Red Mist, Chapter 10
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Last call had come and gone, and Koga called the waitress over to settle the bill. He insisted that Rawlings and Denise not wait for him, so they thanked him for the drinks and took their leave.
Once the check was paid, Max stepped outside into the cool night air and took in a deep satisfying breath. The roads were empty, and there was a calm peacefulness about the town. As he walked towards his car, he noticed the sound of heavy footsteps behind him growing louder by the second. It was more than one person.
Something in his gut told him to be on guard. Without turning around, he stepped to the side of the walkway and leaned up against the side of a brick building to let whoever was behind him pass. He then casually looked in their direction.
There were three of them, each one built like a fire hydrant. They lumbered three-wide, occupying the entire width of the sidewalk. The biggest one, presumably the alpha male, took up the middle position. He wore a tight white T-shirt that showed off his thick muscular arms; the other two were dressed in flannel shirts and jeans. They looked young, almost teenager-young, with each one having various stages of cauliflower ear, which usually meant that they were either mixed martial artists or wrestlers from a nearby school, perhaps Santa Monica College or UCLA.
Not wanting to provoke a confrontation, Koga put his hands in his pockets and looked away as they approached. The alpha male deviated from his path, throwing his shoulder into Koga’s body, knocking him off balance, and kept on walking, while his two friends laughed out loud.
“Didn’t mean to bump into you,” Koga said sarcastically.
Alpha Male stopped and turned around. “What did you say?”
“Nothing. Forget it,” Koga replied.
Alpha Male walked towards Koga with his hands clenched. “What, you a tough guy?”
The two others positioned themselves behind their leader, as Alpha Male grabbed a hold of Koga’s shirt. He was at least three inches taller and twenty pounds heavier than Max.
“Whoa there, big boy,” Koga said, raising his hands to show he wasn’t interested in a scuffle. “Let’s pretend none of this happened and just go home.”
Alpha Male pulled Koga in closer. “What? You gonna run home and cry to daddy now?”
Koga’s jaw tightened. “Let's leave my father out of this. Okay?”
“We gotta a daddy’s boy here,” Alpha Male said to his mates with a snicker. The other’s joined in with laughter.
“Last chance,” warned Koga. “You can walk away right now, and you ladies get to spend tonight in your own beds. Otherwise, you’ll be staying down the street at Cedars-Sinai.”
With a quick laugh, Alpha Male pulled back his right fist. For Koga, the punch came in slow motion, as he easily blocked the oncoming fist with an open hand, slapping it downward while pulling his body away from Alpha Male’s grip. Then, in one fluid motion, Koga turned and delivered a rotating side kick into his adversary’s gut, sending him stumbling backwards off the sidewalk.
The other two men stood motionless, seemingly in shock at the sudden counterattack. This gave Max more than enough time to follow up his initial attack with an uppercut into Alpha Male’s midsection, followed by a knee into the middle of his face. The impact crushed the bone in his nose, causing him to yelp in pain and fall on his back in the middle of the street; blood gushing out of his nostrils.
One threat eliminated.
Koga kept low, almost in a squatted position, as he turned toward the remaining two men. He paused for a second to give them an opportunity to run away, but they didn’t take it. Their mistake. The blond-hair kid dove for the legs, which Koga countered by sprawling, distancing his legs from the attacker’s grasp. As Koga pressed the kid's face into the ground, he grabbed the kid's wrist, stepped onto his back and locked his shoulder and arm into submission.
“Who the hell put you up to this?” Koga asked between deep breaths. He eyed the last kid, a redhead, who seemed as if he was at a loss on what to do. “If you’re thinking of joining in, I’ll break his arm, and then I’ll smash your ugly-ass freckled face.”
The redhead didn’t listen, or perhaps didn’t hear him, for he screamed from the top of his lungs and charged with his fists flying. Koga put extra pressure on the blond kid’s arm, popping the shoulder out of its socket, causing him to howl in pain. The cry from his friend temporarily slowed the redhead’s momentum, which allowed Max to jump forward and headbutt him in the face. The blow landed on the bridge of the nose, causing the redhead to fall backwards with his face in his hands.
Koga returned to the blond, who was now wreathing on the ground holding his limp arm.
“You broke my arm,” he said with his eyes tearing.
“No, I popped your shoulder out. I’ll do worse if you don’t tell me why you guys came after me. Who sent you?”
“It was your wife.”
Koga paused. “My what?”
“Your wife, man. She gave us three hundred dollars each to rough you up. She said that you were beating her.”
Koga laughed. “I don’t know how to break this to you, but I’m not married. Hell, I don’t even have a girlfriend.”
“What?” The blond started sobbing loudly. “What?”
Maybe I should have gone easier on them.
“When and where did this woman approach you?” Koga asked.
“Outside the bar, a few hours ago. We waited until you were alone. That’s all, man."
Koga grabbed the kid’s arm, pulled on it and twisted it clockwise. With a loud pop, the shoulder snapped back into place, but if he was a wrestler, his season was done.
A bit winded from the skirmish, Max leaned against the wall for a quick rest when a motorcycle's headlights shone on him from down the street. The bike's inline-four engine whined as the light became brighter. Koga watched it approach and pass him slowly. It was the same Yamaha that was tailing him before, but this time, Koga got a good look at the size and build of the rider: It was a woman, and judging from the few strands of platinum-colored hair that dropped under the black helmet, it was the same one who had bought him the martini earlier that evening. But who she was and if she were somehow connected to Aquarib, he had no idea yet.