Tubthumping was playing as I drove down the county lane. The song was such an ear worm, but since I was on a high from my workout and I couldn't see anyone around, I was being ridiculously enthusiastic in belting out the lyrics. Why not? I'd recently moved in to a small, one bedroom house in Charming, the sun was shining, and I'd gotten one hell of a payout from my last job. Tapping my fingers along the ridge of the steering wheel, I smiled. All was right with the world.
The road I was on had a bend to it and, seeing as I was alone, I put my foot into the pedal of my old Mustang. I'd had my girl since high school; purchased her for $500.00 saved from my summer jobs, and had put hours and thousands into her to get her to look and feel as good as she did. This dark blue machine was my baby. I'd modernized the interior, preferring the comforts of recent technology over the idea of bringing her back to stock. With my last check, I'd put the final touches on her and she was now exactly where I'd wanted her to be – a perfect blend of old and new.
As I came around the bend in the road, I saw marring on the pavement. I slammed the brakes as I saw a black motorcycle off the side of the road into the high weeds. There was no sign of the driver, but he or she had to be somewhere close. I pulled off and grabbed my gym towel and a water bottle from my bag. Who knew what was going to be going on when I got to whoever went flying over the handlebars of that Harley?
Jogging toward the bike, I was scanning the area when I heard a faint groan to my left. It was over by a few boulders near the ditch. Moving faster, I came upon a man easily twice my size. His face was bloody; it looked like his nose took a hit when he crashed. His left arm was in a bad position. If I had to guess, he either dislocated it or broke it. His clothes were torn here and there and there were scrapes showing through the material, but no other obvious injuries.
I came up to him and crouched down. "Sir?" I asked. "Can you hear me? I'm here to help." I was answered with another groan, and then a pair of beautiful hazel eyes opened and looked at me.
"Sir, I don't have a phone. Do you have one? I can call an ambulance." His eyes didn't appear to be comprehending what I was saying. "Look, I'm going to pat you down, ok? I'm looking for a cell phone." I repeated my intent and then started touching his chest. He was wearing a leather vest and I could see that it had patches on it. One said something about "mayhem." There were tattoos peeking out from his shirt at his neck. As I ran my hands down his torso, I came across a gun. He was carrying. I hesitated at the weapon and continued searching for a phone on him, knowing that his eyes followed me the entire time. As I reached his pants, I felt the familiar rectangle of technology and sighed in relief. Awkward as hell, I reached into his jeans and pulled out the black savior.
"I'm going to call 911, okay? Then I can get your face cleaned up a bit while we wait for the police."
"No cops." His words were gruff and low, but unmistakable.
"You're hurt. I don't know if there's any internal bleeding. We need to get you somewhere to be checked out." I argued with him, pleading for him to see reason.
"No. Hand me the phone. I'll call for help."
Frowning, I did as he asked. In short order, I saw him hit a pre-entered number and raise the phone to his ear.
"Jax," he said. "I need help. I dumped my bike off of Old Airport Road. Mayans." He looked at me. "You know which mile marker we're at?"
"Uh, no. We're at a bend about a two miles from 24 Hour Fitness, though." He nodded slightly and spoke into the phone.
"Did you hear that? Good. I'll need the doc." With that, he hung up the phone and eased his head back to the ground.
Taking out the water bottle, I splashed an edge of my gym towel and got to work on his face. He looked exhausted. "What happened?" I asked, hoping that it was the right thing to keep him talking.
"Another crew drove me off the road. You should leave. It's not safe here."
I scrunched my eyebrows at him and continued to clean his face off. It looked like his nose had stopped actively bleeding. I wondered how long he'd been here. "No, I'll stay with you."
"Just go. My crew will be here soon and I'm not sure I'm going to be conscious for it. I can't protect you."
My eyes widened at his words. "You feel dizzy? Crap. Alright. We should keep you talking then. I don't remember the protocols for head injuries but I think I remember that I'm supposed to keep you awake. What's your name, handsome?"
"Stop. Listen to what I'm saying. You hear motorcycles coming, and you leave, you got it? It could be my brothers, or it could be the ones who put me here." He took a breath. Maybe keeping him talking wasn't a good idea. He looked like he was getting more and more tired with each sentence.
As the last thought came to me, he closed his eyes. "Hey. Hey, handsome?" I received no response. Shit. I looked at his phone in his hand. Now that he was out, I could call an ambulance for him. It's not like he'd know until it was too late. But then, he had to have a reason for not wanting to involve the authorities.
It was as I finished up cleaning the blood and dirt from the open areas of skin that I heard the rumble of motorcycles. It sounded like a lot of them. Now, I had to choose. The poor man was still out like a light. If what I heard were his friends, then he'd be okay. If it was the other guys, I was pretty sure he'd be hurting a lot worse soon. My car was on the roadway. She has a hell of an engine. I could probably outrun some bikers if I had to, but if they cared enough about it, they could track me down. It's not like a '68 blends in well. Taking a last glance at the unconscious man, I grabbed the handgun from the inside of his vest and stood partially behind one of the boulders to my right. At least I'd have a bit of cover.
"Holy shit!" I heard a man yell, presumably as he saw the Harley in the weeds. Moving toward me and the injured man were three large men. Apparently, Charming grew men on the Goliath side.
"Don't move!" I yelled, and each of the three men startled, though one made a grab for his low back. Great. He had a gun, too.
There was a blond in front of the three and his eyes were scanning the area, looking for where I was. I could tell the minute he saw me. His posture relaxed and his hands came up as if he were trying to calm a spooked horse.
"We're not going to hurt you. We're here to help our friend." One of the other two muttered something to him and he tweaked his head toward his buddy without taking eyes off me. "What's your name, darlin'?"
"How do I know you're friendly?" I asked, moving partially out from behind the boulder so that the three could see that I had a gun pointed at them.
"Of course, we're friendly sweetheart. Don't we look like it?" The one who asked was older and more rotund. He had a bit of a scraggly beard that was blended with grey, showing his age.
"Not the time for jokes," I heard the blond say.
"Look, we just need to get to our friend. That's his bike. He could be hurt," the blond said to me.
"Prove you're friendly. He told me it could be help or it could be the guys who did this to him."
"Did you see his kutte?" The third one, with curly hair, shouted.
"Cut?" I asked, not familiar with the term.
"His vest, darlin'. It looks like ours. It means we're part of the same club."
I squinted at the three. The leather looked similar, but I couldn't tell if it was the same from this distance. One of them was going to have to get closer. "One of you needs to walk closer so I can see it better." I yelled.
The blond one turned to the other two for a split second and started walking toward me, his hands still in the air. As he approached, I could see that his patches looked like the injured man's. Sighing, I lowered the gun and stepped out from the boulder. "He's here. I haven't moved him. He passed out about a minute before you got here." I said over my shoulder as I walked back to the prone man.