2016 07 17
CARVED Part 08: Unwanted Guests
Kristina Bowie was busy practicing her calligraphy when Rod Estoque approached. Elvira Camonte followed him, dangling her revolver from her finger. He could see the concentration on her face as she put the finishing touches on a letter.
She put down her pen and pushed the paper aside. When she raised her head, Rod noticed her eyes were puffy and red. She seemed to have spent a long time crying. Why, he did not know.
But he did see that she kept her left forearm wrapped in medical gauze. Splotches of red stood out on the white cloth. Kris must have noticed for she hid her left arm under the table.
Straightening herself, she said, “Sit, please.” She beckoned to the lone empty chair across her side of the table.
Rod turned to Elvira and pointed to the chair. She shook her head in reply.
“That chair is for you, Rod,” Kris said, her voice firm with authority. “Aunt Elvira,” she said, addressing her, “could sit near the window. Feel free to order what you want.”
Elvira complied. She placed her revolver tenderly on an empty table, and took a seat by the table next to it. She busied herself with the menu and ordered some food.
The streets outside were devoid of people and vehicles. It appeared that everyone knew of the meeting that was taking place and wanted to avoid it. Only the roaring of a gang of motorcycles disrupted the silence as they raced through the streets.
Kris watched the motorcycles disappear. She faced Rod, saying, “Aunt Elvira is well-acquainted with my family. I have to thank her later for helping me set up this meeting.”
Rod nodded. “I heard,” he replied. “It’s good to see you again.”
Kris smiled. “Ever since I first saw you in the bookstore I could not stop thinking about the words on your arm. I thought I was dreaming, but when the words appeared on my arm, I knew that everything was real.” Showing Rod her bandaged arm, she said, “It stopped stinging some time ago, but I’m afraid of seeing inside.”
“The words fade away after a while,” Rod said. He showed her his arms, which were clear. “They don’t scar.”
Kris smiled sadly. “Scars are the least of my worries. What I fear is that when I take this off, a new message will appear. If not from you, then from someone else. Someone who knows who I am and is willing to use that knowledge against me.”
Rod reached out and held Kris’ hand. When he saw what he did, his eyes widened. Kris and her men also looked surprised. One of them drew near but she raised a hand and waved him off.
Smiling, she said, “Thanks for that. I guess this is all new to me.”
Rod said, “Same here. I have no idea how we could share these messages, but I don’t think it will put you in danger. My guess is that only a few people can do this. Maybe we are the only ones that can.”
Kris sighed and squeezed Rod’s hand back. “I thought that this meeting would lead to some answers. But this doesn’t seem too bad.”
The motorcycles roared past the restaurant once again. Rod withdrew his hand and stood. Kris made to get up but Rod put a hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t worry,” he said assuringly. “Looks like I was just jumpy.”
As he was sitting down, the motorcycles returned. They screeched to a halt in front of the restaurant window. Each one had two riders on them. All of them wore black leather jacket, gloves, and helmets. They also had straps on their chests which had something hidden from Rod’s point of view.
The guards formed a tight semicircle in front of Rod and Kris. They pulled out their handguns, and Elvira eased herself out of her chair to reach the revolver on the other table. Nobody made any sudden moves. Rod’s heart raced. His mind was screaming for him to leave, yet he remained rooted to the spot.
Rod’s fear sharpened his senses, and everything seemed to move in slow motion. When he gulped, the sound deafened his ears. Kris seemed to be screaming next to him, but it sounded fuzzy. The hairs on his nape and hands stood, feeling the cool air that had now become freezing.
In the seconds that passed, Rod saw the motorcycle riders reach behind their backs, revealing the automatic pistols at the end of the straps. They took aim.
Rod leapt towards Kris, tackling her to the ground. A bullet whizzed by where her head had been a second ago and planted itself on the wall. They kept low as the rain of bullets sent shards of glass and tableware crashing to the floor around them.
One of the guards took a hit and collapsed on Rod and Kris’ table. Food and tableware spilled around them. Rod checked on Kris, whose lips were bleeding. He wiped the blood off with his thumb, asking, “Are you okay?”
She nodded. “I accidentally bit my lip on the way down,” she replied. “I think I’m okay.”
Rod sighed in relief. Gathering himself, he said, “We need to get out of here.”
Kris shouted to the gigantic guard next to her, the one who guarded the door earlier. “Rick! We can’t stay here. We need to go!”
Rick crouched and held out his hand. “Just thinking the same thing,” he replied. “Through the kitchen.”
Kris took Rick’s hand and he heaved her up. Rod got to his knees before seeing a steak knife on the floor next to a bloody table napkin. Not wanting to be caught unaware, he wrapped the napkin around the blade of the knife. He tucked the entire thing into the seat of his pants and covered it with his dress shirt.
Rod sprinted to the double doors that led to the kitchen. The cooks and waiters huddled near the stoves and ovens, quaking in fear. He saw a flash of yellow leaving the door to the rear. Kris! He dashed to the still swinging door and froze when he opened it.
Kris and Rick were surrounded by more gunmen in the alley begind the restaurant, their weapons trained on them. Nobody seemed to notice Rod. He was relieved, but the thought of what to do next scrambled his thoughts. He only had a knife, which wouldn’t be much use against trained gunmen.
As he stood trying to weigh his options, a motorcycle roared into view. Its helmeted rider gunned the engine and it sped along the alley towards Rick and Kris.
“Watch out!” Rod called out.
Rick managed to shove Kris away from the motorcycle’s path, but he could not jump away in time. The motorcycle collided with his torso with a deafening crunch. The giant went flying right into the circle of gunmen. He landed on a puddle, splashing all of them with muddy water.
Rod stood, stunned, as the dazed man, bleeding from his mouth and nose, struggled to rise. One of the gunmen shot him between the eyes for his trouble.
Kris screamed as the the shot rang out. The newcomer on the motorcycle rounded on her and whipped out a baton. He stalked towards her, the baton held above him. He seemed sure this would be an easy task.
He did not count on Rod tackling him down.
Rod slammed his fists on the downed man’s chest. Once his knuckles were sore, he used his palms on the man’s helmet. Then he tried his elbows. He did not stop attacking even when the man’s companions dragged him away.
The man stuggled to his feet and picked up his baton. He took his time reaching Rod, as if savoring the kill. He raised the baton, and Rod turned to look at Kris, who was shouting something to him. He forced himself to smile before he felt the blow on his temple and his vision darkened.
TO BE CONTINUED
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