Angelita hoped her nefarious dealings with Enzo had come to an end, that she could blackmail him and walk away to start afresh. But with his back against the wall, he confesses that she has been set up for a fall. A contract is out on her that goes beyond her death; her family has been included in the small print.
A giant blond head bobbed along in the crowd behind me. Surely delusion was visiting; no one is that big. I squinted, stared the harder, tried to verify that my vision was an illusion. Instead, Nilsson noticed that I had seen him and gave me a blood-curdling grin. I ran, but there were no alleyways that far along Boa Viagem Avenue to get lost in. Now flat out, the muscles in my legs burnt. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep it up. My breath heaved in my throat, and scorched the inner walls of my chest. I got to Pereira da Costa and remembered the bus stop at the other end of the road. I made a sharp right, took a moment to look back. Nilsson seemed laid back with his chase, steady, taking his time, brushing those on the sidewalk to one side as he forged his way through. I clenched the Baby Eagle in my fist, keeping the pistol in the bag at my side. Should the strength in my legs give way, I might get away with shooting him and walking on unnoticed. Clearly, I didn’t believe in my plan because adrenalin grew out of fear and my speed picked up.
At the end of the road, I turned the corner at Pina Supermarket and my heart lifted on seeing a bus at the stop, but then crashed again when it began pulling away. I raced, struggling to catch up with it. I pushed harder and faster, eventually managing to reach the double doors and bang the side of my fist on them. The driver turned his head nonchalantly. He would have known he shouldn’t stop, even I knew it was a rule of employment, but stop he did. The doors concertinaed to one side and I jumped on.
“Thank you,” I said, forcing a smile over my heavy breathing.
“My heart jumped when I saw you bobbing along,” he said. “How could I not stop?”
Men! I forced a laugh, said, “No need to hang around now,” and turned my head to look back, panic contracting my chest! Nilsson had lost his smooth pace and was now running hard. The driver stepped on the gas and I rushed to the back window with my heart pounding. Nilsson had all but got to the back of the vehicle, but then the distance between us gradually opened, he’d slowed. A moment’s relief. I thought I’d gotten away, that he would give up because he hadn’t been able to catch up, but no, he began running faster and was maintaining the gap. A quarter mile or so was all I had to catch my breath before the next stop. Prepare your mind, I thought, you will have to be ready to run for it again. I came back to the front of the bus and waited at the door to one side of the driver.
“I need to get off in a hurry when you stop. Would you open the doors early for me, please?” I asked him, exaggerating the pleading in my voice – actually, not so much exaggeration. I was petrified.
He looked at me and then into his side mirrors to see what could be so worrying behind us. He clearly saw Nilsson because his brow furrowed and he nodded.
“No problem. No reason for me to stop here,” he said, and drove past a man at the stop who had taken a step forward with his hand out.
I thanked the driver with a smile and a hand to his arm.
The doors opened as the bus neared the next stop, which happened to be the stop near the Wiella Bistro. We were travelling at a snail’s pace when I jumped off and ran crouched along the avenue to the right. Luckily, there was no way Nilsson could have seen me; he was too far behind. Inside the entrance to Manguezais Park, I hid in bushes. The bus had sped away when I got off and came back into view at a piece of scrubland near the Spettus Steak House before disappearing again. Around a minute later, Nilsson went steaming past the same opening in pursuit. I was clear for the moment, but my heart sank. His speed hadn’t eased since he first increased it. Tony’s description was of a superman and I began to think that he hadn’t been far short of the truth.
I’d won my freedom for the minute, but now I had to keep my family safe.