No Good Deed
Copyright© 2019 by Lumpy
The world slowed down in the now predictable fashion, as Levi’s elbow sailed past my head. The smell of the old sweat that permeated the dojo filled my nostrils. Beads of my own sweat poured down my face and soaked my shirt as I added to that stench. Levi liked to say it was the smell of hard work and dedication. We were pushing ourselves hard, trying to get the most out of our workout.
Ever since his change almost a month ago, he’d been working incredibly hard to work his new abilities to their farthest. Except me and the girls, who had what I was thinking of as the full transformation, he was the most advanced physically. From what we could tell, he was nearly as strong as I was and almost as fast. With the family back together, work starting to really pick up, school and Evolve keeping me hustling, along with the threat of the Syndicate hanging in limbo ready to raise its ugly head at any moment, I just hadn’t had time to work out to the extent I wanted to.
Even my training sessions with Levi were down to once a week. A fact that he had taken every opportunity to point out.
I had been enjoying the genetic advantage I had over everyone, and Levi was punishing me for my hubris. He wasn’t holding back as much as he once did. Thankfully, he didn’t make lethal choices that I was certain he was capable of, though he did use his vast experience to push me to my max. He’d made it clear if he wasn’t getting quantity then he’d have to settle for doing quality training with me.
Those thoughts darted through my head as I blocked a rapid fire set of punches and just barely managed to dodge a sneaky knee he threw in at the last moment, and the ankle hook he’d tried after that. I was still standing, but once again was on a continual retreat, not able to shift to the offensive.
I wasn’t upset by his more aggressive training style. To the contrary, I was actually kind of happy about it. He was right, I wasn’t getting enough physical activity, and it felt good to push myself. Plus, Levi was the only one I could take nearly all the limitations I normally put on myself off and really go full out.
Just as I thought that, a leg sweep caught me in the back of the knees and I crashed to the ground, bouncing the back of my skull off a mat.
“Holy crap,” I said, looking up at his smiling face leaning over me.
“You’ve gotten sloppy. You’re relying on your unique abilities too much.”
“Good,” Levi said, reaching down and helping me up. “Let’s do that at half speed. I want to show you what you did wrong.”
Levi backed away from me, moving to the side of the mat closest to the door of the gym. He was preparing to show me what I had done when the chime on the door sounded. He turned, and we both looked to see who was coming in, since this training session was after his regular hours, to allow us to not hold back.
The pair of doors were thrown open with a man coming through each one, each with an automatic pistol raised and pointed in our direction. I instantly recognized them, it would have been impossible for me not to considering the beating I received at their hands. Although they were not in uniform, these were the two officers who had separated me when Zoe, Emily, Tina and I were being taken away by CPS earlier in the year. They had been arrested when Jawarski had found me in that warehouse. But, as with the other prisoners tied in with The Syndicate before them, both men had disappeared out of jail without a trace.
I started to move as soon as I saw them, but I was across the room, and both men were already moving into shooting stances. Levi moved fast, nearly as fast as I could. Before either man was through the doorway, Levi moved into them, grabbing the wrist of the gunman on the right. He continued moving, putting his shoulder into that upper arm, while beginning a turn, taking the man’s arm with it. As he connected with the man’s arm, the guy on the left fired; but Levi was moving fast inside the gunman, not giving them enough time to re-adjust their aim. The bullet traveled harmlessly over Levi’s shoulder and several feet away from me as I charged towards them.
Levi continued his turn, holding the gunman’s upper arm in place while pulling the man’s wrist with him into the turn, until with a crack the Elbow bent at a very wrong angle, out away from the body instead of towards it. The gunman howled in pain.
Levi continued his motion of turning, and kicked off the ground, rolling himself up on the slowly falling gunman with the broken arm, using the man like a Pommel Horse to get leverage as he wrapped his legs around the center of the left gunman.
I was still several feet away, and as I dropped into The Flow as we had practiced, I could see each move Levi was making, but I was still not moving fast enough to get to them in time. Levi’s push upwards continued with a semi twisting motion. Now, with his legs wrapped around the left assailant, he twisted himself off his makeshift fulcrum, who was at this point collapsing as he was reaching for his ruined right arm. Levi began falling, his body weight pulling the left-hand gunman down with him, his force was significantly increased by the added mass of his post-change muscles helping wrench the man off the floor.
Levi fell onto his shoulder, with the man projecting out over him and rolled, causing the man to arch toward the ground head first as Levi continued the roll, pulling the man underneath himself. I had a clear view as the gunman was brought head first into the mat. With the V created by his head and shoulders being connected along with his body weight pressing in on it, his head lolled to one side as he fell.
As Levi unwrapped his legs from around the man and launched himself up against the man’s chest, he pushed him harder into the mat, causing his head to bend much further to the right than it was designed to do, snapping the man’s neck with a sickening crunch.
By the time I got to Levi, which took just seconds from start to finish, he was standing up from his kneeling position on top of the clearly dead man at his feet, with the other gunman swearing, tears pouring from his eyes, holding his ruined arm.
Since the beginning of last year, I had been in several fights. Some deadly serious. Nothing I had done to that point came close to what Levi had just pulled off.
“Wow,” was all I could say.
“Call the police,” he said, going forward to kick the guns out of reach of both men but otherwise leaving both as they lay.
I headed into Levi’s office without a look back at the carnage at his feet. I followed his instructions and called 911 to report the assault, death, and injury. I let the operator know that no one was in immediate danger, but an ambulance was needed for at least one of the men, and I believed the other attacker was dead.
The operator wanted me to stay on the line, but I said I couldn’t and hung up. Next, I called Jawarski on the cell phone we had given her recently and told her what happened, making sure to mention who our attackers were, and that I had already called 911. She was on duty, but said she was in the area and would make sure she was on the call. My next call was to Jonathan. I knew this could go sideways for Levi, and wanted to ensure he was as protected as possible.
Thankfully, things went better than I expected. Jawarski was the first one through the door. Once she made sure it was ok, she removed and secured both guns and then radioed in for both an ambulance and the Coroner.
She was separating Levi and me when a second officer came in, and she had to give him a rundown. She was being very official with everything but didn’t seem overly worried. Jonathan showed up a few minutes later, followed by Detective Casper a few moments after that.
I decided my best course of action was to stay out of it. It did occur to me that I probably should have called Mom or the girls and let them know what had happened and that they were going to be pissed when they found out, and realized I hadn’t called. But there were enough people here, already. The last thing we needed was more confusion. I trusted Jawarski and Jonathan to handle it.
Eventually, the detective finished with Levi and came over to me.
“Kid, how come you’re always in trouble?”
I just shrugged.
“Ok, tell me what happened.”
“I was training with Levi, when the doors were thrown open. Those two came in with guns in their hands. I was half way across the room. Levi immediately saw the danger and charged at them. One man fired but missed, and Levi kept the other guy from shooting. It happened so fast I had barely moved when it was all over.”
“Do you know these two?”
“Yes, and you do, too. We both know they are former cops, both of whom were arrested when they kidnapped me and beat me a couple of months ago. And we both know that they disappeared from jail without a trace.”
“I’m going to put that down as a yes.”
“Seriously, are you guys going to accidentally let him go, again?”
“Look, Caspian, I know you’re pissed. I would be, too. But this is different. I mean, one of them is dead, for starters; and the other isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. I’ve never seen a break as nasty as that. Trust me, we’ll hold on to him this time.”
“I hope so.”
“So did you have any clue they were coming here? Was there any warning?”
“No. I thought we would never see them again, honestly.”
“Alright. I promised your lawyer I wouldn’t hold you long, but we’re going to have to take your friend to the station for more questioning.”
“It was self-defense!”
“I know. Everything should be okay, but we gotta follow procedure, ok?”
“What choice do I have,” I said and walked over to Jonathan.
“I want you to stay with Levi the whole time. Never leave his side.”
“Caspian, I need to make sure you get home safe.”
“I’m a big boy, Jonathan. I have my car. I can get home, no problem. Levi put his life on the line for me, tonight. We protect him! Is that clear?”
“Sure, I got it. Don’t worry. Please call me when you’re home safely.”
“Ok,” I agreed, although I was still not happy about being sent away.
Jonathan was right. As soon as I walked in the door, Mom and the girls were all over me, speaking at once.
“Whoa, whoa! Hold up! One at a time,” I said as they barraged me with questions.
“Girls, let’s give him some space so he can tell us what happened.”
“What did happen?” Zoe asked. “Jonathan called Mom and said you were attacked!”
I set my gym bag down by the stairs and found a seat in the living room, so we could all be comfortable. I got that they were concerned, so I didn’t begrudge them the twenty questions.
“Ok, so yes. I was attacked while working out with Levi. Two guys came charging in with guns. Before you freak out too much, I was perfectly fine. Hell, I barely took one step before it was all over. You should have seen Levi. It was ... pretty damned impressive.”
“I’m glad he was there to help,” Mom said, “But this is becoming a serious problem.”
“It’s no big deal. I’ve only been attacked like that, what ... two or three times?”
“I would say two or three times is enough to consider it a ‘serious problem,’ but let’s not forget all the other times people have threatened you or attacked you. I’m in a mind to just keep you locked in this house forever.”
“However,” she said, ignoring me, “I won’t do that. But this is not the last time we are having this discussion. We are going to have to make some changes around here. It’s not just you who’s in danger, Cas. What about the girls, or Tina and Judy? We all live here together, and we’re all at risk.”
“I see your point.”
“Good boy. Now, who were these guys.”
“Actually, we know them. It’s the two cops who abducted me when CPS came to take us away. I guess we know what happened to them after they disappeared from police custody.”
“Will Levi be ok?” Vicki asked.
“I think so. He hurt one of the guys badly, and killed the other one, but this is a pretty clear case of self-defense. I mean, the guys came in pointing guns. Jawarski and Jonathan are both there, getting it sorted out. I’m still a little concerned, considering how many other things over the last year haven’t gone the way we thought they would, but...”
“Let’s leave it in Jonathan’s hands for now,” Mom said. “We need to give it some time before we get worked up. Ok, it’s late, everyone needs to head to bed.”
Thankfully, she was right, waiting for Jonathan was the right call. Levi spent the better part of the next day at the police station answering questions. Once all the I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed, they let Levi go.
There was the hint of ‘if things change we can still file charges’ but Jawarski said that’s always true, and it’s a cop’s way of saying ‘you better not be lying to us.’ Neither she nor Jonathan and Levi were worried, so I let it pass. While it was my usual style to obsess and fret over it, Thanksgiving was a few days away, and Charlie, Sandy, and Eddy were showing up. There was too much to do, to worry about what might happen or could have happened.
That’s growth ... right?
Thanksgiving came along with no more major crisis, other than plenty of activity. Tuesday Charlie and his gang showed up, and we started to have to seriously bunk up to make room for them. Vickie’s mom moved in with Mom for a few days, to let the three of them use her room.
Wednesday, Megan showed up. Though thankfully she was sleeping at her parent’s house, she made it clear she was going to their Thanksgiving meal and ours. It’s probably a good thing she now had a souped-up metabolism to deal with all the food she was planning on eating in one day.
To accommodate her, plus the older married people we had invited like Jonathan and Ted, we made our Thanksgiving meal a dinner. Most of our other friends from the lunch group were coming, along with a lot of the people from work. I tried to convince Mom that we should cater the meal, considering we would have almost a hundred people planning on eating with us; but she wouldn’t hear of it. She did allow one concession, and turned the meal into semi-potluck style. She would deal with the turkeys and a few other things, and let our guests handle the side dishes.
We also had to move the party into our back yard, where we set up multiple long tables and a large tent where everyone would eat.
By Thursday morning, she and Vicki’s mom had shanghaied all the girls ... Tina and Judy, and even Charlie and Sandy ... to be helpers. I had rented a couple of portable ovens so they could cook multiple turkeys, and Mom turned the garage into a makeshift kitchen.
Watching her work, keeping everyone moving and getting things done, was a thing of beauty.
I walked up to lean on a wall next to Eddie, one of the trio we met over spring break, and asked, “So how are things going for you guys in Huntsville?”
“Good, I guess. It’s a lot crazier that I’d thought it’d be. The classes are good, though.”
“Good. I’m glad you guys made it down here.”
“Well, my parents were a little pissed that I wouldn’t see them until tomorrow, but Charlie and Sandy really wanted to come. They’ve talked a lot about you since ... after ... you know.”
“I hope not too much,” I said.
While it seemed unlikely any danger would have followed us home from the little adventure in Mexico, we had enough problems on our plate with the Syndicate. I didn’t want to add to that if I could help it. Plus, it was best if no one took too close of a look at exactly what happened down there.
“No man. No way. We didn’t tell anyone anything, I promise.”
“Sure. I mean, I get it. They told me what happened with those guys. Well, some of it. Dude, it’s just ... But I get it. But that isn’t what they’ve been talking about. Charlie and Sandy, but really Sandy, are all over the stuff you spoke to us about after. About what you guys are doing and the offer to help us make a difference.”
“Good. I meant it, and the offer still stands.”
“That’s great. We went to a couple of meetings of groups on campus and, it’s like you said this summer. They all mean well and everything, but, they don’t really have a plan, you know? It’s like, all talk but no one’s saying ‘We’re going to do this, then that, then this.’”
“That’s what I said to Sandy, this summer. You need to have the tools to actually get stuff done. You three sit down with Zoe, Vicki, and Tami and get their read on what we’re doing. Talk to them about the program we’re working on to feed the people who are struggling to get food on the table or at least make low-cost food available. And I think you’ll be interested in the first New Life center we’re talking about opening.”
“I’ll do that.”
“Good, and we can all talk after that about how we can put something into place, up where you guys are,” I told him, heading for the front door where people were starting to arrive.
The place quickly became a madhouse, with more than a dozen teenagers outside talking and laughing, and most of the adults from work, plus our friend’s grouping inside, while the final touches were being put on the meal.
What surprised me the most was when Carter came in carrying a casserole dish. When he handed it to me, he must have seen the look on my face.
“What?” he asked when I took the dish from him.
“I just wasn’t expecting you to bring anything. Or maybe, like a bag of chips or something.”
“What, you think I can’t cook? My fridge isn’t just salsa and beer! I’m not some dime novel cop knock-off.”
“I mean, you kinda are,” I said, laughing.
“Smart-ass. I manage to feed myself just fine. Now tell me where the beer is.”
I started to laugh but stopped when he gave me a look making it clear he wasn’t playing off his earlier statement. I pointed him toward the kitchen, where Mom had stocked some more adult beverages for the guests who were over-age. And where she’d talked to each teenager who’d shown up and made it clear none of it was for them.
I wasn’t worried about that though. Our friends were a good lot, and none were the type to cause trouble.
Finally, all the food was laid out on the tables outside, and everyone made their way to their seats. I was just sitting down and filling my glass when Mom kicked me under the table and signaled I was supposed to say something.
Considering I was the primary connection of a lot of the people here that made sense. Although I wasn’t crazy about public speaking, she was right, it was my place to say something.
“Excuse me, everyone,” I said, standing up and doing the glass clinking maneuver I’d seen in movies.
“I want to thank everyone for coming. I know you all have families and everything, and I’m glad they let you all break away and spend tonight with us. I just want to say, how thankful I am for each and every one of you. It’s been a crazy year since last Thanksgiving. Each of you has had a hand in making sure that craziness didn’t turn into something terrible. We made it through all the turmoil, all the obstacles, and are standing today stronger than we were, one year ago. I really believe the next year will be even better if we keep working as a team. We’re a family. If we remember this, there’s nothing that can stop us. Ok, enough of my nonsense. Dig in!”
There was a cheer at that and the sound of dozens of people serving themselves food filled the air. The dinner was fabulous. The food was great. Surprisingly, one of the best things there was the dish Carter brought.
Seriously, who knew?
We ate for hours, and then just milled around talking for more hours, after that. I was happy to see Charlie, Sandy, and Eddie huddled with the girls at one point, and I made a mental note to talk to them and see what the plan was. Not that I was worried. The girls were running that part more than I was, and they had a handle on it.
The party overall ended as a smashing success, and I was in a terrific mood, even volunteering to take out the trash for Mom, who was equally as surprised. We had ordered up some additional trash cans that would be picked up the next day, predicting the volume of garbage. We’d put them around one side of the house to keep them from being an eyesore.
As I was shoving these bags into the cans, trying to smash them down enough to make room for the rest, I heard heavy footsteps coming around the side of the house towards me. People walking up behind me wasn’t my favorite thing, considering everything that had happened over the previous year. I was pretty happy to find it was only Josh coming around the house until I saw the look in his eyes.
“I need to talk to you,” he said, nostrils flaring.
“What’s up?” I replied, trying to keep things friendly and hoping I could suppress some of the hostility I felt coming off him.
“It’s been a year. I’ve stayed out of your hair the end of last year and the beginning of this year and all summer. But enough is enough. I’m not an idiot you know. I know you think I am, but I’m not.”
“Whoa. Josh, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I don’t think you’re an idiot. I swear.”
“Then why are you treating me like I am? I know you’ve done whatever it is you do to give your special abilities or whatever to Emily now, too. And yeah, I know you said you had to sleep with them to give them powers or whatever, but, looking at the people at this party, I bet there are a couple of others who you’ve given powers to, too. I hear them talking when they don’t think I’m listening. And you can see it in their eyes when they look at you. All of em.”
I thought as quickly as I could. Yes, I had lied to him and told him it required intimate contact to change someone, which, while not a lie, wasn’t the truth either. I’d hoped that would’ve been enough to throw him off the scent, and it really seemed like it had worked, too. The last thing I wanted to do was to let him know it was possible to change him, not with how increasingly irrational he’d gotten over the previous year.
“Josh, look, I promise I haven’t changed anyone other than the girls. Did Emily get changed? Yes. But I told you what’s required for that. It’s not something I can do for everyone, or would do. I promise.”
He balled his meaty hands up in fists and edged towards me. I knew I could take Josh if it came to that, but I really didn’t want it to. Not only did I still want to call Josh my friend, but that kind of thing would also cause an instant rift with the rest of our group.
“Cas, you lying sack of...”
Thankfully, Amber’s voice from around the house calling him, made Josh stop for a moment.
“We’re not through. I know you’re holding out on me. Don’t think this is over,” he said and stormed off.
I let out a puff of air, as I released the tension that had been building in my chest and leaned against the wall. I wanted to give him time to cool down and hopefully head home before I headed back into the house. From where I was, I could see the street pretty well and once I saw his car driving away, Amber in the passenger seat, I made my way back into the house.
“Hey,” Zoe said, grabbing my arm as I walked through the house to help pick up. “A bunch of people want to drive down to Galveston early tomorrow and spend the day at the Beach, since we’re all off school and work and everything.”
“Sure,” I said halfheartedly, my mind still on the confrontation with Josh.
“I know it will be cold, but come on, we’ll have fun,” she pleaded, pressing her body against me to help motivate me.
“Yeah, it will be. Count me in,” I said in the cheeriest voice I could muster.
“Great. Let me tell everyone,” she said and bounded off.
I, however, couldn’t shake my thoughts about Josh. Things were going to get worse there, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it.