Marc on Mark
by Anthony Lindsay
Mark Jenkins stood pumping gas into his black Fiat Spyder. The car was the last remaining item from his bachelor days; ten years old, it's better days were behind it. Mark seldom drove the car, but summer was ending and he told his wife Cynthia he would trade the car in the fall, for the much needed mini-van. He watched a couple of bees circle his feet as he pumped the gas in the hot August sun.
This was the first year he taught summer classes at the university, with the second baby on the way his young family needed the money. He thought about one of his father's favorite sayings, a man got to do what a man got to do. Actually the summer schedule wasn't bad, he finished everyday at eleven forty five, and with Cynthia working second shift at the county hospital, they spent no money on day care for Mark Jr.
The pumped clicked off, telling Mark the Fiat's tank was full. The big Buick he and Cynthia brought last year would have still been taking gas. He was going to miss the small cost of the Fiat's fill ups, but with the second child on the way, they needed two full sized vehicles. He hung up the nozzle and went into the station to retrieve his credit card.
When Mark returned to his car, he saw a young Black man bent over, peeping into the Fiat's drivers window. As a Black man, often his own actions were misinterpreted. If he wandered through a store uncertain of his purchase, security was sure to come. When he went to visit his in-laws in the suburbs, the police stopped him with regularity. With that in mind, he approached the young Black man with a smile on his face.
Marc Hopkins was released from county jail that August morning. After three weeks of being held on battery charges, his baby son's mama, Debra, agreed to drop the charges; once he agreed to move out of her apartment. He accepted the arrangement because he was tired of being held in jail and he was tired of living with her. She was always in his business; asking him where he was going, when was he coming back, did he look for a job or was he going back to school. It was time to leave her. Marc Jr. was the only reason he stayed as long as he did.
Marc Jr. looked so much like him, he couldn't help but love the boy. Out of his three sons, Marc Jr. was his favorite, but Marc Jr.'s mama was his least favorite woman. She was the kind of broad who kept pushing a brother.
She wasn't never satisfied; she had a free apartment, right next the school she went to. The city was paying for Marc Jr. to go to day care, her aide money was coming in, and she working part time at a beauty shop. The woman had it made as far as he was concerned, but she kept after Marc to get up and do something.
It wasn't like he didn't bring in any money, money was money, so what if it came from selling cocaine rocks and weed, it was still money. That type of money was good enough for his other his other women, Debra was just crazy.
The three weeks he spent locked up in the county jail interfered with his drug selling schedule, and he knew Debra wouldn't give him money to buy cocaine rocks or weed. When he went by her place to borrow the V.C.R. or stereo, the locks were changed. He wasn't going to steal the things from her, just pawn them to get the buy money for the drugs. After Marc sold the drugs, he would have gotten her stuff out of pawn, he always did.
He wanted money and he wanted it fast. The fastest way for him to get money, was to take it. His pistol was hidden in Debra's place, so his choices were limited. He'd have to find someone he could strong arm without a gun. He didn't usually do any dirt around Debra's school, the school had their own security, plus the police really looked out for the brainy assholes, but he didn't have bus fare to go any where else, and he was tired of walking.
Marc was standing in a corner of the gas station lot relieving his bladder, when the black sports car pulled into the station. He grinned from ear to ear, it was a little man driving the car. A small man wouldn't offer much resistance to being strong armed.
When the man pulled into station, he left the car running as he went in to get the pump started. Marc guessed the car might have been close to empty, so he fought against the impulse of jumping in it and driving off. He watched the small man fill the sports car up. He was a little bastard, probably one of those college boys thats been filling Debra's head with bullshit.
When the man went back in the station to pay for his gas, Marc ran to the car. The keys were gone. When he looked up, he saw the little man walking toward him smiling. Marc figured one straight shot to the chin would do it. After the man was stretched out, from the shot to the chin, Marc's plan was to take his wallet and his keys.
Once the man was in striking distance, Marc unleashed a vicious straight jab. The man ducked and followed up with a combination to Marc's stomach and chin.
Mark couldn't believe the young brother swung on him, he saw it in the young brothers eyes, but he thought he was misreading them. There wasn't much room between the pump and the car, and that worked to Mark's advantage. The young brother fought like a boxer, he needed room to draw back. Mark executed two waist jabs to the young brothers stomach, and came up elbow first to the young brothers chin. The young brothers stomach was rock hard, but Mark knew the elbow to the chin would daze him.
The little bastard was quick. For a moment the robbery attempt slipped Marc's mind, he was back in the ring. He took the elbow to the chin, looped his arm around the little bastard's head and pulled him into the open lot. If he wanted to fight, Marc was going to give him a fight.
When the young brother pulled him in close, Mark knew he was not a skilled fighter, and decided not to leave him with any permanent damage. Mark dropped to the pavement, freeing himself of the young brothers embrace, he extended his right leg and spun on his left heel, sweeping the young brother from his feet. The young brother hit the ground hard, but was up quickly. That surprised Mark, with the proper training, the young brother could be a excellent martial artist. The young brother threw an array of punches which Mark slipped without countering. He smiled at the young boxing brother, while slipping his punches.
A crowd was forming in the gas station, attention was something Marc didn't want. It was obvious the little bastard wasn't to be strong armed. Marc turned to run from the station when two squad cars pulled in.
When the young brother turned to run, he ran directly into two officers. His momentum knocked one on his back. Mark could see it was an accident, the officers didn't. The one standing tried to wrestle the young brother to the ground. The young brother broke the officers hold and bombarded him with crisp combinations. The two officers in the other car got out with batons drawn.
Marc's back was against one of the squad cars, the cop on the ground was getting up, the one that tried to tie him up was dazed. The threat was the two cops coming at him swinging their billy clubs. The smart thing to do would be to put his hand up and surrender, but he didn't want to take the ass whipping these cops had in store for him; not in broad daylight, in front of all these people. He was trying to crawl over the roof of the squad car, when he felt one of the batons across his back.
Mark's intervention was going to be verbal, until he heard the baton cracking down across the young brothers back. He'd trained the city's officers on how to use batons, they knew were to strike and were not to strike. The officer was trying to cripple the young brother. Mark advanced and yelled for them to stop. One of the baton wailing officers turned on him. Mark disarmed him of the baton without striking him.
Marc rolled across the roof of the squad car and fell to the ground on the other side; out of the reach of the officers. When he stood to run, he saw the four cops surrounding the little man.
The officers ignored Mark's explanations. Mark stood in the middle of the four with the disarmed officer's baton. If one of them advanced forward, his thought was to take the offensive. The target of the attack would be the biggest officer.
Marc was out of the gas station lot running through a group of little kids, when he heard Marc Jr. calling him. His son was telling him the police had his homie. Marc Jr. must have saw the fight and figured the little man was a friend of his. Marc taught his son to never turn his back on his homies. His son expected him to help the little man. Marc saw it in his face.
Mark kept the officers at bay with head high snapping kicks. The disarmed officer went to draw his pistol, Mark's foot had split his lip and bloodied his nose, but the bigger one, whose nose was also bleeding, stopped him, and the other officers agreed; they wanted to whip Mark in front of the crowd. They were about to rush him, but the young brother broke through their circle.
The two had the officers flat on the pavement in less than a minute. The young Marc turned to the smaller Mark and smiled. The smaller Mark extended his hand. They shook hands. The crowd applauded. Both grinned, slightly bashful. The owner of the gas station ran up to Mark and told him, he was never there as far as he was concerned.
Mark asked Marc did he need a lift. The sound of coming sirens made Marc agree. He waved good-bye to his son. Marc Jr's eyes were filled with pride. Away from the station an uncomfortable silence filled the Fiat. Neither spoke for three blocks.
Mark asked Marc why did he swing on him. Marc told it was nothing personal, he just needed some money. Marc told Mark to pull over, the corner ahead was fine. Neither asked the others name. They exchanged a smile and parted.