New novella -- a "manic romance" (as one reviewer called it)
My stomach grumbled as I exited the gas station’s restroom. I considered purchasing a candy bar, but then figured Aunt Mary would have ready a hearty stew or some other dish she could easily keep warm. So instead my next stop was the coffee machine, not far from a loud argument between a hostile man and a crying woman. But I tuned it out — plenty of travelers bicker when they’re stressed from the road.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Mike intently studying the entire scene.
Suddenly the angry man whacked the woman with a backhand. She yelped and added a combination of cursing and pleading to her sobs. Before I’d finished pouring my coffee, the man was roughing her up even more — shoving and yelling.
Being in the middle of a public nocturnal domestic dispute was the last thing I wanted, so I tried to signal Mike it was time to leave. But he’d moved from his former spot near the overpriced chips and stood about four feet from angry, violent Fisty and his cringing, crying girlfriend.
I even tried waving, but nothing I did registered at all — Mike’s complete attention was on the aggressive brute. I figured my cousin-in-law was about two seconds from getting clobbered himself.
Then I heard Mike. Not the actual words initially — just his strong, firm, authoritative voice speaking to the man.
Whatever Mike said evidently got the attacker’s attention, because Fisty dropped the woman like a limp blanket and whipped around. “What’d ya say?”
“I said leave her alone… back away. This isn’t the time or place… or the proper handling of whatever’s bothering you.”
“You want me to show ya some proper handling?” asked Fisty. And he unleashed a haymaker that would’ve decked Muhammed Ali.
With a blur of sidestep and arm motion, Mike deflected that blow and instantly kung fu’d a maneuver that put the creep face down on the floor, with his arm twisted high behind his back and Mike’s knee pressed sharply between his shoulders.
I dropped my coffee.
Scalding liquid splashing to the floor barely registered, because I was in shock. I’d need super slow mo and a rewind button to figure out all Mike’s moves, but my heart pounded and I thought I might faint. Hadn’t felt that way since a live concert with Justin Timberlake.