In the movie Undercover Blues, two married secret agent types go on vacation to New Orleans with their baby, and they run into a would-be criminal named Muerte who keeps popping up all throughout their trip.
Now when I was there last month, I actually ran into a couple of Morty's pals. On my second day down, I was out for a run along the river. I'd already run a few miles and I was getting fairly tired because I've been off my running regimen, but I love to run there so much that I often overdo it to my own detriment later. Well this time, just as I was passing the spot where the steamer Natchez docks (it was in drydock for winter maintenance at this time), two "yoots" suddenly stepped out from behind a kiosk and blocked my way. I was pretty sure from first glance that they didn't live in the French Quarter or anyplace right nearby. I never actually caught their names but they looked a lot like the Nuttin brothers, Didndu and Dinsee. (Yeah, those guys, Dindu Nuttin and Dinsee Nuttin sure get around, don't they?) One of them quickly called out to me. "Excuse me, sir...can you tell us how to get to the mall?"
Aw, damn, I thought. Here we go. These guys hadn't just been walking up the sidewalk and coincidentally arrived here; I'd have seen them walking if they had. No, they'd been lurking by that kiosk, no doubt waiting for some nice tourist to come by at the right time. And with no one else in sight but me and them, this was probably the right time in their minds. I briefly thought about my nice Ruger LCP that I normally run with for occasions like this. It was in my gun safe 1050 miles away. And here I was, outnumbered and fairly fatigued from my run. This wasn't looking good.
I knew that the question about the mall was a victim-selection question. The mall was just back behind me about half a mile and plainly visible from where we were, but they knew that. These guys wanted a tourist, someone not from here so that even if they got caught, the odds of their victim coming back for a trial were less than a local who lives here.
I needed to grab some control of the situation and do it quick before they decided to go for my iPhone that I was using to play my running music. It was right there in a belt clip and I knew it was what they wanted. Fuck that. I quickly pivoted, keeping them in front of me but putting the river right to my back. There was no railing here, so if they decided to rush me, odds were pretty good that they'd just drive me back over the edge and into the water, and I'd be doing my best to take one or both of them with me if their own momentum didn't do it for me. I know that I can swim, even with my running leg on, and I figured that they wouldn't want a protracted fight down in that water. It also let them easily read the logo on my running shirt--the one emblazoned with: "Police and Fire World Games 2015".
"The mall's right over there," I said, pointing but not taking my eyes off them for a second. "You can see it from here." At this point, someone dumb enough to turn reflexively towards that mall to point it out would have been giving these guys a fantastic blind-side shot, but I knew better than to do that and I wanted them to know it. Also, by showing them that I knew where the mall was, I gave them reason to suspect that maybe I wasn't just some tourist in for a few days. I also made it a point to very deliberately look into each of their faces once I'd made sure that their hands were clear. That's right, guys...I'm not afraid of you and I'm memorizing your faces. I may have to identify you later.
We stood there for a few seconds, staring each other down. It was admittedly a bit tense, but I'd already accepted the probability of a fight and I was ready for it. Even if I lost, I was going to get a few licks in. But apparently they decided that it wasn't looking like a sure thing any more and that maybe my iPhone wasn't worth the trouble. One of them suddenly thanked me for the directions and they stepped back out my my way and began to walk off back down the walk that they'd come from (and not in any way going in the direction of the mall). Once clear of them, I continued my run downriver, exiting the river path by the Artillery Park cannon, and I flagged down a police at near Cafe DuMonde, told them who I was and what had just happened, and suggested that the officers head over and give Frick and Frack a bit of attention.
I still love that city, but you have to be on your guard there and you can't just drift around in Condition White.
I didn't see those guys again for the rest of my time there, but next time I run there--and I will run there a lot now that I'm moving down next month--I will have that LCP in my pocket, just in case.
Heck, we can't all have Katheen Turner show up now, can we?