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Running Red Lights - Part One

Down on his luck, Mark finds the catalyst to start over
How the hell did I end up here? A year and a half ago I was a well-respected lawyer, earning six figures, and drinking cognac in my penthouse apartment. I was one of the best, but instead of putting the bad guys in jail, I kept them out. I was one of those sleazy lawyers who rejoiced in acquitting murderers, thieves, mob bosses, and any other scumbags whose cases fell into my lap. I had my pick of the litter when it came to women. Early in my career as my reputation began to skyrocket, I took one girl home from the bar and she stayed in my bed for the following five years. She was my red haired goddess, my Sabrina. Yeah, I knew she was extremely high maintenance, but she was great in the sack.

So, where did it all go wrong? I was found bribing a judge on my last case. The thing was I knew my client was guilty of all the crimes that were pinned against. The guy was a homicidal maniac who went and shot up a bank, killing seven people, then stole a car after the shooting, and to top it off, the guy engaged in a high speed chase with the cops. I got cocky and took this guy’s case. I had no idea how far over my head was on the first day of court. I got desperate as the prosecutor absolutely crushed myself and my client with all the evidence.

I knew a plea of insanity wouldn't work this time. I needed to uphold my reputation as one of the best. After the second day of cross examination, I met with the judge, whipped out my check book, and asked him to name his price. He looked at me and very calmly told me to leave. The worst part was, the judge waited until I lost the case to rat me out. I was swiftly disbarred and to add insult to injury, Sabrina took all of my money and left me. Shouldn't have given the bitch access to my bank account.

My name is Mark Weller, I’m 34, I work the graveyard shift at a gas station, and I have done the worst thing possible.

**3 days earlier**

The station is empty at midnight. Most people are busy having lives and drinking to the good life. I hate them all. Night after night, I sit behind the counter selling gas and snack food and watch the security monitor until six in the morning. Now, I don’t work at a Shell or Exxon Station, nope! I work in a privately owned station in the sketchy area between the ghetto and the downtown night life. Most of the time, the people that come in are lowlifes and gangsters, hence the handgun behind the counter with me. But, this night was different, she came in.

Tonight it was quiet, no one came in, but she did. I heard the doorbell ring and out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of blonde hair loosely flowing beneath a gray beanie. That flash of gold locks got my full attention. She walked toward fridge and grabbed a six pack of Stella and moved on to the candy aisle. I knelt on the counter desperately trying to catch a glimpse of her face.

What the hell am I doing?! What makes her so special that I’m kneeling over the counter trying to see this random girl’s face? She could be ugly as fuck!

Well, she wasn't ugly as fuck for sure. She turned around and I got sucked into the biggest brown eyes I've ever seen with long black eyelashes to match. A retroussé nose sat gracefully on her face and beneath it sat the fullest and softest looking lips. I wanna kiss those lips. I wanna kiss the tip of her nose. I wanna cup her face in my hands and feel her soft skin against my fingertips. I couldn't keep my eyes off of her as she walked towards the counter. I didn't even notice that she had put her stuff down on the counter.

“Hi. Quiet night, huh?” She smiled at me.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah," I stuttered. I grabbed the scanner and clicked the trigger on the beer and the Hershey bar.

“Yeah, that’s, uh, $11.50,” I said. She put her purse on the counter and began digging through her purse and finally pulled out a wrinkled $20 bill.

“Is, uh, a twenty alright?” She handed me the bill and our fingers touched.

A violent shiver ran down my spine and my mind went black and everything started moving at lightning speed. I opened the cash register and started grabbing all of the cash and change. It was as if I was having an out of body experience! I could see myself stuffing the cash inside her purse, but I couldn't feel the paper between my fingers. What the fuck am I doing?! What the fuck am I doing?! What the fuck am I doing?! 

“What are you doing?! Stop that?! For the love of God stop!” I heard her gasp. I only had one thing on my mind at that moment. I needed to get away from my job, from this city, from my life and I needed her to come with me!

“Look, I need to get away from here and I need this money. More importantly, I need you to come with me.” I closed the register, tore off my mandatory vest, jumped over the counter and grabbed her hand. We were outside of the station when I ran into my first problem: we needed a car.

“Which one is yours?” she pointed to a white van. A white fucking van! Well, better than nothing, although it was a little sketchy for a girl like her.

“Get in,” I commanded.

“Are you kidnapping me?”

I turned to look at her. She looked calm, but her brown eyes told a different story. She was scared out of her mind. “No! I just need you to come with me.”

“Where are we going? You’re not gonna hurt me are you?”

“No, I wouldn't even think of doing something like that! Fuck, I don't even know what I'm doing. To be honest, I don’t know where we’re going. All I know is that I need to get away from here. My life currently is shit. I need to get as far away from here as I can and I don’t wanna go alone. You up for it?”

She stared at me then at her purse full of cash. I was petrified that she was gonna call the cops on me and have me arrested for attempted kidnapping and robbery. When she finally spoke, I was surprised at her answer.

“Yeah.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, let’s do this. I've got nothing else to do.” She laughed.

“Mark.” I extended my hand towards her.

“Ellie.” She took my hand and we shook.

We hopped in the van and drove off into the night. I had no fucking idea what I was doing or what I was getting myself into, but it was better than the sorry excuse that was my life. And to top it all off, this beautiful girl, Ellie, was the catalyst. We drove off into the night and ran the first red light of my life.

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