On one side of the street lampposts splashed pools of yellow light along the pavement at regular intervals whilst on the opposite side several dozen cars filled the empty spaces like pines needles along a branch. One o’clock in the morning in a residential neighbourhood inhabited by the city’s richest families and businessmen. Good money had been spent in exchange for the peace and quiet of this place. An additional expense included the amazing view of the botanical gardens sprawling a few hundred meters away to the East. Security was guaranteed by high perimeter fences and surveillance cameras surrounding the premises. High society was tucked tightly in bed dreaming of the next heli-ski trip in Patagonia. The rare light that flickered like multi-coloured Morse code from a single window was probably a retired venture capitalist dozing in front of a 24-hour news channel. You could almost smell the invisible earthy vapors of the 18-year-old whisky rising from the crystal tumbler cradled in a motionless hand. The matching crystal decanter stood still upon a silver tray so as not to damage the antique dresser. A gang of shadows made its way along the deserted boulevard.
Max and his friends were making their way back towards the city center after another night spent chilling in the park after hours. Their laughter and crazed yelps were the only sounds to break the exquisite silence. Cambodian Frank had come through with some amazing weed that had them all in a pretty lively mood. Spirits were high so to speak and it wasn’t long before hi-jinx got underway and things got silly. It all started with Tommy running ahead of the crew and launching himself across the hood of a parked car feet-first.
- Damn son! You crazy! Max yelled. You slid off that shit smoother than a Russian gymnast. Shit looked so dope! Do it again!
Tommy gladly complied and proceeded to take a second successful leap at a S-class Mercedes. Tommy’s rear-end slid silently across the metallic blue hood, the paint job unscathed. It wasn’t long before the boys joined in and the endless line of stationary traffic became an assault course for their feverish child’s play. After a few successful slip-n-slides, Buster decided to up the ante. Never one to play things safe, Buster lived up to his name by always busting out wilder than everyone else. If you drank a six-pack of beer, he drank twelve. If you puffed on a joint rolled with two rizzlas, he added a third and hit a bong afterwards. If you slid across the bonnet of a 50 thousand Euro German sports car, he decided the next obvious move was to run full speed across five or six of them. He stomped across the bonnets of a BMW, a Porsche Cayenne, a couple of Audis and another Mercedes. He only dropped down to the pavement because the next car in the line had reversed into its spot so there was no bonnet to breach.
The others stopped and stared in astonishment at Buster who stood in the distance breathing heavily. The adrenalin pumped serotonin into his brain and made him grin like the Cheshire Cat. The others looked at one another with wide eyes and then back towards Buster who was patiently waiting for them and gradually catching his breath. The gauntlet had been thrown down and the rest of them made their way up onto the car hoods and leaped forwards. Sneakers and trail boots pounded down on stainless steel bodywork. A muffled knocking sound rushed down the boulevard. The shadows of their movements moving across the surfaces like wind-blown storm clouds. Max quickly took the lead and didn’t look back as he raced from one car to the next. As he prepared to lower his landing gear mid-flight onto another unsuspecting vehicle, he spotted a head shoot out from the driver-side window. A man yelled at him to stop. It was too late. His foot slammed down on the hood of the jet black Peugeot 306 and propelled him to the next. Max swung right and dropped down to the sidewalk. A pissed off black man was yelling profanities and shaking his fist at him.
- Holy shit!
Max bolted down the sidewalk to escape. He cut sharply across the street in a bid to shake the fury behind him. Snatching a quick glimpse over his shoulder he saw the Peugeot 306 skid out of its parking spot and burn rubber up the boulevard in his pursuit.
- Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
Max’s mind screamed. Panic pushed a cold sweat through his pores as he dashed up the block. His assailant echoed his inner swearing with loud expletives of his own. Max still had a good 100 meter lead as he started to try and map out the easiest escape route using one way streets and alleyways. This would prove problematic as the neighbourhood was a grid of large boulevards illuminated with street lamps. Not ideal when you’re being chased.
Suddenly up ahead, he recognized a face. Laura in the passenger seat of her dad’s car, stopped at the corner. Buster had told her to come meet them before the boys headed back into town. Her dad must have driven her to their rendez-vous spot because she’d missed the last bus. Her pale white face was that of an angel. Max’s saving grace had arrived. He slowed his pace slightly and tried to act normal as Laura and her dad switched off the engine and stepped out to greet him.
- Hallo Max! Laura exclaimed. Her voice was so British and reassuring.
- Hi Laura! He gripped her shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. A trickle of sweat traced the outline of his face and he felt conscious that he might have left a wet smear on Laura’s face. Hi Mr. White, he said extending his right hand towards Laura’s dad whilst wiping his brow with his spare arm.
- Where’s Buster and Tommy? She asked.
- Oh, they’re right behind me. He turned his head around to indicate the general direction of where his bonnet-bouncing buddies should have been but saw no-one. They were obviously hiding. He did however see the driver in his Peugeot 306 pulling up alongside him. The engine cover had a deep dent in it.
- Oi! You! What the fuck do you think you’re playing at?! Obviously the man was not impressed by Max’s urban gymnastics. You see what you did to my car!
Max tried to ignore the angry man but it wasn’t working. Laura and her dad looked past him towards the irate driver. They cocked their heads and raised their eye-brows in confusion. The man started to threaten Max in French saying he was going to bundle him in his car and drive him back to his housing estate where any number of sinister things could and most probably would happen. Max did not want to be kidnapped nor experience the wrath of the man. With threats of being detained and beaten, Laura’s dad took a few steps nearer and nodded his head in the direction of the noise behind Max.
- What’s he on about Max? He asked.
Max carried on ignoring the angry driver and shrugged his shoulders as innocently as possible. If I keep this up long enough, he’ll just go away, Max thought to himself.
- I have no idea. I think he’s lost. Anyway, turning back towards Laura – his angel, we’re thinking of heading to The Square to hear Raph mix. You up for it? Max stared straight ahead at Laura trying to divert her attention.
Laura nodded slowly in agreement and locked eyes with Max again.
A woman’s voice made an urgent plea from within the damaged Peugeot. Forget about it Marcus!
The driver’s anger slowly descended from a ferocious boil to a subdued simmer. He mumbled more insults under his breath before sliding back into his customized sports seat and jamming the car into first gear and squealing up the boulevard.