- Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:43 pm
Fred popped out of the van, breathing a little hard but otherwise untouched. "Hey kids, I said ... head to the showers. Get outta here before the copes show up!" The teens and their cheering section backed off the court, out from under he lights, and started shuffling away. No one wanted to turn their back on Fred, or the fully jacketed Final Timeout that almost got them. Something flashed red, catching his peripheral vision, and Fred also heard a muted tone. He dug under one of the groaning bodies in the back, pulling out a device that looked like an extra-thick cellphone. It had an odd-looking antenna on one end. Looking it over, Fred touched the antenna by accident; the device flared red and beeped deeply. "What? They looking for ... wait ..." Fred pointed the antenna end toward departing group. It flashed a lighter red and gave a long beep; then it beeped again. " Oh, no." " Hey, YOU! Stick around a minute!" Fred pointed in Tommy's direction and made a "stop" motion.
Tommy looked like he was called for charging, travelling, and making an unauthorized trouser deposit all at once. He turned and ran, but suddenly Fred had a hand on his shoulder and hissed "I said, Stick Around!!" as his grip tightened. Tommy stopped quick and tried escaping with a shoulder fake, to no avail. The device beeped louder. Fred squeezed his collarbone just a little tighter, to a quick gasp of pain and immediate compliance. "OK, listen kid. You're not in trouble. I'm not after you. It's those jokers that had my attention, at least I wasn't until this little box of theirs went off. All right," Fed sighed, "We need to talk - fast, and then you need to vanish fast, I think. Tell me, who are you? What's school like? Anything you're really good at, sports, hobby, anything? " Tommy burbled and squeaked: "Cn yoo leeito?"
Freed blinked, and realized he'd gripped tighter. "I'll let go of your shoulder now. Be real careful, and don't try to take off. Let's get away form the lights - over there, by that wall." They moved into moderate shadow; Fed relaxed as the light dimmed, and relaxed a bit more because Tommy didn't bolt. After two shaky breaths, the boy said: " I'm Tommy, uh, Smith, and a sophomore at Jackson High. School's all right, but a lot of it's boring and stupid." "Let me guess, you hear the same dumb stuff five times in a row, and again the next day?" chuckled Fred. "Yeah, how ...?" Fred cut him off, "No, I got the same T-shirt from West Springfield. What is it you like, and are pretty good at?" He was listening with half an ear, concentrating on the first distant howl of a siren. "Well, math's really easy, but my teacher is pushing some brain-buster problems and trig at me. It sounds dumb, but the trig stuff works well with basketball. I'm a pretty good shot, but it's more like knowing exactly where to shoot from and where I need to be. " Tommy was warming up to his favorites. "Soccer is OK too, but the best part is kind of setting up the shots or striking, because I can kinda see where the ball's coming and get a feel for where to dribble and shoot ..." "... because you get a feeling or kind of mental map about where everyone around you is, or will be, and an idea of what they'll do next?" finished Fred quietly. "Well, yeah, did you ever ...?" "Baseball was like that for me. Never seemed to miss a fly ball, unless I wanted to run a bit and not look perfect. Cut a lot of doubles down to singles on purpose." The device was glowing stronger, and Fred pushed a smart icon to run off the annoying beeps. The light was starting to annoy him, so he waved the device away from them. It faded, then pulsed red almost as strong again. Fred glanced right to see Sis creeping over, wanting to get Tommy away and out of trouble.
He almost snarled some pretty bad word at the kid. "Look, Tommy? You don't know me and don't have a reason to trust me, but just try to believe this. Those guys in the van, this wasn't just a drive-by. They wanted to get someone .. or, maybe someones," he gestured right as Sis froze. "We really need to talk, but not here and now. You have a hideout, or a couple, but don't tell me where. Give me a drop location. I'll stay there, and you can see if I'm alone and that I'm unarmed. If you're OK with that, write a location on the blank side of this." Fred handed him a dirty, beaten coaster with a cats-eye design on one side. "I'll meet you there, and you and your buddies will have time to check me out first." He cut off, hearing a faint howl, just as Tommy said "Where's he going?!", pointing back at the van. "No time. Both of you, go, and move fast!" Fed snarled the last as he saw one of the Gun Club crawl out of the van with a rucksack, and run for cover under some trees, heading to a hedge. "Losing my touch," he thought, making a dash toward the trees.