Steve continued on with his business until he could take the suspense no more. He zipped up.
He saw a man in a leather jacket rushing over the bridge. Was this it? Steve checked his watch. 2:58. Did they say it was at 3 a.m.?
Steve called out to Peter, who followed him as he was walking. At a distance, he could see the four men who had been at the coffeeshop. "It’s them", he whispered.
Frank walked up to the man in the leather jacket. "Welcome. We’ve got the cards."
Lee reached into his pockets. "You say it’s $100,000?"
"$185,000", said the man who would give the four the deal.
"Delighted," said Lee. He pulled a few high-denomination bills out of his pockets and handed them over. "I got 12 AALL cards." Lee pulled out 12 AALL cards, then pulled out their corresponding thumb prints. "Switcher’s the man though. Switcher and his buddies got 37."
Switcher opened an empty guitar case. He pulled out the cards and proudly displayed them.
"Hey look", Steve said, "He’s got the AALL cards". Steve and his friend watched as the man in the leather jacket went over the cards and thumb prints. Then they saw John pull out some more AALL cards. Steve turned his head and saw that by now Peter was videotaping this.
They heard the man in the leather jacket saying, "That’s what I like."
"Did he say, ‘That’s what I like’?", Steve asked.
"Hey!", shouted Lee, "It’s the kid from the coffeeshop!"
"RUN!", yelled Steve as he grabbed Peter by the collar and pulled him away from the bridge. Peter spun to follow Steve and tripped on his own toes. He stumbled to his feet dropping the camera. Tempted to just leave it on the ground, Peter took a few steps to follow after Steve. But he knew full well what that physical likeness meant to the case. He stopped short and sprinted back the few steps to retrieve it. Once he had it in his hands he raced to catch up with Steve. Even though Steve’s sprint had taken him out of catching range for now, Peter knew that Steve could not hold out much longer. As Peter gained on Steve he realized that Steve had about run himself out and tried hard to think of a way to get Steve to move faster.
Thankfully, as always Steve had already figured out the rest of the getaway. He only had to figure out how he could make it all work out the way he had it in his head. First things first though, he had to find a way to stop running. His legs were beginning to cramp up and his lungs were screaming with the pain of each panted breath. Steve stopped short of the St. Charles and Iglesias intersection. As luck would have it a taxi had just dropped its fare at this very intersection and was about to take off to find another one. In his amazed state Steve forgot that Peter had to return for the camera and was therefore no longer directly behind him. Steve dove into the cab and as best he can through his panting told the driver to take him to 2131 Friedmont Drive, which was Peter’s home address.
Peter watched dumbfounded as Steve’s taxi began to pull away from the curb. Peter yelled at the taxi and flailed his arms in vain. Peter had no idea what to do now. Switcher and Frank were merely a block behind him, and the man in the leather jacket about half a block farther back and the other two, John and Lee, were nowhere to be seen. With no better idea for a way to get away Peter continued running after the taxi yelling at Steve to wait.
"Wait for me, you nim!" The taxi began to merge into traffic as Peter hit the sidewalk along Iglesias.
In his now exhausted and befuddled state Steve thought how amazed Peter would be when Steve got to his house and showed him the video. Steve wished the taxi driver would hurry up as he could hear the criminals yelling at them to stop.
"Stop the cab you nim!" Peter had never had to run this far before and he wondered if his legs could last much longer. He glanced behind to see the progress of the thieves. The two better runners have now fallen behind by a half a block. This was a good sign and Peter hoped he could hold out until he was far enough away that they wouldn’t catch him. Or at least until Steve remembered to wait for him, the nim.
Steve was regaining his breath while trying to remember where he put the camera. Peter was supposed to have brought it. The thieves’ voices were not getting any fainter so the cab must be going awfully slow. Steve looked to the cabby and saw that he was watching the thieves in his rear view mirror and looking to Steve as if to say "Shall I stop?"
"STEVE, YOU NIM!," Peter couldn’t last much longer and the thieves looked as though they had gotten their second wind. "STOP THE CAB!!"
Peter did bring the camera. Peter dropped the camera. Peter had to go back for the camera. Peter had been running right behind him. Peter was still running behind the cab. Steve sat bolt upright when this realization hit him and yelled at the cabby the same instant Peter said the words, "STOP THE CAB!"
Seeing that his fare had finally come to his senses the cab driver slowed the cab to a near stop and Peter dove in next to Steve. Not even waiting for the door to close the driver took off again just as Frank caught up with them and grabbed a hold of the door. Because of the traffic the cab driver could not get going fast enough to lose him. Lying across the back street panting for air Peter used all the strength he had left in his legs to kick Frank’s arm and wrench his hand free of the door. Without him holding the door it swung shut on its own and the driver wove his way into traffic and away from the thieves.
"You boys okay?"
Glaring at Steve, Peter answered, "We’re fine now, thanks."
"Peter, I’m sorry man! Everything happened so quickly. I knew you were there and I knew we had to get away, but then when I saw the cab I just started thinking that I had to get the tapes to you at your house. I’m sorry man." Steve really was sorry that he had forgotten Peter was there with him. He had no idea how he could have forgotten such a major fact.
Peter stopped glaring at Steve and asked if he thought it was a good idea that they go back to his place.
"Of course we should head to your house. We need to go over and copy the tapes so we have back up. We need to make sure we got all their faces and voices on tape." Steve thought this all sounded very logical and normal but the look on Peter’s face was telling him otherwise. "What? You don’t think we need to do any of that?" Peter didn’t answer him. In fact Peter was not paying attention to him at all. Peter was staring out the back window at the car behind them.
"Driver, can we lose the car behind us please?" Steve looked to see whom Peter was talking about and was yet again dumbfounded. How could the thieves have gotten a car and caught up to them so quickly? Peter knew it was the two that he had not seen running behind them. They must have gone and gotten their own car and when they got to the intersection they either saw Steve get into the cab or the saw Peter running after the cab. Either way the thieves were still after them.
The driver bobbed in and out of traffic for fifteen minutes and finally came to a hard stop in front of the street market on Kings Castle. He told the boys to make a run for it and to hide amongst the stands. "They are too far behind to know where I have dropped you but I don’t think it would be wise for me to take you to either of your homes. The chance of them finding out where you live is too great. Good luck and God’s speed boys."
Steve and Peter scrambled from the cab and ran for the market. They both turned to see the cab drive off and the thieves’ car pull in behind it. They did not wait to see that the thieves realized the cab had dropped the boys off and had circled back to search the area. Steve ran to hide behind a vendor’s cart that had been locked down for the night. Peter grabbed his arm and dragged him behind him to find a place they could both hide out for a few hours. Peter was not taking the chance of Steve "forgetting" him again. They ducked into an alley and crouched behind a few dumpsters. The dumpster facing the market was sitting at an angle that allowed the boys to hunker down behind it and not be seen from the market. As they waited out the thieves there was a frantic whispered conversation about what to do next.
Peter knew the better idea was to copy the tapes first, just in case, but he wanted to be done with this case. Though logically he knew that was just his aching legs and battered lungs talking. The suspense and intrigue was a high for him. But this time things were different. Steve was different. He had never forgotten something so important before. What was wrong him today?
"You feeling alright man?" Steve could see the concern on his friend’s face. He was not feeling alright, not anymore anyways. But Peter knew he could not run as far as he was forced to just minutes before.
"Yeah man, I’ll be alright. I’m just worn from running so far." Peter could see the pain on Steve’s face and hoped he would not get too sore from the little jaunt.
"Alright man, let’s just take it easy for a bit and relax while we wait them out. They won’t keep searching around here for too long. People would get suspicious."
"Yeah, you’re right. You want some of this cooler?" Peter was glad that Steve had brought the cooler after all. Even with the night as chilly as it was the cooler was a welcome drink after their run.
It seemed like four or five hours had passed when Peter roused Steve from the light sleep he had fallen into. In fact it had only been an hour and a half and Peter was getting rather uncomfortable.
"Let’s get home man." Peter pleaded with Steve.
"You think it’s safe?"
"Yeah, I saw them walk into the market an hour ago and they walked out about thirty minutes ago. They’re not here anymore."
Steve squeezed himself between the dumpster and the wall and had a look around the market. The place was a ghost town. All the vendor’s carts were locked down and all the shops were barred. He carefully pulled himself all the way out from behind the dumpster, and staying crouched down he looked both up and down the street. Nothing. There wasn’t a person in sight. Steve walked back around the dumpsters and helped Peter to his feet.
"Let’s go. I gotta get some rest. When are you planning to go through the tape and make sure we got all five of them on it?"
"I don’t know. Some time in the morning. You want me to call you before I start?"
"Yeah, then I’ll go over to your house and we can compile everything."
"That sounds good. I’ll see you then." As Peter and Steve had been deciding on when to go over their evidence they had been walking in the direction of their homes. Now they split from each other and headed off to their own houses. The rest of the way home Steve checked his messages and replied to the ones he need to give attention to leaving the rest for when he got up. It was five o’clock in the morning when Steve finally fell into bed fully clothed and exhausted.