Sixty feet across a backyard that needed mowing, then jump the fence, and sprint to safety. If the OCD kept with their tradition of two guards per Explorer, Marty only needed to elude four suits. They were unquestionably faster than him, stronger than him, and technologically superior. Marty’s edge was familiarity with his surroundings. Was that enough for an escape?
Sixty feet. Twenty yards. Pro athletes could cross that in less than three seconds. He went down the hall and straddled the bathroom toilet so he could get a good view of his patio and overgrown grass. If a blogger sprints from his back door at twenty miles per hour with a gun that holds ten bullets, while at the same time, four government goons --
The roar of Vince’s Lawn Boy shocked him from his calculations. He pressed his cheek against the window and saw his neighbor’s green mower emerge from his garage. Vince’s property didn’t merit a riding mower, but Marty guessed he had nothing else to do with the gobs of money from his ridiculous insurance settlement. Why hadn’t Marty taken the same route as that potbellied reneck?
Step 1: Order a Big Mac value meal. Supersize it. Tell them to hold the pickles. (Wasn’t it Burger King that offered to make it your way? Since when did the golden arches make such an offer?)
Step 2: Locate pickles on your burger.
Step 3: Bypass the counter person and the manager, foregoing those to get in the face of the pregnant fifteen-year old girl with nothing more than a spatula to defend herself.
Step 4: Without touching anyone, intimidate, intimidate, intimidate.
Step 5: When the manager finally tries to restrain you, slip on something and drop your hand in the deep fryer.
Step 6: Find an attorney willing to take your case. (This, Marty knew, was the easy part.) Claim you had a future as a golf pro, but skin grafts will never return the feeling to your fingers. To punctuate the effect, dangle the sausage-digits before the jury.
Step 7: Live comfortably while Ray Kroc rolls in his grave.
How many times did Marty have to endure that story? He looked at his own hands and pondered. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to shake hands like a man anymore, but wouldn’t that be a better situation than where he currently found himself?
On the lawn next door, Vince removed his earbuds and yelled at a suit. They bickered back and forth, but besides reading obscenities from Vince’s lips, Marty couldn’t decipher anything. The suit held out cash; Vince slapped it away. If he was trying to retain his pride, Marty thought, why flaunt his bare, bulbous midsection? Vince flipped off his counterpart, pivoted the mower, and shredded currency. Another suit joined the first, and the pair gestured over the tractor’s motor. They pointed at Marty’s house. Then Vince’s garage. Vince extended his crispy middle finger.
Suit Two reached down, killed the mower’s ignition, and removed the key. A third guard joined the argument.
Marty might not be able to outrun four suits, but one? He wouldn’t have a better chance. He barreled down the stairs by threes, fled through the kitchen and out the exit on the side opposite Vince’s house. The pull-handle on the storm door snagged on his shirt and gashed the fabric, but Marty had plenty of experience with tattered clothes.
As Marty bounded over the fence and between two cookie-cutter “Lincoln” models, he heard Vince’s LawnBoy fire up again. The engine was muffled as the tractor rolled into the garage. If Marty1 didn’t know it was a new mower, he may have believed the engine backfired twice before the motor cut off. He knew otherwise.
Vince’s life just got cut shorter than the grass.
He crossed the first street, passed between navy shutters and white shutters, hopped up a picnic table to scale a high wooden fence around an above-ground pool, navigated out the gate, out a driveway, and into the center of the subdivision’s main thoroughfare. No cars were parked on the street. Mailboxes sprouted from every thirtieth square along the sidewalk.
In the distance, he saw her. Wearing a gold VCU Rams shirt and nylon jogger’s shorts, she toted a leash with some tiny dog on the end. Her blonde hair bobbed to the rhythm from her iPod; she looked like she didn’t have a care in the world.
Sweaty and ragged, Marty suddenly felt like Quasimodo; if he had to impose upon Esmerelda for sanctuary, so be it.
He put his hands on his knees and caught his breath; she continued his direction. Marty wondered if her house was beyond him and she had no choice but to come this way. He nodded at her and she grinned.
“Howdy,” he offered.
As he stood up and stretched his back, something shifted. The gun, slick with his sweat, slid quickly down the back of his pant leg. The hilt caught on his cuff, but the metal barrel tapped against asphalt. She tensed visibly. ****. She’d noticed.