Chapter 3Mature

              The sounds of late-night traffic made their presence clear as we drove through town, heading for our hideout.

                “Alright, I got one,” said Nico. “A white guy, black guy, Slav and Asian are standing on top of a cliff.”

                “Where have I heard this before?” asked Vlad.

                “The Asian says ‘This is for my people!’ jumps off the cliff. The Slav says ‘This is for MY people!’ jumps off the cliff. The black guy says ‘This is for MY people!’ and he grabs the white guy and throws his ass off the cliff!” Cheng gave a light chuckle as he lit a cigarette. I decided to chime in.

                “Then the white guy says ‘This is for MY people!’ and cuts off aid to Africa.” Cheng burst out laughing, nearly choking on the smoke.

                “Good one,” said Nico. “Ya lousy, limy, tea-suckin’ British bastard!”

                “For the last time, I’m English,” I said to him.

                “I ought to reach up there and smack you.”

                This is how it usually was with us; a competition to see who could make the most racist joke.

                “Shut up and take your penicillin,” said Vlad.  Having calmed himself five seconds ago, Cheng once again burst out laughing.

                Vlad usually won.

                “Tuskegee experiment reference,” Cheng said, choking through laughter. “Well done.” He finally calmed himself enough to go back to his cigarette.

                “Toll booth ahead,” I said.

                “Oh, that won’t be a problem,” said Cheng. “Since we’ve got nothing suspicious with us, except for guns, silver ammunition, and a drunken Russian.”

                “You’re lucky you’re not a girl,” said Vlad. “Or your parents would’ve killed you.”

                “I told you, that doesn’t fucking happen in China! It’s a goddamn myth! Or would you like me to start cracking ‘In Soviet Russia’ jokes?”

                “I prefer ‘In Capitalist America’ jokes.”

                “Just shut up, both of you,” I said as we approached the toll booth. I paid the fee, and we continued on.

                “Vlad and I will get out a few blocks from here to pick up supplies,” I said. “You two can continue back to the hideout.”

                “Sounds good,” said Nico.

                A few minutes later, I stopped in a plaza. Vlad and I got out, then Nico and Cheng got into the front seats, and drove away towards the hideout.

 

                                                                                     *

               

               Carrying our supplies in backpacks, Vlad and I made our way through several alleys, heading towards the warehouse we used as a base.

              “You still have your Makarov with you, right?” I asked. Vlad nodded.

              “You still have your .44?” Vlad asked. I nodded.

               Continuing along the current alley, we came across a dumpster, a homeless man sitting next to it. He stood up as he saw us approach.

             “Spare some change, sir?” he asked. Not thinking anything of it, I reached into my pocket. Suddenly, I felt something hard hit my head, sending me back, slamming into the wall. Dazed, I could hear punches being thrown, followed by a clanking, caused by what I was sure to be Vlad’s Makarov thrown to the ground, knocked out of his hand. I then heard a loud yell, one which conveyed pain. Vlad was the one yelling.

             I quickly drew my .44, and stood up to see Vlad on the ground, the homeless man on top of him.

          “VLAD!” I yelled as I rushed over and kicked the man in the head, causing him to roll off of Vlad. Blood was oozing from Vlad’s neck.

              The man began to stand up, looking at me, just in time to see the barrel of my .44. I fired, and the bullet blew a massive hole through his head, splattering blood on the wall behind him, and the rest of his body crumbled to ash.

              I rushed over to Vlad’s side.

            “Goddammit Vlad, hold on!” I said to him, reaching for my backpack, pulling out a bandage. I put pressure on the wound, did what I could to clean it up.

            “Hold on, dammit!” I said to him. “You’re getting out of here, you hear me?! You are not going to fucking die here!” Vlad didn’t say anything in response; he just laid there. He looked at me, but said nothing. I bandaged the wound as best as I could, then picked him up and carried him back to the hideout.

The End

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