Evan awoke with a start to what sounded like something hitting the back of his house. Seconds later, he heard someone—or more than one person—running down the alley.
Curious, but also cautious, he went to the window and inched the blinds back just enough to see outside. Nothing was visible from where he stood, but then it was still dark. For a moment he wondered if punks had dumped over the trashcan by the back door. Then he heard a low moan. Raising the blinds, he leaned his hands on the windowsill, trying to see who or what had made the noise. It sounded human, but for all he knew it could be an injured dog. If dogs moan. He had no clue if they did.
Whatever it is, I won't find out standing here. He grabbed a set of sweats from the dresser drawer, pulling on the pants before heading downstairs. By the time he got to the back door, he was dressed, if barefooted. Punching in the code to disarm the security system, he stepped onto the porch and looked around. In the dim moonlight, he saw something dark on the ground under the kitchen window. Moments later, he was kneeling beside the battered figure of a dark-haired man.
"Can you move?" he asked, suspecting that was an inane question. "If I can get you inside…"
"Please," was the barely whispered reply as the guy struggled to sit up. Evan stood, putting his hands under the man's arms to help him rise, ignoring for the moment the deep moan of pain when he did. He figured would be a good idea to get the stranger into the house quickly before his attackers returned—if they were going to.
For a moment, when they got to the back door, Evan hesitated, wondering if he was asking for trouble. But I'd feel guilty as hell if I left him out here and they found him. He opened the door, asking as they entered the kitchen, "What's your name, so I can tell the police when I call this in?"
"V-Vic. Please… no… police."
Rather than argue right then, Evan helped Vic to a chair at the table. Vic collapsed onto it, groaning. Evan started to turn on the overhead light then thought better of it. Instead he switched on the one over the stove, knowing it wouldn't be visible through the curtains on the window across the room but would still let him check out what damage had been done to Vic.
When he came back to where Vic sat, what Evan could see of his face was pale and drawn in pain beneath the dirt and bruises.
"Where do you hurt?" Evan asked. "By the way, I'm Evan."
Vic grimaced. "Where don't I?" He touched his right side. "Ribs, chest, gut…"
"If nothing else, I should call 911 for an ambulance."
"But you won't." Vic rested his arms on the table, leaning his head on them. "If you were going to, you would have already."
"Since my phone is upstairs in the bedroom…"
"Good. Please leave it there for now."
"Why no cops?" Evan inquired while he went to the sink to turn on the water. Taking a dishtowel from a hook in the cabinet under the sink, he wet it then wrung it out. Coming back to the table, he pulled the other chair over beside Vic. "Look at me, please, so I can clean your face and check the damage. And answer my question."
Vic lifted his head, turning toward Evan. When Evan carefully rubbed the towel over his face, Vic hissed, pressing his lips together in pain. After a couple of tries, Evan got the worst of the dirt off, revealing several deep bruises on Vic's cheeks and on one temple. "Not to state the obvious, but someone did a number on you. Why? And why dump you in my yard?"