One Step Too Close

By: K.A Merikan

Ryder closed his eyes, taking deep, calm breaths. It had been an accident, and he couldn’t have Jed sent to prison. Not with his attitude problems. Not with that pretty face. He shuddered and looked up at the second cop, who approached him with his gun pointed at Ryder’s head.

“It was me,” said Ryder loud and clear, even though his voice shook at the end. He couldn’t believe this was happening. The policeman stopped trying to get all the others to the ground and focused all his attention on Ryder.

Jed’s voice tore through the air. “What the fuck? No, that’s—”

Wolver silenced him by putting a lock on Jed again, but a cop instantly told him to back away.

“Ryder, this is bullshit,” Jed whined, hyperventilating so loudly Ryder was almost in physical pain about not being able to go over and help him calm down. But just as he thought that, the cop pushed him down and pulled his hands back, locking them in cuffs that were far too tight for Ryder’s wrists.

“I’ll be fine Jed. It was an accident. Everyone can see.”

“Yeah, right,” muttered the cop, pulling Ryder into a kneeling position yet again.

Ryder looked over to Jed before casting a long, punishing glance at the victim. It was a gaze that promised a long, very painful death if he as much as dared to suggest Ryder was lying.

Jed pulled his lips into his mouth, red-faced and exasperated. “Don’t do this,” he hissed as his body began to tremble.

Ryder shook his head at Jed, covered with sweat but oddly calm at the same time now that he’d confessed. The world spun around him, and he felt isolated lying there in cuffs. It would be better for Jed this way. Ryder had a chance to slip out of this with a slap on the wrist, whereas Jed would have violated his probation. Everything would be fine. Ryder tried to calm down, inhaling the scent of asphalt even though what he really wanted was to be able to smash the cops’ faces and leave.

He startled when Ripper’s towering presence collapsed to the asphalt like a log. Wolver blinked and rushed over to his friend’s side. “Get an ambulance!”

“He’s putting on a show,” said the cop who kneeled next to the mewling victim, but the other policeman had more sense in him and quickly joined Wolver by Ripper’s body.

“What’s going on?” yelled Ryder, trying to get to his knees, only to face the barrel of a gun pointed at his head.

“Stay down!”

Ryder’s chest was exploding as he watched the other cop franticly perform CPR, but the longer he watched the more rage flew through his veins. The idiot was pumping his hands below the breastbone, effectively massaging Ripper’s stomach, not his heart!

“Uncuff me, I need to take a look at him!”

“The ambulance is on its way already. Calm down, we’ve got this under control,“ said the policeman who held Ryder at gunpoint. The weapon was ready to shoot, and Ryder became increasingly frantic as Ripper’s weirdly twisted face came into view.

“Please, this is my friend. I’ve been trained for this!” he screamed, gulping at air yet not willing to risk being another fatality of this carnage. Instead, he tried to instruct the other cop. “The heart’s higher. You need to move your hands!”

“It’s true!” Jed yelled, keeping his hands behind his head and struggling to breathe. “He’s got a certificate in first aid.”

The cop giving CPR was trembling himself, and while Ryder was pretty sure the guy completed some kind of course related to this, his nerves were getting the best of him. “Let him do it, Andy! For fuck’s sake!”

Andy gritted his teeth so hard Ryder could hear it, but he uncuffed Ryder’s hands not-too-gently and put the safety on his gun.

Ryder didn’t waste any time and crawled over to Ripper’s unconscious body, immediately getting into motion. With no breath to be felt, he quickly put Ripper’s head into the correct position and ushered the shocked cop to help him. Soon enough, they got into the rhythm of breaths and chest compressions. It felt like ages, but Ripper finally got back to breathing on his own, and Ryder put him in the correct position, all the time monitoring his state.

He could hardly pay any attention to Jed, and it was only when the ambulance finally arrived that their gazes met again. The guilt in Jed’s eyes was so intense Ryder could feel it on his own skin, but for the stunt Jed pulled, Ryder was not about to pat him on the back. Especially since he was getting cuffed again as soon as the paramedic took over caring for Ripper.

“I’m sorry,” Jed uttered from the ground as Ryder got escorted to the police car, but Ryder wouldn’t even look at him. It was time for Jed to learn about consequences.

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