Marshall nearly screamed, but clapped both his hands tightly over his mouth while simultaneously dropping to his stomach on the concrete. Toma had done the same, staring with eyes like dinner plates into the dumpster, as if the scene was still frozen in his vision. Marshall had dropped before he saw anything, but from under the dumpster, saw the pair of feet dangling above the ground stop kicking. He shut his eyes tightly, and could only keep telling himself to be absolutely silent. He couldn't make a sound. Toma couldn't make a sound.
If either of them did, they would wind up just like the other guy had.
"Oh my God," Toma finally said through his hand.
Marshall grabbed him and clamped a hand over his mouth. "Are you insane?!" he hissed.
"Ey!" The Russian's voice barked clean and clear through the parking lot. Both boys looked at each other, hearts in their throats. "What vas that?"
There was the distinct chink of a clip into a magazine. Ch-chuk.
"I thought you checked da van!" the Russian spat angrily.
"I did!" Petre snapped. "Închis al tău gură!"
"Shut your mouth," Toma translated automatically in a terrified whisper.
"I do not speak your language!" the Russian snapped, "go check the van again."
"Ceas tu însuţi!" the Romanian said angrily, storming over to the van. Marshall grabbed Toma's sleeve in pure fear. The Romanian youth grabbed him in turn, tugging him a little farther away from the van, behind the dumpster. Toma's well-dressed stage manager came up to the van, gun in plain sight in his hand, and he banged on the windows and doors.
"Maybe… maybe if I go out, he recognize me," Toma whispered to Marshall, who stared at him.
"He's my stage manager—"
"He just killed somebody!" hissed Marshall, "and you're going to run over to him like an idiot and get yourself killed too?!" Toma swallowed heavily and ducked back with him.
Petre banged on the car violently, tight-lipped and white in the face. Marshall sat against the dumpster, as Toma leaned around the other side to where he could see Petre's sleek car.
"Chem poliţia," Toma said quickly, digging around in his pockets.
"What?" hissed Marshall.
"I am calling the police!" Toma whispered, and swore. "Shit! My phone! It is gone!"
"Oh, great!" Marshall spat, "just great!"
"Let me borrow yours." Toma grabbed his wrists.
"Mine's in the van!" Marshall hissed, hushing him furiously, with a terrified glance to Petre stalking around the black van.
"Shit," Toma muttered. "We have to get help somehow!"
Petre turned around, pricking slightly. Marshall clamped his hand over the Romanian boy's mouth tightly, "Shut up!" he hissed, "You're going to get us killed! Shut your big mouth!"
"Kasimir," barked Petre, "check the dumpster."
"Shit!" Toma grabbed Marshall's arm, as Petre started to walk over, gun extended. "What do we do?!"
Marshall leaned around the other side, where the stocky Russsian marched over as well, a shotgun in his hand as he readied it to fire.
"Want to die by hand- or shotgun?" Marshall whispered hotly, bitterly.
"I don't know!" Toma whispered, equally terrified and staring at Marshall like he had three heads.
"Well you're gonna have to pick one!" Marshall hissed, in a panicked, cracking voice, "because we don't have that much time!"
"I would rather get hit by bus," Toma said. Marshall's lips tightened in a terrified fury, and he wanted very badly to punch the lanky Romanian, blood pounding in his ears.
"What are you talking about?!" he hissed. Toma pointed out into the street, where a bus waited in the turn lane with its signal on.
"Petre!" Kasimir called, "Petre, let's go."
"Is a bus coming," he said, "there vill be people on board."
Petre's jaw tightened. Marshall watched him in petrified terror, Toma's hand over his mouth, his own hand over Toma's. His heart was racing like Seabiscuit. The Romanian stamped the ground angrily with one expensive Italian shoe, stowing his gun back in his blazer, "come on," he grunted, turning on his heel, heading for the car at a hasty walk and looking around. "Let's get out of here, before anybody sees us."
"Last thing ve need is vitnesses," the Russian said, opening the car door. Toma grabbed Marshall and yanked him back around to a safe side of dumpster as the passenger door slammed and the car started. Marshall held his breath, squeezing his eyes shut, as the car turned around agonizingly slowly, coming dangerously close to the van before whipping around and zooming suddenly off, cutting in front of and nearly colliding with the bus barreling by.
"They're gone," Toma said, with a heave of a breath. "Oh my God.."
"Stay down," Marshall hissed, grabbing his wrist.
"We have to go!" Toma said in panic, "we have to call police!"
"Th-the station's not far from here," Marshall said, his stomach squirming horribly at the thought that there was a dead body across the parking lot from him behind the dumpster. "we can go there. I don't… I don't want to be seen near it."
"We don't even have guns!" Toma protested.
"That doesn't matter!" hissed Marshall, "this is Brooklyn!"
"This is Queens," Toma corrected him smartly with a grin. "That is what my agent says."
"What do you even know?" Marshall snapped, voice cracking as he picked himself up from the ground. "You're from across the ocean anyways!" He paced around agitatedly, gripping his head, too scared to go out from behind the dumpster.
"Come on," Toma said, with a slight scowl, grabbing his wrist, "we have got to get out of here." Marshall dug his heels in, and whined, landing back on his rump.
"What are you doing?!" Toma said, gawking at him, "we have to go!"
Marshall wet his lips, and looked over to the dumpster. "There's… there's a dead body over there!" he hissed.
Toma stared at him. "Yes!" he sputtered, "we have seen this! We know this!"
"I don't want to look at it!" Marshall whimpered, plopping helplessly into the gravel.
"So cover your eyes!" Toma said, slapping him across the face. Marshall huffed indignantly, touching his stinging cheek.
"Ow!" he said.
"For the love of God, pull yourself together!" Toma snapped. He grabbed Marshall's shoulders, shaking him slightly, "Meu Dumnezeu! Do you realize what we have just seen?!"
"Your psycho-ass stage manager killed somebody!" Marshall said, gripping his forehead, "oh, God, and—"
"We," said Toma slowly, purposefully, "are the only witnesses."
Marshall swallowed the lump in his throat thickly. "Oh, Jesus."
"Which means, because we know exactly what happen, we go to police, and we tell them everything that happen."
"Are you crazy?" Marshall cried, "they killed someone! If we tell, they'll kill us too!"
"What?!" the Romanian sputtered, "you just said we have to go to police!"
"That was before I realized what all happened!" Marshall said, a little defensively. He stood up, pacing around in a little circle, "Jesus fucking Christ…"
"Just… just don't panic," Toma said, "we'll figure something out."
"Figure something out?!" Marshall cried, "it already is figured out! We know who killed him! We know where the dead body is! This would be one easy episode of C.S.I.!"
"Shit!" Toma said, as if something had just struck him.
Marshall looked up. "What?"
Toma rounded on him with wide black eyes. "I have dance session tomorrow with Petre and choreographer!" he hissed.
"Well that'll be difficult for him to make it to if he goes to prison!" Marshall said scaldingly.
"Shit!" Toma said, pacing around too, "shit, shit, shit!"
"Well, my friend, just don't panic!" Marshall said sarcastically. "We'll figure this out!"
Toma whirled around and jammed a finger hard into Marshall's chest. "Shut up," he grunted. "That was before I realized what all happened."
Marshall whimpered, rubbing his face. "There's no way to get back to my car without seeing that body," he moaned.
"Look…" Toma said reasonably, "we are witnesses to a murder. This sort of thing happens a lot, right?"
"Great," Marshall said sardonically, "we'll just log online and figure out what other people in our situation did!"
"Stop it," Toma told him, jerking him up by the wrist. "We go to police, file report, and then we pretend like nothing at all happened. I go to dance practice tomorrow and don't even look at him."
"We just pretend we didn't see some guy's brain splattered all over a strip club sign, " Marshall said, trying to take a deep breath, "Just like nothing happened."
"What did I just tell you?" Toma huffed. "Stop it. You are blowing this out of the proportion."
Marshall glared at him sourly, "Right. Because it would be terrible to blow cold-blooded murder out of proportion. God forbid."
Toma slapped him again.
"Ow!" cried Marshall hotly, shoving him, "stop doing that!"
"Get in car!" Toma said sternly, pointing to the van.
"Fine!" Marshall snapped, angry now, stalking to the van and yanking the door open. He exhaled through his nostrils tightly, slamming the door and settling into his seat, careful not to look ahead. Toma got in on the passenger side, and closed his eyes.
"We have to think with clear head," he said, exhaling a ragged breath, sounding like a yoga tape. "They didn't see us. Is alright. They don't know. They don't know they have witnesses."
"Right," Marshall said, trying to calm himself down, and putting the car in gear. "They don't know about any witnesses. We just… we file a tip, end of story. It's like we were never even there."
Toma nodded affirmatively. "Never even there."
Petre held the phone away from his ear, cringing.
"You left witnesses?"
"No, no, no; see, you misunderstand," the Romanian soothed, glancing nervously to Kasimir lingering anxiously outside of the phone booth. "There… there was a van there." He switched quickly to Romanian. "Nu unul în automobil. There was no one inside."
"Da," Petre said, "twice."
"And you saw no one?" the man on the other line said sharply.
"No one," Petre said, "not inside. But—"
"But?" The voice spat the word in disgust. "I like answers to be sure ones, Petre."
"I… I know, sir," Petre said, looking straight at Kasimir, who was smoking an impatient cigar to rid himself of his jitters, "Kasimir has a bad feeling about it."
"I don't care about Kasimir's feeling," the voice growled, "I care about getting rid of two-timers, though I wouldn't hesitate to get rid of inefficients either. Were there witnesses or not?" The question was like steel, and Petre flinched, and wet his lips, shifting uncomfortably.
"…I don't know," he answered finally, gnawing on his fingernails before he snapped upright and shook out his hand. He'd ruin his nails if he kept biting them.
"You don't know?"
"There was a van there that wasn't supposed to be there!" Petre said hotly, slamming a hand angrily on the glass side of the phone booth.
"Then you shouldn't have carried out the hit!" hissed the voice, in Romanian. "I told you, Petre, it's like I said, anything is out of the ordinary, get the hell out of there. If there was even one witness this whole thing will go down—"
"I know," Petre grumbled, "You don't have to remind me."
"…Did you get a plate number at least?"
"It was a black van," Petre said, "an Astro, with tinted windows, South Carolina plates, and a guitar spray-painted onto the side. Piece of shit, really." He scuffed his Italian shoe against the floor, glancing again at Kasimir, who pointed at his watch. "It needed a paint job."
"Is it still there?"
"I don't know," Petre said, "we left the lot. We're back near the hotel."
There was a long, heated silence. "Petre, if this goes to shit because of you, I'll kill you myself."
"I know," Petre retorted angrily, "I'll get it together. I've already had a shit day as it is. A bullet is starting to sound good right now. Like a vacation."
"What do you mean, 'shit day'?"
Petre exhaled through his teeth. He shouldn't have said anything. "Toma ran off again. Forget it. I'll handle this."
"Get a car down to the police station," the voice said, after a moment of thought, "if it's anyone with half a mind the first thing they'll do is run to the police."
"All right," Petre said.
"What?" The Romanian paused, slipping the phone back against his ear.
"Don't screw this up again."
"I won't," Petre said, through clenched teeth, and slammed the phone back into its holder.
"Just… just act natural," Toma said, as they ducked into the rotating door of the 106th Precinct of the New York Police Department. He peered against the glass, rotating the door, his hand tightly on Marshall's arm.
"What the hell are you doing?" Marshall said with a scowl, on their third wheel around. He shoved Toma out of the glass door, and the Romanian frowned at him, smoothing out his blazer.
"I was checking to be sure it was safe to come out," he said, haughtily, lifting his chin.
"You're foreign, not retarded," Marshall grunted, glaring at him, "Stop getting attention to us. I'd like to live a few more years, if that's all right with you." Toma looked around the wide, crowded atrium of people on phones, talking to police officers, or looking over paperwork.
"Okay, so… h-how do we do this?" Marshall said, looking around, for anything to give a hint. "Is there some kind of form we have to fill out?"
"All we need is find 'murder witness' department," Toma said, tapping a finger on a directory board. "Let's see… juvenile court, domestic relations, traffic department…"
Marshall grabbed his hand, "Stop it," he muttered, "there is no 'murder witness' department."
"I was only kidding," Toma defended. "You need to get sense of humor. Maybe we should ask an officer. Officer! We witness a murder!" He waved a hand in the air, and Marshall grabbed it and yanked it down when a few people busily hurrying in and out of the revolving doors gave them stares.
"Stop it!" the freckled boy hissed, "it's like you've never been in public before!"
"Well, is most effective way to get officer's attention," Toma muttered, pushing Marshall's hand off his mouth. "At least I am making effort." He pointed across the room. "Let's ask her, at the desk. She will know."
"How do you know?"
Toma gave him a charming smile. "People at desks always know. I have learned this from touring."
"Lead the way, international hotshot," grunted Marshall flatly, still looking nervously around, "make sure you don't show her your crack money."
Toma whirled around, and poked him in the collarbone. "Is not crack money," he whispered hotly, "and I am not crack dealer."
Marshall put his hands up in mock surrender as they approached the counter, where behind the Plexiglas sat a bored looking woman with peroxide-orange hair and cat-glasses sat, typing on a computer. She lifted her eyebrows when they walked up, but didn't look away from the computer screen.
"Can I help you with something, gentlemen?"
Toma cleared his throat slightly, and glanced at Marshall, peering over the counter. "We need to report a crime."
"Come again?" she said dully. Toma frowned, and leaned down to the small hole drilled in the glass.
"We would like to report a crime."
"All right, hon, what kind of crime?" she asked, finally looking up. She clasped her hands and leaned towards them as they exchanged a glance.
"A… a homicide," Marshall mumbled.
"A murder," Toma said, loudly, leaning to the glass. She looked between them for a moment, and scratched her nose as if unsure what to do."
The Romanian boy sighed, and Marshall rubbed his temples. "You had to ask the woman at the desk," he muttered. "Twelve other desks and you pick the dingbat's. Are your Spidey senses tingling or something?"
"Young man," the woman said disapprovingly, "I can hear you."
"Oh, now," Marshall said sardonically, as Toma leaned on the counter.
"Look," he said, "we are witness to murder."
She moved her glasses down the bridge of her nose. "And you came here to report it?"
"We couldn't exactly dial 911 with a bunch of guys with guns hanging around, now could we?" Marshall said, sighing. "Can we just get a form and make a statement or something?"
"A homicide," the woman stated, as if in disbelief, "the two of you saw someone get—"
"Killed," Toma said, "Yes. And now we would like to report it."
"I'm… I'm afraid…" The woman looked at a loss, and Toma heaved a sigh.
"Look," he said, "I am Toma Vasiliu, chart-topping artist behind 'Magic in You'. Have you heard of me?"
"No…" she said, uneasily.
Toma looked incredulously at Marshall. "Does no one here listen to music?" he asked, almost indignantly.
Marshall sighed, and shook his head, leaning towards the woman. "He's telling the truth."
"I escape from my bodyguards and ask new American friend Marshall—" Toma slung an arm over Marshall's shoulders; the boy scowled and pushed it off—"to give me ride back to hotel. We end up in parking lot off of… I don't remember street… There was a strip club, and a closed bar. Anyways, we wait for little while and car pull up with my stage manager inside—Petre Balitiu, he works with my choreographers to plan stage layout—and Russian man too, I don't know him."
"Uh huh," she said, nodding vacantly, eyeing the both of them.
"Petre pulls gun out of his coat when other man gets there, and takes it out, and shoots man in head. Right there." Toma threw his arms up.
"In front of you?" the woman asked, nodding.
"We were behind a dumpster," Marshall supplied for Toma, who nodded fervently.
"You can check parking lot. I don't remember street. But was in Queens. Not too far really. Is… near strip club and condemned bar."
"Because there aren't many of those in this city," she remarked.
"Look, we don't remember the street!" Marshall said, "but it's near…" He cursed silently. "Look, we're telling the truth; why would we make something like this up?"
"I'm afraid I need to see some I.D., boys," she said, skeptically, sneaking a glance at her computer screen.
Marshall dug on his person, and found his wallet, handing it over as Toma shook his head.
"I don't have ID."
"Then I need to see your green card papers," she said dully, looking at Marshall, and back down at his license."
"I grew my hair out since then," the boy said apologetically, biting his lip.
Marshall sighed. "I just moved."
"Uh-huh. Right. And you, Mr. Vaseline?"
"Vasiliu," Toma corrected smoothly, shaking his head. "My visa is back at hotel."
"Of course it is," she said dully. "Right then. Does your license say South Carolina too?"
"No," said Toma, looking bewildered, "I am from Romania."
"Right," she grunted, pushing her glasses up on her nose and shifting papers around. "You can drop the fake accent, hon."
"My accent is not fake!" the Romanian boy said indignantly.
"Then I'm gonna need to see those papers," she replied firmly.
"I am… This is ridiculous!" Toma sputtered, as the woman handed back Marshall's wallet. He took it sheepishly and quietly tucked it away. "I do not have papers, or driver's license! In Romania I do not need driver's license!"
"Because you're a national celebrity?" the plump woman snorted.
Toma glared at her, and Marshall grabbed his arm. "Look, let's just go—"
"This is what I get for coming to foreign country!" Toma huffed, prodding the window fiercely. "I work hard to learn English and then get treated terrible." He looked indignantly at Marshall, "Don't I have diplomatic immunity or something of sort?!"
"Boys," said the woman, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"I'm sorry," Marshall said, turning Toma around to push him away, but the Romanian shrugged him off, and slammed his palm against the counter.
"We saw someone get killed! " he said hotly.
"Boys," she said, standing up, "this is a very serious matter, and though I like a little humor on the job as much as anyone, I'm going to have to ask you to leave. Please don't make me ask you again."
"Come on, Toma," Marshall said through his teeth, tugging the Romanian away from the window.
"I cannot believe it!" Toma sputtered, "She did not believe us!"
"Maybe if you'd brought your bodyguard with us and given her a sample of your chart-topping dancepop single she would," Marshall said sourly.
"You don't believe me either?!" he said indignantly.
Marshall sighed, "no, but only because I was there with you."
Toma stalked for the door, shaking his head. "And I don't even have diplomatic immunity!"
"You have to be a diplomat to have diplomatic immunity," grunted Marshall.
"I am a Peace Ambassador," Toma said.
Marshall looked surprised. "You are?"
"No…" Toma thought for a moment, "no… nevermind, I am not. But I thought that I was for a very long time."
"Well, it's just the same, isn't it," Marshall said bitterly.
"Shit!" Toma hissed, stopping short. Marshall turned around in alarm, "what?"
"I just thought of something," the Romanian said quickly, pointing out of the glass door, "that van."
"What about it…?" Marshall said uneasily.
"Is the same van we rode in when black car with my bodyguards saw us," Toma said, as if this were a paralyzingly terrible thing.
"Yeah…" Marshall said slowly.
Toma swallowed thickly, "…If my bodyguards… say anything to Petre…about following black van with guitar on side—"
A sudden horror crossed Marshall's face. "…He'll know you were in the van in the parking lot. Shit!"
"Deep shit!" Toma echoed, pacing around. "What do we do?"
"Leave," Marshall said, grabbing his wrist, "and leave fast. Come on."
"Wait!" Toma hissed, jerking him to a stop, and around to a window.
"Look!" Toma said, pointing, a finger to the glass. Outside on the curb, an awfully familiar silver car had pulled up, and a tall, well-dressed Eastern European with fine Italian leather shoes stepped out, leaned casually against it, and put his hand under his blazer to his breast pocket, watching the black van with narrowed, beady eyes.
"Oh, shit…" Marshall moaned.
A/N: Wow, this little sucker's been getting a lot of new readers! I guess c2's are good for something. Thanks so much to all the new readers, as well as all the other faithfuls! Please vote in the poll on my profile page if you would like a say in how Marshall's guitar gets broken!