MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
The two gangbangers were throwing her between them like they were passing a football back and forth. They were Latino, but pale skinned, second- or third-generation American, probably only seen Mexico in TV ads for Puerto Vallarta. They were dressed in black baggy jeans, their asses hanging out the backs. He’d never seen the fashion statement in the youth of today wearing jeans that way. They had on dark boxers. They were both wearing crimson shirts, unbuttoned to their belts, one of them with enough gold necklaces to make the black dude on that old TV show—what was his name? Mr. T—jealous.
The young woman was in her early twenties, medium height, dark red hair to her shoulders. She was wearing a white silk shirt, virtually see-through. No bra. One of the gangbangers had ripped her shirt open, popping little turquoise buttons, exposing her large breasts, but really, he needn’t have bothered, they were clearly visible through the sheer fabric. She wore a flared white short skirt, probably very chic, and high-heeled white pumps, which looked like you could only walk a few feet in them before blisters starting forming. That was another fashion trend he had never come to grips with. What was the point of young women wearing shoes with heels so high they’d give you a nosebleed? A Gucci Soho leather shoulder bag was at her feet, rose beige with fine gold hardware on it. Over fifteen hundred bucks if you got it at the Gucci store on Madison Avenue. Probably four hundred in Chinatown. The young woman kept trying to reach down to her bag, as if something were in there she desperately needed. But they weren’t letting her get anywhere near it.
Gangbanger #1 slapped her face. It brought a trickle of blood from her nose. He tossed her back to his pal, who shoved her toward a brick wall. She’d come from the art gallery along Essex Street. He’d seen elegant folks through a big glass window, drinking champagne from fluted glasses, sampling hors d’oeuvres from passing silver trays, moving around amid a jumble of weird-looking sculptures and Art Deco pieces that probably cost more than the national debt. He hadn’t noticed her in particular, but when she’d left, he’d noted that she’d hurried away down Essex Street to take a shortcut through this narrow alleyway.
As she’d found out.
The young woman tried to pull her ripped shirt across her breasts, but the Latino boys had really done a number on it, and the fragments of her shirt were too shredded to properly close over them. The first gangbanger—he decided to think of him as Manuel—grabbed her faux Gucci bag and started to go through it. The second gangbanger—let’s call him Lopez—held the young woman’s shoulder tightly with one hand. He stayed back in the shadows, unseen by either the young woman or the gangbangers. He was glad when Manuel came up with her wallet, so he’d have a name for her.
“Megan Forrester,” Manuel said, showing her driver’s license to Lopez. He looked at her. “Pretty name.”
He took a bunch of bills out of the wallet, dropped it back into the open Gucci bag, and kicked it toward her, as if contemptuously.
“Take the money,” she pleaded. “Just let me go.”
“You think we want to hurt you?” Lopez asked. “We just want to get to know you, Megan. See what you look like under those clothes. Why don’t you help us out? Lift up your skirt.”
She shook her head violently, her eyes darting around the alleyway.
If she saw him, it didn’t register on her face.
Lopez took a knife out of his jacket pocket and flicked up a wicked nine-inch blade. “We haven’t cut you yet. And we won’t. Just show us what you got.”
“No need for you to get hurt,” Manuel said reasonably.
“Okay, okay,” she gasped.
She reached down and pulled up her white skirt. It was so short she didn’t have to pull it up high to reveal the white panties she was wearing.
“Pull them down,” Lopez said. “We want you to do it for us.”
She froze, her skirt hiked up, her hand trembling.
“Don’t make me do it,” Manuel said. “You show us what we want to see, we’ll let you go.” She didn’t move. “Okay, I can do it.”
“I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” She pulled down her panties. She tried to hold on to them, but they fell around her ankles.
“Natural redhead,” Lopez said. “Nice. Let’s see your ass.”
She started to turn around.
“Keep your skirt hiked up,” Manuel reminded her.
She nodded and turned fully around, facing the brick wall. Her bare behind was pale in the semidarkness.
The Equalizer decided this had gone far enough. Although, he had to admit, she had a dynamite ass. Megan turned back to face her attackers. Leaned one hand down, still holding up her skirt with the other, to grab her panties.
“We’ll tell you when you can pull them up,” Manuel said.
“What do you think?” Lopez said. “Should we let her go?”
“We’ll fuck her first.”
That was the last thing Manuel said.
The Equalizer sucker punched him in the side of the head, then sank a fist into his gut. He went down on his knees, vomiting onto the dirty concrete. The Equalizer kicked him in the face, sending him onto his side. Then he kicked him hard in the balls.
What happened next happened quickly.
Lopez whirled with the knife, still not quite seeing the figure in the deep shadows, and thrust forward blindly. The Equalizer grabbed his wrist, avoiding the blade, wrenched it up and down, and broke his wrist. Lopez howled. The Equalizer brought him down with three blows to his face, breaking his nose, shattering his left cheekbone, knocking out some teeth. The gangbanger sprawled onto the ground.
Megan pulled up her panties, dropped her skirt, knelt down, flailed a hand inside her Gucci bag, and came out with a Mace spray in a Bianchi Elite pouch.
Manuel had dragged himself up to his feet.
Megan sprayed the Mace right into his eyes.
He screamed and went back down on his knees.
Megan didn’t wait to find out who her Good Samaritan was. She grabbed her Gucci bag, then kicked Manuel in the balls with the toe of her white pump. She pulled the shreds of her white shirt over her breasts and ran from the alleyway.
Neither of the Latinos were getting up. The Equalizer knelt down beside Lopez, whose wrist hung like a marionette’s with a string cut, and took something out of the pocket of his overcoat.
It was a business card.
On it was the graphic of a figure standing in an alleyway in front of a black Jaguar car, gun in hand, the New York City skyline behind him. Above it were the words JUSTICE IS HERE. Beneath the silhouette of the figure were the words THE EQUALIZER.
He tucked the card into the breast pocket of Lopez’s crimson shirt.
Then he straightened and looked over at Manuel. Lopez and Manuel, a matching set of degenerates. But they didn’t quite match. He regretted he hadn’t broken Manuel’s arm. He’d been the one who’d ripped Megan’s blouse open and fondled her breasts.
The Equalizer shrugged. What the hell.
He knelt down beside Manuel, gripped his arm, and broke it in two places.
He screamed, but didn’t move.
The Equalizer straightened again, pocketed Lopez’s switchblade, and looked down at the two thugs. They wouldn’t be attacking another defenseless victim for quite a while. Well, he thought, not so defenseless. Megan had sprayed Mace into Manuel’s eyes for five long seconds. Might have blinded him.
He heard the sound of police sirens getting closer. Megan must have called 911 on her smartphone. He didn’t stay around to be thanked or congratulated. He melted back into the shadows, leaving Lopez and Manuel—or whatever their real names were—lying broken and bleeding on the alleyway concrete.
But it was not Robert McCall who walked out of that alleyway.
Copyright © 2018 by Michael Sloan