Eric could feel the inside of his stomach clench into a knot. The ambient Fatso Burger atmosphere he walked into seconds ago had changed into something bad. Something unpalatable and if he had any stones, this was the time to quietly step out and call it a night.
Eric took one step backwards and crashed into a table. Three sets of angry eyeballs turned in his direction and he froze.
He couldn't move.
He was probably going to be dead real soon.
Chapter 07 – Back Alley Leo
Taking a deep breath which he hoped expanded his scrawny chest; Eric pretended to be brave and walked up to the counter. "Yeah." He said, noticing that his voice was quavering a bit too much," Eh….hi Pat, I'd like to order… a large chocolate shake and some curly fries."
The growl from one of the large dudes behind Eric made his toes curl up in his sneakers. Attack him Aglet! Attack! Yeah, like that would work on that 250 pound monster! Still, Eric ignored the rumblings from behind him and threw a couple of dollars on the countertop to pay for his order.
The loud clatter of chairs being toppled and kicked was thunderous and Eric tried not to visibly wince. These three giant ogres with their steel toed boots and denim vests were tearing up Fatso Burger and no one was doing a damn thing. Eventually, the NO ONION cheeseburger was delivered and the monster with the temper snarled and grabbed his food (without paying) and left through the side door. His two angry friends followed and it seemed that all at once, the room breathed one collective big sigh.
Pat smiled at she pushed his shake and curly fries to him on a bright colored tray. "Sorry about the scene but…."
Eric shook his head in sympathy. "Don't worry; they were just a bunch of assholes. You did good."
Pat leaned heavily on the counter top and asked in a low voice, "Could you tell I was scared to death?"
He bit into a hot greasy curly fry and savored the flavor while shaking his head no. He swallowed and replied, "You didn't seem scared at all. Who were those guys?"
"Oh they come in every couple months and then go out back to hassle this bearded guy. I mean he's not a problem….they are!"
Shit! Leo! That's why Eric was at Fatso Burger and those pissed off NO ONION cheeseburger guys were in the alley with Leo! "Hey, I gotta go. Is there a back door? I mean I don't really want to run into Larry, Moe and Curly again."
She smiled, "Sure, you can get out through the kitchen and it cuts across the drive-thru."
Eric popped a couple more fries in his mouth and grabbed his shake. "Thanks Pat!"
"Hey man….why are you here again?" Leo tucked some of his long brown hair behind his ear and looked up at the taller of the trio of thugs. His buzz was slowing wearing off and Mr. Olympia here was the reason.
The body builder with the swag chains on his vest growled, "We want more of what you had last time."
"Dude, I don't remember you and if I did… I'm saving stuff for a couple of friends." Leo stuck his hands in his pockets and headed towards the sidewalk. A long arm reached for the stoner's shoulder and spun him around. "WE are your FRIENDS." The man growled.
Leo frowned. These clowns were not his friends. They looked mad. They looked like triplets with those matching denim vests. Trip-lets….tripping….I'm tripping! Leo tried not to laugh and shrugged off the hand at his shoulder. "Go away. I don't have nothing man."
Leo turned, but not before a meaty left hook caught him on the chin and spun him around like a sloppy boxer. His feet tangled and he went down to the ground with an "oof!"
The middle triplet snarled, "You leave when we say you leave." Triplet number Two flashed his switchblade and crouched down poking the sharp tip against Leo's chest. "I'm warning you…friend."
The third was flexing his fingers around his shiny brass knuckles. The grin on that man's face was scary even to a burn out! Leo rose to an elbow and pushed his glasses back on his face. "Hey, that wasn't cool."
A well placed boot on his chest shoved Leo back to the ground.
The kitchen was greasy but smelled of delicious cheap beef. Eric could spend all day in the Fatso Burger kitchen, but he had to go snag Leo and head back to Grooves before those maniac's got him. He swung open the back door expecting to see his friend waiting but there was no one – not even a car in the drive thru. Huh. Maybe Hyde already picked him up! Eric let the door close behind him and went towards the street sucking on his cool delicious frosty chocolate shake.
Turning right at the sidewalk, Eric figured he'd see Leo and Hyde waiting for him and maybe, just maybe catch a cool ride home! He waved at Pat, the cashier, through the Fatso Burger windows and nearly tripped over his aglet again. Damn thing! But instead of stopping to tie his shoe he paused. There was an odd noise at the side of the building.
Eric, you are just paranoid, the bikers are gone. Go find Hyde and Leo!
With the little self pep talk, Eric stepped out only to see the three giant ogres hunched over a body on the ground. Leo? They were picking his pockets and ripping his jacket.
The chocolate shake dropped from Eric's shocked fingers to the ground and the viscous liquid flowed like dark blood.
The air was electric and Eric saw everything in slow motion. NO ONIONS turned and snarled releasing Leo's body to fall back on the asphalt. The stoner's glasses were askew on his expressionless face. Triplet number Three raised an arm and the setting sun glinted harshly off the brass knuckles that adorned his beefy fist. The coiled fingers unfurled and the forefinger pointed at Eric. He could feel his heart begin to hammer in his chest.
It was nine giant steps to the other side of the alley and for all Eric knew it could have been ninety. His legs were like Jell-O and his breath already labored as he finally reached the dumpster. Without thinking, he squeezed in the slim slot between the trash bin and the brick wall.
Blood was pounding in his ears as his breath burst out in raggedy huffs. He clamped his palm over his mouth so he wouldn't be heard. The slot between the rusty garbage bin and the brick wall was nearly claustrophobic in proportions. Something was wedging him in the back and in this crouched position; his thighs were starting to burn with pain.
Eric cringed as he listened to the low growl of voices discussing what to do with the "body." Were there any other witnesses? What about that skinny twerp that ran away, dropping his chocolate shake in his attempt to flee?
He couldn't let them see him.
He couldn't help Leo.
He couldn't even help himself.
Sweat beaded on his forehead, dripped down over his brown brows and dropped over onto his lashes – saline pain that hurt his eyes. Perspiration stained the pits of his shirt and the scent was sharp smelling like fear. The hammering of his heart in his chest was so loud he was sure the Triplets with denim vests and brass knuckles and steel toed boots could hear him.
Eric dared to look out around the side of the trash bin.
Leo lay broken on the glass littered alleyway behind Fatso Burger. NO ONION placed a well aimed kick at the hairy burnout's ribs and the thud could be heard all the way to the end of the alley.
Leo didn't move.
Leo didn't groan.
By now, Leo was probably dead.
The Triplet's loud rumbling laughter seemed to make the ground tremble while their boots crunched the broken glass that glittered on the pavement. Eric watched as a small dog, like Schotzie, was sniffing at garbage that lined the base of the diner. The dog looked up at the laughing trio and snarled, taking a defensive posture.
Fake Schotzie barked loudly.
Eric winced when a large rock was thrown at the little dog. Fake Schotzie yelped in pain and hurriedly scuttled away, dragging his broken hindquarter behind him.
Eric closed his eyes.
Maybe he could just hide out here until dark. Maybe that would be safest. Maybe that skittering noise was just a mouse and please don't let it bite me! His mind was running through endless scenarios of what to do and how did the evening end like this?
If only he could have changed one thing in the course of this day….Leo wouldn't be lying on the ground resembling a broken Raggedy Andy doll like Laurie used o torture as a child.
If only dad hadn't have given him the stink eye and insist on making them stay for dinner – at least Hyde could have got to Leo first!
If only they hadn't stayed around to listen to Kelso's Heartbreaking-Is-A-Citable offense fantasy – they would have got out of the house before dark and Leo never would have had time to go to the Korean market for Kim Chi or end up in this Fatso Burger alley.
If only he hadn't been so paranoid about the motorcycle gang.
There were more sounds of scuffling and shouts of anger or was that pain? Something metallic scraped the dumpster and scuttled along the asphalt finally skipping to a stop just short of Eric's feet. It was a switchblade still wet with blood. Oh my God Leo!
A loud growl pierced the air and something, a body perhaps pushed against the dumpster crushing Eric in his thin slot. He inhaled as a grunt of pain from his ribs squeezed his lungs. A low hiss involuntarily issued from his closed lips.
Then out of nowhere a huge arm with a rose tattoo appeared in front of his face.
Eric slowly opened his eyes and was looking directly into the face of the ZZ Top biker that delivered that excellent bird hours or days (?) ago – he couldn't really remember. The Shovelhead Harley was parked in front of Fatso Burger and the biker was frowning.
"Don't kill me dude." Eric whimpered pathetically.
A strong arm lifted him from his crouched position and pulled him out of the hidey-hole. "You didn't see anything."
Eric looked over at the scene of Leo's death and blinked. Leo's body was gone! The triplets were lying in broken prone positions around the alley, much in the way Leo had been. He looked at ZZ and the biker shrugged. "You didn't see anything."
"I didn't….see anything!" This was not a lie. "What are you going to do with me?"
ZZ didn't reply as he was hailed by his other three biker friends. "The cops are on their way."
The fattest and grungiest of the bikers replied, "He's inside getting cleaned up and they called for an ambulance." The grunge pointed at Eric. "What's his story?"
Eric swallowed hard. "I didn't see anything."
"Good and we weren't here were we?"
Eric nodded, not quite understanding the question and then shook his head no. "Was I here?" He asked.
ZZ pointed towards his Harley. "You get the bitch seat and no, you weren't here."
Eric was half hauled - half dragged to the motorcycle with the instructions to "Get on."
His thighs were still shaking but he managed to swing one leg over the huge motorcycle and onto the tiny leather back seat. Seconds later, a sweaty smelling ZZ threw his leg over and started the bike.
The machine was loud and it roared to life as it vibrated probably more than Laurie's "best friend". Eric could feel his body jerk forward and sideways as the bike turned into the street with the rumbling of the engine nearly blocking out the sirens of the police and ambulance. The other three bikers gave the triplets one last glance before Harleys sped away from the crime scene.
Eric didn't know where to put his hands since he'd never ridden on a huge motorcycle like this. Did he hug the guy? No! That would be wrong on so many levels but then again, the biker gang saved his life. Wait….they saved Leo's life.
Eric kept his hands down by his sides and clenched the bike with his thighs as tight as he could. Why was I so freaking afraid of them? He didn't know! Just as he didn't know what they were going to do to him when they got to wherever they were going. All he could do was hang on for dear life and wait.
Shin and Hyde were sitting on broken patio furniture at the side of the store. It still smelled like fish heads with a hint of really good weed. Hyde passed the joint back and watched while the younger Korean boy inhaled deeply. "Sometimes you see really weird shit when you smoke this stuff."
Hyde lifted his brow. "Hallucinations?"
Shin shrugged, "I guess you could call it that. I mean I see stuff like the chicken heads actually talking to me from the freezer…it's weird."
Hyde accepted the joint back and blew on the end to make the cherry burn a little more red. He turned it around and drew in a nice long tug holding the smoke in his lungs for as long as possible. He closed his eyes as the THC coursed through his body putting him in an altered state that was near heaven.
The sound of sirens was nearly musical and Hyde barely opened his eyes as an ambulance raced past. Shin nudged his foot, "Look out, it's the cops!"
The joint was quickly extinguished as three police cars blew past the intersection following the ambulance. Then from the opposite direction was the rumbling of the Harley Davidson's. Hyde frowned – hadn't they left town?
On the bitch seat of the Shovelhead bike was a skinny guy that looked a lot like Forman and he was waving like a little girl. Hyde squinted and sort of waved back. The bikes thundered past the intersection and he turned to Shin.
"I want three bags of this shit!"
"Oh Leo, what a terrifying ordeal you went through!" Kitty exclaimed.
Leo thought she was an angel in her little while nurses cap and that sexy white uniform. "How did I get here?"
Kitty placed a blood pressure cuff around his bicep and pulled the stethoscope up to her ears. "Shhh…I have to listen…." She squeezed the bulb which inflated the sleeve as she pressed the bell of the stethoscope on the inside of Leo's elbow. The sphygmomanometer metered a normal pressure and the treasured nurse opened the air release valve and smiled at her patient.
"How did you get here?" Kitty asked as she popped a thermometer into Leo's mouth. "You were brought here in an ambulance. The officer at the scene said that you had been badly beaten but strangely…there was very little blood. Your clothes were cut and your glasses broken….they said that some good Samaritans saved your life."
"Wow" Leo managed to utter around the thermometer. "I don't know anybody from Samaria."
Kitty smiled and pulled out the thermometer. "Well, Leo…I think you'll be just fine. The doctor is keeping you overnight for observation because you have a concussion and we want to check on those broken ribs. I'll give you something for the pain but right now you have some friends that want to see you."
Kitty oriented his hospital bed so he was more in a sitting up position. "I have friends? Cool!"
Humbly and with some trepidation, Hyde, Kelso, Fez and finally Eric shuffled into the room. Kitty tousled her son's hair as she was leaving. "Don't tire him out boys – he's been through a lot!"
Hyde stood beside the bed, "Hey man…how are you doing?"
Leo grinned, "I'll be better when I get my pain meds. Hey! You're all here. You know….I thought I saw Forman earlier."
No one noticed the tiny gasp that issued from Eric's lips. Leo continued, "It was probably that film I smoked but man….I swear it was like he was there…and then it's all a big blank!"
Eric felt relief he hadn't been expecting. "So Leo, you're gonna be okay?"
Leo smiled, "Yeah, your mom said some Samurai guys saved my life. I wish I had been there to see it."
"You didn't see anything." Eric remembered the order and he just stepped back from the group glad to have his life back.
"So Leo, about that little visit this afternoon…." Hyde began. Leo's eyes looked alarmed. "I forgot! You were coming to see me."
Hyde held up his palm. "Don't worry about it. I met Shin and his mother who makes Edna look like a saint….anyways he hooked me up."
Grinning Leo replied, "Did you have any special….visions?"
Hyde looked at Eric and his friends, "Yeah, you'll never believe this but I thought I saw Forman on the back of a Harley Davidson!"
Kelso laughed, "Yeah like that would ever happen!" Fez laughed at the thought and Leo looked at Eric who looked a little bit guilty.
Instead, Eric stuck his hands in his pockets and replied. "Couldn't have been me….I didn't see anything and I wasn't there." The rest of the guys figured that to be true and dismissed Hyde's hallucination as just that.
Eric decided the less anyone knew the better.
He was alive.
Leo was alive.
And three angry monsters were either dead or on their way to prison thanks to a gang of motorcycle riding heroes.
Too much excitement for this guy!
What a day.
One "this guy" never wanted to repeat.
A/N: Thanks for hanging on this I finished this story – I hope you enjoyed it ans tell a friend! Just kidding – it was great to write even though I made you wait between chapters.
Until next time! Be safe and keep reading fanfiction!
PS: You knew I couldn't kill Leo!