A Tale of Sammy Jankis

Content Warning; This story contains vulgar language, and graphic violence.

This morning Sammy Jankis woke up in the alley between a restaurant and his apartment. His clothes filthy with last night.

Sammy’s bones creaked and popped, muscles tightened as he pushed himself from his resting place on the cold slab betwixt the dumpster and the recycling. He made an awkward pose as he straightened up and stretched into the morning sky.

If you were to ask Sammy why he woke up here, he’d look at you not unlike a dog that thinks you have food. Fact is he didn’t have any more information on the topic than you did. Fact is Sammy woke up in strange places more than familiar ones.

Swiping downwards on his pants and shirt knocking loose the debris and stink of last night’s bed, blinking the sleep out of his silver eyes. Sammy squints across the alley to his apartment, thinking he sees his landlord hammering fists on his door, 13a.

Shit. Rent’s due.

Sammy scrambles down the alley towards the salvation of the street beyond.

His landlord relents and leaves the search for tomorrow.

Sammy emerges from the alley onto the sidewalk and into an impossibly brighter sun, piercing his sleep filled eyes. He presses his weary palms into his eye sockets and rubs and presses for what seems like forever, trying desperately to get his eyes to catch up with the rest of his body.

Sammy’s vision is blurred, tiny lights flashing across his peripheral, rapidly blinking as his hands fall away. Across the street he sees escape from the oppressive sun, a bodega. He playfully dodges cars as he crosses the street, about one hundred feet from a crosswalk. Horns of annoyed drivers blaring into the morning. Sammy just smiles and spins and jumps and twists his way across.

As he enters the bodega Sammy spots his girlfriend near the back looking at the milk case. For some reason he’s avoiding everyone this morning so he ducks down the left most aisle, hoping Lucy will come back up the middle and be on her way. Sammy is looking for orange juice to help soothe his dry mouth. Unfortunately said juice is stored right next to the milk. Suspiciously crouched peeking around the end cap, she’s gone. He looks up at the long mirror above the aisles trying to locate her.

Hi Sammeee! She’s right behind him.

Shooting up and spinning around with a grin across his face, but regret in his heart, “Hi babe!” He fakes excitement.

What are you doing in here Samuel? I was just on my way to your place!

Oh, um, well… Sammy’s mind spun as he tried to find explanation.

Sammy was still struggling to find an excuse for his odd behavior when the first bullet whizzed past his eye line, leaving a streak of light and dust in it’s wake. Sammy froze. Lu grabbed Sammy by his thin arm, spun and yanked him towards the back of the bodega. Shuffling ducked down heading towards the exit. Milk and orange juice shooting out in arced streams of white and mild orange, cans exploding as they pass, sending wet and salty shrapnel everywhere.

The exit in sight, Lu still pulling and shuffling, Sammy still in shock. A bullet hits the Exit sign above the door bursting the lights inside, sending a shower of sparks onto Sammy’s shoulders and into his hair. Through the door and quickly navigating the short maze of boxes in the stock room towards the back alley, the sound of bullets still screaming through the air and tearing through innocent products sat on their shelves.

Lu first, then Sammy burst back into the bright sun in the alley behind the bodega, Lu loosens her grip, Sammy doubled over gasping for air and trying to brush the exit sparks out of his thick hair, and letting his sliver eyes adjust again to the sun he’d just recently escaped.

What the fuck?! Lu scolds.

Sammy shrugs. Sammy does this too often. Sammy is far too easy going especially when compared to the events of his so far fairly short life. This is one of a few things that really gets to Lu. Considering the current predicament, she decides to let it go.

We need to get out of here, Samuel. Like right now.

Yeah, let’s jet. he says casually. As if bullets hadn’t almost turned him to swiss cheese. Lu inhales sharply, and grabs his arm again, this time less forcefully. Together they head through the propped open back door of a Chinese restaurant directly behind the bodega. The Golden Shrimp isn’t open for breakfast so it should make for a smooth get away. High pitched sirens of two, maybe three varieties closing in on the bodega.

As Sammy and Lu emerge from the empty kitchen they interrupt a group of rough looking gentlemen having a heated discussion in Chinese.

Who the fuck are the two of you? Asks a small man in an all white suit, gray hair, and groomed goatee. He’s seated directly in the center of all the other men, and has that look of experience in all matters evil.

It was Lu’s turn to freeze…

Lu stands frozen, eyes wide, she can’t move. Sammy is frozen too, stiff as a board, hand tightening on Lu’s.

Who the fuck are you? Barks the small man again, this time with more force, and wave of his hand to the two trees standing on either side of him.

The lumbering giants move quickly, muscles rippling and smothered in tattoos. These almost identical mountains look as if they’d not think twice about killing Sammy and Lu and dumping them back in the alley from whence they came.

Sammy snaps out of his deep freeze first, Lu follows his lead.

Sammy grabs a bowl of hot soup, Lu a kettle of tea.

Sammy and Lu hear the now soaked men grunting and panting as they scramble and give chase. Sammy and Lu burst through the front door of the Golden Shrimp into the street. The burnt and angry hulks shortly behind, but not as prepared for the bright sun. The monsters lose track of Sammy and Lu as they sprint away.

Still running, but losing steam, Lu looks back to see if they are still being followed. Sammy is an escape machine, she grabs his shoulder and gives the all clear, they both double over, breathing hard and rough. Hands on knees, coughing and spitting.

Man, that was weird. pants Sammy through bated breath.

Weird!? Weird?! Lu spats, exasperated and fed up.

Samuel, being around you is a whole lot more than just fucking weird.

I know. Sammy says, partially defeated.

Lu, we should get back to my place, and lay low for a while.

Lu reaches for Sammy’s hand and follows him back to his apartment.

Eddy and Daniel Tong slowly made their way back into the Golden Shrimp. Eddy was still rubbing his temple where the tea kettle had landed. Steam rose from Daniel’s shoulders as he tried to blink the hot sun from his eyes.

Where the fuck are they! screamed Mr Li.

Well… sir, they, uh, got away. Eddy said quietly, looking down and rubbing his bald head and neck.

They were very fast. blurted Daniel.

Mr. Li was furious, but dropped it. He knew that the twins weren’t much good to him if they were flustered and stressed. Mr. Li has known these boys their entire lives, and they’re about as dumb as they’re strong, which makes them the perfect henchmen, but imperfect tacticians.

I need you boys to find them. I don’t know how much they heard, but we need to find out.

Eddy and Daniel nodded in agreement, but didn’t look up. They feared only one man, and they never dared look him in the eye directly.

Good. approved Mr. Li

Now, the man had very distinctive silver eyes, thick red hair, and dresses like he lives in this neighborhood. he continued, knowing the twins wouldn’t pry.

the girl quite beautiful; dark eyes, hair, and complexion he paused

If I were to look for them, I’d start at the apartments two streets over, and then check the others until you find them. he added

They are most certainly together, wherever they are.

Yes sir. chimed the twins in chorus.

It’s very important we find them, and bring them back here. Mr. Li instructed

But, if they don’t cooperate, please make sure they don’t talk to anyone else, ever again.

Understood. in chorus again, but this time with a maniac’s glean in their eyes.

The door to Sammy’s apartment hung open, brass hinges clinging desperately to the wood frame, splintered and blown inward. Something had kicked in the door.

Alex entered slowly, hand sliding along the door, then wall. Nervously his voice cracked as he called for Sammy. He could hear rumbling like a distant train coming from the back bedroom.

The front room and kitchen appeared to have been hit by an isolated tornado.

As Alex reached the start of the hallway he mustered the strength to call out again when he heard his name from behind in the form of a sharp whisper. He started, and quickly turned. A small baseball bat of solid oak trembling in his outstretched hand, he was hunched over and sweating.

Fucks sake Sam! he said too loudly.

The rumbling stopped.

Mr Harper! Please. Get out of there panicked Sammy as he motioned him toward the broken door, back through the debris.

You want to ’splain what in the hell’s going on in ’ere Sam?! Alex scolded?

Before Sammy could get another word out the Tong twins exploded from the back bedroom leaving that door also hanging on for dear life. They engulfed Alex Harper like a tsunami and charged the front of the apartment where Sammy was cowering and frozen.

Lu spun into the doorway, above Sammy, brandishing dual pepper spays—something she never leaves home without—unleashing the full contents of each directly into the enraged, and trample-happy eyes, noses and mouths of the Tong brothers.

Eddy Tong dropped Alex as he clawed his eyes, screaming—for the second time today. Daniel had fallen to his knees puking onto Sammy’s old shag carpets.

Alex scrambled out of the apartment where Lu grabbed his arm and Sammy’s dragging them both back into the alley where Sammy had woke this morning. They hunched down watching the beasts try to reconcile what just happened.

We need to get out of here Mr. Harper! Pleaded Sammy.

Ok, follow me. Alex said.

I know a place.

Sammy and Lu followed Alex Harper down the alley towards the back parking lot of the apartment complex, nervous and scared, all three of them were staying as low and quiet as possible.

Uh, Mr. Harper? stammered Sammy.

Yeah, what is it boy?

Are you taking us back into the apartment complex, back towards the bad guys? whispered Sammy.

No, of course he’s not Sammy! Mr. Harper isn’t a dummy. interrupted Lu.

Well, yes I am. said Alex flatly.

That sounds like a really fucking stupid plan Alex! scolded Lu.

Yeah, we’ve slipped past those monsters twice today, and both times we’ve burnt their faces, I don’t think lady luck is going to shine thrice. Sammy worried.

Kids. barked Alex

It’s going to be just fine. I’ve got a plan.

Sammy and Lu looked at each other in the way that only people with a psychic connection understand. They could still hear the behemoths cursing and stamping around Sammy’s apartment. They continued to follow Alex through the alley into the lot behind the apartment building, towards the manager’s apartment, which was set off towards the back of the lot, not connected to the rest of the building, it’s own building adjacent to the apartment’s laundry room.

Wait. Fuck. Alex! I mean Mr. Harper Sammy, exasperated

Are you taking us to your place? His arms popped into the air and then fell deflated to his sides.

Yes. It’s safe. Those jokers don’t know who I am, where I live, and if they have half a brain between them, they’ll not think for one second we’d run off to another apartment here. Alex explained.

It’s fool proof.

Sammy and Lu shared another look, but this time they decided Alex wasn’t so crazy after all.

Welcome to your salvation. Alex beamed as he threw open the door, and ushered Sammy and Lu inside.

The inside of Alex’s apartment was not at all what either of them expected. His home was clean, and beautifully appointed. Everything had a modern sleekness, with straight lines and a simple but refined color palette. Concrete floors, stainless steel, and nondescript abstract art adding a pop of color in just the right places. It felt as if they’d stepped out of the parking lot of a low rent apartment building, through a magic portal, into a high priced penthouse thirty stories into the clouds.

I. Well. This is. Lu’s turn to stammer.

Mr. Harper, this is surprising. Sammy filled in.

What? A guy can’t have taste in this neighborhood? Alex frowned.

No. That’s not it. It’s just… Lu trailed off as another piece of art caught her eye.

It’s fine. I know what you mean. It’s odd. Alex confirmed.

But here’s the real coup de grâce. Alex swiped his hand over a part of the back wall of his living room, which began to recede to reveal an arsenal; large hand guns, shotguns, knives, and assault rifles. Drawers of ammunition, and a rack of flack jackets.

Both Sammy and Lu’s jaws dropped.

What in the actual fuck Alex! gasped Lu.

A man needs peace of mind in this neighborhood Lu. said Alex. Anyway, those boys show up here, and we’ll be ready. Alex grinned.

Back at Sammy’s trashed apartment the Tong brothers are holding a tiny phone up between them, their massive shoulders pressed against one another, tiny heads leaning in, trying to hear their now livid boss’ whispering.

When Mr. Li got really mad he whispered.

Find them. Find them. Find them. Find them. Mr. Li continued to whisper over and over.

Eddy looked at Daniel and knew exactly what he was thinking.

There was no time to react between hearing the glass explode inward, and the intense blast of light and sound.

Lu! Alex! Sammy yelled, his ears were ringing, he couldn’t see. He heard the gun shots, two, maybe more.

His vision was coming back, blurred but he was making out shapes and colors. Across the room, he could see Alex slumped against the kitchen cabinets, one of those beasts lumbering above him. Eddie Tong put two more bullets into Alex’s head. Sammy grimaced and recoiled. Alex’s arsenal exposed, yet untouched, he just didn’t have time.

Sammy scrambled to Lu, as she lay bleeding, shot in the stomach. He grabbed her hand it was covered in blood. Her blood. She started to speak, but Daniel yanked Sammy away and threw him into the wall, Sammy hit hard, vision blurring again as he watched Daniel shoot Lu in the chest three times. He screamed her name as he lost consciousness.

Sammy felt the heat of the bullets entering his chest and stomach as Daniel and Eddy Tong shot him six times, three bullets each.

Sammy felt the light escaping him, and his soul slip from his body as he lay dying.

Eddy and Daniel called Mr Li.

It’s Done. They chorused.

Good. Mr. Li hung up.

The Next morning…

Sammy Jankis woke up in the alley between a restaurant and his apartment. His clothes filthy with last night.

Sammy’s bones creaked and popped, muscles tightened as he pushed himself from his resting place on the cold slab betwixt the dumpster and the recycling. He made an awkward pose as he straighted up and stretched into the morning sky.

If you were to ask Sammy why he woke up here, he’d look at you not unlike a dog that thinks you have food. Fact is he didn’t have any more information on the topic than you did. Fact is Sammy woke up in strange places more than familiar ones.

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