The mook’s third swing was a right cross. It connected like an anvil, slamming me against the dirty alleyway wall. I didn’t look up, but I was sure the big guy was wearing a shit-eating grin, confident that it was lights out for me. Anyone else, it would be. He had mitts bigger than any I’d ever seen and he clocked me square on the jaw with every bit of his muscle.

I dropped to my knees. I just needed a minute. Maybe not even.

I didn’t see the kick coming. I heard the crack of my ribs. My face twisted, but I didn’t cry out. My chest and lungs burned.

I rolled over, back against the wall. I saw the ape of a man clearly. He was going in for a second kick when the woman screamed. Whirling about, swung his trunk like limb and she flung back landing in a pile of garbage.

“Shut yer, hole.”

She whimpered.

Not forgetting about me, he turned back and lifted his oversized boot intent on crushing right through to my spine. He wasn’t about to let me interfere with his date.

The crushing blow stopped just at my chest. No pain, just quick reflexes as I grabbed each end of his boot and twisted. Off balanced, I pushed the masher back. Righting myself, as he tumbled to the dirty alleyway.

He snarled. Surprised at the reversal of fortune.

The girl was still silently crying on the pile of refuse. The goliath rose to his feet.

I might have smiled.

“Let’s play.”

Incited, he swung that haymaker again.

There are 27 bones in the human hand. Any one of them breaks and you’re lucky if the endorphins can kick in fast enough. I heard at least 10 of them crack as he connected again with my jaw.

I didn’t move.

Wounded, he pulled back his big paw in confusion.

I still didn’t move. What would this would-be rapist do? Could he figure it out?

Clumsily, he swung his left. I grabbed his wrist as it lumbered towards me and twisted. The giant’s knees slammed down as momentum and force hurled him towards the alleyway floor. Instinctually he put his free arm down to catch himself, forgetting that he had just broken his hand.

He shrieked like a dog, rolling as much as he could to his elbow and shoulder.

I let go of the wrist. He lay there like a sack of garbage. No more fun with this one, so I knelt down and checked his pockets. He didn’t object.

There was a pop just as I saw the bullet exit my chest. Blood and lung flying out with it.

Damn, this was going to take more than a minute.

Turning, I saw the woman putting a small gun back into her purse. I fell on my back.

She took what I found on the oaf, and then rummaged my pockets. I didn’t object.

The last thing I saw was her help the meaty man up, him cradling his broken hand.

I woke up three days later in a bed that wasn’t my own with bandages covering where I’d been shot. I explored the area I saw the bullet pass. No pain, only a nearly healed wound. A reminder that no good deed goes unpunished.