He took another step forward, and my would-be-attackers continued taking steps back. They weren’t moving very fast enough, and then suddenly, the blur of the pink shirt rushed towards them.
The darkness and my fear couldn’t let me trust my eyesight anymore. It looked as if the pink shirt was moving faster than humanly possible, and the guys yelled as he pushed them, sending them flying out of the garage.
I blinked my eyes to adjust them better, and then everyone was gone.
Not everyone, exactly. The light above me flickered on again, and the guy in the pink shirt stood next to me. In big black letters across his chest, his shirt read, “Real men wear pink.”
He looked older than me, probably in his early twenties, and he wasn’t particularly well-built or tall. In fact, he leaned more towards wiry than he did muscular, and I couldn’t imagine what had frightened off the other guys.
His face was open and friendly, and he had an easy smile that I couldn’t help but respond to, even though I had just been a few moments away from death.
“Are you okay?” he asked, appraising me.
“Yeah,” I said in a voice that barely sounded like my own. “You saved my life.”
“You shouldn’t be out here alone,” he replied, completely ignoring the fact that he’d done anything heroic.
“My friend Jane is around here somewhere.”
I remembered Jane and looked around for her. Part of me was angry that she had done nothing to save me, but then again, neither had I, and I didn’t think that I should hold her to a higher standard than I did myself.
“Two girls?” He raised an eyebrow.
“I think Jane has mace,” I added lamely.
“Where is this alleged friend?” He took his turn scanning the parking lot, and then pointed to something by a van parked on the other side. “I think I see her over there.”
“Where?” I squinted at where he pointed but couldn’t see anything.
“Over there,” he repeated, taking a step towards the black Jetta parked next to me. “Come on. We’ll go over and pick her up, and then I’ll give you guys a ride.”
I walked around to the passenger side of the car, and it never occurred to me to say no. Something about him made me trust him.
His car stereo played Weezer, and in the glow of the blue dashboard lights, I got my first real good look at him. His skin looked flawless, but his hair was perfectly disheveled.
He sped off across the parking lot, and I pulled my eyes away from him to look out the window. Jane cowered down behind a white van, and I wondered if she’d bothered to call the police or anything. He stopped the car next to her and rolled down the window so he could lean out.
“Jane?” he said, and she turned to look at him.
I expected her to be afraid, maybe even bolt and run after what had just happened. Instead, she gave him the strangest look. It was almost as if she was in awe.
“Hi,” Jane said. It wasn’t her normal flirty voice, even though I’m sure that’s what she was trying for.
“Jane, he’s giving us a ride,” I said when it appeared she would just stand there staring at him. “Get in the car.”
“Sure.” She smiled at him before sliding into the backseat.
“Are you okay?” I looked back at her.
“I’m great,” Jane said, still gaping at him. “Who’s your friend here?”
“I don’t actually know,” I admitted, looking over at him.
“I’m Jack,” he said, filling in the blank. “And you’re Jane.” Then he looked over at me. “And you are?”
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I could really go for a cup of coffee right about now.” Jack dropped the car into gear and sped off without waiting for either of us to respond. It wasn’t really a question anyway, and neither one of us would’ve protested.
“This is a really nice car,” Jane said, and her voice had fully regained that sickeningly sweet tone. Jack didn’t say anything, and the silence started to feel awkward.
“Is this Weezer?” I asked, just to say something.
“Yeah,” Jack nodded.
“I like that song ‘Pork ‘n Beans.’” As soon as I mentioned the song, Jack quickly flipped it to the track.
“I saw them when they were on tour with Motion City Soundtrack,” he said.
“Really?” I ignored the annoyed glare Jane gave me and continued. “I really like them. How are they live?”
“Pretty good,” Jack shrugged, and turned sharply into the parking lot outside an all night diner.
When we got out of the car, Jane scampered over to him, looping her arm through his. He didn’t look pleased by it, but he didn’t pull away either.
Outside in the bright glow of the streetlights, I looked him over again. He had on pair of Dickies shorts, skater socks, and light blue Converse, along with the pink tee shirt. He more closely resembled cotton candy than he did a love interest for Jane.
“Oh crap,” I said after I’d gotten out of the car, and looked down at my dirty, bare feet. Blisters and oil covered them, and I couldn’t imagine cramming my swollen feet back into Jane’s shoes.
“What?” Jack asked, and then followed my gaze down. “Oh. Just don’t wear shoes.”
“I can’t not wear shoes.” I didn’t see much of another option, but I couldn’t go into a restaurant without shoes.
“You can wait in the car,” Jane offered up with a smug smile and leaned in closer to Jack, so he pulled his arm free from her and took a step away. She looked a little defeated, but I knew she wouldn’t give up that easy.
“No, you’ll be fine,” Jack insisted. “If they hassle you, I’ll take care of them.”
“What does that even mean?” I asked, but he’d already convinced me. After all, I’d seen the way he chased a gang of unruly guys. The graveyard shift at a Denny’s rip-off wouldn’t stand a chance.
As predicted, nobody noticed my lack of footwear. In fact, nobody noticed me, or even Jane. The waitress kept her eyes completely focused on Jack.
He sat down first, and Jane squished up next to him, so he kept moving over until he was plastered up against the window. I sat down across from them, and Jack rested his arms on the table, leaning towards me.
“What can I get you?” the waitress asked.
“Just coffee,” Jack answered. “Or did you guys want something else?”