It was cold enough that I was shaking and could feel my muscles beginning to tighten too much to continue the pace I had been running at for the last ten minutes. The clouds were drifting lazily through the moonlit sky as Leslie’s house came into view. I had to clench my teeth to stop them from chattering until I reached her home and pushed my way inside.
The heat felt like fire on my skin as I rubbed my arms and legs to get them to stop shaking.
“Kiran, what are you-” Leslie paused as she spun around not to see me, “Why are you naked?”
“It’s a long story,” I replied, still trying to warm up, “you wouldn’t happen to have a blanket or spare clothes so that I can warm up a bit?”
“One second,” Leslie replied, marching out of the hall.
Leslie came back a moment later with a blanket, her face flushed as she tossed me the blanket.
“Do you have any shame?” she asked as I wrapped myself up.
“I checked a while back, and honestly, no,” I smiled. “At least not when I have my clothes taken by a bunch of thugs that had me in the trunk of a car.”
“What-Why-Who-” she stuttered, pinching the bridge of her nose.
“I told you it’s a long story. So far, it’s mostly that I may or may not have made some unfriendly acquaintances that want me dead, but I got away at the expense of everything I was wearing. So win for me, I guess,” I said, with a shrug as I walked past her toward the kitchen, “Speaking of wins, I need some food.”
“Kiran, you need to stop for a second,” Leslie replied as she followed me down the hall and through the door into the kitchen.
It didn’t take me long to find a hunk of crusty bread and her fruit bowl. My stomach was in knots from hunger as I devoured an apple.
“So, about these-what did you call them-acquaintances?” Leslie said, sitting at the island. “Are they going to be a problem?”
“Most likely,” I replied through a mouthful of bread, “but I can honestly tell you it’s not my fault this time.”
“This time?” Leslie repeated, raising an eyebrow.
“You remember the Russians?” I said. Leslie nodded. “That was most definitely my fault. This time it’s not though, I swear it!”
“The Russians were your fault? You know it took me a month to rebuild the living room after that!” Leslie said.
“And I’ve already paid you back for that,” I replied, reaching for an orange.
Leslie grabbed my wrist. “Who are these friends of yours, and how dangerous are they?”
“They are certainly not my friends,” I replied, “As for how dangerous, think Brazil circa ’09.”
“Are you fucking kidding me, Kiran?” Leslie said, pulling me into the island. My ribs did not appreciate it, and I winced. “You know that it’s not easy to get people like that to stop coming, right? Are you even sure that no one followed you?”
“I’m like eighty-six percent sure I wasn’t followed,” I replied, trying to pull myself from her grip.
“Great!” Leslie erupted, releasing my wrist. “You’re a fucking idiot. You know that, right?”
“But I’m cute and adorable,” I replied, pulling the blanket up around my face as I blinked, I hoped, cutely at her.
“Kiran, you’re a lot of things, but I don’t know if those adjectives apply here,” Leslie replied.
“We don’t need to fight over this,” I replied, walking out of the room. “All I need is some clothes, and I’ll be on my way. I’ll take care of this one. You can stay here, bored out of your gourd, waiting for death to take you.”
“You’re lucky that you have that blanket. What clothes are you going to wear, Kiran? It’s not like I have a husband that fits you. All I have are my clothes, and I’m not sure-”
“That’ll be fine,” I said, turning around the banister of the stairs. “I only need them for a few-”
The sound of engines roaring outside brought me to silence as both Leslie, and I looked at the front door.
“Fuck you, Kiran,” Leslie growled without turning around. “Upstairs in the closet, under the floor, is everything we need. I’ll try to stall.”
Without a word, I ascended the stairs, rounding them at the landing and padded to her bedroom, dropping the blanket on the floor. I went to the closet and pulled the false floor up, revealing her stash as I heard the front door open and voices speaking, muffled through the floor.
I pulled two pistols and six clips from the stash and paused when I saw a grenade.
“I shouldn’t,” I muttered, my head rocking side to side. A grenade was in my hand before I could stop it. “but I suppose, when a lot of people want you dead.”
I replaced the panel and stood up, Leslie’s clothes brushing against me.
“I shouldn’t,” I paused, looking from the clothes to the weapons. I shrugged and set them on the bed and proceeded to get dressed. Leslie’s pants were all too small for me, but she had a floral pattern summer dress that, at the very least, covered my nether regions adequately.
The sound of gunfire erupted from outside as I stood in front of the mirror spinning in place to make the dress billow out.
“I should, yeah-” I muttered as I grabbed the gear on the bed.
“Kiran! What the fuck are you doing!?” Leslie bellowed from downstairs as the front door shut. “Get the fuck down here, now!”
I did as commanded, sprinting out of the room and down the stairs as Leslie ran for the kitchen.
“Here,” I said, dropping a gun to her and a few of the clips.
“Are you serious? My dress?” she asked, checking her weapon.
“I couldn’t very well fight them naked, could I?” I replied as I reached the bottom of the stairs. “Give me a second.”
I pulled the pin on the grenade, cracked the door, and lobbed it outside. There were at least ten cars on her lawn.
“I got you a present!” I yelled as the grenade bounced on one of the cars and disappeared on the other side. I slammed the door and ran for the kitchen.
“Was that a-” Leslie began asking as the explosion ripped through the front of the building. We were already in the kitchen, thankfully.
“I’ll pay you back!” I yelled as she looked death in my direction. “As soon as we kill all of them. I swear it.”
“This is the last time,” Leslie said, shaking her head as the front door opened. Leslie spun around the corner, firing methodically. As usual, her aim was impeccable, taking down one person with each shot as they tried to come through the door.