My gaze met theirs. One of them was holding a knife and the other had his fists curled in a way that suggested they were ready to swing at any moment.
“I don’t have any money.” I hissed through grit teeth. “Now if you don’t mind, I have somewhere I need to be.” I tried to walk by but Fists blocked my way.
“What’s in the case?” He asked.
I set my jaw. “Nothing of value.”
Knife brandished his weapon. As if I hadn’t seen it before. “Open it.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Now why would I-“
Fists kneed me in the stomach.
I panicked and swung my guitar case into his head. Fists fell to the ground with a thud. Knife stared down, aghast.
“The hell did you do?!” Knife was glaring daggers- no pun intended- at me. “I’m gonna paint the walls with your blood!”
Before any of the aforementioned painting could occur, I took off down the street. Knife seemed dazed for a few seconds, but soon started running after me.
There was an obvious energy advantage on his side; his stomach seemed to be full, while I on the other hand, was running on an empty tank that was made worse by an unwanted knee to the stomach. If I didn’t find a place to hide soon, I’d be done for…
A familiar store whizzed by. Then another, and one more. I was on my way to the performance hall- Thalassa’s home. There’s no way Knife would be able to find me in that kind of a crowd.
“You can’t run forever!” Knife was catching up. Just a few more turns and I’d be home free.
Harrison was walking into the performance hall. “Hey Jove-“
“I’m being chased by some dude with a knife. Help.”
Harrison looked down at my case. “Hit ’em with that.”
“I already did that.”
Harrison shrugged. “Do it again. I can step in and call the police.”
There wasn’t any time to argue. Knife’s shouts were becoming louder with every second. Finally, he rounded the corner. “Nowhere to run now! Huh punk?” His eyes landed on mine and his scowl deepened.
“I’ve already got someone calling the police. Walk away, and you don’t have to get in trouble.”
“Well you bashed my friend’s brains in! You think I’m just gonna ignore that?”
“I wouldn’t have had to knock him out if you hadn’t tried to mug me. Did you forget about that part?”
Knife took a step forward. “You wanna argue some more, or do you wanna finish this like adults?”
“I’d rather do neither and let the police handle this.” Sirens sounded in the distance. “Oh look, I can hear them now.”
Knife looked in the direction of the sirens, then back at me, a reluctant resignation crossed his face. “You win this time punk, but you’re not gonna be able to hide behind others when I get to you!” And then he was gone.
“Wow I didn’t even call the police yet.” Harrison remarked. “You’re pretty impressive.”
I smirked, “thanks. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get warmed up.
Thalassa met me inside. “I saw you running. Are you okay?”
I shrugged. “Some thugs tried to mug me, but I chased them off.”
“Is that blood on your case?”
I looked in the direction Thalassa was pointing and saw a red splotch on the corner of my case. A nervous laugh escaped me. “Yeah… I might’ve clocked one of them in the head. “I’ll just…” I wiped it off with the corner of my sleeve. “There, all better.”
“They’re not going to threaten you again, are they?”
“Dunno. Hopefully I can keep my distance, and they’ll keep theirs, y’know?”
“I don’t, but I’ll take your word for it.” Thalassa still looked worried sick. I wanted to ease her fears, but there was nothing in the world that could convince me to sleep in Thalassa’s guest room. Not with her father breathing down my neck. So right now, I just squeezed her hand like she had done for me.
“We’ll be turning 18 soon, and once we do, we can share an apartment. Just… try not to worry about me, yeah?”
“You promise me you’ll try to stay out of trouble?” Thalassa was dead serious.
“Cross my heart.” I even added the little hand motion thing to show that I too, was serious.
“Okay well… we have to practice before the show.”
“Um… did you like the CD?” I stared down at the ground, kicking it with my foot.
“Mm hm. It’s a little vulgar, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”
I smiled. “Yeah, my parents hated it, but that just make me want to listen more, y’know? Reverse psychology and… such.” I let out a nervous laugh. Why did I bring up my parents?
“Oh well… I don’t think it’s that bad.”
“Well my parents thought a lot of things that weren’t ‘that bad’ were corrupting influences or some shit.” Stop talking Jove! “But enough about that. I’ll see you during your performance, yeah?”
Thalassa smiled. “Well, break a leg.”
I shot a couple finger-guns her way. “Right back at ya.” I turned around and started making my way to the room I practiced in a few weeks ago, but ran into Thalassa’s father. “H-hello Mr. Gramarye.” I had to crane my neck to look him in the eyes. “Are you looking forward to your performance?”
“I don’t like you hanging around with my daughter.” He said gruffly.
How do I respond to that? “Oh.” Smooth.”I-I’m not trying to hang around Thalassa. She asks me to hang out with her…”
This didn’t seem to satisfy Thalassa’s father. “Leave my daughter alone.”
“Hey Jove! You comin’ to practice?” Harrison called out. “We’re all getting together to practice.”
“I’ll be right there!” I picked up my case and moved to leave, but was stopped by Mr. Gramarye’s glare. With yet another nervous laugh, I slowly inched away, hoping he wouldn’t eat me alive. After a few steps, I turned around and followed Harrison to the practice room.
Seems like my assumptions about Thalassa’s father were right.
. . .
Jove was alone for the rest of the weekend. He didn’t dare try inviting the band out to a bar again in fear of creating even more tension. So he was alone in his apartment, left to fend for himself for another day.