By Rob Conroy

"Let me in, damn it!" shouted a voice.

The knock on the door had been enough to grab my attention and bring me to a state of semi-conciseness. I jumped out of bed and pulled on a shirt. Then, slowly, I approached the door.

"Who is it?"

"Don't be a wise ass, Mike! Open up the door, it's me, Todd." his voice sounded rushed. There was certainly an impatient tone to him. I unlocked the door and he jumped through before I had the chance to open it fully.

"What's the rush?" Still in the process of waking up, my voice was wavering. I looked over at the clock, 1:42 A.M. So much for a full night's sleep before midterms.

"We're in trouble, man! The cops are looking for us."

"Hold up. What happened, and who is we?"

"We is myself, Jay, Kyle, and Aaron. What happened is a long story. Listen, I'll tell you what happened, but we're gonna need your help."

"Okay, not a problem. Now, what's the story?"

Before Todd could begin his tale, Kyle burst in. His left hand was covered in blood and tears were beginning to collect in his eyes. Words were failing me so I trusted actions instead. I filled a plastic container with water and gave it to Kyle to soak his hand in. I then sat down across from Todd and Kyle, and Todd began his tale.

"It all began at around quarter past seven," Todd started in an almost melodramatic tone. "You remember that we invited you to go out partying with us, to celebrate the end of classes. Be glad you said no! We figured we would hit LOUIE'S, ya know, because they usually don't card you. Well, we went there and had a couple of beers. Nothing heavy, just a few while we watched the bands. But by ten o'clock the beers had turned into the hard shit. We weren't smashed, but we were pretty damn close. Anyways, a little after ten we got out of there and were wondering around."

During the telling of all this, Kyle removed his hand from the water and begun picking out shards of glass. What the hell was going on here?"

"Being drunk and all, we really had no idea what we were doing. We were right downtown, in the shopping district, ya know. We were just talking and shit, when we see a display in a window. I don't even remember what it was for, a shirt or something. We decide to go in and the guy behind the counter just freaks out! He's all over us, making sure we don't steal anything. That should be a violation of our rights, or something. Who's he to decide who might be a shoplifter? Asshole! Finally he coms right out and asks us to leave, For no reason! Jay gets right in his face and tells the guy to go fuck off. The little prick grabbed Jay by the shoulder and tried to push him out. Jay thrusts his arm out at the guy's neck and squeezes. After a couple of seconds Jay lets him go and we start walking out. As we're walking out, the guy is calling after us. He's telling us we'll pay for hurting him. We were just laughing it off and then Kyle has to go and fuck it all up!"

"Come on, that jerk off deserved it!"

"What ever. Kyle walks right up to the window, looks at it for a minute, and then just smashes it with his fist. Brilliant move!"

"On that note, you got any bandages?" Questioned Kyle as he wiped his hand off onto his jeans.

I pointed over to the dresser and began to ask Kyle what he had been thinking. I was interrupted by the sounds of sirens off in the distance. I shook it off as Todd began speaking again.

"As soon as the glass shattered, the guy started screaming bloody murder. Before we could scatter and take off, we realized we were fucked. A block down the road there was a cop, and you can be sure as hell that he started after us as soon as he heard the shouting. When we took off, he was all ready closing in. I'm not exactly sure what went down, 'cuz it happened so fast. I know that the cop grabbed Aaron while the rest of us took off down an alley. I guess the son-of-a-bitch called in for back up because within five minutes it seemed like there were patrol cars everywhere. We were trying to make it back to the campus without getting caught. It seemed like forever before we made our way across the city. As soon as we saw the campus, we took off, scaled the fence around the soccer field, and ran straight for the dorm."

"Where's Jay?" My mind was only half paying attention to the question. The other half was paying attention to the sirens in the distance. They were getting nearer and nearer.

"Jay went to his room. He wanted to bandage his hand, he got puncture wounds from jumping the fence. Damn, those sirens are getting awful close!"

I went to the window in time to see two squad cars pull up outside the dorm. Thoughts were racing through my mind. What if they searched the whole dorm? Would they search all four floors. Or did they know their names? Todd was my roommate, what if they searched here?

My adrenaline began working over time and so did my nerves. Todd and Kyle, in a state of panic, squirmed under the two beds. At the time, it didn't seem as pathetic as it does now.

About twenty minutes later, the police led a handcuffed Jay out of the building. I watched as they put him up against the squad car. When they started to search him, it took him by surprise and he turned his head. That was all it took for the police to consider him aggressive. He was thrown to the ground and kicked sharply in the ribs. They dragged his motionless form into the car and took off, the other car followed. Todd and Kyle were free, at least for now. Kyle headed downstairs and Todd followed, eager to tell his story again. I turned off the light and climbed back into bed. Before I shut my eyes, I glanced at the clock. 3:50 am. I hoped to cherish the few hours I had left, by spending them unconscious. I didn't know that my dreams were to be haunted by the sirens.

"Panic" belongs purely to Rob Conroy © 1996.

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