Friends

by Steve Tebbs

Friends

Alex Gunlim was sitting on his couch, after a long days work delivering mail for the Canada Post. He was completely exhausted, and his whole body ached. Alex was not a weakling by any means, but today was one of those days that everything seemed to go wrong. He was thankful that tomorrow would be the start of his long awaited vacation. Picking up the phone near the couch he dialed the number to his best friend Betty League.

"Hello"

"Hi Betty, I just wanted to remind you that I will pick up you and Joe around 6 am tomorrow."

"Oh that will be great, I will let Joe know. See you then."

"See you."

Alex hung up the phone and got up from the couch. He was an athletic tall man at 24 years old with long black hair and blue eyes. He stretched his legs and went to the window in his living room. Looking at his SUV in the driveway, he thought about the cottage that his friends let him use for his vacation. It was located on an island where no one lived. There were plenty of things to do there such as fishing, boating, hiking, and mountain biking. Alex and his friends were looking forward to doing all of those things. The Island actually belonged to Coby Seth who was the uncle of Alex's good friend Andy Seth. Joe, Betty,Andy and Alex had been good friends since college, and It was rare that they would see much of each other due to their busy lives. Alex went up the stairs to his bedroom on the second floor and quickly fell asleep.

Betty woke up to the loud beeping of her alarm clock. It was 5:30 am. She couldn't understand why Alex had to leave so early but that was Alex always trying to get the most out of the day. Betty was a slim woman, with a nice figure, blonde and had green eyes. Betty quickly showered, and was starting to eat breakfast when she heard a loud knock on her door. Boom, the door completely shook when it was being knocked. She quickly ran to the door and realized it was Joe Lim and Andy Seth. Andy was standing by the door wearing his green tank top shirt, and blue jeans. He had an open beer in one hand; the other was banging on the door. Andy had grown his moustache since the last time Betty saw him, and his red hair had not been cut and was a complete mess. Betty opened the door quickly.

"Why do you have to bang on the door so loudly?" Betty said while staring at Andy.

"And why are you drinking so early in the morning?"

"What are you my mother?"

Betty sighed and let them in. Betty treated them to a nice breakfast and soon after they heard a noise coming in the driveway. Andy got up and ran outside. It was Alex pulling up with his black SUV. Alex parked and got out.

"Hey Andy, It's good to see you."

Joe and Betty also came out to greet him, all with smiles.

"Hey, it looks like it's going to be a nice day. Complete sunshine with no chance of rain." Joe said while coming down the steps to greet Alex.

"I hope so." Alex said while gesturing everyone to come into the car.

Everyone jumped into the car and Alex quickly turned on the ignition.

"Hey, I smell beer"

"Oh, that would be Andy drinking at 5:00am in the morning." Betty said while looking at Andy.

Andy's face appeared to be getting red.

"Hey, it's not like I do this everyday or anything. I'm on vacation dammit."

There was complete silence in the car. Everyone knew Andy had a drinking problem beforehand but they didn't know it was this bad. Joe looked at everybody saying "alright, everybody relax, we are here to have a good time o.k." Joe was always a peaceful person to be around, quiet and relaxed. He was a relatively short man with black hair.. Joe always seemed to know how to calm others down. Alex quickly stepped on the gas, and they were on there way to the Island. Traffic was light, driving along the highway. Alex seemed very focused when he drove. Ever since his recent accident, he drove with a more focused approach. Just two weeks ago he was driving his van from the Postal Company and he stopped at a red light. At the red light a homeless person started to clean the windshield. Alex began to look for change. He was getting some change from his wallet when a drunk driver hit him from behind. His van was sent forward, pinning the homeless man between his van and another car. It was a horrific sight. Needless to say, Alex had been on edge of late. Driving along the highway, Alex started to remember the recent accident. His hands started to tremble slightly and his breathing became noticeably faster. Joe looked at Alex.

"Alex, are you o.k."

"I'm fine. I just need to pull over for a little water."

"Pull over at the next gas station man, I have to drain the lizard" Andy slurred.

"Andy are you drunk?" Betty asked.

"Whatever."

Alex continued to drive until he saw a convenience store up ahead. He made a right turn and pulled into a parking space and turned off the ignition. They all got out and headed for the store. The convenience store was small in size with a big red sign hanging from the top of the ceiling. The sign had welcome spelled out with the l and m missing. The entrance door creaked as the four friends entered the store. At the cashier, there was an elderly man working who wore glasses and had white receding hair. He looked over to the four friends waving his hand saying

"Welcome. Today we have toilet paper on sale 50% off"

Betty looked at Alex and laughed. Alex walked to the back of the store where the water was in the fridge and grabbed a couple of bottles. Andy walked by Alex and went into the washroom down the hall. Joe was reading a magazine. Alex brought his water to the elderly cashier.

"Three dollars please" he said.

Joe paid the money and turned around to leave. He felt a tap on his shoulder.

"Hey, do you know the guy in the washroom" the cashier said.

"Yah, he's my friend."

"Well, just about a half hour ago two men came by saying they were looking for that guy showing me a picture with his face on it."

Andy came out of the washroom and started walking towards the entrance.

"Andy come here."

"What do you want Alex? Out of money again?"

"The cashier here says that some people came by looking for you about a half hour ago."

The cashier looked at Andy.

"Yup, you look exactly like the picture they showed me."

Andy took out his cell phone.

"Why wouldn't they just call me if they were looking for me?"

"Did they say anything else?"

"Nope, that's it son." The cashier said while closing his till.

"That's really weird" Alex said while exiting the store. Everyone got back into Alex's SUV and within minutes they were back on the road again. Driving along the highway, everyone questioned Andy about these mysterious people who were looking for him, but he had no idea who they might have been. Andy was adamant that he didn't go out with any friends the night before and there would be no reason that he knew of why people would be looking for him. Twenty minutes later they arrived at the boating dock were Andy kept his motorboat. They had to take the motorboat to the Island, so everyone got out of the car and walked to the boat. The sun was hot and the wind was calm. They arrived at the boat and got inside. The motor boat was bright red with yellow stripes along the side. "Woohoo, all aboard" Andy yelled as he jumped into the boat. After everyone got in Andy started the engine and they were off. Water was splashing all around and the engine was roaring. Andy had the boat going at top speed towards the Island. Nobody was talking too much because of the noise from the boat. Betty was sitting in the back looking at the water splash off the back of the boat when she noticed in the far distance another boat coming in the same direction they were going. She tapped Joe on the shoulder and gestured him to look at the boat. Joe just shrugged his shoulders as if it was no big deal. Andy brought the boat to a stop at the Islands beach dock. Betty grabbed her backpack and stepped off the boat. "Hey guys, I saw a boat coming the same direction as us."

Andy looked at her and grabbed more supplies off the boat.

"They may be going this direction, but they won't come to this Island." he said.

"Why not?" Betty asked.

"This Island belongs to my uncle. It is a private Island. No trespassing." Andy said while grinning.

The Island was large, beaches surrounded the north, south and west sides. There were rocky cliffs on the east side. The cottage was located near the north west beaches. Four ATV's were parked near the dock. There were two red, and two black ATV's. Andy got on one of the red ones and shouted "Race everyone to the cottage". Betty, Alex, and Joe quickly jumped on their ATV's. "Go."

Sand blasted into the air and they were off. Alex quickly took the lead with Andy following close behind. The ATV's were racing through the trails, over hills and sand was blowing everywhere. Alex could see the cottage coming up ahead in the near distance. It was a beautiful cottage with a nice patio. It was painted white with a black roof. Driving up to the cottage Alex heard noise come from behind him. It was Andy coming closer at full speed. They were only twenty feet away from the cottage. If they didn't slow down, then they would smash right into the wall. Alex knew if he was to slow down at all then Andy would win for sure. If Andy won then it would be all he talked about for the next day. Alex drove the ATV until it was ten feet away from the cottage entrance and quickly made a right hand turn. The ATV screeched, and dirt flew up in Alex's face. Alex could feel the ATV was going to flip so he quickly jumped off landing hard on the ground. The ATV flipped over two times stopping inches away from the wall near the entrance. Alex got up he felt a pain in his left side. His side was scraped from the landing and his was slightly bleeding. Andy had already gotten off his ATV and was helping Alex up; when they heard Betty and Joe arrive. Joe got off his ATV and shook his head.

"Can't we have one day without you guys getting in an accident."

Joe ran into the cottage and came out with some fresh bandages.

"Here, let me see." Joe told Alex.

The scrape was a few inches long but it appeared not to be too bad. Joe quickly applied the bandages.

"How are you feeling." he asked

"Not too bad. I will probably have a few bruises but I will be o.k."

Joe and Alex walked into the cottage. Betty and Andy had already entered a few minutes earlier. Betty and Andy were in the kitchen preparing a lunch made of sandwiches and fruit. Alex and Joe were talking in the living room when all of a sudden a loud crashing noise came from the basement.

"What was that?" Betty asked?

"It's probably a squirrel or something. I'll go and check it out." Andy said.

While Andy went downstairs to investigate the noise, Alex was thinking to himself how Andy's uncle could be so rich he could have his own private island. Betty came into the living room and sat down next to Alex.

"You and Andy have been acting a little strange lately. If there is anything I can do just ask o.k."

"Thanks Betty, I appreciate it."

While Betty and Alex were talking, they heard several footsteps climbing up the stairs.

Alex had a look of surprise on his face.

"What's going on?" he said while looking at the door slowly open.

Andy slowly entered through the doorway from the basement to the living room with his hands in the air.

"Sorry guys." he said with a look of concern.

Two men in black suits came in after Andy pointing a gun to Andy's back.

The two men were both large. They were both over 6 feet tall. One was bald and had a black goatee. The other was scruffy looking with shaggy brown hair with stubble on his face. The shaggy looking guy pointed his gun towards Alex, and Betty.

"Tie them up, and take all of their cell phones." The shaggy man said. Andy was thrown down to the floor by the tall bald man. He quickly tied him up and removed his cell phone. Betty and Alex were frozen with fear. They too were quickly tied up.

"Anybody else here?" the shaggy guy asked.

"No way, it's just the three of us." Andy replied quickly before Alex or Betty could say anything.

"Search the rest of the house." The shaggy guy told the other accomplice. He then used his cell phone and dialed a number. He quickly left the room so his conversation would be private. Andy, Alex and Betty were left alone in the living room tied up.

"What's going on Andy?" Alex whispered.

"They probably know that my uncle has a lot of money and are holding us for ransom. First chance I get I'm going to try to escape. Are you with me?"

"Are you crazy?" Alex asked surprised. "They have guns."

"Where's Joe?" Andy replied.

"Last time I saw him he was in the kitchen."

Betty was looking really scared and was fidgeting with her tied up hands.

"Don't do anything stupid Andy." Betty said.

Alex saw Andy rubbing his tied hands to a sharp metal portion of a chair in the living room.

"What are you doing?" Alex asked.

"I am getting us out of here." he replied.

Andy was sawing hard on the strings until they snapped off his wrists. Andy silently but quickly got to his feet and took out from a pocket near his feet a small cutting knife. He rushed over to Alex and Betty and cut them free.

"Alright, let's go quickly" Andy said.

"What about Joe?" Betty said looking worried.

"Don't talk, just run." was the reply.

The three of them bolted for the front door. Just as they were leaving, Alex turned his head and saw the two men coming into the living room. They had Joe. He was tied up.

"Stop" Alex heard one of the men yell as the three friends jumped onto the ATV's. Andy, Alex and Betty quickly started their engines and started to accelerate away from the cottage.

"Follow me." Andy said.

"I know a short cut to the docks"

While driving away from the cottage, Betty yelled. "What about Joe?" Alex replied "I will try and get help soon." Alex could feel his heart racing. He was so scared for his friend but he didn't know what else he could do. Driving as fast as they could through the trails towards the docks everyone was completely nervous. The ATV's seemed that they were not fast enough. Andy was in the lead with Alex and Betty following behind him. Betty looked into her right side mirror and saw the man with the bald head and goatee behind her riding the last ATV. "Stop" he yelled. They kept on going full speed ahead. They were approaching the northeast side of the Island. The northeast side had rocky cliffs with a hundred foot drop down towards the water below. Andy and Alex seemed to be getting further away from Betty and the man that followed. Betty quickly turned her ATV towards the trail that led to the cliffs. The man following did the same. Looking in her side mirror Betty saw the man loose control of his ATV and smash it head first into a tree. The sound was deafening. Betty saw the man get thrown from his ATV, and he went down hard. Betty thought the man couldn't be too dangerous because he wasn't shooting at her during the pursuit so she turned around to see if he was o.k. She drove her ATV up to where the man was lying on the ground and looked at him. The man looked like he was really hurt. He was not moving at all. Betty got off her ATV and walked towards the man lying down. She approached the man and kneeled down beside him. The man had cuts all over his face and appeared to be having difficulty with his breathing. He looked at Betty.

"Call my partner." he said wearily.

"Who are you people." she replied.

"We are police officers. Look in my jacket pocket, you will see a badge. We have been tracking your friend Andy for the past month now. We didn't' know if you were involved in what he had been doing, so we tied you up."

Betty looked into his pocket and found the police badge he was talking about.

"I can assure you we have nothing to do with whatever Andy is doing."

Betty heard a phone ring which was lying close to the man.

She picked up the phone. "Hello." she said

"Hey who's this, where's Bob."

Betty then put the phone close to Bob's head so he could talk.

"Hey Charles, this is Bob. I got in a little accident here. Can you call for help?"

Charles then asked Betty for her name as well as her friends. Betty told Charles everyone's names.

"Could you run a background check on Betty League, Alex Gunlim, and Joe Lim.?" Charles told Bob.

"Sure I'll call it in. I'm sending in help now."

Alex and Andy had continued the ride towards the Dock area. Andy was way ahead of Alex, to the point where Alex could barely see Andy anymore. Alex heard a popping noise come from his left side. He had just blown out a tire on the rocky surface. The ATV jolted and Alex lost control of it. Alex flew off the ATV and he saw he was flying for the edge of the cliff. Alex flew over the edge of the cliff, but at the last second he reached out and grabbed a hold of protruding rock and saved himself. He looked below and saw the waves crashing on the rocks a hundred feet below him. Alex felt his fingers slipping on the rocky surface. "Oh no." he said. Alex looked up and saw the shaggy looking police officer Bob reach down.

"Don't kill me." Alex yelled.

"I'm not going to kill you. I'm trying to save you." Officer Bob replied.

"Reach for my hand."

Alex didn't know if he should trust him, but his life was on the line so he reached up and grabbed the hand. Officer Bob pulled Alex up to ground level. When Alex got up, he saw Betty, Joe and a few other people in black suits all talking to each other. Betty ran over to Alex and gave him a hug.

"They are police officers working undercover. Andy has been involved with some sort of illegal drug dealing organization. They are here to get him."

Charles walked over to Alex.

"She is right. Do you know where your friend has gone?"

"The last I saw him, he was far ahead of me on the ATV driving to the dock area".

After talking to the police officers they were escorted to a helicopter nearby. Officer Charles looked at them and said "We still have not found your friend Andy but we will continue looking for him."

"Ex-friend" Betty replied.

The helicopter took off from the ground and headed back for the main land. After a days search of the Island, the officers were unable to find Andy anywhere. Andy had gotten away.

To be continued?

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