NEAR THE COURTYARD (#4)
Going against his inner voice’s advice, Sean tries to take the train. He’s jumped, thumped and forced to do things. Along the way, he learn more about the mysterious rock he was given by a stranger.
Right now, I’m near the court-yard at work, watching The Three Train Thugs. They kidnapped me, and now they are about to kill each other.
Earlier in the evening, I climbed out a bathroom window to avoid being caught. I hadn’t done that since college. It was Friday, so I was heading home, maybe to watch the latest Mandalorian episode, though it’s been a disappointing Season Two so far.
I didn’t have enough money for a cab, so I took the train.
This was a mistake.
And, I knew it was a mistake. That’s what the Little Voice has been telling me for the last hour. “You knew better! You should have walked home, dumbass!”
So, I had walked into the train station. I got on the train. I took the train to my home station. I got off the train.
I should have been worried about these thugs. But, I was worried about whether any of my friends or coworkers at Penelope’s party guessed it was me in the bathroom.
I should have been worried about the danger of the Train Station. I’ve avoided it all week like a Wildebeest avoids a crocodile-filled watering hole. But, the Wildebeest needs water, so he approaches the watering hole and…
I need to get home. I approach the train station and … the Three Thugs jump me and thump me like they fucked up Train Platform Man, like Patrick Swayze fucked up this guy in Roadhouse.
The fact is, a wildebeest never dies of old age.
I’d gotten off the train, saw the Thugs, spun around and got back on, but they cornered me, fucked me up and asked: Where is it?
I was like, “hello, it’s just a ROCK!” They laughed. One guy said, “Ivan, he half no idea.”
Anyway, I told them and they said, “Come with us” which I think is shorthand for, “show us where the rock is, and then we’ll kill you.”
The rock was in the courtyard at work. It’s a chunk of fulgurite. That’s what Jan said. I googled it. It’s some sort of rock formed by lightning. I’m going to die because of lightning rock. Figures. Sigh. 2020, the year from hell, am I right?
While we rode the train to my office, as though to confirm my fears, one of the minions said to Ivan, “Eeevohn, do you vant me to contact zee Arcana?” Ivan is the one I used to call Staring Man. Ivan said, “Shut up, Victor. Don’t talk about such things right now.”
Victor said, “You mean zee Arcana?”
Ivan said, “Victor, shut. Up.”
Victor looked scolded. He said, “You vorried bout dees guy?” Victor gestured toward me, Victor said, “Dees guy von’t talk. Soon, eee be dead.”
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And Ivan (pause) slapped Victor, hard, across the face. He said, “Eedyoht! You never tell someone you keel zem. You vait until you have what you vant… Then you keel zem. No talking. Just doing. Now dees guy here vill not coop-rate.” Ivan pointed at me.
I nodded my head. Yup. Definitely not cooperating.
And when the doors opened at the stop I take to work, I bolted.
Victor yelled, “Hey, stop!” Hahaha, as-if! I got a twenty length head start.
And they’re off!
Sean Harley takes a lead into the first turn.
Harley with the lead on the inside.
Behind him the Three Train Thugs.
Three Train Thugs with Victor leading that pack
We’re on the back, the far straightaway now
Sean Harley’s lead narrows
But it’s still a big lead as he dodges an old lady
He leaps a baby stroller!
Ivan passed Victor, Anonymous Man falls behind by a growing gap
Gasping for breath, looking like death
Victor and Ivan are neck and neck!
Eating into Harley’s lead
It’s shrunk to seven lengths, now five
Hold on, don’t believe my eyes!
I turned a corner, right into a crowd of people crowding a walkway
I bobbed and weaved, blended and defended, slid and hid
I had run into a group of homeless men.
And I recognized the guy from Monday
The guy who gave me the rock,
Train Platform Man.
But, the second time I looked, it didn’t look like him anymore.
Train Platform Man had looked earnest.
This man just looked sad.
Then something poked me in the back and I heard Victor say, “Never do zat again.”
I said, “What did I have to lose?” Victor stared at me for a second and shrugged. He said, “Eh, it is a good point.” Then he said, “Hey, back there, I vas only joking. I joke. It’s vhat I do. I’m not going to keel you. Victor is friend. I like to talk, uh, I talk zee sheet. So, please, take us to vhere is zee Computronium.”
Ivan said, “Victor!”
I said, “The what? Did you say Computronium?” And I thought: It’s that word I’ve never heard before!
Ivan (pause) slapped Victor again and Victor said, “Zee rock. Vhere did you put zee rock?”
Thus, we entered a negotiation. It started out like, Where’s the rock? If I tell you, you’ll kill me. If you don’t tell us, we’ll torture it out of you. That was pretty persuasive, but in the end, I bartered them down to this:
I get them into my office building and they give me one of their guns, fully loaded, and, uh… well, this part is kind of embarrassing. But, I had to have them show me how to use the gun. I mean, I’d probably go to fire it, and instead I’d press the doohickey that releases the clip. And then the bullets would all fall out. And then I’d be screwed. Well, I’d be more screwed.
Anyhoo… got the tutorial and we left for my office. I had a gun in Victor’s back and Ivan had a gun in my back and I figured that as long as I had that gun, maybe they’d be inclined to take this Computronium and leave without some big scene. I’d live stream the whole thing to Youtube, then take it to the FBI.
I badged into work, badged onto the elevator, and took it to the food service level. It was dark and creepy like a horror movie. We walked through the food court and I showed them to the courtyard door and pointed at the solitary tree under which I had set Crazy Rock free.
The courtyard was glass on four sides with a skylight to the heavens. The Three Thugs entered. I backed off slowly into the shadows. Maybe I should have run, but I hate being chased. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of them until they were gone.
I fumbled trying to get a Youtube live stream going but, shit, Youtube says to mobile live stream I need at least 1000 subscribers and I have like, two. Fuck you, Youtube. So I switched to my camera app but what I saw next surprised me so much I forgot to hit record.
Shit started going down between the Three Thugs and I was just dumbfounded.
Dumbfounded because Anonymous Man stabbed Victor
Then a gun sounded as Ivan shot AnonMan
My blood pounded as I watched Victor wrestle away Ivan’s gun
And Victor shot Ivan, before collapsing himself.
As with many fights, there was no winner.
Well… unless you count me.
Written, Produced and Narrated by Hans Anderson