Some emergencies were of such dire nature that even a sensible, seasoned man had, perforce, to walk into dangerous territory without semblance of backup. It was such an emergency that had driven Sam Axe out of his girlfriend's house on a night where the tropical rain lashing down obscured the moon and bounced up off the pavement with such force as to cause sheeting waves around his feet. A sudden storm had blown in from the South, defying forecasts that it would miss Miami. Wind whipped through the palm trees, lifting the leaves and making them sweep around in a fast, sinuous dance. Their thrashing added to the sound of the rain belting down. Any sensible man would stay inside until the worst died down. Sam Axe was not always a sensible man.
Out of bourbon? Completely unthinkable. Out of bourbon and the kind of cigarettes that his lady love preferred? And she thought he could just be a darling and run to the store? Well. There was no arguing with those marching orders.
The critical supplies had been retrieved. Sam was on the way back to his Cadillac when he saw across the nearly-empty parking lot of the mini mall that the car had attracted the attention of a small group of young men, in every particular resembling car thieves.
Sam's mood darkened. It was bad enough to be playing errand boy, but idiot kids getting ideas about his car was one step too far. Didn't they have anything less stupid to do on a rainy Saturday night? It seemed like the heat was stretching everyone's sanity to snapping point. Not that it took much, anywhere in the world, no matter the climate, in Sam's experience, to get testosterone crazed young men to do dumb things in groups.
"Hey!" he shouted as he got closer. "You want to get off my car?"
"Nah, we're good here."
The leader of the pack, all whip skinny muscles and shaggy hair, turned from his efforts to bust the door lock to face Sam and mouth off at him.
"You just walk away, we keep your car, you keep your life."
Sam didn't roll his eyes. The cheesy attempt at tough guy dialogue wasn't even eye roll worthy. He'd heard better from ten year old child soldiers fending off outsiders from the poppy crops in the 'Stan.
These kids intent on jacking his car thought they had it bad? They thought they got a tough deal and could just take what they wanted from society to make up for a shitty birthright? They ain't seen nothing. And Sam sure didn't owe them a car to joyride in then strip for parts.
"How about I keep my life, and the car, and you run home to mommy?" Sam said. He had a feeling that about now he wasn't looking too friendly. There was a kind of anger that he'd felt enough times to know that it was reflected on his face in a way that stopped trouble half the time before it even got good and started. Most people didn't want to fight a crazy bastard.
Except maybe stupid kids who thought they had nothing to lose; who had no idea of the things that might be worth fighting for. A car wasn't really worth fighting for, a fuzzy principle about people starting shit and bothering Sam when he was already soaking wet and generally pissy and in the mood to raise some hell was worth fighting for, provided it didn't keep him out too late. A lady should never be kept waiting.
Some of the kids clearly got the idea that things had moved on from jacking a car to messing with a crazy guy, and were melting into the shadows, drifting off toward the edges of the parking lot, smart enough to get the hell out. Sam watched with satisfaction. The odds were getting down to something more to his liking.
The boy who had postured, who Sam was mentally labeling Stupid Skinny Kid, pulled his next boneheaded move, reaching into the back of his pants to pull a gun on Sam. He held it one-handed, and sideways.
"Oh that's just insulting." Sam said. He set down his shopping bag carefully, not inclined to sit it in a puddle. Stupid Skinny Kid's eyes followed Sam's motion, but he was too slow to react to Sam swinging his hand back up after setting the bag down. Sam grabbed the wrist with the gun and wrenched the dumb kid's hand until he dropped his weapon. The kid dropped to his knees, clutching his wrist in pain. Sam hoped it was broken, the kid had it coming.
The gun splashed into a puddle and skittered away under a car. The two idiots left backing up Stupid Skinny Kid looked like they were about to draw on Sam. They also looked like they might be about to piss themselves. If they weren't flying high on something they'd probably have the sense to take off like their buddies.
If. As if there was any chance that they weren't cracked out on whatever the latest drug floating around Miami for cheap was.
The rain was slowing to a trickle and the clouds beginning to drift away, moving out as suddenly as they'd rolled in. The heat was ready to reassert itself in body-clinging stickiness, the rain having done nothing to dispel it. The frog chorus sang loud without the beating rain to obscure it.
"Great." Sam said disgustedly, "If I'd waited an hour I'd have missed the storm and this bullshit." He let out a heavy breath and grabbed the two teens, one by each ear, cracking their heads together.
"You want to maybe not go for the guns?" he said. Out of the corner of his eye he saw that Stupid Skinny Kid was up again, bouncing on the balls of his feet and puffing up his chest. Sam snorted.
"I would have stayed down." he said, pivoting to smack the heel of his hand up into Stupid Skinny Kid's nose. Blood started gushing out and Sam jumped back, careful of his footing on the slick pavement.
"Are we done?"
Of course not. One of the other kids had gone for the knife option, stabbing toward Sam with a switchblade that glinted under the streetlights.
"Crap." Sam slid his rain jacket off, wrapping it around his arm as the kid came at him.
The knife slashed through the fabric and bit into Sam's arm. He ignored the sudden pain. It was thoughtful of the kids to come at him one at a time up until now, but they'd regroup and the knife would give them confidence.
"Let's get this over with." Sam said. He only thought he'd broken the arm of the kid with the gun. This one, he'd be damn sure of it.
Knife kid lunged again, and Sam took a risk, trapping the kid's hand between Sam's body and his arm. He kneed the kid hard in the midsection. The kid doubled over, swinging wildly with his free hand toward Sam's face. Sam kicked out, shoving the kid backwards. He heard the crack of something going out of place as the kid's body moved violently at odds with the arm still trapped in Sam's tight grip. The kid screamed hoarsely and dropped toward the ground. Sam let go, letting him fall, and stepped on the hand holding the knife.
Sam glanced around, looking for threats. Stupid Skinny Kid was still down, clutching his face. The third kid seemed to have taken a powder, and he had Knife Boy on the ground.
Ah, damn. There were bystanders who hadn't rushed away from the sight of a crime in progress. A couple of women over by the little French restaurant tucked in the corner of the mall. Probably out for dinner before the storm came through. At least they kept a safe distance from the fight. One of them was on her phone. The other one called across, "We called 911. The police should be here shortly." She sounded calm and authoritative.
Well wasn't that just Sam's bad luck? Why did he have to get sensible bystanders who did the most useful thing possible in the circumstance? So much for a quick run to the liquor store. And by now, the cigarettes would be soggy and his lady would be sick of waiting.