Out of the Woods: Chapter 31| January 4, 2022
And then Mr. Shine and Rabbi Stark together leaped forward and tackled the Boss
For a moment, Elchanan’s vision blurred; he couldn’t see a thing. Then his mind cleared, and the scene in front of him began to take shape — the Boss, turning wildly from facing his father and Mr. Shine to face the newest threat: the members of one of the search parties, who had just emerged from the forest.
“Careful — he’s armed!” Avi yelled, from his position on the ground. Elchanan took the opportunity to roll out of the way and jump to his feet. There were so many of them, and only two of the gang, surely they could overpower the criminals and call the police?
“Avi, let’s jump him,” he hissed, while the Boss stood, frozen, facing the Chaverim search-and-rescue volunteers who poured out of the forest and surrounded the car.
A moment later, there was a hand on his shoulder, and Mr. Shine half dragged him away from the scene. “You boys get into my car, now!” he ordered. He turned to do the same thing to his son, who was struggling painfully to his feet. “Avi, run!”
And then Mr. Shine and Rabbi Stark together leaped forward and tackled the Boss.
Caught by surprise, the Boss collapsed to the ground. But Gregor was there too, ready to defend his leader. He reached into his jacket pocket. One of the volunteers reacted first, knocking his arm away. Something metal clattered to the ground, and a Chaverim volunteer gave it a mighty kick, sending it flying into the undergrowth surrounding the forest, where it was lost from sight.
Three men fought Gregor to the ground, until he was lying side by side with the Boss. Cries came from all sides:
“Call the police!”
“Watch out!!! He’s trying to get you from behind!”
Elchanan and Avi watched from behind Mr. Shine’s car — Elchanan, for one thing, couldn’t bring himself to leave the scene of the battle entirely, and Avi, apparently, felt the same way. They watched in terrified silence as the Boss fought his way up, and the two fathers, together with three Chaverim volunteers, wrestled with him, trying to prevent him from drawing his weapon.
And then, to his mounting horror, Elchanan saw more figures coming to join: one short and muscular, one broad and beefy-armed, and several more; Thomas and Ivan and Stefan and the rest of the criminals, all geared up for battle.
It was a matter of seconds before the tide of the battle turned.
Now it was the Chaverim volunteers, together with Rabbi Stark and Mr. Shine, who were outnumbered, manhandled to the ground, and ordered to put their hands up. The criminals were tougher, wilder, and a whole lot more brutal — and before long, the search and rescue team were grouped on the ground, completely and utterly defenseless against the gang.
“No! Noooo!” Avi screamed, and tried to run forward. “They’re going to hurt them….”
“Don’t do it! Don’t go! They could kill us!” Elchanan grabbed his friend’s arm. “Avi, get into the car! Your father doesn’t want us to put our lives in danger!“
Half moaning with terror and helplessness, Avi let Elchanan drag him into the driver’s seat. Elchanan climbed in beside him, and slammed the doors. After a moment’s thought, he left one window half open, just to hear what was going on. Meanwhile, the gang seemed to have come to a sudden decision: They abandoned their captives, who were all on the ground, and squeezed themselves one on top of the other into the Boss’s car, ready to make an escape.
“Do something! We need to do something!” Elchanan’s tone took on a tinge of panic. “Stop them, we need to stop them!”
With a final snarl at the men on the ground, the Boss jumped into the front of the red car. The back seat and passenger seats were stuffed with the other men, the entire car crammed with a gang of criminals .
The red car began driving forward, making for the gap between Mr. Shine’s car and the fence around the parking lot. In a matter of moments, they would make their escape….
“I’m going to block them,” Avi said suddenly. “I’ll block them in the parking lot here — they can’t be allowed to escape—”
The Highlander’s engine was still running. Avi put the car in reverse, and the car started gently cruising backward. Avi stretched his leg to step on the gas, and the car sped up so suddenly that Elchanan had to grab the edge of his seat to stop himself falling off.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” he yelped.
“I know, I know, don’t worry,” Avi said. “I’m just making sure they’re totally blocked in and can’t get around us.”
Elchanan glanced around. Most of the parking lot was surrounded by a strong fence. At the far side, the forest stretched into the distance; nowhere for a car to go there. If Avi could shift the car into the narrowest part of the entry, and maneuver it across so that no car could pass…
Through the open window, they heard a roar of anger. The Boss, it seemed, had realized what their plan was. The red car accelerated, racing forward, careening toward them.
“He’s going to drive right into us!!” yelled Elchanan. He looked around wildly, looking for something, anything, and grabbed the only thing handy: a half-empty bottle of Coke in a cup holder beside him. Without stopping to think, he stuck his hand out of the window, squinted to aim, and hurled it directly at the Boss’s front window. The bottle hit its target, exploded open, and brown liquid splattered everywhere. The Boss swerved, losing control of the car, which spun in a large, slow circle.
There was an outcry from the back of the car. The gang was screaming, the Boss screamed louder, and behind them the Chaverim volunteers and the two fathers were helping each other up from the ground and giving chase to the red car.
“What now? What do we do now?” Avi asked frantically. His hands were white, clenched tightly around the steering wheel. Sweat stood out on his brow. “Where should I go — the highway? He’ll ram right into us — what should we do? — heeelp!!”
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 893)
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