“HELP ME! Oh God. Somebody help me.”
The pain-filled shriek stopped me in my tracks. I scanned the sidewalk in front of me. Then, turned to gaze behind me. Nothing in sight. I continued walking, faster this time, my head bopping left and right, searching. Then, it came again. Quieter this time, as if the victim was losing hope.
“Oh, God, won’t someone please help?”
I picked up my pace heading in the direction of that pitiful plea. The stupid heels I wore didn’t make it easy. I don’t know why I hadn’t changed into my sneakers before leaving work. Still I walked as fast as I could. As I came abreast of an alley, I spotted a woman held against the side of the dirty brick building by a huge man in a dark leather jacket. The guy had one hand against her throat and the other tugging the purse she held in a death grip.
I debated for a fraction of a second about running to her rescue but even in the waning daylight I could tell the guy was much too big for me to deal with. Instead, I pulled out my phone to call 911. Before I could punch the three little numbers, something unusual happened.
A noise drew my attention to the attacker. As if out of thin air, another man, as large as the assailant, appeared behind the attacker. As I watched, stupefied, the new guy grabbed the attacker by the jacket collar and flung him back against the opposite building. I heard the thud as the leather-jacket dude hit the brick wall and fell to the ground. So quick that I wasn’t sure it was really happening, the rescuer knelt next to the fallen guy and in a flurry of motion had the attacker’s hands tied behind his back.
I must have made a sound because the rescuer's head swiveled around and he stared at me a moment. Quickly he tied the guy’s feet together, then rose and beat a hasty retreat to the opposite end of the alley. I blinked and then he was gone. Just like that. I mean, gone, poof. I was totally flummoxed.
The soft sobbing brought my attention back to the victim. I stepped next to her and asked, “Are you all right?”
The young woman with wild eyes made soft sniffling sounds as she hugged her purse to her breast. She looked at me but her eyes were full of terror instead of my face. I put a hand to her shoulder causing her to flinch but seemed to snap her out of it. Still squeezing the purse as if it was her lifeline to sanity, her eyes focused and she nodded.
“What’s your name, miss?” I asked.
“Constance,” She replied, followed by a hiccup.
“Ok, Constance,” I said soothingly, “I'm Tracy. I’m going to call the cops. Can you hold on until they get here?”
Again, she nodded. As I opened the phone to dial 911, she hiccuped again and asked, “did you see that guy?”
I dropped my gaze to the guy on the ground but heard her grunt. “Not him. The other one.”
“Yes,” I replied. “Have you seen him before?”
“No.” Hiccup. Sniff.
“Did you see where he came from?”
“No. I was going to ask you the same thing,” Constance whispered.
“I don’t know. I was getting my phone out to call the cops and when I looked up he was just there.”
Constance nodded in agreement. Her soft blue eyes were still open wide, but no longer shouting terror. Her body vibrated with the after shock of the attack.
As if by silent agreement, we let the troubling thought take a back burner while I dialed the phone. I kept a close watch on Constance as I relayed the information to the dispatcher. Even in the shadowy alleyway, I could see she still had the shakes. Although, she still hugged her purse, she had loosened the death grip and was beginning to breath slower. I stopped her with a wave of my hand when she started to straighten her rumpled suit jacket and brush a hand over her mussed soft, blond hair.
“They’ll be here in a minute,” I assured Constance as I closed my phone and dropped it back into my blue hobo bag. "Sorry, if my hand-waving seemed rude, but I didn't want you to alter your appearance before the police came and took your picture and statement."
The animal grunt scared the bejesus out of me and I found my back against the wall next to Constance. We stared as the attacker moaned and writhed on the ground.
“I sure hope the cops get here soon,“ I whispered, my eyes locked on the guy.
“Yeah.” Constance whispered back.
We’re quiet and scared, listening to the grunting and scraping as he fought the restraints. I strained my ears, listening, hoping, praying for the sirens that will tell us we’ll be safe soon. I was so absorbed in listening for the sound that would free us from the brick wall that I didn’t hear Constance speak at first.
“Huh? What did you say?” I forced my attention to the woman beside me.
“I said, do you think anyone’ll believe us?”
My brows creased. “Sure, why wouldn’t they? I mean the guy’s lying right there.” I finished with a tip of my head in his direction.
Constance took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “I don’t mean him. I mean about the other guy.”
“Oh,” I replied, vaguely, my eyes going to the other end of the alley. “Oh, I see. Hum. Probably not. Think we should skip the part on how he kind of disappeared?” I shot a quick look in her direction in time to see her nod. “OK. So. We’ll just say that after he tied the guy up he ran down the alley and disappeared. We don’t have to be specific about the disappearing part, right?”
Again, she nodded.
An eon later, we heard the sirens.