Tuck your tail and run (chapters 5) by Christopher Reel

Once Phil thought it was safe he drove into a gas station. We both got out of the car. Still silent as we were the whole time we stared at each other over the roof of the car until he said ‘I don’t think that I could write a story as weird as your life. 1st you were fired, 2nd a tail, and 3rd your getting beat senseless in the street by some deformed child.’ He shook his head.

I shrugged and then touched my face. It felt like ground beef. Phil turned away from me to lean against the car and lit a cigarette. I looked around expecting to see the little monster running at me as I walked around the car.

Phil looked at me, exhaling smoke through his nostrils. A corner of his mouth rose into a smile as he asked ‘What the hell was that thing?’

‘A 20 dollar bill.’ I replied.

He shook his head, looking down at the cigarette.

‘Last night,’ I had begun. ‘before the movies, Tabby thought it would be fun to have our futures told. You know, she’s into shit like that. When she went to the bathroom I told the old man, who claimed to be a warlock, that his little business was bullshit.’ I made a quick chuckle of a man who was trying to find humor as he stood before a firing squad. ‘ Then he says he’ll make me a believer.’

Phil looked at me. ‘A believer?’

I nodded and shrugged.

‘So what are we going to do next?’ He asked.

‘You’re going to drive me to the old man’s store front on Chestnut Street, across from the movie theater.’

‘Then what?’

‘Then we’re going to break dance on card board for change.’

‘Huh?’

‘The only plan I have is to tell him to make all of this shit stop.’ I said.

Phil went to the rear of his car. ‘Come here for a second.’ He said as he opened the car’s trunk.

A car pulled up to one of the pumps. I watched as a guy stepped out. He went up to the attendant’s window and then to the side of the station where the bathrooms were. I joined Phil at the trunk.

‘Look at these babies.’ He said, holding a revolver in each of hands.

‘What the fuck are you doing with those?’ I looked around the gas station. ‘Put those back into the trunk before someone sees you.’

‘This is our protection.’ He barked back.

He handed me one of the guns. And the fuck up took it, because he was right we did need protection. However I still asked ‘What am I suppose to do with this?’

‘Shoot shit.’ He said. ‘Shoot that thing that was punching the shit out of you. You should be thanking me.’

‘I never owned a gun or shot one before. And, neither have you.’ I laid the gun back into the trunk.

‘I have, if you count arcade games.’

‘Phil, this is not the time to be a dumbass.’

‘I’m trying to help.’ He said. ‘Situations like this should be handled with excessive force. Believe me, I’m an expert at these things.’

‘What things?’ I said as I walked back to the passenger side of the car.

Things like humans growing tails and little green men.’

‘What makes you an expert in that?’

He shut the trunk. ‘I write fiction.’

‘You do a lot of drugs.’

‘That’s true, but I have read and wrote shit just like this. I’m better suited in this sort of situation then you are.’

Before I could comment on the gun still in his hand, someone screamed ‘Help!’ in a high pitch woman’s voice. It was the guy from the other car. He was naked, stumbling in a frantic dash from the side of the attendant’s station.

‘You think your little monster had something to do with that?’ Phil asked.

‘Not really, the guy just likes to run around naked and screaming for help. Maybe it’s a new fad.’ I opened the door. ‘Let’s not find out what’s really happening.’

Phil ignored me, taking slow steps towards the attendant’s station.

‘Phil, let’s go!’ I called out.

The naked man ran into the street. The little green monster ran from behind the attendant’s station.

‘Look! Look!’ Phil yelled.

The monster darted back behind the attendant’s station when Phil started shooting. The gun’s recoil caused his shooting arm to jerk violently in every direction as he took backward steps before he tripped and fail. I ducked inside the car trying not to get hit by a random bullet. Phil crawled back into the and quickly drove away.

I looked back for the little monster; he was nowhere in site neither was the car that belonged to the screaming guy, who had started a circus on the other side of the gas station.

‘You’re crazy.’ I said, once we were a good distance away and Phil had started to drive normal.

‘I think I hit him.’

‘I think you shot a screw loose in your head.’ I said. ‘You can’t shoot.’

‘Sure I can.’

‘You couldn’t hit your target accidently if you had to.’

He laughed.

‘Turn left here.’ I said. ‘We’re going to Chestnut Street.’

‘Where do you think the monster is?’

Although he seemed enthusiastic, by the way his voice cracked when he asked ‘Where do you think the monster is?’ I knew he was as scared as I was. And, since I needed him to be calm, because he was driving, I didn’t tell him that I thought the monster was driving the naked guy’s car a short distance behind us. So I shrugged and said ‘Tabby’s pregnant.’

‘Really?’

‘Yup, she told me today.’

‘Congratulation.’ He looked over to me. ‘You don’t look all that happy.’

‘I am.’

‘If my wife was having my first born, I’d be jumping up and down with joy right about now.’

‘Well it’s hard to jump up and down with joy while running for your life from a monster.’ For a while I forgot I had a tail until I moved and aggravated it. ‘Dame it.’

‘What?’

‘I hurt my tail.’

Suddenly the car was pushed forward into the car in front of us. Phil and I managed to get out of the car unharmed. The naked guy’s car was smashed and smoking against the back of Phil’s. I caught a glimpse of the monster’s face through the smashed windshield, and then it was gone. I looked around, the crashed cars started to draw attention. When I looked back to the windshield the little monster busted through it. I backed up ready to run. The growing crowd made a collective awe that caught the attention of the little monster once it landed. I could hear police sirens off in the distance. I continued to back away as the little monster jumped onto the top of Phil’s car. It bowed. There was a scattered response from the crowd; some were in disgust of the grotesque midget while others were amazed. Some of the crowd even clapped and cheered which caused the little monster to jump up and down in excitement and joy. I took this opportunity to get away by walking backwards down the street between the rows of cars and the rapidly growing crowd. Police and firemen begun to show up and take control of the situation, their presence escalated the little monster’s joy of attention. On top of the car it started flipping and dancing.

I was at the corner when a hand grabbed my shoulder. I turned, stumbling backwards. It was Phil. I completely forgot about him. ‘Look.’ He said pointing down the street. I turned. The little monster was no longer on top of Phil’s car. Phil who looked around lost and confused replaced it. He held one of his guns in his hand. The police yelled instructions to him as they surrounded the car with their guns up. When Phil dropped the gun and threw his hands into the air the police moved in. The crowd protested. As I turned around I wondered how Phil could be in two places at once.

‘Give me your soul!’ The little monster yelled.

I tried to back up and it punched me in the stomach. I doubled over and it punched me in the face. Yellow cartoon stars with red boots danced across my vision. I stumbled against a woman. She pushed me away and ran. I hurried to my feet and ran in the opposite direction of the woman with selfish hope that the monster chased her instead. My hope crashed and burned when I looked back and the little monster was still in pursuit. I ran as hard and as fast as I could until I was tackled by a police officer. He knocked the wind out of me. He stood while I was on my back trying to catch my breath. More officers had begun surrounded me. I could hear a variety of voices as a new crowd of people were forming.

Where did the little green monster go? I sat upright screaming, ‘The monster, where’s the monster?’

One of the officers above kicked me in the chest. I fell back. ‘Shut the fuck up!’ he screamed down at me. ‘You’re crazy; your friend with the gun is crazy. There’s no monster. No one seen no fucking monster.’

‘Calm down Ralph.’ Another officer said before leading him away.

From my view all I could see were legs, shoes, and tires. Although I didn’t see the little monster I sensed his presence. It was larking about trying to get me. I felt like a waiting victim, like an insect before a foot stepped on it. And then suddenly the voice of the little monster said, ‘Give me your soul.’

I screamed, ‘The monster! The monster!’ As I quickly made it to my feet a flurry of punches and kicks knocked me around. I ended face down on the street and hand cuffed. Then I was lifted by what felt like a hundred hands and tossed into a police wagon. The doors were slammed and I was left in the darkness. My face was numb. My body felt as if someone used it as a track for a herd of junkies competing in a hundred yard dash for a hit of their drug of choice. The wagon smelled the way a preacher would describe damnation; it made me dizzy ad although my mind was a little fuzzy but I was perfectly aware that it was only a matter of time before the little monster would appear. Being cuffed and locked in a dark police wagon meant certain death. I screamed for help.

After a time of unconsciousness I awoke on the ground without being cuffed. People were running by in terror as I stood. I stopped a guy running by and asked him ‘What’s going on?’ He pointed up into the sky and said in the voice of Fred Sanford, ‘A monster you big dummy.’ I looked up and the little monster was the size of King Kong holding onto a tall building. Tabitha was lying in its open palm. ‘Alex.’ She called out. ‘I want you to meet my new husband. My mother thought it would be good for me to remarry once you were locked up. She chose the monster for me because he’s big and strong enough to protect me. Plus he has a job.’ Something slapped me across the face before the world faded to black. Suddenly a rush of colors in a disoriented glare flooded my sight as I opened my eyes.

‘We could had dropped his ass off of a building and he still wouldn’t had woke up.’ I heard a voice say.

I blinked repeatedly trying to focus my vision. When I tried to wipe my eyes I realized that I was still hand cuffed.

‘That doesn’t make any sense.’ Another voice said. ‘If we dropped him from a building of course he wouldn’t wake up because he’d die from the fall.’

Slowly my vision became clear. Two officers stood in front of me. Both were short and wide, one was black; his name was Johnson, the other one was white; his name was Carter.

‘Look he’s alive.’ Said Carter.

I was sitting on the ground between two patrol cars. I noticed more patrol cars and wagons. The officers lifted me to my feet. I was in a police precinct’s parking lot.

‘Thought you had died for a minute there.’ Johnson said.

‘We should had let Hugo bring him.’ Carter said. ‘He made the arrest.’

‘Waiting for Hugo after making an arrest that drew news crews is like waiting for Christ to return.’

Johnson held me by the arm as we followed behind Carter to the building. ‘And, I hope we don’t have to wait until he gets here to leave. I’m hungry.’

I stopped. Johnson stopped. He tighten his grip on my arm and said, ‘Didn’t you already have enough of getting our ass beat.’

Carter stopped and turned to us. ‘What’s the matter?’

‘I don’t know, he just stopped.’ Johnson said. ‘I could slam and drag him but the other guys did a pretty rough job on him. Look at his face.’

‘I bet he’s going to try to sue.’ Carter said, continuing towards the building.

‘Shit, I would.’ Johnson said giving me a tug.

I didn’t move. ‘Listen.’

‘No! You listen’ Said Johnson. ‘I don’t want to but I really will slam and drag you if I have to. He tugged at my arm again.

I made reluctant steps. I pay my taxes and vote. And you’re locking me up for running for my life.’

As Carter went up the steps to the door Johnson stopped and said. ‘You’re not going to start that monster shit again, are you?’

Carter opened the door and the little monster dove into him, knocking him down the steps.

‘Hello Alex.’ The little monster said as he stood.

Both officers were cursing the little monster, going for their guns. Carter fired from the ground. Johnson, who stood in front of me, fired his gun, as well. The monster disappeared. Until they both ran out of shots.

‘This is some bullshit.’ Carter said, still on the ground, before the little monster started punching him with super human speed while laughing wildly.

Johnson grabbed my arm and we ducked between two patrol cars. As he loaded his gun I said, ‘I’m a wizard.’

‘You’re not a fucking wizard.’

‘Yes I am.’ I said. ‘You have to believe me. I told you there was a monster, and look, there’s a monster.’

He looked at me and then stood to see what the monster was doing to his partner. I didn’t take a look for myself but how Carter was crying for help and the look on Johnson’s face I was pretty sure the site wasn’t pretty.

‘Okay,’ Johnson said as he sat beside me. ‘You’re a wizard, now what?’

‘Take these cuffs off of me so I can vanquish the demon back to its realm.’ I said, fighting back a smile.

He took the cuffs off of my wrist and said, ‘Do what you do.’

I stood. Johnson stood. The little monster stopped punching Carter and looked up at us. I ran.

‘Hey!’ I heard Johnson say behind me.

As I ran out of the parking lot I looked over my shoulder and the little monster tackled Johnson. I ran for a good 20 blocks or so, running off of pure fear before I had to stop and catch my breath. I looked up at the street sign and it read: Chestnut Street.

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About christopherreel

Christopher Reel is a writer and cartoonist from Philadelphia.

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