And so Mr. & Mrs. Lutman began the second week of their honeymoon, with Miami next on their itinerary. They checked in at a luxury hotel a few minutes from downtown.
As they prepared for their evening, Deanne emerged from the bathroom of their honeymoon suite in her new, red, shoulder-cut dress. David Lutman’s jaw dropped; she was even more beautiful than that first day he had met her.
He also dressed the part, wearing a brand-new tailor-made tuxedo.
After cheerfully depositing their keycard, they jumped into their hire car and set off to a quiet and well-recommended restaurant serving typical American cuisine in a not-so-familiar area of the city.
It was well past midnight, much later than they intended, when they eventually emerged with the handful of remaining diners from the restaurant. Lutman cheerfully said goodnight to the maître d', and he and Deanne left arm in arm for their car.
It was a pleasant, warm, but slightly sticky evening. The sky was clear, and the stars were clearly visible despite the large and powerful street lighting that swamped the street. After he had looked up, Lutman began to notice that everyone else had gone in the opposite direction to them, or had leaped straight into waiting taxis; they were alone. Only the occasional car raced past them as they walked hand-in-hand.
The fact that they were now left alone made him feel decidedly uneasy. The shops had looked very attractive upon their arrival, but now they had all been replaced with ominous-looking solid Graffiti-strewn metal shutters that covered every pane of glass at ground level. It may have been only a short walk to the car, but Lutman and Deanne's pace had notably quickened.
And then a young, unshaven skinhead, around Lutman’s height, and wearing a dirty blue bomber jacket, approached them from around a corner with an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth. Whether Lutman or Deanne liked the idea or not, it was clear that they were going to be engaged in conversation.
‘Got a light?’ he sneered, gawping at them malevolently.
‘Erm, no we haven’t,’ Deanne responded apprehensively.
‘‘kay,’ then the skinhead nonchalantly walked by, seemingly to have accepted their nervous response.
But what mild sense of relief they had felt soon turned to intense apprehension when a black man with distinctive, short bleached blond hair suddenly emerged from around that very corner where Lutman and Deanne’s car was parked a further three hundred feet up. Dressed in a black leather jacket with the inscription ‘Free Spirit’ on the backside, this individual’s face was covered with an intimidating number of facial piercings.
He was also about two inches taller than Lutman.
He smiled a bright yellow smile.
And then from a holster, he swiftly produced a switchblade knife, and pointed it in their direction. ‘Say, you sure you ain’t got no lighter… or wallet, maybe?’
Lutman and Deanne froze in fear. Then they turned, only to find that the skinhead who had appeared to have ignored them just a few moments earlier was now standing only a few feet away, blocking their escape. He was also holding a large blade.
The only direction left was the road, but even this option had been blocked. Two more individuals in black leather were now standing there and were ominously heading towards them.
The skinhead who was known to his accomplices as Staib – and who still had the dangling cigarette from his mouth – walked towards them slowly, his knife brandished menacingly. He slowly took the stick out of his mouth to reveal two gapped front teeth. ‘Listen,’ he sneered as he stood in front of Lutman, whose expression told him that this boy had clearly never experienced such a confrontation, ‘we’re in a pretty good mood today, you know what I mean? We don’ wanna hurt anyone, certainly not you lovely people. So all you guys gotta do is just giz your money pronto and we’ll leave you alone. I can’t be fairer than that, can I?’
Still in a state of shock, Lutman made the fatal error of not removing his wallet. To the thugs, making absolutely no movement whatsoever was the worst thing he could have done. Patience was not a virtue regardless of their mood, good or not.
Now whatever had masqueraded as friendliness disappeared completely in an instant. Their language became considerably more colorful and threatening: the knives, only inches away, even more menacing. Staib shrieked at them to give them his money.
‘For Gods sake David!’ shrieked Deanne, ‘just give them your money!’
‘Listen to your pretty lady, man!’ taunted Staib, ’cos I ain’t got no more time to hang about! Gizzus your wallet! And now!’
Unwisely, Lutman tried to reason with them. ‘Look, come on, this isn’t fair, is it?’ he stammered, struggling to muster some kind of courage. ‘There’s four of you, and only two of us!’
The clear British accent was not lost on the thugs. ‘What’s fair? Welcome to freakin’ Miami. We dictate what’s freakin’ fair.’
‘Didya hear that accent?’ shouted one of his accomplices. ‘He’s a freakin’ limey!’
‘Well, for a limey,’ added Staib, glaring at Lutman, ‘you sure got yourself a pretty woman.’
The skinhead put out his hand to try to touch Deanne’s bare arm. She backed away, petrified. ‘Aww, I wouldn’t hurt you, pretty lady!’ he scoffed.
‘She’s got a pair of nice tits an’ ass!’ shouted Shaif, the black man with a cigarette that had been lit by Wag, one of the other youths that were both shaven-headed and dressed in casual black clothes. They appeared to be unarmed.
Shaif’s hand stroked Deanne’s right arm. ‘Keep your hands off of me!’ she screeched.
At that moment a blue saloon slowly went by, slow enough in that there was no way its occupant could have not seen what was happening. But it was clear the driver was not going to get involved.
As their muggers inched inexorably forward, Lutman found himself backed up towards a brick wall and a garbage bin. He looked to his right. Someone was walking towards them, but then having seen the youths quickly turned in the opposite direction. Shaif also looked that direction, noted Lutman’s expression, and smiled. ‘Now that’s a sensible guy,’ he said threateningly to Deanne, ‘as you can see, ain’t anybody gonna help you now, pretty lady.’
Shaif turned his threatening gaze to Lutman. ‘You had your chance to giz your money,’ he said slowly, ‘and now we’re gonna take what we want.’ He smiled a nicotine-stained smile, one front tooth missing, and gaps either side of his grin. He grabbed Deanne’s arm. Deanne screamed.
‘I wan’ her first,’ shouted Brag, the fourth attacker.
‘No worries!’ retorted Shaif. ‘We want a show!’
‘For God’s sake someone help us!’ Deanne sobbed, her voice almost at a whisper. She could not shout; fear had consumed her to the point she could hardly breathe; she was almost gasping for air. She truly believed she was about to be violated and killed.
Then something snapped in David Lutman’s mind. His whole being just told him that he clearly no longer had a choice in the matter. These animals were obviously hell-bent on finishing him off permanently. They were about to inflict serious, psychological, and sexual injury upon Deanne.
And then he was going to die.
And Deanne was going to be violated several times over.
And he had a mission to complete.
He was scared, but he also felt anger. Extreme anger.
There was nothing to lose. He had to fight like a madman, or die.
In complete desperation, or by compulsion - even he did not know what it was - Lutman placed his hand into the open garbage bin. Miraculously, he had grabbed something large, heavy, long, and very solid. He smoothly and quickly, without catching the sides of the bin, pulled out a heavy, long piece of solid wood that resembled an old but very solid, table leg.
And then he screamed.
He swung the wooden bar wildly, and viciously. He smacked the cheek of Staib, the shock of which forced the mugger to drop his knife and fall to the ground, totally shocked and bewildered at the reaction of his victim.
This totally unexpected attack caught the gang completely unawares. Before they could even think of retaliating, the same stick had swung viciously into Brag’s groin.
He collapsed into absolutely agony.
Two more cars swept by.
Buoyed by his attack, Lutman stood in front of Deanne. He waved his makeshift weapon threateningly at Shaif and Wag. Shaif grinned, trying to mask the fact that even he had been stunned by what happened.
But he remained confident. ‘Very good,’ he sneered, ‘Very, very good. You sure is a lucky English man.’ He glared at Lutman, positive his experience would get the better of his victims.
Shaif attempted to grab Deanne.
‘KEEP YOUR DIRTY HANDS OFF MY WIFE!!!’
This Englishman, this man that should have been one of their easiest pickings of the night; this Englishman, who should have been a pushover the moment he even clapped eyes on them; this Englishman, who initially seemed to be incredibly stupid, was crazy.
And this Englishman, who clearly was no longer that straight forward, was brandishing a particularly solid looking wooden bar, and was clearly intent on taking them all on. He had successfully felled two of them,with one still writhing on the sidewalk and the other totally dazed, his face drenched in blood from the impact of the bar to his cheek, which had been cut open.
Nevertheless, Shaif reasoned, the other two should recover quickly enough to restore the uneven status quo. He had to let the Englishman know the odds were still in their favor.
‘You shouldn’t have shouted at me. You made me very angry,’ he said slowly. But his voice very definitely had a note of uncertainty. ‘Now you’re gonna freakin’ well –’
But before he had the chance to complete his sentence, the wooden bar was swung with astonishing speed onto his knife arm. The crack was audible. Shaif quickly backed away, clutching his arm in agony. ‘My arm! Man, you broke my freakin’ arm!’
At that very moment Lutman hit Shaif’s arm, Wag had tried to make a grab for the makeshift club. But the momentum and confidence was with Lutman, and as if reading Wag’s mind, stabbed him hard in his stomach with another vicious swing.
Although his other attackers were coming to their senses and recovering their composure, Lutman was ready, now supremely confident of his ability and superiority.
Although another car avoided the opportunity to watch a spectacular display of self-defense directly under the floodlit gaze of the street lighting, residents from the surrounding apartments above the shops, having been woken up by the commotion, were also watching, fascinated.
As Staib slowly got up from the ground, Lutman kicked away his knife and let out such a vicious kick onto his chin that he rendered him totally unconscious.
Shaif, handicapped by a broken arm, had his nose split by the bar before he could react. Off-balance, he tumbled off the curb and onto the road.
Lutman was not interested in admiring the result. His adrenalin was overflowing, and his confidence sky-high.
No need for the wooden bar now. He handed Deanne the stick and walked up to Staib, who was sniffing and spitting blood. His eyes were now of fear rather than menace.
But there would be no mercy. In Lutman’s mind, these thugs had never given their victims that luxury. He continually kicked him in the stomach, causing him to lay flat onto the road. His head cracked on the tarmac.
With increasing rapidity and madness, David Lutman laid siege on the hapless thug, foot cracking into his side, his ribs, his face, anywhere that could be booted. For the coup de grace, he grabbed Shaif’s jacket lapels, picked him up, and smashed him in the face with his fist.
Deanne’s expression had rapidly turned from extreme fear to extreme horror. These were not the actions of a normal man! Her husband was crazy with anger, shouting and swearing at his hapless attacker.
She glared as he picked up Shaif once more and hit him once again with his right fist. And then again.
He would not, or could not, stop hitting him. ‘You bastard! You bastard! You bastard!!!’ he screamed with increasing ferocity.
Staib, however, was not fighting back. He had not been able to do so for some time. His body was limp, but that did not stop Lutman.
Oh my God, Deanne thought with panic. ’David!!!’
Lutman’s arm suddenly stopped as he was about to smash into that face again.
He glared at Staib, and paused, breathing heavily. He released his shirt lapels, the head cracking onto the road once more and into a rich pool of blood.
Lutman then stood up, then turned to see the now-conscious Shaif staring at the mess.
‘And now you!!’
He turned to Shaif and looked into his eyes, and then purposefully marched over to him.
With no support from his cohorts, fear completely took over. Shaif turned and ran, his nose desperately blooded and clutching a broken arm.
Lutman knew he could have easily got him, but this thug was not going to come back.
Besides, in his mind, there was one other conscious psycho to sort out.
He snatched the stick from Deanne and made for Brag, who was still clutching his groin in agony.
‘And now I’m gonna make sure you’re never ever gonna get the chance to rape my wife or anybody else again. YOU’LL HAVE NO, AS YOU PUT IT, FREAKING BALLS LEFT WHEN I’VE FINISHED WITH YOU!!’
Both Brag and Deanne had seen enough. Like a frightened child, Brag turned to run away as fast as he could.
Lutman was all set to run after him and meter out the same relentless and merciless treatment as he had done to Staib, but Deanne, who was clearly shaken by the fact that the difference between attacker and victim had now become blurred, grabbed the bar from him. She threw it away, and pushed Lutman forcibly in the direction of the car.
He glared at her in complete astonishment as she pulled his jacket.
A minute later, he was bundled into the passenger seat. Police sirens could now be distinctly heard in the distance.
Despite coming to some of his senses, Lutman was still under the influence of a full adrenaline rush, and appeared not to notice Deanne sit in the driver’s seat. She was making no attempt to start the engine.
‘Shit, did you see that?’ he cried out excitedly. ‘I’ve never fought like that… the closest thing I’ve ever had to a fight was in the school playground… but with four of the bastards…’
‘Who the hell do you think you were?’ Deanne screamed, shocked and terrified. ‘You could’ve had us both killed!’
‘But I didn’t!’ Lutman countered firmly, ‘and besides, I’m absolutely certain we’d’ve both been dead if I hadn’t done something, or reacted, or at least’ve spent the next few weeks in some hospital. Are you going to start the car?’
‘Those bastards could’ve had guns! Didn’t that even occur to you?’
Lutman could now hear the sirens. The only thing that occurred to him now was that they were not moving. ‘Come on, Deanne! Let’s get out of here!’
‘But they didn’t have guns, did they?’
‘All right David,’ said Deanne, her voice now sounding dangerous. ‘Tell me now, right now, and don’t give me any crap. What the hell’s going on?’
‘Deanne, start the bloody car! Let’s get out of here!’
‘TELL ME WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!’
‘What the hell are you talking about?’ he yelled back indignantly. He really did not know what point she was trying to make. The sirens were getting louder, but Deanne still resolutely refused to start the car.
‘Just tell me. Where the hell did you learn to fight like that?’ she said, almost hysterical. ‘And how the hell did you know there’d be a weapon in that trash can? That was an incredibly handy place to find one, wasn’t it?’
‘Did you set this whole thing up? You know, that was a really remarkable coincidence, wasn’t it? There just happened to be a nice handy wooden club in the trash can that you just happened to find, and then you start acting like… like…’ She began struggling for words, her frustration fuelling her anger further. ‘…like a… a raving lunatic!!’
Lutman’s adrenalin rush, having reached a peak with incredible rapidity, was now doing the same in reverse. ‘I… I don’t know what came over me… and the stick, the table leg or whatever it was, I swear, Deanne, I had no idea it’d be there! And those guys...’
‘Did you set them up? Tell me! Are you one of those specially trained super soldier killing machines or something?’
‘W-what?’ He started breathing harder, and was no longer in the mood for an argument. ‘You think I’m what? Of course I didn’t set them up! Who do you think I am?’
‘I’m not sure I know any more.’
It was becoming an almighty struggle to concentrate as his head began to spin. ‘Please Deanne,’ he said wearily, but with as much composure as he could muster. ‘Let’s go. Please.’
It still took her a few more seconds before she eventually started it as it occurred to her that the police, despite his heroism, might see the situation differently after viewing the mess.
As the sirens were almost on top of them, she decided that contact with the police would have to wait, and uncharacteristically span the wheels and set off towards their hotel.
But she hadn’t finished lecturing him. ‘Don’t you ever, ever, do that again!’ she screamed, her foot hard down. ‘D’you hear me? Never, ever, AGAIN!’
David Lutman was silent. He really did not want to talk any more. He was not feeling too good.
As his breathing rate began to increase, he opened the passenger window and took in the rush of sticky, moisture-filled sweaty air. Deanne’s anger-fuelled erratic driving and the state of the roads were doing nothing to help him.
Deanne desperately wanted to hate him. She wanted to tell him further how stupid he was, and that he should have just given them the money without hesitation. What he did was neither big nor clever.
But he had seen off four thugs. They were both safe, in one piece, and totally intact. She could not ignore that.
She began to wonder if she really knew or even understand him, this man she had married almost at a whim, this mild mannered Englishman. Was there something about his history that he had not told her? How much of this had to do with this whole time travel thing, and everything that had happened to her so far since she met him? Was he actually dangerous? Was she even safe to be in his presence? Should she turn him over to the police?
She desperately wanted more answers, but she knew she was not going to get them imminently, plus her husband was clearly in no state to give any. In the meantime, she thought, the best thing to do would be to keep quiet and just ignore him. That would surely be enough to let him know how she felt.
The rest of the ten-minute journey to their hotel was conducted at speed, but in silence.
On arrival, Deanne was about to get out of the car, lock it, and intended to march straight to their room without a further word. But as she pulled the ignition key out, she changed her mind and turned to her husband for one more stern look and lecture, only to find that he was noticeably shaking. The adrenaline rush was well and truly over as waves of nausea swept his head.
Her expression now changed to one of anxiety. ‘Are you all right?’ she said, concerned.
Suddenly, he opened the door, and vomited onto the hotel parking lot.
When convinced his retching was over, he sat back up in the passenger seat, looking very sorry for himself. He did not want to talk.‘Come on David,’ said Deanne, her hostility turning to sympathy, ‘let’s get inside, washed and changed. And then we’ll talk.’
Chapter 27 >