I was shocked by the discovery of Cai’s origins. He was a nice guy and I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I walked next to him in silence, my eyes aimed stubbornly at the ground. He must have caught on to what I was doing though, because he looked at me and said, “You don’t have to pretend you didn’t hear that. I’m not proud of where I come from, but I can’t judge. It’s not like I turned out any better. I’d rather you didn’t tell anyone about that though. If someone were trying to get to me, they might go after her. I don’t think I could stand that.” He didn’t meet my eyes as I promised I wouldn’t tell. I think his past hurt him more than he cared to admit.
We walked on in silence until we reached the next house. The silence wasn’t hostile though. It was the kind of silence you get when so much has been said, that there’s nothing left to say. Cai seemed to want to be alone with his thoughts and I let him be. After all, he’d been coping by himself just fine before I came along and proabably wouldn’t want my sympathy anyway.
The house we stopped at was in much better condition than the last one. The front lawn was a bit overgrown, but the house itself seemed painfully normal. Nothing was broken or in extreme disrepair. The door was painted blue. I’m not quite sure that detail stuck, it just seemed to pop out at me. Cai knocked on the blue door. We waited for a few minutes, but no one answered. Cai knocked again. By this time, the warning bells in my head started to go off. I’m not sure why, but something didn’t seem quite right.
Then it hit me.
Nathaniel was an addict. I was an addict. If it were me, I would be there when my drugs got deliverd. I would need them. Something must have gone horribly wrong if the man that was supposed to meet us didn’t show up. I desperately hoped it was that, because if it wasn’t, it meant that my mentor and I had just walked into a trap.
“Cai, something’s wrong.”
He looked at me as if I had completely lost my mind. Now that I think about it, my whole thought process seemed pretty screwed up. Really, what drug addict would be able to successfully ambush someone as dangerous as Cai? The more I thought about it, the sillier it seemed, until finally, I was able to cast it out of my mind altogether. To prevent myself from looking too foolish, I amended my statement with a quick “Nevermind,” and began to walk back to the road. I yelped when one of Cai’s scarred hands grabbed the back of my collar and yanked me back.
“Who said you could leave? We haven’t finished our job here. We can’t leave until this is delivered, unless you want to go back to James and explain that you were frightened of one the customers. If that is the case, I suggest you find different employment.”
This was the first time I had been disciplined, and it wounded my pride severely, but I had already learned not to look someone in the eye as you’re being punished because they might consider it impertinence. That didn’t stop me from picturing myself kicking Cai really hard in the balls.
“We’re going in there, and if I have any trouble from you, it’s not Nathaniel you’ll have to be worried about. Stay out of the way and have your knife ready.”
Cai opened the door and slid inside, yes I do mean slid. It looked like he was gliding, he was that graceful. I followed him inside. I closed the door all but an inch, so that if we needed to make a quick escape, I wouldn’t need to fight with the door. The inside of the house was dark, it actually looked like no one was home. I could barely see Cai ahead of me in the blackness. He crept along very slowly and checked every so often to make sure that I was still behind him. Everything was fine until we reached the kitchen.
Cai was ahead of me. He went through the doorway that led to the kitchen. A split second later, I heard a loud crash, which was followed by the sounds of a scuffle. I rushed into the kitchen in time to see Cai lying on the floor, with a tall man standing over him. There was no time to think, I grabbed the nearest thing, a chair, and hurled it at the man. Let me get this out of the way now, I’m not exactly that strong. All I managed to do was distract the man, but looking back, this was probably pretty stupid.
The significance of what I had done hit me and I turned to run. I made it about five steps before my body was crushed up against the wall. The man had his whole body pressed up against mine. I felt something like ice rip down my arm, then fiery pain. A knife, he had a knife and I didn’t. Cai had even warned me to have the thing at the ready. I tried in vain to reach my pocket, but one of my arms was pinned behind my back, and the other was on the wrong side of my body. I struggled and fought, except it was too dark, I couldn’t see where I was aiming and I didn’t want to impale myself on the knife. I swung out with my free arm and smacked him on the side of the head. The man grabbed my arm and began to twist it around. I heard the “pop” as it got pulled out of socket; my arm was useless. The pain didn’t register right away, but when it did, I screamed.
It was too dark to tell, but Cai must have gotten up and grabbed the guy, because all of a sudden the pressure was taken off my body. It was too sudden, in fact, and I slid down the wall to the floor, whimpering and cradling my arm. I heard a crack as something hard collided with something else. I heard the crack again. Then, everything was still and silent. The lights came on in a sudden burst and I was blinded. I felt someone walking towards me, he had something in his right hand. I covered my eyes with my good hand and scrambled backwards in fear, but only managed to push myself closer to the wall.
This was it, the end. I didn’t want to die. I was going to go down in history as the worst runner ever, dying on the first night of work. Hell, I wasn’t even going to die bravely, I was going to expire cowering on the floor in terror.
No, seriously. My eyes had adjusted to the light enough, that I could see that it was only Cai walking towards me with a bloody crowbar. He kneeled down next to me and examined my arm. I couldn’t bear to see my arm all mangled and bloody, so I looked away. There was blood everywhere. It was all down the wall where I had been when my arm was cut. But more obviously, there was a huge pool of it. Just over Cai’s shoulder, I could see the man’s body. His face had been smashed in and his head seemed crushed.
A bloody crowbar.
Cai had been holding a bloody crowbar.
I was sitting with a murderer.