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Walk On [2 of 6]
by Elena

***

One month earlier

The sudden metallic taste of blood. In quick succession, vertebrae snapping, blows to the back and a sharp pain centered on the backside of the chest. A cry of pain exploding from the lips, "Maarriieee!" A body falls to the ground. Blackness.

"Get rid of him."

"Yes sir. Uh, where sir?"

"Sir, did he just scream out what I thought he did?"

"That is inconsequential. Dispose of his body as you see fit."

"You heard him, let's go. Grab him under his shoulders."

"Ungh…he's fucking heavy!"

"Shut up. Mmgh…Over to the sedan."

The volley of car doors slamming and an engine being gunned then silence. Moments later, in what seemed to be an empty alley, the unmarked rather conventional looking sedan pulled to a stop. The distinct sounds of doors opening and closing, grunting and hushed whispers could be heard throughout the alley.

"Just dump him here."

"Here? Are you sure?"

"Do YOU want to carry him any farther?"

"No. This looks good."

Crunching cardboard, shifting bags and a faint barely heard grunt float deeper down the alley.

"Let's get out of here."

The alley fell back into silence after the two suited men drove off. It's often said that appearances can be deceiving and if the two men had checked out the alley before dumping the battered body, they would have found a hunched homeless man sleeping in a doorway farther down the dead end street.

Roused awake by the commotion at the head of the alley, the homeless man made his way towards the front of the alley. A pair of beat-up sneakers stopped in front of the discarded body. A hand hindered by swollen joints reached down towards the exposed skin of the neck, feeling for a pulse. Finding none or it seemed there was none, he let out a small sigh.

If the old man had pressed a little harder, he would have felt the faintest trace of one not easily registered by touch alone. The hunched man tentatively searched both pockets coming up with a lighter, a half-smoked cigar and a five-dollar bill. Glancing at the jacket, he debated on taking it and remembered the snatches of the conversation earlier, he wisely debated against it. Looking at the dead man's body he saw that his t-shirt was ripped and bloodied and his face bruised, swollen and cut - the blood already coagulating in spots. The corner of an envelope caught his attention and he stooped a bit to pull it out. As he did, a crumpled photograph caught on the edge dropped onto the deceased man's chest. A picture of a girl - a beautiful girl with a shocking white streak of hair smiling shyly at the camera. The hunched old man looked from the photograph to the envelope in his hand and back to the photo. The envelope, crumpled and addressed to "Marie", clearly was sitting in the pocket for a while. The same hand that felt for a pulse, returned the photo to its pocket which coincidentally sat over the man's heart. Turning from the body, the hunched homeless man put the dead man's possessions in his pockets and shuffled from the alley into the streets of Toronto.

The fog of unconsciousness slowly began to lift as the blackness receded forty-eight hours after the near fatal encounter. The sour stench of garbage hit Logan's senses but did not wake him, only letting him know of his throbbing head. Finding it hard to breathe, raising his head and cracking an eye open coming face to face with a flea-infested cat lounging comfortably on his chest. Sensing the sudden movement of the body beneath it, the mangy feline tensed, hissed and ran off. Aching and throbbing in places not thought possible, Logan let his head fall back and closed his eyes.

***

"Get out of the way!"

"No YOU get out of the fucking way!"

Horns blaring, tires screeching, foot traffic abound as the sounds of the morning rush hour woke me from my restless yet surprisingly dreamless slumber.

Dry scrubbing my roughed up face, I grumbled, "Ugh…fuck…"

Opening my eyes and groggily patting myself down, an unconscious habit left over from God knows when, I slowly sit up.

<What the--? Where-who the fuck took my lighter?! My cigar?! Get a grip on yourself, man. It's just a lighter and a cigar - a half smoked one at that. At least the bastards didn't take your wallet.>

With that thought, I shifted my weight and patted my butt then moved up to my upper chest. Brows knitted into a frown, I reached into the hidden pocket fingers brushing against the crinkled photo but not the envelope.

"What the f-- ?"

Pulling out the photo, I put it to my nose and sniffed - sweat tinged with alcohol leaving its permanent mark in my head starting a slow boil of rage deep in the pit of my stomach.

SNIKT! Throughout the alley, adamantium claws could be heard bursting through a clenched fist.

<When I find the bastard who took my shit, I'm gonna gut him like a fish! He better hope that all he did with that envelope is mail it out--Jesus…Marie!>

Retracting the claws, I stand up and roll my head about popping the kinks from my sore neck then determinedly stalk out of the alley blending into the morning traffic. By late afternoon, I had bought a pair of jeans, a packet of t-shirts, a flannel shirt as well as a knapsack from an Army supply store and was on my way to the outskirts of the city to find a place to hole up for a few days. When dusk began to settle, I walked into the overly warm office of the first motel that met my needs.

DING! Tripping a sensor on the door, it alerted the motel owner to my presence.

Wincing at the sound, I suddenly became aware of the sour stench emanating off of my less than clean clothes.

<Damn. I smell ripe.>

Stepping out of her office and eyeing me warily, the slightly overweight woman asked, "Can I help you sir?"

Glaring at her, I replied rather harshly, "I'd like a room and some extra soap."

<Never got how a person was supposed to clean themselves with a rinky-dink piece o' soap like that.>

"Uh…ok. Here's your, uh, room key. Room 34. And, uh, the extra soap which will, uh, be on me sir."

Leaving the cash on the counter and grabbing the key and soap, I left without a word. Moments later, I unlocked the door to Room 34 and stepped in. Letting my eyes wander throughout the room, I noticed that it was a simple affair with a well-made bed, nightstand with lamp, dresser and mirror, TV and bathroom.

<Decent enough. This'll do fine. Now to do something with this smell…>

Locking the door I dropped the knapsack at the foot of the bed and sat down to remove my boots. Heading towards the bathroom and shower, I began stripping the putrid smelling clothes leaving an unpleasant trail in my wake. Turning on the water to its hottest setting, I stepped in hoping to let the warming water soothe me. Running rough hands through dark, unruly hair, I titled my face towards the spray of hot water. Emitting a soft rumbling sigh, I began ridding myself of the stench of garbage with the tiny bar of soap. Scrubbing vigorously, I started with my fingers then large square hands proceeding down hairy forearms much like a doctor prepping for surgery. Moving over solid biceps to my upper torso, I concentrated on my aching shoulders letting the warm sudsy liquid run down the sharp planes of my back. Moving quickly towards my lower torso, I thoroughly cleansed a well-muscled abdomen then scrubbing along both sides and armpits, all the while hot water running in rivulets through the hair on a well-toned body. Shifting my weight slightly, I started on powerful thighs downward to my calves and feet. Straightening I inched forward and let the water engulf me to rinse away the soap and filth. Turning to lean against the back wall of the shower with one hand resting above my head and the other in a fist waist level, I closed my eyes. Images of what happened pre-blackout flashed through my mind.

\\ Tearing down a back street on a borrowed bike. \\

\\ Flash of black. Body and bike skidding to a halt. Unconsciousness. \\

\\ Large needle being filled with a milky substance. \\

\\ Struggling, then being held down. "Nnnoooooo!" \\

\\ Brief sting of pain. Seizuring. Mind delving into fuzziness. \\

\\ Fist rushing to meet his face. \\

\\ Crumpling to the ground. Boots, chains, clubs. \\

\\ Staccato of pain surrounding, enveloping him. \\

\\ The sickening sound of vertebrae snapping. A shotgun blast. \\

\\ An anguished scream, "Mmaarrriieee!" The acidic odor of gun smoke. Blackness. \\

SNIKT!

Eyes snapping open, I glance down at my clenched fist, adamantium is buried deep within the tiled wall of the small shower. Cursing, I turn to shut off the water and step out to towel myself off.

<Shit…maybe she won't notice…>

Wrapping the towel around my waist, I collect the remnants of my clothing and begin scrubbing them clean. Half an hour later, I had discarded the torn and bloodied t-shirt and hung my worn jeans, socks and boxer briefs up to dry. Stepping out of the bathroom I dressed in fresh jeans and a t-shirt, grabbed my wallet, key and beat-up leather jacket then promptly stalked out of the room to find a bar.

 

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