figured that wouldn't be my smartest move. The goons, if they had brain one, would probably be waiting there. At least a couple of them. Whether they wanted to try beating some answers out of me—again—or just kill me and bury my body in the nearest landfill, I wasn't up for dealing with that at the moment. So I called Ricky to pick me up.