* * *
Down the stairs we went, and my impatience silently grew with each step, his gun still centered on my back.
I had become a fugitive in my own world. I knew who the chimp was. I just had to wonder what new agenda Slick had concocted. I had thought I had more time than this.
The chimp led me to a blue corvette. I knew this car. It was the same car.
“You won’t get away with this, chimp.”
The hunched figure seemed to hunker beneath his trench-coated shoulders a little. He must be one of the monkeys who despised authority. I’d bet he sure didn’t like being a member of the squad, either.
“Shuddap, Meek.” His deep voice was gruff, and it grated on my ears. Maybe he was part gorilla; he was such a big fellow.
“So you know.”
“No, what you don’t know is how t’ shut yer trap!”
He had gotten up on his haunches and reached up, dragged my face down to his level. His gun flattened my nose to one side. I smiled apologetically, able to see up one of his flared nostrils. I already knew what kind of short tempers they had.
As if I had a choice. His beefy finger had four impatient pounds on a five-pound trigger. I opened the passenger door and got in. The chimp vaulted over the side and into the driver’s seat.
A squat little man strode through the doors of a 7-Eleven with a lit cigar in hand. Cloying, cherry scented smoke drifted over the counter to the clerk.
The man behind the counter looked up. “Sir, you can’t smoke in here.”
The figure turned his back to the clerk. After squeaking his rain boots on the floor, he went and picked up a bag of Doritos.
He walked back to the counter. All the clerk could see now was the top of a green plastic rain hat. It began to pace.
“You’re gonna have to pay for that, sir. Sir?”
The clerk jumped when he heard a gruff bark of laughter from below. Then, “Come ‘ere. Right in ‘ere.”
The clerk leaned over the counter enough to see down. The little man was gesturing to the door with a finger, beckoning. Then he patted his short legs.
“Come on.” It seemed the man was becoming impatient. The clerk looked to the door as a monkey stepped in with an electric ding.
It wore a set of blue jean overalls, armed with a gun. It looked so real, but for a black outline. It shrieked at the man.
“Him,” a thumb pointed back at the clerk.
The chimpanzee shrieked and let loose a spray of bullets at the floor. The clerk wet his pants.
“Stop messin’ around, you idiot. We have work to do, got to head off the ‘vette.”
The chimp scowled, sighed, and then rolled its beady eyes. The clerk ducked as the gun pointed his way this time. The register took a beating.
“Oh, God,” he gulped. He fumbled for the revolver secured beneath the counter. He heard a thump from above and looked up, his hands in the middle of loading the gun. He would remain looking up long after the bullets flew, one arm partially extended to hit the silent alarm.
“Hey! You fuckin’ idiot. Gimme those cigars! You almost hit ‘em.”
The door jingled as they left.