Just ahead, deep shadows had gathered behind Badger's place hiding the delivery entrance from sight. A glint of light in the darkness--a reflection from the parking lot lights across the alley--drew me to the fire escape's ladder. Using the planter wall as a launching platform, I ran up it and kicked off toward the lowest rung letting my hiking staff fall. Reaching up, my fingers caught a hold of the painted metal and I tightened my grip. My momentum carried my legs forward straining my grip.
"Damn it!" My right hand pulled free. I twisted, nearly losing grip with my left hand. I windmilled my right arm to get my body to twist back. Slowly, I turned far enough to get both hands on the rung again--just in time too, as I was starting to lose grip with my other hand. I monkeyed up the ladder until I could get my feet up to the bottom rung.
"Just like high school." I noted to myself as I climbed up the ladder. I clambered up to the second floor and tucked in next to the window. I remembered coming up here with Badger's brother, Doug. Their dad hated us using the fire escape to get into their apartment above the shop. Badger usually ratted us out to their dad. He was a jerk back then too.
I settled against the brick and tried to gather my thoughts. The "Devils" gang were after me. The cops were following me too. I am single and live alone in the house my grandma left me. My job as a support desk technician was boring, or at least that's what Ed, my neighbor, tells me. Most of my friends lived about twenty miles away and lead similar lives. My collection of paperback books and roleplaying games wasn't valuable to anyone other than geeks like me. My fridge has three different kinds of mustard, half a bottle of Coke, some tortillas, a partial bucket of leftover fried chicken, and some bleu cheese. Well, maybe it's simply blue. I didn't have much of value outside of my backpack and laptop.
There was that side job I did for Amy in customer service a couple of weeks ago. She needed me to repair her laptop hard drive. After doing the work, she said she would pay me after we got paid. She didn't show up for work after that and I thought she went back to Denver to help her sister take care of their mother. I should have figured that story was a lie. Who skips out on almost two weeks of pay? I had a copy of her hard drive in my pack on my external drive just in case she showed up looking for it again.
This spot, sitting on a fire escape ten feet off the ground with the Devils chasing me, was not the place to fire up the laptop to go mining for valuable data.
Coming out of my self-reflection, I listened for the booming of the street racer's stereo. I couldn't hear that noise or the whining of it's exhaust. I took the risk and climbed down the ladder. My backpack and laptop bag pulling me down faster than I cared to go.
Landing again on the back entryway, I turned toward the rear entrance to the liquor shop.