Meow By D.I. Jolly
There are days when it seems like the whole world is against you, and there are days when it feels like everything you touch turns to gold. Then, sometimes, there are the days that hit you like a train out of nowhere and no matter what you do or how hard you try, chaos stays set to 11. The kind of day where just trying to take out the trash puts you on a collision course with crazy. Or at least that’s how it felt to Justin. His plan was simple, shower, change, coffee, then take out the trash on his way to work.
It wasn’t to end up sitting in a bar across from a man he’d not seen in 9 years, drinking his third shot of tequila, making sure to keep his muscles tense in case he needed to quickly draw the gun in his pocket.
The chaos hit as he stepped out of his door. It closed with its usual click, reminding him that he had neither his keys nor his phone. For a moment he thought about kicking in the door, then swore and decided to just go to the office and sort it out from there. Then he sighed, picked up the trash bag and headed out. Standing next to the bins, seemingly waiting for him, was a man he’d not seen in a long time.
“Hello Justin, how are you?”
Justin stepped forward, put the trash down and extended his hand.
“This is fast becoming a day, I’m alright. How the hell are you? And what are you doing here?”
Walter smiled but somehow managed to look grave doing it.
“Yeah that, that’s kind of a long story. Look, I’m sorry about this but I need your help.”
“My help? With what? What’s going on here?”
Walter let out a long sigh and cracked his neck.
“I don’t have time to explain it right now but I need you to come with me, I’ve got a car waiting.”
“What are you talking about? I haven’t seen you in 10 years and now…”
“It’s been 9 years… 3 months, and 6 days.”
Justin stared at him for a moment in quiet disbelief.
“How could you possibly know that?”
“That’s a much shorter story. The last time we saw each other was at Jenny Smiths 23rd birthday. Which is on the 27th of June and we’re all the same age.”
Justin opened his mouth to protest, feeling the anxiety of the situation coupled with the idea of being late for work and the lingering problem of not having his keys or his phone, but before he could talk Walter pulled a gun out of his pocket and pointed it at him.
“I’m sorry, but you are going to come with me.”
Justin looked down at the gun and tried to take a deep breath but only managed a few near panicked gasps.
“Ok, ok, ok, no need for that.”
Walter put the gun back in his pocket.
“Car’s this way.”
They walked in silence and Walter gestured for Justin to drive.
“Where exactly am I driving you?”
His voice had gone from near panic to flat.
“For starters down the street, then left, and then just keep going until we reach the highway.”
“It doesn’t, fucking, matter. Now get in.”
They did and headed off down the street. Questions began to form in Justin’s mind, but so did a fear that he wasn’t going to make it home, that he’d never see his girlfriend again or anyone for that matter. He tried another deep breath then chanced a look at his one-time friend. Over Walter’s shoulder, he spotted a truck that had already knocked two cars out of the way to put itself on a collision course with them. Justin turned hard and managed to get the car facing away as the truck to hit their back, and not t-bone the side. The impact launched them into the front window of a nearby hairdresser and the truck slammed hard into a street light. Through the blur, dust and confusion Justin felt a hand grab him by the shoulder and pull him out of the car. He heard something that sounded like the teacher from Peanuts, and it was only after a few seconds that he realised it was Walter’s voice.
“Hey, hey, you’ve got to pull it together, we need to get out of here now.”
Once the sound had become words, he realised that the hand on his shoulder was pulling him along and he was mostly walking. Sanity returned and he stopped and pulled himself free.
“Why on Earth would I go with you?”
Walter turned an annoyed look at him and pointed to the driver of the truck who looked groggy, and was bleeding from somewhere on his head but was also regaining consciousness.
“Because that man is going to try to kill us in a second.”
“What have you dragged me into? And how is it better than what you’re going to do to me?”
The frustration in Walter’s face grew and he pulled out his gun and tossed it to Justin, who fumbled it for a second but managed to not drop it.
“There, you feel better now? Let’s go!”
Walter turned and started jogging as best he could down the street, with Justin only a few steps behind him. They weaved through a few alleyways until Walter felt safe enough to stop and dust off. Then he walked into a 24-hour bar that looked like it had been drinking the night before and now had a 20-year cumulative hangover. Justin realised he was still just holding the gun, so stuffed it into a pocket and followed.
Walter pointed at a table then went to the bar to get shots.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Walter lifted a small glass and waited silently until Justin picked one up himself and they drank. It was cheap and nasty and they both winced at the burn.
“I ran into Jenny Smith a few months ago and we quickly started having a very wild affair. Turns out though, her attraction for bad boys runs deep and her husband is actually some kind of mobster, or crime lord, or Disney villain. Anyway, he’s now trying very hard to kill me but so far I’ve managed to not die.”
“And why the hell have you gotten me involved?”
Walter lifted another shot and waited again, Justin frowned but the first one had helped distract him from the growing pain in his shoulders, so he took another shot.
“I got desperate, I started trying to think of who I could go to for help.”
“The police springs to mind.”
Justin’s tone was boarder line sarcastic and it made Walter frown.
“There’s a problem with that, I…’
He looked nervously around the bar to see if there was anyone close enough to hear him and realised that there actually wasn’t anyone else there.
‘I kind of killed the first guy who came after me. That’s, that’s where I got the gun.”
Justin let out a long breath.
“Don’t be thick! You’re a lawyer.”
Justin narrowed his eyes.
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes you are, I checked you out on social media, I was looking to see if I knew anyone who could help and I found you. Your profile says, lawyer.”
Justin rubbed his face with his hands, then reached across for another shot and drank it without waiting.
“I work for a tech company that makes an app which helps you search for rulings in board games, it’s called Lawyer.”
Walter stared at him for a minute, then reached for a shot. Justin let his focus linger on the gun in his pocket and felt an urge to simply shoot him. He could then call the police, tell them what had happened and say it was self-defence, besides he didn’t actually have to kill him. Then again, he could just leave, go home, or not, because he didn’t have keys or a phone. Maybe the office, tell his boss what happened. The more he thought about it, the more he thought a hospital would probably be the best idea. Just then the door behind him banged open and he turned to see a large man with a bloody forehead step into the bar holding a large gun. He pointed it at Walter who’d fallen out of his chair and was taking scared steps backwards. The man’s voice came out hard and pained.
“Any last words?”
Walter stuttered for a second then said.
The man frowned.
“Your last words are meow?”
Walter swallowed, shifted his balance from one foot to another, and said.
The man growled and rubbed his eyes, then started to say something to express his irritation. Seeing him close his eyes, Justin seized the moment and pulled the gun from his pocket, started to pull the trigger as he tried to aim it at the man. 3 shots went wild but two hit, one in the leg and one in the arm holding the gun. His gun then clicked empty but Walter lunged forward and slammed a barstool into the man’s face. He then looked at Justin and they both ran for the door and back into the street.