Chapter 1: Attempted Mugging
PAIN! Suddenly he was in great pain. The old trucker had been limping out to his truck. He was feeling his age and was using his cane to help him across the potholed gravel parking lot when..he saw someone messing with his truck. Several someones it looked like. He yelled at them and started to run forward when he stepped into a pothole. He tripped, stumbled and almost fell. At about that time someone stepped out from between the parked trucks and rushed him from behind.
THE PAIN!...it was as if his back had a knife in it.
Actually it did. The guy who had rushed him had just put it there. Mostly in his shoulder though as he'd stumbled just at the right moment. That pothole might have saved his life.
IF he could just hold onto what little advantage he had. Being alive. That was his only advantage. It beat being dead. He was going to make the most of it. As he jerked forward to get away from the pain...and twisted the knife free from his attackers hands...the knife remained in his back..he twisted and as he did he altered the grip he had on his cane. The he swung his cane..HARD....like a golf club. He aimed the heavy brass head of his cane for the 'little head' in his attackers crotch. His aim was good. Dead nuts as one might say. His blow all but lifted the attacker up off the ground . Then attacker then fell to the ground. . The howling, gurgling, hissing scream was satisfactory.
Had a human throat made that sound?
The recipient of his tender ministrations curled around himself into a fetal position. He was out of the fight for now.
There were more of them. Luckily they were smaller than he. Unluckily he was outnumbered. He did, however have his cane. A cane can be extremely helpful in those trying, difficult situations. His was more than just a cane. When the old trucker had been a much younger man he'd gone to war and had managed to lose a foot.
Shortly after that unhappy episode he'd had this cane custom made to his specifications. It had hidden qualities. He’d had a buddy make it for him. That buddy worked in and undisclosed shop in an undisclosed location for an organization that didn’t officially exist. Consequently such minor things as cost and legality were of little importance. The cane was made of titanium and was thus light but damn near indestructible. It also telescoped into a walking stick, or as it was once known...a quarter staff. A fighting shaft about five foot long. The possibly illegal part was that it also had a ten inch double edged sharp-as-a-razor retractable blade in one end which...sniiiiiked out at the touch of a button. The blade was made from some miraculous can’t-tell-you-about-it material that would cut through almost anything like a hot knife thru warm butter. Oddly enough it had silver as a major constituent of the alloy. It had been one of McNamara’s pet projects no doubt.
Cord, the old trucker, prepared himself. He faced his attackers head on and was armed with what amounted to a sophisticated fighting spear. The attackers hesitated then rushed him. Cord had taken time to learn the craft of stick fighting for just such an occasion when he was still overseas. He’d learned from a con man who purported to have trained with a religious order of monks who had supposedly devoted their lives to such things. The con man was a good con man..and he was good with a stick.....and also a good teacher. Cord had not be an excellent student but he’d done OK....and managed to learn something.
It’s a really BAD idea to rush someone who has what amounts to a razor on the end of a pole. Cord swept his weapon laterally and the first rank of attackers went down, clutching their bellies. Leaking.
They then tried probing attacks. One attacker rushed in and caught the blade across his face and neck and was cut deeply. So deeply in fact that a large flap of...was it skin?...or a mask?...fell free. What was revealed was no human countenance...it's scream of agony was no human scream, but it was bleeding real blood. Must have nicked an artery since the blood was really squirting..
Another attacker caught the reverse swing of the staff and got the weighted head...on his head ...crunching bone. Neither collapsed but neither were steady on their feet after that. Another was unlucky enough to try to block the sweep of the blade with his hand. He watched in horror as his hand came loose and blood fountain-ed from his wrist stump.
So it continued. One of Cords attackers would rush in only to be deterred or disabled by the staff, with it's silver blade....and another. Cord held them at bay and was gradually wearing them down..they seemed afraid to close...afraid of the silver blade.....but Cord was losing blood from the stab wound in his back and was thus losing strength. Who would last longer?
It would never be known. Someone had noticed the fight and called the cops. The sounds of many sirens were heard converging upon the truck stop. Cords attackers departed the scene taking their wounded with them, just before the cops arrived. Also before the cops arrived Cord compacted his spear back into it's walking cane configuration. Then he leaned forward on it........hard. He was REALLY feeling his age now...and was close to collapse.
The cops arrived in force,several squad cars, and an ambulance. This part of town, a border town, was not for a single pair of officers. It was ...that kind of a neighborhood. The cars stopped and cops got out, guns drawn. One walked up to Cord.
"Ok...what's going on here...we have a report of...." and he stopped...eyes bulging...boogled at Cord. "um...mister...did you know that you have a knife in your back".
Cord stood there for minute...as if thinking about what the Cop had said. "Ummm...yeah? Is that what it is? It's rather uncomfortable...I wish someone would remove it...I can’t quiet reach it myself."
Cord swayed a bit and leaned harder on his cane.
The cops nodded to two of his associates and they immediately assisted cord over to the ambulance and the EMTs begin to work on Cord immediately. Ambulances were routinely dispatched along with the squad cars. It was, after all, that kind of a neighborhood.
Cord was loaded into the ambulance which then raced away toward the hospital...sirens howling and lights flashing...radioing ahead the condition of the victim. Cord was either unconscious by then or very near to it....at no time, however, did he loosen his grip on his cane. He held the cane close...and tight.