Peddle, peddle, peddle. Up, down, back. Up, down, back. Peddle, peddle, peddle. Jeff’s legs pumped effortlessly as he streaked silently down the road. Breath. Breath. In. Out. In. Out. Peddle, peddle, peddle. He was out early this morning; Earlier than normal. The big race was next week, and while he may not be the next Greg Lamond, He was good. In fact, at forty-five, he was very good. Up, down, back. Up, down, back. Peddle, peddle, peddle. Everything was going perfect! His pace was smooth. His form was flawless. His breath, deep. And his rhythm was almost musical. Everything was in harmony. One fluid movement. All in precise control. His control. That was a rare treat for him. A private elation. Little in his life was his to control. His job dictated the hours he worked. The supervisor dictated how he worked. And his family demanded the rest of what little time was his. Jeff didn’t mind the needs of his family. He knew what would be expected when he signed on. He even enjoyed the challenge from time to time. But it was his job that burred under his skin like a tick with West Nile. Being a sewer rat was a thankless job. People would never thank him for keeping the water flowing, but God help him if something went wrong, or if their pattern was thrown off because of repair work. People just couldn’t stand that they had to change their schedule for a few minutes till things were right. Did they every think of him and the way his life revolved around theirs? Hell no. No one realized that he had to give up his Christmas last year when the main froze and broke; nor was anyone there to help him with the sewer break repair that led to raw sewage filling his boots with condoms and tampons. No. Just keep the water flowing and let me live my life without interruptions. Yep, that’s what they’d say, the dinks. Jeff pumped smartly, knowing that today was going to be his. Peddle, peddle, peddle.
Suddenly a squad car turned right in front of Jeff, cutting him off. Jeff clenched his brakes and swerved violently, barely missing the car. “Asshole!” Screamed Jeff in a mix of emotion. The squad car shuddered to a halt as the driver stepped out. “What did you say?” Demanded the young officer. “I said you almost hit me!” Rebuffed Jeff, defying the officer’s attempt at dominance. The cop stared coldly into Jeff’s eyes. “Identification. Now.” He said sternly. “Great.” Thought Jeff as he handed the plastic card over. “Deputy Doogie Howser with an inferiority complex.” The cop strolled over to the computer in his car and swiped the license. “We’ll see who’s in charge here.” The cop thought as he searched the screen. A scowl crossed his face as the results disappointed him. “Damn!” He thought, “I’ll get him yet.” The officer stalked back, determined to dominate the scene. Without noticing Jeff, he said, “You should be wearing highly visible clothing.” “I’m wearing yellow!” Demanded Jeff, tugging at his jersey. “Is you helmet DOT approved?” Countered the cop. “Read the sticker.” Jeff shot back. “Well, you’re supposed to have a red blinking light on the back of your bike” Pushed the cop in a last attempt to win the confrontation. “I have three.” Stated Jeff in victory. With nothing left to argue, the cop reluctant conceded. “OK. But next time be more careful.” He said as he got into the car. “Dink.” Jeff thought as he watched the car speed off into the distance.
After an hour of peddling, Jeff had wound his way into the country. Breathing a deep sigh of relief, he finally let the confrontation between him and the cop slide off his conscious. Knowing instinctively that the traffic here was almost nonexistent, Jeff allowed himself to melt into his surroundings. Grinch, grinch, the bike whispered as he rocked side to side in time with his strokes. In. Out. In. Out. His breath measured the beat of his movements. Jeff looked around and took in the sights. The horses on his left looked up at the strange creature while they chewed their straw. A crow darted into the sky chased by a determined and angry mocking bird on his right. A not so modest farmhouse rose up to him. Jeff smiled his approval at the clapboard sides and wood shingle roof as he rode past. A field of grass waved to him as he drifted onward. On his right came a house that really caught his attention. It was obvious that it was out of place in such a setting, for a cement wall ten feet tall and capped with razor wire surrounded the complex. The tops of semi-trucks poked up from behind the wall. A large, strong and heavy Iron Gate pulled into view as Jeff slowly drifted forward. As the courtyard exposed itself, Jeff saw four men behind the gate. One man was wearing white shorts and a red Hawaiian shirt, yet he was not in a festive mood; despite his attire. The two men on his left were wearing shirts so tight that they seemed to be almost a second skin. Muscles bulged out from everywhere it seemed, but Jeff’s attention was fixed on the guns that they pointed to the fourth man. The fourth man was in shambles. He was laying chest down on the beautifully painted driveway. His clothes were muddy and torn; his face was full of blood. The man in the Hawaiian shirt half shouted something to the man on the ground, but Jeff was in too much of a shock to understand. Then suddenly, “Bap! Bap!” The two muscle men fired into the ragged man. Jeff stared in horror as one of the muscle men sauntered over to the crumpled body and fired one last shot into the head. “Bap”!
Jeff’s mind whirled trying to comprehend what happened. He felt like he was drunk or delirious with fever. He just stood there, slack jawed at the grisly scene displayed before him. The man in the Hawaiian shirt sneered happily as he kicked the carcass. His sneer dropped like a stone when he looked up and saw Jeff staring in. “Get ‘Em!” He shouted in a mix of anger and panic, pointing to Jeff. Instinct took over for Jeff’s failed mind. In a heartbeat he was streaking for safety. He peddled as hard and fast as his body would go! Peddle, peddle, peddle. Thirty miles an hour. The heavy gate opened as the pursuer’s Lincoln gave chase. Up. Down. Back Up. Down. Back. Thirty-eight miles per hour! The Lincoln was gaining fast. Jeff jumped his bike into the nearby jumble of trees. The Lincoln slid menacingly to a halt at the edge of the thicket. One man pulled his gun and let loose a fury of lead. Wha-pat! Wha-pat! Pieces of bark flew off the trees as the bullets pounded into them. “Not here, Timmy!” The lead man said. “Wait till we get a clear shot”. “OK George.” Replied Timmy, sullenly. George sympathized with his partner’s disappointment, and tried to appease him. “Don’t worry about it.” George said with a smile. “He’s gotta go through all those woods. We’ll just cut him off at the other side.” Timmy’s face beamed with the news. “Yea.” Timmy mused. “We catch him on the other side. We’ll cut him off at the pass!” Timmy exuberantly jumped into the passenger seat, exclaiming joyfully, “Let’s go!”
Inside the forest, panic has loosened its tenacious grip from Jeff. He realized all too quickly that his bike was no match for the surrounding terrain. The going was slow. His narrow tires dug into the sandy ground. Roots and fallen branches pounded his joints like sledgehammers. Wild arrow weed thorns tore at his exposed flesh. The lack of wind plus the heat of the day assaulted Jeff’s torn body. His breath started to come in ragged heaves. Eh-hun. Eh-hun. A corn snake lashed out at Jeff unexpectantly! Jeff lost his balance and fell, crashing his shoulder onto a jagged rock. He got up as the snake slithered away. Instinct once again took over as Jeff’s mind was overwhelmed from the trauma. Wearily he wobbled forward. Jeff stopped short of the clearing up ahead. He knew that the bad guys must’ve gone around to catch him, but exactly where did they stop at? Leaving his bike, Jeff peeked his head out from the tree line to get a better view. Across the street is a mini mall that started the suburban landscape. If he could make it through there, he could get to the tight, paved areas that the mobster’s would have to follow on foot. He’d clearly have the advantage. He could get to the cops and be safe. Jeff looked to his right and saw nothing. He smiled. He looked to his left and frowned. about half a block ahead of him was the Lincoln. The good news was that it was facing the wrong direction! They would have to turn around to get to him! That would give him the chance he needed. There was no way they would risk using their firearms in such a populated place. He hoped that anyway. Emboldened by his plan, Jeff jumped on his bike and tore off towards the mini mall. He had caught the men by surprise! They just turned around to look at him! There was no way he could lose! In his moment of triumph, Jeff failed to look right. In an instant a solid thunk was heard as two tons of squad car slammed into Jeff’s bike. Jeff flew straight into the windshield of the car as it crushed his valiant steed. Jeff couldn’t believe his luck! He had run into a police car! Now he knew he’d be saved. “What the hell?” mumbled the officer as he got out of his car. Jeff’s feeling of elation drained away as his eyes focused on the officer. “What? You again? Oh Yeah. This is gonna be good!” Elated the officer, reveling in the irony fate had given him. Just then the Lincoln pulled up. “Thank God officer! You’ve found him!” exclaimed George as he stepped out of the car. “We’ve been looking for him all day! He’s very sick, you know.” Jeff franticly tried to tell the cop the truth, but the crash had knocked the wind out of him. “Oh, no!” Defied the cop. “He’s all mine and I’m taking him in!” “I understand, sir.” replied George. “I’d be angry to if I’d dealt with him today. You see, officer, He’s got that diabetes disease. When he doesn’t take his insulin he gets all messed up.” Jeff swung wildly at the cop in hopes of getting arrested; but fell down instead. “I don’t care what his excuse is.” fumed the officer. “This man is going to jail!” George looked at the cop and said, “Look. Why waste such a lovely day doing paperwork? My brother, Timmy will help me with our cousin, and my other brother, Benjamin will help you.” With that, George handed over a hundred dollar bill to the cop. The officer looked at it and muses,” Hmm. I thought Benjamin had a twin.” George smiled. “Of course he did.” George corrected as he pulled out another bill.” What was I thinking.” Jeff tried to scream, but all that came out was a hoarse gasp. “You were thinking that I had better not see this man again. Period!” Stated the cop. “Go on. take him home before he gets all of you in trouble.” The cop said as he got into his car. Jeff shook violently trying in vain to escape. Timmy got out of the car and stabbed Jeff with a syringe. Jeff blacked out while hearing George say, “Don’t worry. were gonna take good care of you.”
Jeff woke up in a fog of Nausea and disorientation. His eyes strained to focus out the blurry room he was in. As his body began to shake off the effects of the drugs, he could almost make out images in front of him. A familiar shape sat before him. He squinted his eyes to focus upon the shape. His mind reeled. It was a man! He was sitting there in front of him! Was it the same man that ordered the goons after him? He couldn’t tell. “Hey!” Jeff shouted, half garbled. “What do you want from me? Let me go!” The man in the chair just sat there, staring at Jeff. Jeff’s eyesight was getting clearer now. Colors started to infuse themselves on the sight before him. Jeff felt his strength returning. He called out firmly. “Who are you? What do you want?” The man sat stoicly. Finally the drugs surrendered their hold on Jeff. Realizing that he wasn’t bound in any fashion, he lunged himself at the sitting man. “What do you want!?!” Jeff screamed in exasperation. He tackles the man as he sat there. Both bodies crashed onto the floor with a thud. Jeff’s hands found their way around his opponent’s throat as Jeff demanded, “Let me go! Now!” Jeff’s hands pulled back as if they were holding broken glass. His eye’s shot out of their sockets as his brain registered who he truly held. There before him was the man he saw earlier on the driveway. His clouded eyes stared right into Jeff’s. His tongue shriveled in his mouth, frozen in an eternal scream. Jeff’s breath came rapidly while his body refused to stop memorizing the grizzly scene. Only when the man’s brains poured out of the six inch hole like half melted tofu did Jeff throw the stranger from him while screaming in primal fear.
“Good. I see you’re finally awake.” said the man standing in the doorway. In all the commotion, Jeff hadn’t noticed him enter the room. Jeff instantly recognized the Hawaiian shirt; Then, looking up, he realized who the man was. “Jason Walter Whitney!” Jeff astounded. “You’re the head of the trucking conglomerate in the county!” “Very good.” Jason commended coolly. “And do you know who our distinguished guest is over there?” He asked pointing to the crumpled corpse laying on the floor. Jeff’s mind raced at the memory of various editorials in the paper. “That was Doug Taylor?” Jeff asked meekly. Jason’s shark like smile appeared. “Very good.” He said. “I tried to convince him that he should let well enough alone, but no. He had to play hero and try to get the county to enforce my crew to go on the new weigh station they had built. He had no business sense. I tried to convince him that just because my trucks were a little heavy didn’t mean that they were dangerous. He was difficult, though. Even after I had sent George and Timmy to explain things to him, he still wouldn’t let go. He was like a Pit Bull locked on to a child. What would you do to a filthy dog that was attacking your child?” He asked Jeff. “You’d do the only thing you could do.” Jason pulled his Glock from his belt and aimed it a Jeff. “You’d put it down.” Jason said with a sneer. “Bang.” Jeff stared, dumbfounded at the inhuman pleasure Jason had indulged in justifying his vile act of murder. Jeff also realized, with a sickening stomach, what was going to happen next. He decided to try and buy some time before buying the farm. “Let me guess.” Jeff stalled, “You’re gonna let Timmy and Boy George over there work on me a little. (George took a step towards Jeff at the taunt, but Jason waived him back.) Then, once you’re bored with my screams, your gonna off me and feed me to the fishes. Right?” Jason smiled smugly at Jeff. “Not bad.” He replied. “But not correct. You see,” Jason gestured over to a golf bag to his left. “ I’m gonna let George and Timmy work on their golf swings. And once they’re done with you, They’re gonna take you and Mr. Taylor over there to the concrete factory to be recycled with the other debris.” Jason strolled over to the bag and pulled out a driver and a wedge. He looked over to Jeff as he handed them to his boys and said, “Titanium heads for greater distance.” Jason opened the door to leave. “I’m going downstairs to watch The Master’s on TV. Let me know who win’s the Crimson Jacket up here.” Jason laughs as he headed downstairs. Jeff’s eyes whirled across the room in hope of an escape. The walls were solid behind and to the sides of him. A lush velvet curtain was closed on the right of George. And the only door was being blocked by Jeff’s best buddies as they slowly moved their way towards him. “Batter up.” Timmy said as he inched closer. Jeff’s animal instincts took over as he charged the men. Timmy slammed his wedge into Jeff’s back, shattering a rib as he tackled George. Jeff’s momentum threw both of them through the window. George screamed in rage as they plummeted three stories down. The hood of the Lincoln buckled under the impact of George’s body. His neck snapped as it caught the fender’s edge. Jeff’s leg was shattered below the knee and his right wrist had snapped from the impact. His breath was knocked out of him, but George’s body has cushioned him from most of the impact. Before his body could register the full pain of his injuries, the guard dogs jumped at him. With his left hand clutching George, Jeff rolled them off the car and George on top of him. The dogs bit furiously into the dead man’s flesh trying to devour their prey. Jeff felt something hard press into his abdomen. He realized it was George’s gun! He pulled the gun from Georges belt and pushed the carcass off him. The guard dogs immediately attacked Jeff but were thwarted by a bullet into each head. Jeff drove his hand into the dead man‘s pockets and pulled out the keys to the Lincoln. With grim determination he dragged his broken body to the driver’s door. The sounds of Timmy and Jason storming out the front door bolstered his efforts to crawl inside. As he put the key in the ignition and turned, a bullet shattered the windshield and lodged itself inches from Jeff’s body. Outside, Jason and Timmy stared
into the car unamused. Smoke wafted from Timmy’s Colt. Jeff Ducked down low, slammed the car in drive, and stomped the gas pedal.
Jeff laid on a stretcher as the medic dressed his wounds for travel. On his left was a team of men extracting the bodies of Timmy and Jason that were pinned between the brick wall and the Lincoln. “Ok.” Stated the detective. “I think I’ve got everything I need for now. There’s just one thing I have to clear up.” The detective turned around and called out, “Officer Kawalski!” A young officer marched up to the detective immediately. His face dropped when he saw Jeff laying in front of him. The detective noticed his discomfort and asked, “Do you know this man?” Kawalski slighted, “No.” “That’s interesting.” Countered the detective. “He swears he’s talked to you not once, but twice.” “He’s lying!” Rebuffed the officer. “I’ve never met this man in my life!” “Well,” said the detective. “I’m going to have to let I.A. look into this.” “What?” Astounded officer Kawalski. The detective continued. “Your car and all your logs will be confiscated for review. Detective Parks will discuss your rights allowed to you.” Officer Kawalski was stunned into silence as Detective Parks led him away. A smile of satisfaction crept across Jeff’s lips as the medics lifted him up into the ambulance and shut the doors.