“I’ll forgive you when pigs fly,” she spat. And you’ll never guess what happened two seconds later.
Well, Art could have.
Only instead of sending pigs flying into the sky, he kicked over the stand holding up all of the mice, which sent them to the floor around her feet. She was screaming and focusing on the rodents as Art climbed out the window and hoped that there was a softer landing than just the concrete.
Behind him, there was clear cursing, as always with her. It didn’t stop him from throwing himself at the nearby fire escape, grabbing his backpack from under the stairs and taking off running with a few less dollars than he should have owned.
Whatever. Art had had less before.
After a quick flip of his hood, he kept his head down and navigated through the busy city. As long as he didn’t catch the eyes of any officers, they wouldn’t ask questions about why he wasn’t in school with the other kids his age.
Art hated school.
Which was remarkable because really, he should have loved it but he cut class so much that it was a surprise any of the teachers even knew his name. When he showed up for tests he would inevitably pass and then miss class again. Sighing, he kicked at a rock and kept walking, keeping his head down but an eye on his watch.
Lunch rushes would be coming to an end soon, which would mean it would be the perfect time to show up in the back of any restaurant and beg.
Well, try to at least. Art was kicked out of three restaurants before he finally ended up groveling at the restaurant Rossi frequented and waited for his friend to show up.
“What are you doing here?” Rossi hissed, still in his school uniform. “Do you know how much trouble you can get me in?”
Art tried not to look too ashamed. “I just need a few dollars. Or food. I got ripped off.”
“Well, then maybe be smarter so that does not happen,” Rossi said tightly, crossing his arms and looking around. “You should not be here.”
“Look, just lunch or something. I’ll get it figured out. I got this really good lead earlier, there’s something happening—”
“Lead? Lead? What are you, a detective? Just take this and go,” Rossi said, finally fed up. He reached into his bag to pull out a bagel and threw it at Art, who took it thankfully. “And stay away from here unless you find yourself in a life or death situation. You know what can happen.”
Art was already backpedaling through the alley, holding the bagel close and saluted.
“Thank you. Will do. Bye.”
Rossi huffed, refusing to say anything back. But it was for his own wellbeing, of course. Art wasn’t supposed to hang around the higher neighborhood so no one caught onto the fact that a lot of what Rossi did was supported by the little people. If they knew that, they might try and take Art for themselves. Or maybe get rid of him to hinder Rossi’s works.
For a few hours, Art just wandered, munching on his bagel and wandering around the city. Every day he could find new hiding spots and new enemies.
Except that day.
That day was old enemies.
“HEY! YOU! YEAH, I KNOW YOU HEAR ME!”
Art whipped around to see the lady, no mice running around her feet anymore, sprinting down the street with three men behind her.
“GIVE ME BACK THAT MONEY! SOMEONE GRAB THAT KID!”
He started backing up, hitting people’s shoulders until he was sprinting, shoving people out of the way while the yelling continued. Some people tried grabbing him, but Art had had enough experience with running that he knew how to throw people off.
Through back alleys, up fire escapes, apologizing as he ran through an open apartment with a very drunk dude and then out another window and onto the street. The pursuers were spinning in circles a ways down so he pulled the hoodie off and tried walking slower, keeping his head down.
The man popped out of nowhere and Art yelped, swinging immediately before he dashed across the street. He almost got hit by passing a few times as he watched the money fly out of his sweatshirt but didn’t stop.
So much for his work.
Art didn’t stop running until he reached the stairs of the apartment complex he had been trying to avoid. He wasn’t being followed anymore, that was fine. That was the only reason he would come back. Risking them wasn’t worth the safety that he could find in their little home.
Pulling the window open without knocking, he found himself rolling in, on the floor and looking upside down at a shocked Kalil who was turned around at his desk, covered in papers.
“Hi. You wanna help with something?”
Colin is an aspiring author who spends most of the day admiring plants, reading, writing, or doodling. twitter: cjblewett