It was still dark outside when Michael rolled over to me, “Hey.”
“Michael! Are you ok? I’ve been so worried!”
“Yeah, I’m fine. My heads just pounding.”
“I guess, mostly, definitely remember throwing up. That’s like torture for me. I can’t stand it.”
“What happened with Angie?”
“Hell all I remember is her giving me a brownie with a candle in it and then within minutes I seemed to get groggy. I felt dizzy. How long was I gone?”
“I don’t know...seemed like a long time, over an hour?”
He rolled out of bed, moaned and headed for the bathroom to brush his teeth. He splashed water on his face, peed and then headed back to the bedroom.
“Thanks for taking care of me,” he said as he climbed on top of me and kissed my cheek.
“Ouch!” I shouted because his rough beard stubble stung my sore face.
“What’s the matter?” he questioned.
Michael leaned over and turned on the light, “What the hell happened to your face?”
I started to cry.
“Tell me! Who did that to you? Your all swollen up!”
“Just hold me, Michael. I’m ok.”
He tore the blanket off of me and seen my bruised breasts. His eyes filled with tears. “Who did that to you? Answer me!”
“Matt did…but Tommy showed up and he stopped him...”
Michael shouted, “I’m gonna funcking kill him!” He jumped up, threw his jeans on and ran out.
“Michael!” I ran after him.
The house was dark and quiet, everyone was still asleep. Michael slammed into Matt’’s room and I could hear him shouting, “You son of a Bitch!” Then I heard the sound of something crashing into pieces. “Get up!” Michael yelled.
I stood frozen, just watching. I wanted Michael to hurt him.
“You piece of shit!” Michael kicked him and Matt begged him to stop.
“I didn’t fuck her Michael! I swear!” Matt yelled.
Angie was in the room screaming, “Michael don’t, stop!”
Michael sat on top of Matt pounding on his face. Blood flew from his nose and mouth.“You wanna know how it feels...huh? Feel like a man now Matt!”
“Fuck, couldn’t keep your mouth shut, huh?” Tommy said as he pushed passed me.
Others had gathered around now dazed and confused, but didn’t dare intervene.
“Michael, that’s enough!” Tommy shouted, but Michael ignored him. Matt wasn’t moving, wasn’t speaking, and Michael wasn’t stopping. Tommy yanked Michael off of Matt with both his arms and all his strength. He rolled on top of Michael and held his arms to the ground. “You want to blow it all Michael, huh? It’s not gonna happen like this! You hear me! Two more weeks, buddy, and then we’re done. Alright?”
Michael didn’t say a word, but nodded.
Angie, ran over to Matt’s side with a sheet to try and stop some of the bleeding. I could see Matt’s blood on Michael’s face, shirt, and hands as Tommy hovered over him. Michaels eyes locked on mine “I’m good, let go Tommy.” Michael got up, walked over and yanked Matt up by the shirt.
“Michael?” Tommy questioned.
Michael raised up his hand to silence him. “I’m good,” he said matter of factly as he dragged bloody Matt over through the bedroom door until they stood in front of me. “Apologize to her!” Michael commanded.
Matt slurred the words as best as he could, “I’m sorry.”
“Tell her your a fucking asshole who will never even look at her again!”
Matt said exactly what Michael wanted as blood spit out of his mouth with each word. Then Michael let go of his shirt and Matt fell to the floor. He glanced at Angie as if he’d beat her next. She stood and sobbed. No one said a word.
Michael took my hand and we walked upstairs. He went and cleaned up in the bathroom, changed his clothes and then came towards me.
“Are you ok Michael?” I could see his tears as he climbed on top of me. He didn’t say anything, just laid on top of me for a long while. He buried his face in my chest and his body felt limp.
As Michael laid with her, he knew he had reached his breaking point. I am done, I can’t take anymore, he thought to himself. I could have killed that man with my bare hands if Tommy hadn’t stopped me, I know it. The drugs, alcohol, I can’t keep it up anymore. I just want to take Allison and get away from here. I went over every scenario in my head, every outcome. As much as I want to destroy this gang, as much as I want to leave, it doesn’t matter...I have to finish. I have to see it through, but Allison doesn’t. I have to get her to safety. I have to let her go. As I laid here on top of her, I knew this would be the last time I would feel her. The last time I’d hear her heart beating in my ear, and the last time I’d hold her in my arms again. I had definitely developed feelings for her, like no other.
“Michael, I have to get up and pee!” his thoughts were interrupted.
When I came back into the bedroom, Michael was out of bed, dressed and putting his shoes on.
“Hey, let‘s go for a bike ride,” Michael said.
“Now? Michael, are you ok?”
“Yeah.“ He kissed the top of my forehead. “I have to talk to Tommy quick and then we can go. I’ll be right back, get ready,” he walked out.
“Tommy, I gotta disappear for a few hours.”
“Where you going?”
“I got to get her out of here.”
“Fuck, Michael. Just let it go. You can’t save everyone!”
“I have to save her. I”ll be back.”
We rode for a long while down the winding mountain, it was beautiful, the sun was rising, the leaves were changing colors now, the air was chilly. I held onto Michael and hoped we would not stop, just keep riding as far away from that compound as possible. In the distance, I saw a small gas station with a mini market. Michael pulled over, filled the gas tank, smiled at me and said, “You hungry?”
We got a table inside and ordered a few ham biscuits and sodas. “I have to go to the restroom,” Michael said before the food arrived.
I waited for him. I didn’t run. I didn’t even think of leaving him. I could have, this could have been my chance to get away, but I didn’t want to leave Michael. He had become a part of me, like no one else. I didn’t understand it myself, but...I waited to see what he had planned.
Michael entered the bathroom, locked the door and reached up into the ceiling panel. He grabbed the walkie talkie and said, “Jim, you there?”
“Yeah, Michael, what’s up?”
“I need you to come out here, now. You need to pick someone up for me.”
“Her name is Allison Banks. She needs protection. It can’t wait two weeks. She knows them all by name and their faces. Make her a witness.”
“What about your connection?” Jim asked.
“I need to be out of the picture,” Michael said.
“This is taking a big risk, Michael.”
“Do it for me, bring her to Arkansas.”
“Ok, I’ll take care of it.”
“How long before your here?’
Michael put the radio back into the ceiling panel and headed towards Allison. The food sat on the table waiting. “Hey,” he smiled to her.
“Hey,” I smiled back.
“How about we take this to go and walk a bit.”
We headed to the back of the store, the view was so pretty. There was a small opening in the distance where we sat looking at the mountain view.
“Do you have brothers or sisters?” He started quizzing me, there was so much he didn’t know yet.
“What about your parents?” he continued with the questions.
“They passed away three years ago, in a car accident.”
“I’m sorry, wow. Your life’s not been easy.”
“Doesn’t seem like yours has been either,” sarcastically I said, “I mean drug dealing and all.”
“Yeah, I’ve just been having a blast, hanging with those guys.” He looked directly into my eyes, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there last night. I’m sorry for what he did to you. I’m sorry …..”
“It’s not your fault, Michael.”
“You ever done anything you regret, Allison?”
“Well, I definitely regret walking home by myself that night when Paul pulled up to me. Funny how life happens, right? I mean, the worst thing to ever happen to me, ends up including one of the best things to ever happen to me too.”
“What do you mean?”
I snuggled closer next to him, “You!” I kissed his cheek. “I wish I had met you under different circumstances. Maybe, at a supermarket?”
Michael laughed. “Yeah, I could have been picking out steaks, then looked up and seen you standing there and thought...I’d better get her number. Would you have given it to me?”
“Definitely! That would have been a much better scenario,” I smiled. “ Do you have any regrets Michael?”
“Me, well I’ve made a lot of decisions based on what I thought I wanted to accomplish, but yeah, I’m changing my mind lately. Seems like there’s more important things to think about now.”
He ran his hand over my bruised cheek, leaned in and kissed me, softly. “I never imagined I could have a real relationship with someone, but I could definitely fall in love with you Allison.” Before I could respond he leaned in and kissed me once more. He stopped, looked into my eyes, with tears in his, he said, “I have to do something, something so that I don’t have any regrets. It’s like you just said, the best with the worst. You’re definitely the best thing to happen to me...and now I have to do one of the worst things.”
“What’s going on, Michael?”
“C’mon,” he reached for my hand.
“Where are we going?” He didn’t answer me. He just rubbed his finger inside the palm of my hand. He walked faster till we reached the motorcycle and he got on.
I stood and waited, I needed to convince him. “Can’t we just take off Michael? You and me, we don’t have to go back.”
“I have to Allison.”
I heard sirens in the distance. “But, we can do this, really,” I pleaded.
Within seconds there were two police cars and a black SUV in the parking lot. I turned my head to see what may have happened at the store, when I heard the motorcycle engine start up. Michael looked directly at me, “Trust me,” and he left.
“Michael!” I screamed. He was leaving me! Why did he have to go back so bad? Tears came down my face and my heart pounded. He was letting me go. Why now?
“Allison Banks?” A man said as he walked towards me. “I need you to get in the car, quickly.”
Who is this? How does he know my name? I watched as the two police cars tore off in the same direction as Michael. I felt the stranger grab my elbow as he guided me into the black SUV.
“Go!” he said to the driver.
I heard gunfire, lots of it. “What’s going on?” Oh my God, Michael! Did they shoot him? Who are you?”
“I’m Director Jim Blakely. Your safe now.”
“Tell the police not to shoot him! He saved me! He’s not bad, please!” I begged.
“Don’t worry about him, we need to concentrate on you, the men you’ve been with are very dangerous, Allison.”
“I don’t care, please, call them!”
“I can’t do that.”
“How did you know my name? Why did you come here, how’d you know?”
“The FBI has been watching Michael and that gang for sometime now. They call themselves, The Kings. Have you heard of them?”
“Their plan was to combine forces with another gang called the Gratlands, which would have made them one of the largest cocaine dealers we know of.”
“I’ve heard them talk about the Gratlands coming! I can tell you everything, please just make sure Michaels ok first? He’s not like one of them!”
“Your not seeing the bigger picture here, Allison. You are in an incredible amount of danger. These are some of the toughest guys around. They have pages of charges ranging from drugs, theft, all the way up to murder. You are now going to be on the top of their most wanted list. You know them, their names and faces. You have no idea how valuable you are to us and we are going to take care of you. You have my word.”
“Michael said that to me once, he said they would never let me live outside of that compound. Where are you taking me?”
“To a safe house, I will stay with you tonight and I will be in constant contact with you during the trial and then, you can start your life over. We will put you in witness protection, give you a completely new identity and put those bastards away for the rest of their lives.”
“I have to know what’s happened to him?”
“I’m sure by now, he’s gone.”
“Gone back to the compound? Gone, left to somewhere else? Hiding from you?”
“No! No! You don’t understand, he doesn’t deserve to be killed. He helped me, he saved me!” I cried. “This isn’t right!”
“Someone from the gas station must have recognized Michael, there’s warrants out for a lot of them. We got an anonymous tip, one of them was at the station.”
I could hardly breath, Michael was gone and I had been held with one of the most dangerous drug gangs the FBI knew, and Michael was one of them. I didn’t want to believe it, and the next fact was even harder to handle. I was now responsible for Michaels death. If he hadn’t tried to save me, by bringing me to the store, like I had begged him to do along time ago. He would never have been seen or shot. It was all my fault. Once again, he was trying to protect me! Tears continued to fall as I rested my head against the car window and gazed outside. We had been driving for some time.
“How much further is it?” I asked.
“About 10 hours, do you need something to eat or the restroom?”
“We can make a pitstop.”
“No. not yet.”
“I need to know everything you have heard and seen with The Kings. You ready to get started? How’d you get up there?”
I spent the next several hours talking about the whole ordeal. Question after question. He recorded everything I said. Everytime I said Michael’s name, my heart acked, and I knew I owed him my life.