“There’s starting to be too many people. Even if we find him, catching him will make a scene and somebody will call the police.” Kent grabbed Carl’s arm.
Carl stopped and spun around, “I am not going back empty-handed. You wanna tell yer uncle you give up, go right ahead. I’m gonna find this throp, beat him till he knows better, then bring Martin an obedient little pussycat.”
“You know he doesn’t like you calling him Martin, and he won’t be happy if you damage that morph. It’s not even his.”
“Sometimes a throp’s just gotta get beat and Mr. Kanaber can suck my left nut. He ain’t no better than me. I’s got more sense than to let a throp escape in the first place. If it were up ta me, they’d all be in chains and wouldn’t be gettin any fancy food. We’d have ‘em sold already and I’d be eatin good.”
Kent looked warily at the people passing by that were watching Carl’s rant.
“If your family wants to jerk around with makin em pretty, first, this is what happens. Maybe I’ll just find this dumb throp and sell im myself.” He shoved Kent’s chest. “What do you think about that?”
“I think you’re too dumb for your own good.”
“Wha’d you say?!”
“I say I’m going back to the clinic for another look now that there are people there to try to hide him.” Kent shook his head as he turned around to head back.
“I’m sick of you callin me dumb! If you’re so smart, you wouldn’t be gettin hit.” Carl punched Kent in the back of the head.
Kent fell to the sidewalk on his hands and knees then grunted and fell on his face when Carl’s foot connected with his balls.
Carl continued to kick Kent’s legs and arms, “How’s that smart? Here s’more smarts. How ‘bout I knock some sense inta ya. A li’l brain massage with mah boot might get ya straightened out.” Carl stomped Kent’s arm away from his face and pulled back to kick when a man shoved him off balance.
“Enough. I called the cops and they’re on their way.”
“What the fuck?! Why don’t you mind your own fuckin business? Or do you want some of this, too?” Carl thumped his fist against his chest. “Back the fuck off or I’ll put you down, too.”
Kent rolled over and scooted away as quickly as he could while Carl was distracted.
“I don’t want to fight you, but I can’t let you keep hurting him.”
“And what’re ya gonna do about it? Ya stuck yer nose in and now it’s bout to get broke. What’cha gonna do?”
The man stepped back and kept his hands up then smiled, “I just thought I might keep you distracted until the cops showed up.”
Carl looked back to see a police car pulling up and two cops getting out. “Oh, shit.” He shoved the hero to the sidewalk and stomped on his chest as he took off, pursued by the police as another car pulled up.
A woman holding her phone up to film the altercation knelt beside Kent, “Are you okay?”
Kent groaned and started to get up, “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
“You don’t look fine. Just sit right there until the ambulance gets here.”
“No, really, I’m…” He groaned again and gave up as a police officer squatted in front of him.
“You were attacked?”
“It’s fine. He’s… He works with me and we had a little disagreement. I don’t want to press any charges.”
“That’s no longer an option since he attacked someone else. Why don’t you tell me what happened.”
Kent groaned, “It was nothing, really. Just a disagreement.”
The woman shook her phone at Kent, “Don’t you dismiss it. I heard the whole thing. He was going to beat your morph and you stood up to him.”
The police officer held up her hand, “Ma’am, please step back and let me get this man’s statement.”
The woman took a step back indignantly.
“So, you hit him?”
Kent shook his head.
“Not once.” The woman pointed with her phone. “This brave boy kept his cool and even tried walking away, but the…”
“Ma’am, please step back. We will get your statement in a moment. Let me get his version first.”
The woman put her hands up and turned around to take a few more steps away, then turned back to watch.
“So, you were having a disagreement about a morph and you started to walk away? Who hit first?”
Kent looked at the officer and sighed in resignation. “I was hit in the back of the head and fell down and then he started kicking me. Like I said, I’m fine, so it’s fine.”
“When did the other victim get involved?”
“I don’t know. Carl stopped kicking me and started shouting at somebody else, so I crawled over here.”
“Do you know the other victim?”
“No… I don’t know, I still haven’t seen him.”
“And what is Carl’s last name?”
Kent grunted, “I don’t know. He’s a jerk, so I never asked.”
An EMT put down his bag as he knelt beside Kent. “What happened here?”
“He was knocked down and kicked repeatedly. Sir, here’s my card if you change your mind or think of anything else.” The officer stood up and took a deep breath as she walked away, “Okay, ma’am, let’s get your view.”
The EMT started looking for injuries, but Kent tried to shake him off, “I’m fine… OW!”
“Maybe not as fine as you thought? Let me take a look. Where did you get kicked?”
“Mostly just arms and legs, but the first one was in the balls.”
The EMT chuckled as he started pressing his thumb on Kent’s elbow and working down his arm, “Well, I won’t examine those out here. You can check with your regular doctor, especially if you start peeing blood.” He switched to Kent’s left arm.
“Yeah, I think that might… Crap!”
“It hurts there?”
Kent nodded with a groan.
“I’ll put a splint on it and we can get it x-rayed. Let’s check your legs before we go.” He pushed Kent’s pant leg up and worked his thumbs up his shin to his knee.
Kent tried to hide his wince, but the EMT noticed and pressed on the sides of his knee and Kent gave a grunt.
“Yeah, it looks like we’ve got something here, too. We’ll take you in for some imaging. Hey, Drake, how’s the other guy?”
Kent looked up as he noticed the other uniformed EMT standing beside him and the first one pulled a splint from his bag.
“Ambulatory, but his chest got stomped on, so I’m thinking imaging for rib fractures, to be safe.”
“We should probably board him so nothing punctures.”
“Good idea. Your guy first?”
“Yep, grab the short seat.”
“Be right back.”
Kent sighed, “I can walk.”
“But you’re not going to.” The EMT finished applying the splint and put a finger on Kent’s shoulder to keep him down. “We’re here now, so you just relax and let us do our jobs.”
Kent scowled as Drake dropped a small board with handles behind him.
“Alright, here we go.” The two EMTs got under Kent’s arms to lift him enough to slide the board under his butt, then lifted the handles and carried him to the ambulance while a few people clapped. They helped him get in the front seat. “Buckle up and relax. We’ll get your friend in the back and be on our way.”
Kent stared down the road through the windshield as he considered that the stranger acted more like a friend than most of his family. Even the morphs he took care of were nicer than his mother.
The back doors slamming pulled him out of his contemplation and Drake hopped into the driver’s seat then his partner knocked on the ceiling, “Let’s go.”