ElevenMature

I watch the storm clouds gathering while waiting for the traffic light to turn green. It’s another six blocks to DJ’s store and I’m quickly losing confidence that I’ll arrive dry. I wish I hadn’t stopped to check in on Tommy and then wasted even more time asking around about his whereabouts when he wasn’t there.

It’s been two days since the knife incident and it seems like nobody has seen Tommy since. I’m trying not to worry about him but that’s proving to be difficult.

The walk signal brings my attention back to the here and now. I step out onto the crosswalk and –

“Hey, watch where you’re going moron!”

“What the…” It takes a few seconds to realize that this clown on a motorcycle almost ran me over. “Watch where I’m going?”

“If you had scratched up my new ride there woulda been hell to pay!” He has flipped up his visor and all I can see are flaring nostrils and angry blue eyes. Ignoring common sense, I don’t walk away.

“Sorry to get in the way of you running a red light,” I say with a sneer. “Next time I’ll be sure to let you ride on through so a cargo truck can knock some sense into you.”

“Are you getting smart with me?” I’m not surprised he’s unable to figure it out on his own. The walk signal is flashing now so I shake my head and turn to walk away. “That’s right, chicken. Walk away.”

Throwing rational thought out the window, I spin and flip him off. We’re frozen for a breath as we both try to comprehend the situation. Then he jumps off his bike.

Rational thought makes its triumphant return and I turn and run.

I glance over my shoulder as I reach the far sidewalk to see him getting back on his motorcycle as the light turns red. I slow to a walk but keep watching to make sure he goes straight instead of left. He does and I breathe a sigh of relief. Is anything going to go my way?

Right on cue, the first drop of rain crashes onto the top of my head.

I hunch up my shoulders and hurry on to DJ’s, taking special care to look both ways five or six times per intersection. By a minor miracle I manage to arrive without further incident.

“J-man,” DJ says as I enter, dripping rainwater on his clean floor. “There’s a washroom in the back, go dry up and we’ll get started.”

I nod gratefully and make my way past the giant coffee bean bag hanging across the entrance to the back hall and into the cramped washroom. I do what I can to sop up my dripping clothes and only bang my elbow on the sink three times.

When I re-enter the store DJ is with a couple customers so I hang back to browse his “DJ Mike’s Picks of the Week” display. I’ve listened to all of them before, which is both reassuring and a let down. Good to know I’m keeping up with the good stuff, disappointing I don’t get to discover something new.

DJ rings up their purchases and sends them on their way with a smile and a promise that they’ll be back. I arrive at the counter to begin my training as the door closes behind them.

“All right J, first things first,” DJ says. “I am not the post office, I’m not Hotmail, and I sure as hell ain’t Facebook. So don’t plan on turning me into your message center.”

“What are you talking about?”

“This is the first and, more importantly, the last time I pass on a message to you, okay?”

Who would leave me a message…? Karl and Tommy are the only people who I’ve told about this gig. Karl would never do it and Tommy was so out of his head that I can’t imagine he remembered anything we talked about after he came back down.

“Got it man. What’s the message?”

“A woman came by yesterday, said she needs to talk to you,” he says. I swallow hard. “Said her name’s TJ.”

The End

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