My Friend Tinga
by S T Farnham
Authors Notes: Sam's manner of speech varies, this is intended.
Disclaimer: Same old, same old, it's not mine, but it's protected speech just the same.
Rating: PG-13 for violence and language that youngsters shouldn't be exposed to.
Summary: What Tinga might have been at fifteen. (Complete short story.)
The One and Only Chapter
I walked down the alley, looking around first, checking for enemies and bad guys. But I'm confidant of myself, I've been around the block, I can take care of myself. After all, I've had my sixteenth birthday – what more could there be for me to learn? For instance, I knew that I could get a decent meal behind this here fancy restaurant as long as I got to the back door before they finished cleaning up for the night. The busboys would put aside some of the best leftovers for a few of the homeless.
I was surprised to see someone already there, and they were already handing something to the interloper. I frowned in irritation, the first usually got the best. I frowned even more when I saw it was just a girl, maybe a year younger than me. What the hell was she doing here?, I thought to myself.
"Hey Joe," I asked the busboy, "ya got anything good tonight, my man?"
Joe didn't appear overjoyed to see me, but he replied, "Sure thing buddy, what a sec."
I noticed that the girl had received a nice cardboard box full of food, the mouthwatering aroma was tantalizing to me. She stared at me, way more confidant than chicks in alleys usually were, less'n they're prosses. She didn't look like one though – I wasn't sure why not but I didn't even assume was sellin' her bod.
The door opened again and Joe handed me a paper bag. I looked inside, looked like some kinda roast beef and a potato. Not near as fancy as the girl got, but fillin' just the same. I couldn't see anything to complain about, 'cause it was the usual. But I was still put off somehow, they gave that girl better stuff than me. Aw stop complainin', I thought, it's still dinner, better than goin' ta sleep hungry.
The girl looked up at me. She had a direct way of lookin'. She was cute, with her long dark curly hair. I think my pap would've whapped me upside the head for what I was thinkin'. Not the sex part, but for this girl. For pap was a died-in-the-wool bigot who tried to teach me his ignorant ways an' this chick was obviously part black; pappy had this thing about mixin' races an' such. One of many reasons why I lit out when I was eleven. He did teach me to be independent though, and for that I am grateful. Still, he was a sorry old cuss, even sleepin' in alleys and eatin' garbage didn't make me long for home.
The girl said to me, "My name is Tinga, what's yours?"
"I'm Sam, Sam Jackson at your service ma'am," I said, "I know a better place to eat our dinners, than this here alley. Wantta come with me?"
"Sure," she said, surprisin' the hell outta me. I figured she'd be a lot more skittish.
We walked a few blocks over to my place. I said, "I hope you're in shape, I crash on the sixth floor, but there's no elevators or nuthin', we gotta climb the stairs. I figure there's few thieves industrious enough to climb that high."
"Not a problem," said Tinga, with a a kind of mysterious smile. I wondered if that meant anything. I did see that when we got to my floor, she wasn't even breathing heavy.
The next morning (after sleeping chastely apart) our stomach's were rumbling again. "Look Tinga," I said, "I hafta to go out this morning. I think I know where I can score some stuff that I can sell at the pawn shop. So you jest wait here like a good girl and I'll be back in few hours with food."
Tinga looked at me like I had just grown a cool new head. "I'll go along with you this morning. Then I'll decide to go elsewhere or not."
I could see that there was no use arguing with her. Women! She reminded me of my mother, leastways before pappy busted her in the chops.
We strolled down the trash strewn sidewalk amid the passed out drunks and just enjoyed the beautiful morning, blue sky, bright sunshine and perfect temperature. This used to be a lively part of Los Angeles, but after the pulse there were riots here and the whole area got burnt by fire. So it's yet another section of the city with a bunch of old buildings ready to collapse, occupied by tenants in similar condition.
"We have quite a ways to go Tinga, you sure you don't want to wait for me back at my crib? I mean, you're a girl, today is probably going to be too strenuous for you."
"You don't know much about girls, do you Sam?" she replied, kinda snottily I thought.
"Never mind," I said, resigned to watching after her all day, "I'll try not to go too fast."
She glanced at me with her oddly serene yet exasperated expression. I didn't know what to make of that, so we just continued walking in silence. At least she didn't chatter, I was grateful for that.
About fifty blocks later I stopped, pointed across the street, and said, "This is a kinda ad hoc junk yard, where rich folk dump their old shit. I've found pretty good sellable stuff here before, if we spend a coupla hours here we oughtta be able to sell enough at those pawn shops on the next block to buy breakfast."
Tinga wondered, "How come the pawn shops don't sort though here first?"
"Aw, they're all high 'n mighty and crap, they're too good to get their hands dirty pawin' through the piles of garbage. After the street folks sell it to them, they clean it up further and sell it for twice as much. I suspect to some of the same people who threw it out in the first place."
We'd been rummaging about for an hour or so, I had found a nice little lamp that might fetch a few bucks, and Tinga found some fake jewelry that would get us a little, when a noise made me look up. Uh oh, I thought, trouble coming. "Tinga," I whispered urgently, "git outta here, fast! Those guys are trouble with a capitol T, I won't be able to protect you, I'm prolly gonna have to fight 'em." I turned to face the newcomers, assuming that Tinga would obey me and fade into the junk piles behind me.
"Hey you," one of the strangers shouted, "whatchyew doin' in our territory? You poachin', huh! You think it's cool to poach our territory? We's gonna cut you! You won't be back here, for certain!"
"Aw, fuck you!" I shouted back, knowing there was no point in tryin' to talk my way out of trouble, "I go where I want and nuttin' you say will change that!" I was a little worried cuz there was three of em, three I could see anyways. I heard a noise to my left and took a quick glance, there was another of 'em. Four agin' one, that was uppin' the odds, not to my likin'.
Another one said, "And you brought us a little chicky-poo ta play with! If she's a good little cocksucker we might cut you some slack!"
Oh my god! I thought to myself, Tinga didn't vamoose, stupid girl! I looked over my shoulder and said frantically, "Run girl, these guys mean business!"
Tinga grinned at me. Grinned! What the hell was wrong with her! I was about to get the shit kicked out me and she was about to get gang-raped, and she was grinnin'? Maybe she wasn't right the head! "Tinga!" I was besides myself with fear, "run now! Run like the very wind!"
But then I saw a fifth one behind her. My heart sank, we were dead meat fer sure. I was resigned to our fate when I turned, ready to give all I could, knowin' it wouldn't be enough. One was close enough, I dodged his right and hit him with my left, then hit 'em hard with my right and he went down. I heard a coupla loud thumps behind me, so much for Tinga, I thought, as I went after another. But then the leader pulled out a gun, and shouted to me, "Stop shithead! Or I shoot your kneecaps!" Except he was shouting at both of us. I looked around and saw that Tinga was still standing and somehow or other the guy behind her was down. How did that happen? Did he trip on something? The gun upped the odds agin'. I could do nothin' but stand still.
Tinga said calmly, as if in complete control, "If you assholes leave now, dragging your sorry-assed wounded, I'll let you live."
"Tinga! Don't give 'em any lip! Caint you see, he's gotta gun! We all will git kilt if'n you don't shut the fuck up!" In time of trouble or nervousness, my speech had a tendency to revert back to my old pappy's way of talkin'. But I've eddicatted myself since then.
Tinga was serene as she stood there, not so much confidant as cocksure.
Tinga spoke up again, "You have ten seconds to drop your weapons and leave with your tails between your legs, or I'll kill you all." I was amazed that she could say that without trembling or stuttering. Tell the truth, her attitude was helping me to find a little backbone myself, not that it would do us any good.
Then I noticed something that put a little chill up my spine, the guy I thought that tripped? The one behind Tinga? He wasn't movin', nor would he ever move agin', I could see 'cause his head was kinda crooked to his shoulders. That wasn' no trip-up, somehow or other Tinga musta put some kinda kung-fu move on 'em. That was where she was gettin' her confidence I thought, she knew a coupla trick moves and thought that would even the odds. I knew better though, no way would we prevail against four now really pissed-off guys, not with one or more havin' guns. I wondered briefly how well she and I would stand up to torture.
"...EIGHT! (pause) NINE! (pause) TEN!" Tinga shouted.
Oh shit, I thought. Then the gunman lifted his weapon, aimed at Tinga, and fired.
Well now, this part you may have a hard time believing. But I was there, and I am not exaggerating. You can tell, because I'm taking the time to speak rightly.
Tinga dodged that bullet.
Yes, I know that's impossible. It's against all physical laws, the human body just can't move fast enough to dodge bullets, yet she did it. Not only that, but she run towards the gunner! I know that old saw, 'run from a knife, towards a gun'. But I never actually saw it put into practice before. Tinga sure proved it, but I doubt that I could ever run that fast. Her body actually seemed to blur a little. She reached for the gun, and I could hear the badguy's arm break as she pulled the gun out of his grasp. Then she pivoted on her left foot and her right foot whipped up and sank into his chest with a sickening crack! He went down, hard, and for ever. Then, quick as wink, she shot badguy number Three twice in the chest, turned to shoot number Four, but the gun was empty. She dropped it and pulled another gun out of her jacket. I didn't even know she was armed! Wheren' hell did that come from! It wasn't no Saturday night special, neither, this was some fancy kinda auto-pistol with a hammer shroud, a silencer an' everything.
Number Four had already turned and was runnin' like demons from hell were chasn' 'im, but it didn' do no good. Tinga shot 'im in the back – three shots from that fancy gun a hers, pht, pht pht, quick as a flash of light, and he was deader than a doornail! Well, that was no loss, but still, that was cold man, shootn' 'im in the back like that.
I wasn't ready to relax until Tinga put that fancy gun of hers back into her jacket. I noticed that she had a special built-in holster for that thing. Only then could I calm down for the first time in, jeez was that really lessn' a minute since I saw the first guy? Wow, time really goes by fast when you're facing death!
Tinga checked each dead guy, first to make certain each was dead, and then stealin' their wallets and anything else that was worth takin'. She walked up to me and said with satisfied smile and flashing a bundle of dollars, "Now we can have breakfast."
I replied, "I don't think I could eat just yet."
She looked at me quizzically, "Why ever not?" Genuinely puzzled that I had lost my appetite.
We walked side by side and after a few blocks went into a restaurant. A fancier place than I usually frequented. I will admit, by then I was hungry again. We had the best breakfast I had had in ages.
After breakfast we went back to my place. I will further admit that I was jazzed that Tinga was walking with me. You'd think I'd be scared of her, but she was so far outside of my experience that I wanted to know her better. I wondered if she'd sleep with me, she really turned me on.
"So Tinga," I asked, "how can you do those things? How did you become so lethal?"
"I'm a genetically engineered soldier/assassin, I was cooked up in a government lab and trained to kill. But some of my brothers and sisters and I escaped when I was ten years old."
"No, seriously Tinga, I really want to know," I said.
She looked exasperated, and finally said, "My father was a U. S. Army Sergeant in Special Ops, and he made sure I was trained to take care of myself from an early age."
That made sense to me. Although she seemed awfully strong for a girl.
We stayed together for a few years. She taught me a lot in that time. Martial arts, breaking and entering, defeating security systems among other things. We made quite a lot of money stealing from rich folks, drug dealers, criminals all. Still, she was awfully blasé about killing people. It bothered me a lot. I finally hit on the strategy of self-preservation to convince her to be a little less murderous. I convinced her that cops would be more likely to leave us alone if we stopped leaving corpses on our trail. And that seemed reasonable to her. Mind you, when push came to shove, she'd kill and then eat hearty and sleep well. But eventually I got her to realize that civilized people didn't murder each other without good reason. At least, I think she bought it.
But all good things come to an end. She went her way and I went mine, the better for having known her. And I like to think that she's the better for having known me, but that may be wishful thinking. At least she didn't kill me before she left, so that's something.