To read Part One of this story, click here.
Kat spun the trash bag and looped it around to tie it. Castle Park was quiet, save for the sound of mariachi music coming from the small radio Jorge kept on his cart as he mopped the floors.
All she had left was take out the trash and vacuum up the popcorn and potato chips from the carpeted areas and she could take off for the night. Just after midnight on a Friday night and all she wanted to do was take bath and go to bed. This job was aging her. Not the being a Guardian part–that was fun–but all the stuff that came with it, like working at an arcade. She’d never regretted her decision to follow in her father’s footsteps, but she had definitely been disappointed with how unexciting her day-to-day life was.
Trash bag in hand, she opened the back door and heard a commotion around the corner. She tossed the bag in the dumpster on her way past, and went to investigate.
“Stop coming here, freak!” A teenage boy said as he kicked a younger boy who was already on the ground.
Two other teenage boys shouted encouragement.
“Hey!” Kat said. “Knock it off.”
She stepped between the prostrate boy and the other three.
“Or what?” said one of the boys, just as another said, “Mind your business, bitch.”
Kat began to tingle all over.
“Excuse me?” She said, stepping toward the boy who had cursed at her. “What did you call me?”
“You heard me,” he said. “I told you to mind your business… bitch.”
He wasn’t the first guy to call her that, and she hoped he wouldn’t be the last, but it was the smug way he said it… She smiled.
“Or what?” she said softly, stepping closer.
“Come on, man,” said the third teenager, who up until then had remained silent. “You ain’t gonna beat on no girl.”
“Oh, he’s right about that,” Kat said. “But I’d like to see you try.”
She got right in his face; at best he was two inches taller than her own 5’9″ frame. The air crackled with tension, but after a brief standoff, he turned away.
“That’s what I thought,” Kat said.
The boy spun back around and spit, spraying her face with saliva.
It would be the last time he’d be spitting on anything for a while. Kat’s kick connected with his jaw with such force, that coupled with the way he cried out in pain, she guessed she’d broken it.
“Serves you right,” she said, as he and the other two boys ran away. “Next time, think twice before you pick on somebody.”
The bullies out of sight, she turned to the younger boy, who stared up at her with large brown eyes. He had the sad look of a trapped animal. This wasn’t the first time he’d been bullied.
“What’s your name?” she asked, putting out a hand to help him up.
“Jeremy,” he said.
“Are you OK?” she asked.
His face wasn’t bruised or swollen; she guessed the kick to the gut was the worst of his injuries. He was breathing normally and hadn’t winced getting to his feet so likely it was nothing serious.
“Yeah, I should get home,” he said. “But thanks.”
He went to walk past her, but as he did Kat noticed his hand.
“Wait,” she said. “did they do this?”
She gently held his bleeding hand in her own.
“When I fell,” he said. “There was glass on the ground.”
“Come on,” Kat said, putting a hand on his shoulder and steering him toward the back door. “Let’s get this cleaned up.”