This story is by Jerry Pyne and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Admittedly a workaholic, Randy Johnstone, commits to leaving work early two days a week. He parks his pristine 68 Camaro, three blocks away under the shade of a drive-thru structure once used at the closed up bank building.
He inherited this classic from Jackson’s late police chief, his Dad. Now two blocks away, his heart jumps to his throat. Three men are leaning against his treasured Camaro.
Randy is confident these men are part of the newly assemble street gang in Jackson township. They have tagged themselves The Family.
Their reason for waiting at the Camaro was to seek revenge for James Jenkins, known as the Family hitman, recently convicted for the murder of Randy’s Father.
As Randy got closer, he noted that the parking lot of the old bank was near empty, except for a four-wheel-drive truck parked in the shade with two men waiting.
Panic would be a typical reaction for anyone approaching these men. Instead, as a trained MMA fighter, Randy’s focus was on the men at his car, telling himself, “there are only three.”
Walking up to his Camaro, Randy positioned himself to keep the three men in a line. The belligerent man at the front of the line would be the perceived leader.
Although Randy needed to eliminate the loudmouth first, his unyielding focus reminded him the second or third person could be a better fighter.
Now only a few steps away, the wannabe gang leader shouted, “you’re gonna get hurt, Mr. Camaro punk.”
Hard to understand with his southern drawl, but the message was clear. Negotiating wasn’t going to change the outcome.
Thugs like this often count on intimidation. His attempt at this was showing gang signs with his hands spread wide. Puffed out his chest, and for some reason, tilted his head.
All of this, with his continuous trash talk, made him an easier target than a practice dummy. Arriving at the thug, with his last step, Randy leaped, delivering a jump reverse sidekick to the man’s solar plexus, followed by a spin backfist to the jaw.
With the first man unconscious, Randy quickly moved to his left to keep his assailants running into each other, now facing the largest of the three. He delivered a devastating reverse-punch just above the man’s top lip, the sound of his breaking nose followed the punch.
After the quick elimination of the first two assailants, foolishly, the third man was coming at Randy, thinking he could accomplish something, the others could not.
Closing in on Randy, he received a spinning hook kick to the temple and melted like a hot rubber band.
Doors fly open on the truck; two guys get out yelling and running towards him. As they got closer, Randy yelled, “I could have used some help, you know.”
The two men were Marcus and Colin McCullough, Randy’s two closest friends from Jackson. They have been meeting here and riding to the gym together every Wednesday and Friday since they were old enough to drive.
Marcus said, “We expected to watch something entertaining, what was the hurry? When we saw them sitting on the Camaro, we considered calling 911, telling them three guys were preparing to commit suicide.”
Full of nervous energy, Randy responded, “Well, as long as you guys had fun.”
Colin suggested dragging them into the tall weeds, so they wouldn’t bother anyone if, by chance, one woke up.
Randy responded with, “they are unconscious, not dead, and you both know that.”
“Perhaps,” Marcus said, “but you were showing off with that jump kick, it took the first guy down hard.”
Keeping close tabs on the three men, they heard the sirens close in.
Randy told his friends, “it looks like I’m not making it to the gym tonight.”
Colin replied, “then we are taking off; we do not have time to babysit you, but you know where to find us if any more family comes around.”
As the four-wheel-drive took off, two black and whites arrived. They parked blocking any movement of the Mustang. Small town cops knew this address, trouble, and a Mustang added up to one, Randy Johnstone.
Cadet Higgins jumped out, asking, “Johnstone, what the hell happened here?”
“Higgins, you’re my nephew, remember I am Detective Johnstone.”
“Sorry, Uncle Randy.”
The police were stringing up security tape and taking Randy’s statement. After finishing his statement, Randy jogged the three blocks back to his office at FBI headquarters.
He took the stairs two at a time to reach the fourth floor. Recognizing the slight shake of the old building. Sergeant Hendricks yelled out, “the doors open, Detective.”
Arriving at his boss’s office, Wiping the sweat from his forehead. Hendricks asked Randy, “do you ever slow down? I would like to have a conversation without you sweating on my office furniture.”
“Sorry Sir, but someone brought in donuts last Friday. I have to pay for my mistakes.”
“Sit down; let’s talk about what happened out there today.”
“Well, Sir, I have to say, I wasn’t surprised by them trying this. The tension between law enforcement and The Family is ready to snap.
The gang started burning down buildings the same day the guilty verdict was delivered for my Fathers killing.”
Anxiety digging into his gut, Randy went on, “with the respect my father had in this community, the pressure will be insurmountable on the sentencing judge to deliver the death penalty.
The same day of the conviction, six members of the gang confronted me; each one of them made sure I expected something bad to happen.
“Knowing most of them would have outstanding warrants, I ran a check and arrested four of them for warrants or parole violation.”
sarcastically Hendricks said, “Detective, I don’t believe you are trying to be a friend of the family.”
Becoming more serious, Randy told his Sergeant, “I was born and raised in Jackson. My closest friends, Family, and businesses I care about are here. I won’t be intimidated into letting this gang takeover my hometown.
The people on the southside, may not have the means of others in Jackson, but that doesn’t give this gang a right to terrorize their neighborhood.”
Leaving Hendricks’s office, Randy went to find his friends.
Marcus and Colin had finished their workout and were at Colin’s condo in downtown Jackson.
Randy knocked, then let himself in. The brothers asked, “What took you so long, Johnstone; we thought we were going without you.”
“My boss gets a little nervous when things like this happen.
But my concern is, It doesn’t look like this gang is going to take the law seriously, we may have to end this ourselves.”
There had been an attempt at gang activity in Jackson several years back. The slow process of removing that gang left four police and two FBI agents dead. That was too high of a price to pay lowlives to stop selling drugs to school kids.
The three left together in Colin’s old Jeep with iron push bars. A man that called himself JT, as in James Timberlan, Replaced the Hitman as head of the Family. The Family spends a lot of time at the old Chevron across town; they called their family home.
A block from the old station Colin said, “it might get cold tonight, so I brought us each a ski mask.” They stopped talking and covered their faces with the ski mask.
A minute later, the jeeps push bars went crashing into the front window of the chevron. Floodlights from the Jeep blinded everyone inside.
When they could see again, Randy held their attention with an automatic rifle. Marcus was out in an instant, using a headlock, dragging JT to the Jeep, stuffing him in the back, handcuffed, gagged, and pinned to the floor.
Driving to the barn on Marcus’s ranch, Colin said, “Sooo, that went well.” Such a casual statement at such an intense time made them all laugh.
Getting to the barn, then Zip-tieing the new gang leader to a beam, Randy removed the gag, with an aggressive tone, told JT, “take this phone, you have 30 minutes to call whoever you need.
Tell them every family member needs to be out of Jackson in twenty-four hours. Make it clear there will be no coming back.
Once they are all gone, we will decide if you live.
You must understand JT; if they don’t all leave, we will kill you, take another family member until one of you gets it done.”
JT, showing more fear than the Family would expect, was able to convince them on his first attempt.
Weeks later, Jackson seemed back to normal. On a Friday night at the gym, Randy asked his friends. “I wonder if JT ever made it back to Florida?”
Marcus said, “he did; he was so scared when I untied him. I took him on a road trip and dumped him in front of their new home.” Laughing, they returned to throwing each other around on the wrestling mats.