Wrong Side of TownbyTail End Pete©
George sat in his truck at the convenience store while finishing the last bites of his lunch; chili cheese hotdog, chips, and a soda. He wasn't a vain man, it was just out of habit he looked in the rear view mirror and ran a hand through his thinning brown hair. The brown eyes behind his thick glasses looked back at him while he neatened himself a little.
He adjusted the mirror and got out to throw the trash away while thinking that it was time to go back to work. A lady's scream and the raised voices of more than one man caused him to look around, the garbage in his hand forgotten for a moment. This wasn't the greatest neighborhood he was in at the moment. The decaying blight on the main drag, closed store fronts and adult businesses, reflected the same bad times in the residences behind with their neglected yards and litter in the streets.
On the corner opposite him, two black men had chased after and caught some girl. After knocking her down, one of the men was slapping her while the other casually watched. Judging from what he could see of her clothes, he guessed some prostitute was getting it from her pimp.
'Well, it doesn't really matter,' thought George. 'but I can't let them do that to her.' It wasn't a chivalrous attitude but his sense of right and wrong from all those Sunday School teachers from his childhood. He put the trash in the can provided for the purpose, even though it seemed to be a hit or miss proposition for most people, and decided to cross the street. He wasn't sure what he could or would do at the moment, he felt it was something he needed to do. He certainly wouldn't scare anybody at 5'8" and 160 pounds, but he did his work and stayed off the couch at home so he wasn't fat.
He saw that the one man had taken notice of his presence and had watched him cross the street towards the fracas. He had opened his stance a little and was holding his hands away from his body.
"Hey!" George said loudly as he neared. "What's up with this? It takes both of you to beat on a girl half your size?"
The beating continued as he was ignored. Apparently the other was keeping watch and would be able to take care of George by himself.
"Beat it cracker if you don't want the same," the first man stated. "You got no business here, so just keep on going."
"Well, you're wrong there, buddy boy. Two assholes on a defenseless woman makes it my business. You'd both do well to just leave her be and walk away," George heard himself say. 'Now, where the hell had that come from?' he wondered as the first man squared up to take his head off with a huge right hand.
George kept walking as though he didn't see the fist until he ducked at the last moment. He launched a spin kick that caught the out of position man high in the chest. It straightened him up and back causing him to grab at his chest and wonder if this was what a heart attack felt like.
George knew it was one on two and it better end real quick, so he hopped to the side and kicked at the man's leg, catching the knee on the side and snapping one or two ligaments in there. He wouldn't be chasing anyone for awhile.
He danced back from the groaning man who was rolling on the ground while clutching his broken knee and looked for the other man and the girl. It was a lucky move. He felt a slamming thud on the back of his shoulder which turned him around. If he hadn't moved, the blow would have knocked him out. As it was, it turned him around so he was facing his attacker for the first time.
The whole fight had been silent with the only noise coming from the girl. Even with all the sweat on the man's face from over exerting himself on the girl, the big man hadn't said a word. George faked a stand up charge, but when the man came for him, George dropped and rolled right into his legs. The sweaty man lost his balance and fell forward. George reached up and grabbed his shirt and pulled him on down onto the ground. The man put out his hands to break his fall. George could only reach one arm, so he hit at the elbow as hard as he could. With only one arm down to break the fall, all the man's weight landed on that side. George heard the sick sound as the man's arm fractured.
Getting up as fast as he could, he looked around for the girl who was laying on the street. Running to her, he grabbed an arm and yelled at her, "Let's get out of here quick. They might have some friends around."
He got her up and moving towards the corner. Fate was with them as the light had just changed. George hustled her to his truck and pushed her into the passenger side. He ran around the front, jumped into the driver's seat, started the truck and pulled out of the parking lot down the street away from the fight. He'd noticed that both men were still down on the ground, although the one with a broken arm was sitting up and staring at him.
He hadn't taken the time to look at the person he had saved from that beating back there. From the way he saw her shoulders shaking, he thought she must be crying. He saw dark hair, a t-shirt of some sort, and dirty jeans. It looked as though she had shoes on when he'd first seen them across the street, but he couldn't see from here what kind they were.
He kept driving away from the area, turning corners every once in awhile to throw off any pursuers and keeping an eye on the rear view mirror. After a few minutes which felt like a lifetime and without seeing anyone behind them, he pulled to the side of the street and stopped the truck. They weren't so far away that she couldn't go back if she wanted, depending on where she lived. But here they would have a few minutes to decide.
He noticed that her shaking had stopped and he didn't hear any noises, so she must have stopped crying.
"Hey," he said quietly. "Don't worry about them now. They're back there somewhere, so you are safe for now. What do you want to do now? Do you need a ride someplace?"
He watched her as she slowly straightened up in her seat, then she turned and looked at him through her tear stained face and his whole existence turned upside down and inside out. The air whooshed out of his lungs and his jaw gaped open.
It was his wife.