We needed to get the hell out of Central Park right away and back to Mike’s apartment, if we could make it. Daylight was coming, which meant the giant birds would take the city back for yet another day. But, I was hearing vehicles. The sound was getting closer, and it was getting closer fast. I didn’t have any proof that the drivers would be foes, but we sure didn’t have many friends, right now.
We all looked west as two motorcycles burst into view. They were just dots, but they were getting closer. The platform wasn’t a safe place to be, but it seemed safer than jumping down to the ground. I’d seen Mad Max about two hundred times. I knew that mean people on motorcycles could mow down pedestrians.
The motorcycles roared to the platform. The one in the lead slid to a stop, kicking dirt and some pitiful, formerly lush sod on the guards who were still cuffed on the ground. The other cyclist stopped in a more civilized fashion. The bikes were Harleys, and they looked brand new. The riders were obeying the New York State helmet laws, so we couldn’t tell much about them in the dim morning light until they took the helmets off. The riders shook their long hair free, just like they were on a beer commercial. It was Kat and Kate.
Mike snatched Bethel’s pet carrier from me and pulled the gun out of the back compartment. I couldn’t believe we still had that damned gun. Mike assumed a police shooter stance he must have seen on TV and pointed the gun toward the witches. I winced. Mike could only hit things he didn’t mean to hit, which meant Kat and Kate weren’t in much danger, but the rest of us might be.
“Stop being a jerk,” Kate said. “Put the gun away, Mike, and we’ll all get out of here.”
Mike’s arm relaxed for a second at the idea that they would help us, but then he tensed again. “How can I trust you,” he asked, “when Moira and I ended up on your damned witch poles?”
Kat looked embarrassed. “It was a show, OK? We were putting on a show. At least, that’s what we meant to do.”
“A show,” I said. “What the hell kind of show was that? We were going to try to come back and rescue your witch asses.”
“We kept hearing about the scene up here. We wanted to be part of it,” Kat said. “Gotta strike when the iron is hot. Take chances to find fame. Auditioning sure has been the pits.” We just looked at them. “We didn’t know that the Pit Police would put you on the poles. We weren’t in on that. We saw that they tied you up after our show. We came back for you.”
“Jill knows us. We’re actresses. Well, we are trying to be actresses. We live down the hall from Jill,” Kate said.
Mike and Moira and I turned to Jill. Jill nodded. “I know Kat and Kate. They do live down the hall. Their cat plays with Lexington, sometimes. He looks like Lexington’s little brother.”
“They were in your damned apartment, Jill,” I said. “We went back there and they’d moved right in like they owned the place. Told us a bunch of shit about being witches and Show World dancers from Brooklyn who’d gotten trapped in town. They work for Bob.”
“They really are witches and they are actresses, too,” Jill said. “I don’t appreciate that they moved into my apartment.”
Kat hung her head a little. “We thought you were gone, Jill. We were really tired of our little studio.”
“So you just took her apartment,” Mike sneered. “And you lied to us.”
“Yeah, we did. We stole these bikes, too. We are shits. We were working for Show World so we wouldn’t starve. We don’t even know who Bob actually is. He was just some asshole who hung around Show World acting like a big shot. Now get on and let’s go,” Kate said.
Mike’s arms wavered. He wasn’t pointing the gun with as much conviction, now. We would be a load for the bikes, but it wasn’t far to his apartment. The faster we could get there, the better off we’d all be.
On the edge of deciding that letting Kat and Kate rescue us would be the best thing to do, everything changed. We had been so intent on our conversation with the coochie dancer/witches/big liars/rescuers/actresses that we hadn’t watched our backs. So, when Bob thumped up on the platform with two of his Pit Patrol guys and Jonathan, we were unpleasantly and stupidly surprised.
Mike spun around to aim his gun at the new arrivals. Bob grinned and took his cigar stub out of his gob. “You assholes. You are everywhere I go. I’m fairly sick of it. Put that pea shooter down, son.” He motioned to his two muscle guys, and they whipped up what looked like machine guns and pointed them at us.
Jonathan looked alarmed. “Um, Bob, we didn’t discuss this. I thought that we…”
We never learned what Jonathan’s deal with Bob was. A scream split the air and startled us all out of our tense standoff. It was the loudest scream I’d ever heard. I clapped my hands over my ears, and Bethel started barking in her carrier.
The bird who’d screamed the scream came rocketing from over the trees to the north. All of us dropped to the ground and we hugged the ground like we loved it, with the exception of Bob. Bob turned to look at the bird. He grinned and waved his cigar at it, like he was going to shoo away that outrageous monster. Apparently, the bird wasn’t afraid of cigars or Bob. The wing feathers actually whipped me on the ground as the bird used its talons to snatch Bob by his head and flap off with him.