As I pulled out and quickly drank, I proceeded to look for an open space. There was a large shopping center further down Tower that had a few popular mega-stores, with a huge parking lot that was three-quarters empty. I pulled into an undeveloped area, got out and leaned against the side of my car. I downed the last bit of juice while enjoying several bites on the candy bar, and sat with my arms crossed watching the SUV. We stared at each other for five minutes and then ten, which allowed me to finish the snack. I planned on continuing to stare until they either decided to approach me or left. We were going on fifteen minutes when they finally pulled up and got out of the huge gas-guzzler.
Baseball Cap, which I now saw was a black, authentic Colorado Rockies one, was shorter than me but around the same weight, wearing a brown sports coat over a beige shirt and nice blue jeans, with freshly polished tan cowboy boots. Expensive sunglasses covered his eyes, which he removed when getting out of the SUV and pocketed them in his coat. Cowboy Hat was taller and heavier, dressed in black jeans with a yellow dress shirt hanging over his belt, Nike Air Jordan’s, the cowboy hat and glasses he didn’t remove. I noticed the bulges as both had guns—the first in a shoulder holster under the sports coat, the other in a belt holster covered by his hanging shirt. Both approached slowly, trying to size me up, as I had been doing to them. I wished I’d pulled my gun out of the glove box when I’d gotten out of the car. It was a little late now, and saying “Excuse me, gentlemen, while I get my gun” wouldn’t be met with joy on their part.
“What can I do for you gentlemen?” I asked, seeing there was no one around to notice us. “If you’re looking for a good deal on a TV, Best Buy is the place to shop.” Sometimes I couldn’t help myself with the stupid humor. “Or maybe you need some cat food. You both look like cat owners to me.”
“Mr. Sparks would like to talk with you!” said Cowboy Hat, not looking the least bit amused by my humor.
“I don’t know any Mr. Sparks,” I answered. “Do you have a first name, or maybe you can tell me what he wants to talk about?”
Cowboy Hat tried to look menacing. “Mr. Sparks asks to talk with you, then you come without asking why. He don’t need no reason and didn’t give us one. So, let’s go!”
“I think you two got your wardrobes mixed up,” I said. “Shouldn’t the cowboy hat go with the cowboy boots, and the Rockies cap with the sneakers? I call out a fashion faux pas.”
Each glanced at each other, not understanding what I was saying. I often joked when nervous, which helped to calm me, and this was one of those situations. But I don’t think my observation went over very well with them.
“Funny guy we have here, don’t we,” said Baseball Cap.
“We could humor him with a five-finger sandwich,” stated Cowboy Hat.
For some reason, people underestimate me. Maybe it’s my less-than-imposing physique or my friendly face. Both seemed to think I’d scare easily. They were wrong. I scare but not easily, and not without putting up a struggle. I stepped out away from the car. I was looking them both over, as they stood a few feet apart in front of the Ford. Baseball Cap looked to be the tougher of the two. He just stared me down with the appearance of someone who knew what he was doing. He would be the hardest one to take down. Cowboy Hat was the tough talker but not the tough one: well, at least, not the toughest one. He would think his size was enough against me. Neither would be able to pull their gun quickly where they carried them. I was watching their hands for any quick movements, but I suspected they were under the impression they could handle me without their hardware.
“Guys, we can stand here all day making quips, getting to know each other, but it doesn’t do my street cred any good to just let you push me around. I need some more info before I’m going to go with you.” I moved closer to Cowboy Hat and put my hands out in front of me in a gesture.
“We don’t care,” he said and reached out to grab my right arm. I twisted it loose, spun low, whipped my right leg and kicked his legs out from under him. I was very quick when I needed to be, those couple of years of martial arts training paying off. He was caught off guard, falling straight back and hitting his head on the bumper of their SUV. Just as quickly, I drove several combinations into the kidneys of Baseball Cap before he could react, like I do at each of my workouts on the heavy bag. He was quite solid, and I felt it in my hands since I wasn’t wearing boxing gloves. But no matter—well-placed shots to the kidney will drop most men, and he was no exception. As he slumped over in pain I jumped in the air and pounded him on the back of the neck with both my fists interlaced together. He went straight down to the ground, seeing stars.
“Damn!” I said, flexing my hands, as they tingled from striking him. “Your side is hard as a rock and so is your head.”
While they were on the ground I removed both their guns, each 9MM Berettas, and ejected the clips and any bullets from the chambers, slipping them into my pants pocket. I then searched them for ID, finding they both worked for Sparks Builders. The name was familiar, but I wasn’t sure where I’d heard of it before. I’d have to research some. I sat the empty guns on the hood of the SUV as they slowly were coming around. I pulled out my business card and placed it under one of the guns.
“Tell your boss I’d be happy to meet with him at any time. Just explain to him to call me and we’ll arrange a time. I don’t like being told what to do, but I’m always courteous when asked nicely and will rendezvous whenever it’s convenient for both of us. Tomorrow morning is good, but I have a lunch date at 11. Any time before that or later in the afternoon would be splendid. Please don’t get up. I can find my way out.”
I smiled walking to my car and stowed the magazines and bullets in the glove box. Driving away, I knew I didn’t make two new friends today, but I waved at them as if we’d known each other for years. In the rearview mirror I saw Cowboy Hat getting up, grabbing the business card and making a call on his cell phone. I doubted Mr. Sparks would be happy to hear what he had to say.
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