All night gas, p.1
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       All Night Gas, p.1

           Rish Outfield
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All Night Gas

  All Night Gas

  Rish Outfield

  Copyright 2010 by Rish Benjamin Outfield.

  License Notes

  All Night Gas

  I was almost out of gas, and it was now obvious I wasn’t going to make it to Vegas.

  I had gambled on a gas station in Jean, Nevada being open twenty-four hours, or at least to have pumps that were. The gamble paid off (I was in the right state for it), as I pulled up to a closed Chevron, with a lit-up sign reading “All Night Gas” flickering above the overinflated prices. I frowned at having to pay that much per gallon, but better this than running dry in the desert somewhere.

  I stopped and got out, beginning the fill-up process. It was amazing it could be this hot at nearly two in the morning. I could imagine how it would feel when the sun came up. Maybe I didn’t want to get a job out here after all. I stretched and felt my back pop.

  I heard a scuffling sound and turned. Unfortunately for me, I was not alone. There were also two young Hip-Hop enthusiasts at the station, teenagers just waiting for someone to come along. Someone weak and/or alone.

  Someone like me.

  They took a few steps in my direction. “Out pretty late,” one of them said. He was just short of grinning.

  “Uh huh,” I said, and swallowed. Two of them shared a look at that. I guess their kind sensed when you were afraid. I tried to bury all my fear, pushing it down to my stomach, but it felt like it was on a spring. A steel spring.

  “You ain’t too smart, are you?” the teen asked.

  It wasn’t much of a question. I wondered if he meant I had come into some gang territory, or if he was just commenting on me being alone out here.

  I glanced past the youth, noticing with a start that these two were not alone. There were four of them. No, five.

  “You a gambler?” the kid asked.

  “Not really,” I mumbled.

  “Nut reeelly,” another one said. He was so thin as to be cadaverous. He wore no shirt and I could see every rib. This one was indeed grinning.

  “I think you are,” the first said, and reached for something. My fear shot up, like a Jack in the Box, all but overwhelming me. I came close to running away then, just leaving my car and taking off as fast as I could into the night.

  “Alright, dork,” said the spokesman, flashing a knife. “Hand over your money.” It wasn’t a big knife, but the way he held it reminded me of whittling Southerners cutting shapes out of wood or corncobs . . . or bone. Knives are scary.

  “I don’t have a lot,” I managed to say, which was the gospel truth. I’d hoped to be offered a new job, but hadn’t heard back yet. My wallet held about thirty dollars, with an emergency hundred dollar bill in a sock in my suitcase.

  “No?” the thug asked, feigning concern. “Guess you better give I-Sore your car keys then.”

  Another teen stepped forward, dressed like an Eighties breakdancer, but with no neon colors. There were five or six young men slowly converging in my direction. The group had surrounded my car, all of them looking angry, some of them looking hungry.

  I handed the youth my wallet. “Please, can I keep my I.D. and credit c--”

  He raised the knife a bit higher, a bit closer. I stopped talking. Their spokesman smiled big, revealing teeth of silver and gold. “Thanks. The rest of you goes to T-Bagg.”

  I glanced over to the one he was referring to, a frighteningly-ugly man/boy with a fishnet mesh shirt on, and was surprised to see someone standing atop the big Chevron sign behind him. It was more of a big black shape than a discernible person, and before I could discern more, a bony fist introduced itself sharply to my face. I staggered back, and an elbow or knee pounded into my stomach, doubling me over. I was kicked again, and everything went spotty and snow-filled, even though I was in the middle of the desert.

  I heard a whooshing sound, and the kid who had kicked me dropped what he’d been holding. It hit the cement with a metallic clank. A tire iron. Two of the young punks squealed then, and one shouted, “Mira!” (which my high school Spanish told me meant “Look!”). The man standing on the Chevron sign was now standing among us, moving as if on Fast-Forward, grabbing the gang members and throwing them here and there. He was dressed all in black, wore a cape, and I was dumb-founded to realize that it was Batman.

  After all, Jean, Nevada is a long way from Gotham City.

  Even more importantly, Batman is a fictional comic book character created by Bill Finger in 1939. Nevertheless, here he was, punching, slamming, and drop-kicking a half dozen wiry teenagers. I heard footsteps beside me and turned my head, expecting to see Robin. Instead, it was the big, fishnets-wearing punk their leader had called T-Bagg. He had decided to use my face as a soccer ball. I tried to grab the fallen tire iron, but grabbed something small and sharp instead. Immediately, a steel-toed boot met my forehead and all the pain went away. Everything went away for a little while.

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