It's 11:35 when I reach the church. I'm shivering, the sweat covering my body chilled by the night, even through my coat. Well, not my coat, exactly, but I don't hold out much hope of getting it back to its owner, and I don't think she does either. Em's always giving me stuff. Nice girl, too nice for guys like us. She should know better than to help me, especially now. Even if that bastard is sweet on her.
Traffic is light, but I wait around before crossing the street. Over there, there's always a light from the building next door shining on the church ruins like a spotlight. The big ol' medieval looking doorway doesn't lead anywhere but out to the lot behind the church. Hell, it's still an imposing structure, even half demolished.
I stopped running a few minutes ago, but I'm still out of breath. My chest is burning. How long have I been going like this? I put a hand to my head, feeling the blood pumping through my veins, and try to remember. I looked at the clock when the call came in. 2:16, or so. That was when I got the call that started me running. Nine hours, plus a bit, I've been running and hiding. I swore I saw the bastard's thugs on every street.
I had to tell myself it was better than the alternative. I watched the office for a few minutes after I left. Not ten minutes after I was out the door, these three hoods pull up and waltz right in, guns on their belts for anyone to see. I had been in a hurry, but I think I got everything out that I needed to. I had the cord to my phone wrapped around my waist, so nobody could call the place. My pockets were stuffed with address cards, sticky notes, anything I thought could have helped them track me down.
I didn't wait around for the three stooges to come back out. I got the hell away from there as quickly as I could. I stuck to back alleys and side streets, trying to stay away from anywhere they might look for me. I knew I couldn't stay away forever. It's a big city, but I didn't have a dime on me. As the sun set and the air began to cool, I made my way to the only place I thought I'd be safe.
The bastard had no clue what his sweet little number did when he wasn't around. If he'd known she and I were old friends, he'd have run me out of town the first time I stepped into his office. He couldn't stand it when other men even looked at her. She knew to keep her mouth shut about me. She knew how to deal with the bastard, no matter what mood he was in. I don't know how she could stand him.
Em was always the boss, wherever she went. My partner and I started calling her Em back when we were into those James Bond movies; back when we thought we were the coolest guys in town, cause we got to carry a gun, and we weren't even cops. Yeah, it was exciting back then. I just wish we'd gotten out while we were ahead. Em kept telling us to quit, but she didn't have a single harsh word for me when I showed up at her apartment tonight; Even though it was my own fault I was being chased.
I look at my watch again. This man has no sense of time. He was supposed to be here at 11:30, and now it's ten minutes later and he's nowhere to be seen. Not that I expect any better. I've been working with this guy our whole career. We had something real nice going, bringing in enough steady money to afford our own office. We thought we were on our way up, but we ended up cutting our legs out from under us. Whatever. It doesn't matter now.
But damn, if there's one night in my entire life I wish he could be punctual.... Just as I'm thinking that, I spot what I've been waiting for: a shadow appears on the church wall, just past the doorway. With a quick glance to either side, I cross the street and make my way up the old stone steps. I let my shadow fall on the wall, to show him I'm there. He comes out from behind the door frame, and gives me a weary smile.
Damn, it's good to see him again. It's only been since last night, but after all I've been through today, that smiling face is a fucking godsend.
He greets me simply with my name, and I return the greeting. Then he says "There's not much time. You have to get out of town." He explains to me why the bastard wants us dead. I'm glad to hear it has nothing to do with Em, but the other details don't matter much. I interrupt him and tell him to get on with it. He blushes and apologizes. No sense of time, even in a situation like this. I laugh a little, and he laughs, too. It's no time for levity, though. I know he has a plan, so I ask him.
He's already called a pair of taxis. One to pick me up here, in front of the church, and another to pick him up about a block away. He tells me to go east, and he'll go west. We'll meet up in a week or two, out of state, in some nowhere town I've never heard of. He gives me some money. He didn't manage to keep much, but there's enough to get us out of state, and that's all I can ask for right now. Maybe we can start a new life, away from this mess.
We don't say anything more. We just stand there, under that old stone building, and look at each other. All our money, our home, our prosperity; we're leaving it all behind. We can never go back to any of it. We worked so hard for it all, but I don't feel sad at losing it. We're both still alive, and despite all else, that's the only thing I really care about. I feel an aching in my chest, and I know it isn't just from running.
We both hear my cab pull up. He says goodbye, and turns to leave, but I grab his shoulder and turn him back. I pull him toward me and our lips connect. I wrap my hand around the back of his neck and hold him there, letting the feeling sink in for both of us. Then, we pull away. We look into each other's eyes. He's blushing again. I smile.
"See you in two weeks," I say to him. Then I turn, and walk back down the stone steps to the cab. When I look back, he's already moving out of sight, hurrying to catch his own ride. I get into the cab and tell the driver where we're going, then I lie down across the back seat, my legs aching.
I'm too exhausted to think about anything that happened today, or how much danger we could still be in. As I watch the city lights go by outside, I relax and drift into sleep.