“What the fuck, man?” I yank open the front door.
Two guys in running gear sweat in the hallway.
“Yo, Jerry. How you doing?” the sandy-haired one raises a hand to high-five me.
It is seven in the morning. The banging on the door came as I poured milk into my coffee, so even though I do not recognise either of them, I raise my hand to return the high-five.
Instead of a slap on my hand, I get punched in the nose. The pain is instant. As I stumble back into my apartment, the sandy-haired guy and his partner rush at me. One of them kicks the door shut on the way in while the other tackles me. I cannot see which it is because of the tears blurring my eyes. Hands like iron clasps flip me onto my stomach, bring my wrists together behind my back and zip cuff me. I kick out, miss. Get a slap on the back of my head.
“Don’t,” a voice says.
I lie still. Catch my breath. Shiver from the adrenaline rush.
Hands grab and roll me onto my back. The sandy-haired guy stands to my right. He strokes his moustache with his thumb and index finger. He watches me. The other guy – squat, balding, bottom jaw jutting – rises and walks away from us.
“You guys from the bank? You here for the apartment?” I ask. My nose hurts. I taste blood.
I run through the checklist. There is the furniture, car, insurance, clothing store, electrician, tax man. Too many.
“I’m unemployed, you know,” I say.
“Do I owe money?”
Suddenly I am afraid.
“Yo, Lyle. You want a coffee?” the squat guy’s voice comes from the kitchen.
“Yeah, sure,” Lyle yells back.
“I never remember – one or two sugars?”
“None, man. It’s none. That shit will mess your teeth up,” Lyle says, then shakes his head. He resumes stroking his moustache.
I try and figure out an escape plan and realise I will not make it.
“What do you want?” I ask.
The squat guy returns with a coffee mug in each hand.
“Your mind,” says Lyle as he reaches for the mug being offered.
To Be Continued