From the KTV, Brig, Tommy, and Tarantino caught a cab to the Luohu train station. Brig sat in the front seat and said nothing while Tommy and Tarantino sat in the back, speaking in whispers. Arriving at the station Tommy paid the fare, and the three emptied out of the cab and into a crowded street. Without so much as a “goodbye,” Tarantino disappeared into the throng.
The smell of car exhaust was stifling, the noise deafening. Busses and large trucks made aggressive moves on the smaller cars that measured progress in meters, while nimble motorcycles risked all, weaving in and out of the congested traffic. The lights glared, drivers honked their horns, and though the sun had long since gone down it was still hot and humid. Brig’s clothes clung to his skin like a bad paint job. He felt sick again and bent over a nearby storm drain just in case he started to retch.
“Come on,” Tommy said, handing Brig his small pack as he shouldered his own, “we’ve got to keep moving.”
Brig obeyed, letting his body be taken where it was pulled. He felt like a small boy being dragged through a shopping mall by his mother. Their progress was slow, full of stops, starts, and redirects as they maneuvered through the crowd. Brig suddenly realized he wasn’t carrying his large pack.
“Oh shit! My Orotovox!” Brig said planting his feet, Tommy’s grasp slipping from his shoulder.
“My pack! My large pack. My…my…my clothes,” Brig stammered. “My climbing gear. I left it back at…at…at the place…”
Tommy breathed deeply and exhaled slowly, calming himself. “Do you have your passport?”
Brig reached for his pockets and felt relief as he yanked the small booklet from his jeans pocket, handing it to Tommy as though it were a prize.
“But my pack!”
“Doesn’t matter. Let’s go!” Tommy grabbed for Brig’s shoulder again, but Brig flinched and pulled away angrily.
“But my shit!” Brig yelled, catching the attention of some passers-by.
Tommy put his arm around Brig and spoke softly, calmly, but left no question what would happen next., “I will buy you some new clothes and new climbing gear, but we have got to get out of here now. Those dead people back at the KTV have some angry friends, and they are looking for us. They may already even be here, so try not to bring any more attention to us. Do you understand?”
Defeated, Brig nodded his head up and down and returned to cruise control, letting Tommy steer him where they needed to go.
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