C4: Slave to Stray

In the backseat of the Cadillac, blood oozed out of Keitaro’s fat lip. Huffing after the fight only gathered a pool of blood and saliva in his mouth. He hocked it and spat it onto the floorboard. He tipped his head back, his eyes rolling to the driver.

“Cowards,” Keitaro said in a sigh of his reserved energy.

“You’re the dumbass that brought a knife to a gunfight,” the white guy said from next to Keitaro.

“You squeeze that trigger for comfort. Like a child squeezes a teddy bear,” Keitaro said.

“Run your fucking mouth some more,” the white guy said.

“Aye, Gunner! No more,” the driver said.

The white guy lowered his fist.

“Cobra’s already gonna be pissed we messed up the guy’s eye.” The driver dabbed at his swollen lip, wiping his blood on his pants. He reached into the console for something that he handed to the passenger. “Ver si es él.”

“Aye,” the buff Mexican said. “Si. Es el. Keitaro.”

“English. English, for fuck’s sake. This is America, we speak English,” Gunner said.

“It’s him,” the passenger said as he passed back Keitaro’s wallet.
Gunner flipped it open. “Ah. Kim Keitaro.”

Keitaro’s head rolled to the right. He doubled over in pain as if his organs had been rearranged by the beating. He unbuckled his pants belt and slipped it out of the loops of his dress slacks. He struggled through the cringing agony of the bullet wound in his left bicep to
undress his arm of the suit jacket sleeve. He looped the belt strap through the buckle then pulled it up his arm. Once high enough, he bit the leather and pulled with his teeth as his right hand pushed the buckle down as tight as possible to cut off circulation. Tightening the belt tightened the inflamed flesh beneath the epidermis, creating a new excruciating throb.

“I don’t blame you for having people call you by your last name, man,” Gunner said.

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