The Exile: Episode 60

Heckle found an unlocked car at the edge of the park grounds and told me to get in.

“Whose car is this?” I asked.

“I haven’t the faintest idea,” he said as he searched for the keys.

“Nothing,” he said, reaching for the ignition wires.

A few seconds later, we were on the road, headed to the Dark Pleasures club.

We walked inside and sat down at the bar. Filled with despair, I folded my arms on the bar and cradled my aching head while Heckle ordered drinks for us.

Throwing back his drink, he stood up and began to pace.

“I can’t believe it was a set up.”

“Of course it was a set up,” I returned, rubbing my forehead. “I should’ve known better than to think things would go that easy.”

“Well we can’t go backward and do it over, so let’s move forward. We need to figure out what to do next,” Heckle said.

“I know what to do,” I said with resignation.

“You can’t turn yourself in, Wesley. They’ll just kill you and the others,” Heckle insisted.

“Nope, not that,” I replied.

Heckle stopped pacing and turned toward me, waiting for an explanation. Suddenly he grew pale and his eyebrows lifted with alarm.

“You can’t be considering running!”

“It’s worked before. I warned them off and ran. As far as I know, it worked,” I said.

“You can’t just ditch us!” Heckle snapped.

“I’m not ditching you. They’ll reduce the guard on your brother and friends to focus on me,” I explained.

Heckle just stared at me for a moment before saying,

“But you. . . ,” he trailed off. “You’ll be alone again, running with no one to help you.”

I shrugged and said, “I’m the exile. It’s what I do.”

Without waiting for a response, I stood up from the bar stool and walked out. It was still daylight as I crossed the parking lot, my hands jammed in my pockets. Pulling out a five-dollar bill, I walked to a gas station on the other side of the street. After paying for a bottle of water, I took a long drink, capped the bottle then found a seat outside on the curb.

Halfway through the bottle, a car pulled up in front of me, and three men in matching black suits climbed out.

“You guys really need to work on your blending in,” I said with a weak smile.

“You’re needed,” the man closest to me said.

“First you need to agree to let the others go. I’m the one she wants. If she refuses to turn them loose, I’ll go inside, call the cops, and shoot up the place. You’ll probably snatch me anyway, but I’ll make certain everyone sees my face.”

I looked up smiling, one eye closed against the glaring sun.

“Deal?”

One of the men reached up and put his hand to his earpiece. After listening for a moment, he said,

“She agrees to your terms. Please come with us,” he said, opening the car door.

I stood up and climbed into the back. One of the men sat down beside me as the other two sat up front. Resting my head against the seat, I closed my eyes and remembered everyone who had helped me get here.

“At least they’re safe.”

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